Sex & Relationships

Friends with Benefits?….or more?

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Every month in Sex at Our Age, award-winning senior sexpert Joan Price answers your questions about everything from loss of desire to solo sex and partner issues. Nothing is out of bounds! To send your questions directly to Joan, email sexpert@seniorplanet.org.

Friends with Benefits?….or more?

I am a sensual, 68-year-old woman. I believe that sexual satisfaction, including “sex for one,” is a healthy practice. For a decade after my partner died, I didn’t meet anyone whom I found appealing as a potential lover. Six months ago, I met a man online who changed that. We exchanged emails and photos, then met in person within the week. We have much in common, including intense attraction.

We became sexual, and we’re extremely compatible and uninhibited. The better I know him, the more I like him, not just physically. I feel it could grow into love.

However, he is just emerging from a long, ill-fated marriage. He is reluctant to enter another relationship, even though he says he yearns for the smiles, laughter and gentle touch of a kind woman. I told him I enjoy our times together, but I’m not interested in marriage or living together. We agreed, at his request, to become “friends with benefits.” However, I don’t think  that describes what we share very well.

We have great sex, but also real dates a couple of times a week– not just booty calls. We talk on the phone daily. We’ve met each other’s families. We’ve seen each other through illness. How are we just “friends with benefits”? Isn’t FWB just uncomplicated sex? This feels like much more.

I caution myself that he may decide he wants to meet and date other women, since he’s been out of the dating pool for over 35 years. Do I need to guard my heart?

FWB Or More?

Joan responds:

You’re right, we don’t have the vocabulary to describe the different types of relationships that we may experience these days. Personally, I differentiate between “booty call” or “hook-up” that are just for sex and “friend with benefits” (FWB) that includes a caring, strong friendship along with good sex.

A sexual partner who is more than a playmate, more than a FWB, but not a committed, in-love-with partner needs its own term. I suggest “date mate” — somewhere between dating and mating, with plenty of lust.

Your relationship sounds stronger than FWB and seems to be growing towards love. By not pressuring him and staying in the moment, you’re enjoying the friendship and the sex, and he can feel comfortable taking small steps towards more intimacy.

Should you guard your heart? He may eventually want to date and have sex with other women and experience what he’s missed for 35 years. But that doesn’t have to mean a broken heart and an end to your relationship. Many in our age group practice consensual nonmonogamy. That means you agree that it’s not a relationship killer if one or both of you want to explore sex with others, while still staying together. You’re honest with each other and figure out what boundaries you each need to make this work. If this relationship model interests you, read “Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships” by Tristan Taormino. Check out this review on my blog.   

I asked a 74-year-old man who is newly exploring consensual nonmonogamy for his take on your question: “Dating other women will help him sort the deck and recognize what a special person she is. Should she guard her heart? In my view, one can be in love with someone—even deeply so—and take joy in his freedom without possessing or limiting him.”

Is that something you might accept? Whatever you decide, honest communication is key. Right now, you’re enjoying the companionship and the sexual connection, but you don’t know how he sees the relationship progressing and what he wants. Here are some ways you might approach the conversation:

  1. We agreed to be “friends with benefits,” but we never told each other what that term means to each of us. How would you have defined it when we first became sexual?
  2. Has the meaning of “friends with benefits” changed for you over the months we’ve been seeing each other?
  3. To me, our relationship feels like much more than friends who have sex. Is that just me? Do we need a new term to describe our relationship?
  4. Do you see yourself wanting to date other women at some point?
  5. If one of us wants to date others, would our relationship have to end? Might it become non-exclusive if we agree to that?
  6. Are you interested in learning more about what’s called “consensual nonmonogamy”?

Of course, if you don’t think you could accept a non-exclusive relationship, skip the last two questions. If he answers yes to #4 and sexual exclusivity is non-negotiable for you, this might be a short-term relationship. You can still enjoy it while it’s happening, and I hope you will. Just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean you failed. Most relationships end, and they can still be joyful and valuable.

Readers, does the term, “date mate” describe the kind of sexy, affectionate but not committed relationship that “FWB Or More?” is having? If so, help me get it into our everyday language. Or suggest another term if you have one.

Would you like to see more questions and answers? See all of Joan’s advice in Sex@Our Age.

Send Joan your questions by emailing sexpert@seniorplanet.org. All information is confidential. Joan can only answer questions that are chosen for publication.

