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When you've been out of the dating scene for almost two decades, re-entry in the 21st century sure is an eye-opener.  Even more so when you happen to be a highly sensual creature with a raging libido to match. Firstly, there are the obvious technological advances.  The last time I dated, internet access wasn't readily available and I didn't even own a mobile phone.  Sexting and online dating simply did not exist.  You met people through your physical network of friends, family, school, work and special interests.  Oh how times have changed!!  Sure, those avenues still exist, but there is now a growing acceptance of online dating and even if you are yet to experience it first hand, you'll know someone who has.  In fact, positive stories of couples meeting online, falling in love and living happily ever after are becoming as common as a jar of marmite in NZ pantries.  (Okay, bad analogy - but amusing none-the-less.)

I have to say, when you're a solo mother in her mid-thirties, no longer interested in night clubs and bars, your hobbies dominated by females, most of your friends in 'loved-up' relationships or less-than-functional marriages, working from home, and your life revolving around your daughter and her interests, you're rather limited in avenues to meet desirable men (of the available variety that is).  After all, what self-respecting woman is going to hang out at the playground ready to pounce on the first attractive male that passes by without a wedding band on his finger?? Whilst meeting someone who understands what being a solo parent entails certainly has it's merit, I personally would like to broaden my horizons and not merely exchange one midlife-crisis-inflicted male for another of similar disposition.  Which is why entering cyberspace to cast a wider net (no pun intended) appealed to me and much to my delight, I discovered a smorgasbord of men searching for Miss Right (or Miss Right Now - as the case may be).

Like most things in cyberspace, internet dating moves at the speed of light.  With the removal of inhibitions, conversations become personal very quickly and you find yourself discussing topics with a stranger that you may never discuss with friends you've known for years.  It goes without saying that virtual relationships build quickly and it is easy to confuse attention with attraction.  In a blink of an eye, you can find yourself loitering outside a cafe waiting to meet a man that a week ago you didn't even know existed.  You know almost instantly whether or not there is a physical attraction and by the end of that beverage you each have a reasonable idea whether or not you want to progress further.  It can end as quickly as it began, or if the stars have aligned, you could find yourself heading around the first blind corner of the roller coaster ride.

Which brings me nicely to the second eye-opening aspect of dating today - the expectations.  Perhaps I have lived a sheltered life, but it seems to me that people are diving into bed (or onto the sofa, the table, the back of the car,...) at a far faster rate than previously.  One night stands are a norm and those seeking casual encounters or FWBs (friends with benefits) are quite open about their intentions. Moving from one committed relationship to another is neither realistic nor healthy.  It takes time to process past events and to move on.  It also takes time to meet new people and to make a connection.  But for some of us, our primal needs are simply too strong to deny and the physical and ego-boosting benefits of sex far out-weigh anything you could possibly gain from trying to be a saint.  So whilst I would never advocate sleeping around, I see nothing wrong with two consenting adults meeting each other's needs in whatever arrangement works for them. 

Even if you are holier than thou, you must acknowledge that sex is a vital part of a successful committed relationship.  Certainly, every couple is different - that is the beauty of being unique creatures - and there is no 'norm' as far as the frequency, duration, form and role sex plays in any given relationship.  Of most importance is that you must be matched on sexual appetites, feel completely at ease in expressing your desires and you must want to satisfy your partner as much as you'd like to be satisfied yourself.  The only way to really know if you're well matched is to actually get physical.  The key is deciding for yourself when the time is right to take the ultimate test. Dating is an exciting, exhausting, invigorating and enlightening roller coaster ride.  If you're on it, embrace it, enjoy it and stay true to yourself.