Q: I'm getting back into dating after the loss of a spouse of many years, and I'm concerned about STDs. How do I handle the situation?
See also: Discreet ways to get condoms, STD tests.
A: An important question. I was shocked to see a 2009 AARP survey on sexuality that found only 12 percent of men and 33 percent of women always or regularly use condoms. This is crazy because there are rates, although not high, of sexually transmitted infections in our age group. Still, who wants to risk a disease, even if the risk is low?
So, I think an adult conversation is in order. Always carry a condom and make sure you know how to use it safely. When things get hot and heavy, take the condom out and use it. You can make a nice remark such as, "I was hoping this would happen, so I got a condom." If she is at all insulted, tell her that you believe in safe sex for her and for you, and this is nothing but respect for each other's health.
After awhile, if you feel that this is a steady relationship, you can have that, "are we going to be monogamous" discussion and decide to get tested together for any infections. If you both have none, which is likely, you can discontinue using condoms if you trust your partner — and yourself — enough to have sex only with one another. That is a leap of faith, however, and some people like to continue using condoms, no matter what.