Joan Price is the author of several books including “The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50” and the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age.” Visit Joan’s  blog, “Naked at Our Age” and her Facebook page. For senior sex news, tips, event and webinar announcements, and special offers, join Joan’s mailing listView Joan’s new free webinar, “Safer Sex for Seniors.”

 

 

 

COMMENTS

10 responses to “Friends with Benefits?….or more?

  1. What I have to explore is THE PHILOSOPHY OF CULTIVATING PLEASURE, pleasure exist on many levels. There are more ways to create pleasure ,imagination is the key good old chin wags . Talking. is the best foreplay of the mind being comfortable is important ,trust is earned . Then shared pleasure. Why is talking about pleasure so dam hard dam politically correct shit. We are all over the hills many years ago . I have explored nudity, naked yoga ,nudism sure my body got lot of extra bumps scares spots came out of nowhere teeth sleep in a cup but my body is a lot of fun .The biggest thing ladies talk about is the fear of self imposed guilt denial, that was taught growing up is hard to loose. Look at pain that shit just happens out of our control mental physical can harsh my mellow. Now pleasure is of our own creation that’s where cultivation comes in like a garden of delights has to be cared for to get the best. That’s where philosophy comes in intelligent conversions between to people who lived , Now pleasure is a great philosophy to explore,!!!!!! Keep up the good work. MORE MAYBE LATER SMILE IT KEEPS PEOPLE GUESSING

  2. To me, it isn’t any different than when one is younger and in a dating relationship that involves sexual intimacy. So “dating” works…”we’re dating”. I don’t think it needs special labels at certain ages. But as you outline, she senses that he may be feeling less emotionally attached than she is, which is why she is questioning. The open, honest questions are important to define that she feels she is feeling more committed and attached and it is evolving for her and she would like to understand what he’s feeling now. If they aren’t on the same page, she either has to “guard her heart” or end it and find another who might want more. Maybe in the beginning she thought no-strings sex and companionship was what she wanted, but maybe she’s discovering that she may want more than that in the future. I would also think that “safe sex” at any age should be practiced. She met him on the internet…neither one of them know where they have been or what they have been doing. Personally, I would want STD and AIDS testing before I started a sexual relationship or at the very least, protected sex.

  3. In the past, people in their fifties, sixties and more rarely “dated”. We are the first generation to expect to continue our emotional and sexual lives, and thanks to the internet, it is much easier than before . But we are making it up as we go along. Monogamy serves a purpose when one has a family, is sharing a home, perhaps buying property together. Now we are free to explore different kinds of relationships. It doesn’t have to be any “model”, just what suits you both. Of course, it can be difficult to let go of jealousy and possessiveness.

  4. My wife of 44 years, who I loved more than life itself, passed away in september,2017 of cancer, 8 weeks of hospice and gone. I have always had this companion. Now I don’t even have a clue where to begin to look for a companion, commitment,good times, bad times, trust, sex,family relationship,you name it. The tears of loneliness are drowning me. We always had a good relationship. How does one start anew?

    1. I know how this feels, William — I’ve been there. Take all the time you need to grieve. There’s no timeline that fits all. In my case, I thought I was ready to date, then discovered no, I wasn’t. After much more time, I finally was. Even then, there were times that grief overwhelmed me. It’s not linear — we don’t grieve and then we’re done. We go in and out of grief, cycling through it. Whatever we feel, however we react, it’s all normal.

      When you do feel ready to seek companionship, you might find my “How the Heck Do I Date at This Age?” webinar useful. Learn more at https://seniorplanet.org//betterthanieverexpected.blogspot.com/2017/08/webinars-joan-prices-senior-sex-online.html.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, William. I know that many people are asking the same questions.

      – Joan Price

    2. Dear William these are the most difficult times I know it’s hard to even get out of bed some days but you need to keep faith and be strong and know that she’s in a better place it took me a few years to come to terms with the loss of my husband I totally understand where you’re coming from I will keep you in my prayers and know that in good time it does get better but the only way you will ever be able to be free from this pain is to surround yourself with love ones take it one day at a time have a blessed day Yours truly Jules

    3. Hey I completely understand am very lonely too but my husband not dead. He just won’t be there emotionally for me. We don’t have sex not even a hug most if the time not even a good morning. I miss hugs lol and smiles and a good morning even would be great.. you’re not alone. Just wanted you to know.

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