I’d like a fling but have no idea where to start

I’m 45. My husband and I divorced three years ago and I’d like to start dating again. We were married for 15 years and I know that a lot has changed out there. From what I hear, dating apps are just for hook-ups and I have no idea where to start. It’s not that I’m looking for anything serious, I’d just love a nice fling. Where do you suggest I start?

I’d like a fling but have no idea where to start

I’m 45. My husband and I divorced three years ago and I’d like to start dating again. We were married for 15 years and I know that a lot has changed out there. From what I hear, dating apps are just for hook-ups and I have no idea where to start. It’s not that I’m looking for anything serious, I’d just love a nice fling. Where do you suggest I start?

You are right. The dating landscape has changed dramatically in the past 15 years and you’ve also experienced a significant life change, so I’m glad you are clear about what you want from this process. Dating apps are more likely to deliver flings than marriage proposals, so you need to manage your expectations and be clear about your boundaries.

You’ll swipe past a lot of frogs, but when you are only just beginning to dip your toe back into the water, instant gratification is less risky than commitment, so apps such as Tinder or Bumble are probably the best place for you to start.

Their shop-window approach may be shallow, but, frankly, if all you want is a fling, how physically attractive you find someone is probably more important than having lots of shared interests.

Signing up to Tinder and Bumble is incredibly simple. In contrast, grown-up dating websites such as Match.com, OkCupid and eHarmony, which claim to provide “scientific matching” based on shared interests or experiences, can take hours to join.

With Tinder and Bumble you simply upload your best photos, write a short profile, and start swiping — left to reject, or right to indicate interest.

Although it is not a universal truth, be aware that middle-aged men on dating websites are often looking for much younger women. Research carried out by OkCupid, for example, found that men over the age of 55 sent more than half of their dating messages to women at least eight years their junior.

This isn’t to say people should only date in their own age group. You may be looking for a younger man yourself. There are websites that have been specifically set up for this purpose, but I would approach them with caution and cynicism.

When you are trying to find a new partner, the obvious thing to do is to get out and meet people, regardless of the method. Be prepared to be disappointed, propositioned and stood up. This happens to everyone. But if you keep a sense of humour and an open mind, you will, at the very least, have plenty of funny stories to tell your friends.

When you do meet someone you want to have a lusty fling with, hold on to your intention that this is about having fun and re-engaging with your sexual self. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or tell your partner what you’d like to try, which techniques feel good or what makes you uncomfortable.

The first sexual encounter after a long marriage can be intimidating, but if you engage with a spirit of openness and curiosity, any nerves will disappear.

A word of warning here. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been increasing in middle-aged people for the past decade, largely because of an escalation in midlife divorce.

Men and women who come out of a long-term relationship where the risk of contracting an STI has been negligible are not always taking their sexual health as seriously as they might. Some find it difficult to adjust to using condoms again.

So please make sure that you are safe and at 45, you still need to protect yourself from an unwanted pregnancy. Casual sex is only fun when it is safe — so don’t take any risks.

Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com

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