Dear Thomas,
I'm a recently divorced mother of two. I was married for 15 years and dated my husband for five years before that. I've obviously been out of the dating scene for a long time. I'd like to know how to negotiate sex, particularly if you're dating more than one person-but you're in your forties like me. I know the rules have changed. That is, sex is not the big thing it was when we were young. But it's not insignificant either. Can you give me some psychological/spiritual guidelines?
-Dating Again

Dear Dating,
Emotionally, sex is always a big thing, even if you try to keep it casual. It ties into your upbringing, your values, and your deepest feelings. While it's true that attitudes have changed, the basic human emotions haven't. You will still have to deal with strong desire, deep inhibitions, jealousies, and misunderstandings.

I think the key is to be yourself. Know what you want at this time in your life, and make it clear to your partners. Ideally, your sexual style will be a mixture of vision and passion. You know basically who you are and what you believe in, and at the same time you're a passionate person. You're complicated, as all mature people are.

Spirituality in sex begins with honesty and generosity. You don't justify sex with love you don't feel. You aren't only half present in sex because of old guilt or confusion. Mature spirituality doesn't consist in a list of rules that oversimplify your complicated relationships. (If you're going to have more than one lover, life will be complicated.) Because you're older and know more about life, your sexuality could be more intense now and more satisfying than ever. The secret is to be freely and fully engaged.

I suggest that you give more energy to being yourself with new partners than trying to catch up with current trends. If you're an interesting person and as thoughtful as you appear to be, you will have a great time with people who want to be with you. That's the real secret of sex!

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