I want to know more about condoms. I'm beginning to explore my sexuality again after leaving my marriage. I want protection but also pleasure for my partner. I doubt a condom can do that, but I know I won't engage otherwise.
I'm glad to hear that you are going to protect your health. You're in a new phase of life, and I would imagine that you're feeling somewhat nervous about resuming sexual activity with a new man or men. The last thing you need right now is morning-after regret or panic about whether or not your partner had a sexually-transmitted disease (STD). Unfortunately, some of us get caught in the heat of passion without that helpful little packet of latex. I suggest carrying condoms in your bag. Just remember to exchange them for new ones fairly frequently: latex is weakened by heat, and you don't want that.
Also remember to look at your partner's body. A shower together before sex is a nice form of foreplay, but it's also a chance to glance at his skin. If he's got any open sores on his scrotum or the skin of his groin, or anything that looks like genital warts, be aware that you can contract some STDs if you have skin-to-skin contact with an infected area. A condom won't cover his balls or the skin on his genital region and butt.
Remember, too, that you can only catch a disease if your partner has one. We all get so worried a bout safer sex these days that we sometimes forget that not everybody has HIV or hepatitis or some other dangerous condition.
I hear your concern that a condom will adversely affect your male partner's pleasure. But he has some control over just how much. Most men who are comfortable with using condoms on a regular basis tell me that they learned how by using them when they masturbated. If any of my male readers are interested in this educational process, let me quickly describe it. Get your cock hard. Put on a condom. Jerk off. If you can't come, take it off for the grand finale. But the idea is to keep using condoms until you are able to come while you have one on. It's also important to feel at ease opening the package, deciding which side is up, putting the thing on, and then getting your cock done with a rubber on.
Putting a little dab of lubricant in the reservoir tip of the condom can increase sensation for him. This makes the condom slip up and down on his cock, providing some stimulation. Thinner condoms allow the warmth of your body to come through. When you put the condom on, you can do it in a sensual way. Or your eagerness to get the damn thing on his dick can be a turn-on just because it's clear you really want to get it on with him. Some women practice being able to put a condom on with their mouths, and this is a nice party trick, but I don't think it's required.
Some guys prefer certain brands of condoms over others. So you might want to ask him to bring his preferred brand. If you turn out to be regular sex partners, you can keep his favorite around. Experimenting with a different kind or color of condom can be arousing fun. The main point is, anything that involves you paying attention to his cock will probably make him happy.
Remember that he doesn't have to come inside of you. Some men like using condoms because it helps them to last longer during intercourse. They can fuck their girl until she's a soggy little puddle of gulping gratification, then take the rubber off and jerk off or have her handle the equipment until ejaculation ensues.
A couple of cautions. Don't use condoms that have nonoxynol-9 in the lubricant. This chemical can cause vaginal soreness or an allergic reaction. It was initially put in condom lubrication because this detergent kills HIV in test tubes. But research has shown that in the human body, it's so irritating that it actually increases the risk of transmission. And—a few people develop an allergy to latex over time. You don't want to ignore something like this. Some brands of condoms are made out of plastic, and are less likely to cause a skin reaction. (They are also less flexible, and I wonder if they are more likely to break.)
With a new partner, check his cock frequently to make sure the condom is still in place. It should be put on his cock when he is erect, with the dollop of extra lube, and during vigorous sex he may need to hold it in place to make sure it doesn't slip inside of you. Precum can contain microbes, so don't allow contact between this slippery substance and your mucous membranes. After he comes, he should withdraw holding the condom in place, and dispose of it safely.
People have no business having sex until they are prepared to use birth control and prevent transmission of STDs. If a guy you are hot for has a hissy fit about wrapping his meat, pass him by. Even if it's just for one encounter, you want a partner who respects himself and you enough to take care of you both.