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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Back in Dating Game Must Try and Try Again

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 57-year-old male who has been thrust back into the dating scene. I'm financially secure, in good health and have a good career. I'm searching for someone near my age who has similar achievements in life, someone I can communicate with in and out of the bedroom. Simple request, right?

What I'm realizing is that dating hasn't changed much over the years. If one of the parties isn't happy and decides to leave, someone gets hurt. (I have been on both sides.) I am starting to fear expressing my feelings openly and honestly, and if it eventually does come to sex, it's creating performance anxiety. I understand this is all part of the dating ritual and called "baggage," but for me, it's preventing me from being honest, and I'm trying to avoid it.

I see a female therapist who says I just haven't met the right person yet, and I agree. I have a female friend in a similar situation who has become so bitter she now avoids men completely. My male friends tell me to quit looking for a long-term commitment and just date for sex. Neither of these options appeals to me.

My age-old question is: How does a person find a happy balance in this dating world? -- DATING SCENE IN ARIZONA

DEAR DATING SCENE: "Dating" means different things to different people. To your male friends -- as you have found out -- it means a sexual free-for-all. For others, dating is a sifting process that lasts until they meet someone they're comfortable enough with to communicate honestly.

In any successful relationship, communication is key. That's why it's important to be honest with the women you meet, and for them to be the same way with you. That's how people get to know each other beyond the surface, and it's how trust is built. Chemistry is important, but it has to be mutual. You will know it when you find it. Listen to what your therapist is saying because she's steering you in the right direction.

Read more in: Love & Dating