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When Rhonda Lynn Way was in her 50s and on the dating scene for the first time since she was 21, she had no idea where to start. She tried to use dating apps, but the experience felt bizarre and daunting. Way is now 63 and still single. Throughout their adult life, their generation has had higher rates of separation and divorce, and lower rates of marriage in the first place , than the generations that preceded them. And as people are living longer, the divorce rate for those 50 or older is rising. But that longer lifespan also means that older adults, more than ever before, have years ahead of them to spark new relationships.

And what age is appropriate? The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that on average, girls begin dating as early as 12 and a half years old, and boys a year older.

At this age, it probably means your son or daughter is sitting next to a special someone at lunch or hanging out at recess. Groups play a big role in relaying information about who likes whom. For eighth-graders, dating likely means lots of time spent texting or talking on the phone, sharing images on social media, and hanging out in groups.

Some kids may have progressed to hand-holding as well.

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In high school, strong romantic attachments can be formed and things can get serious, fast. When your child mentions dating, or a girlfriend or boyfriend, try to get an idea of what those concepts mean to them.

Jan 08,   "At this age, there's so much life stuff that's happened, good and bad. It's hard to meld with someone." Health becomes a pressing .

Take note of how your child reacts when you discuss dating. Be aware that for many tweens and young teenagers, dating amounts to socializing in a group.

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This kind of group stuff is a safe and healthy way to interact with members of the opposite sex without the awkwardness that a one-on-one scenario can bring. Think of it as dating with training wheels. So, when is a child ready for one-on-one dating? Consider their emotional maturity and sense of responsibility.

For many kids, 16 seems to be an appropriate age, but it may be entirely suitable for a mature year-old to go on a date, or to make your immature year-old wait a year or two. You can also consider what other parents are doing.

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Are lots of kids the same as yours already dating in the true sense of the word? And be kind. Teenage relationships can gather steam quickly. Finding a good match can be particularly hard for straight older women, who outnumber their male counterparts. Women tend to live and stay healthier longer, and they also tend to wind up with older men ; the older they get, the smaller and older their pool of potential partners grows.

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One possible explanation for this gender disparity is that men rely more on their partners-not just when it comes to cooking and housework, but also for emotional and social support.

Women are more likely to have their own friends to lean on, and they may not be eager to take care of another man. Still, healthy men are in high demand in assisted-living homes, Brown told me. And many of the older women I spoke with said that they were desperate to find someone active, screening dating profiles for mentions of physical activity and asking sly questions about family health conditions. Health becomes a pressing dating concern once people enter their final stage of life.

One year-old woman I spoke with, who asked not to be identified in order to protect her privacy, has been dating an year-old man for more than 10 years.

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When she visits him in his retirement home a few times a week, she can sense that his health is declining. Without kids to take care of or jobs to juggle, older adults are forming the kinds of relationships that work for them. Read: What happens when we all live to ?

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Those relationships, whether casual or serious, typically involve sex. Some researchers have found evidence of a loss of libido in older age, especially among women, but other researchers I interviewed disputed that.

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Of course, there are physical challenges: Starting around age 50, erections are more difficult to sustain and less har and take longer to regain after orgasm. Natural vaginal lubrication dries up, the pelvic floor becomes prone to spasms, and the cervix thins out and becomes irritable.

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Sex can be painful, or just embarrassing or frustrating. And many of the medical conditions that are common in older adults, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease-or the medications used to treat them-get in the way as well, impacting libido, erectile function, or response to sexual stimulation. But there are plenty of ways to get around those limitations, from Viagra to hormone-replacement therapies to lubricants.

Donate now. How the Age UK network has adapted to the challenges of the coronavirus crisis to support older people.

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Meet some of the special people raising money to help us be there for older people during the coronavirus crisis.

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted the volume of calls to Age UK's Advice Line, as staff manning the phones reveal. Read more articles.

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What It's Like to Date After Middle Age

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