It’s certainly true that “you can never go home again,” or in the case of single boomers- return to the dating world of one’s youth. Back in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, AIDS didn’t exist, bacterial infections happened, but weren’t that common, and those nasty little viruses that can lead to cancer, a feeling of malaise, and physical and emotional discomfort, but generally don’t kill, – were virtually unheard of. It was a time of “free love,” when people were becoming more casual about sex, but also valued being in a relationship.
Fast forward to now when many boomers are single again after a marriage has ended through divorce or death- and they are out there dating for the first time in many years. The whole landscape is different- there are new rules, expectations, shifting roles, a lot of casual hook-ups with no strings, and there is much to relearn. Too bad the learning doesn’t start with a caution about how prevalent STD’s have become, and not just among the young.
There seems to be an assumption among boomers that older people are safer due to their long years of monogamy- and too often folks believe that if they are dating another boomer who is recently single, there is no risk. It only takes one casual encounter to put anyone at risk, whether they are 19 or 69. Casual sex is in and it’s everywhere, even amongst the gray haired set.
As a psychotherapist who works with many boomers I have encountered this quite a bit. I often find myself discussing risks with my older clients like I used to do with my very young ones. They are often surprised and unaware that this is something they will need to be on guard about.
Regardless of how old you are, how long it has been since you last dated, how old or recently attached/unattached your perspective partners are- you need to approach any sexual encounter with great caution. It just isn’t worth it – trust me, I hear the stories every day.