The next morning (or even that night) come the recriminations: Was it wrong to give that person the sexual green light when you had no intention of rekindling the emotional side of the relationship?Marilyn, a 57-year-old single colleague of mine, recently reconnected with someone she had worked with many years ago. "No," Marilyn said with a laugh, "it's better than that: I'm in like with him — and that's exactly where I want to be." She further confided that they planned to make their reunions "a regular thing — if four times a year can be called 'regular.' But I think that's about all I really want." Marilyn's casual approach to maintaining a friendship with benefits typifies the mindset of older folks who have reconciled themselves to having "great fun" even if it's "just one of those things." And episodic pleasure-seeking may be more common than you think: In The Normal Bar, a book I wrote last year with Chrisanna Northrup and James Witte, we reported that 61 percent of female survey respondents who had partners fantasized about someone they had met.
Having some amount of old photos on display is a good idea if he and the late wife had kids. Frequently divorced men share with their dates their feelings that their ex-wife was a skank, dumbass, or spendthrift. (History does not record for us how that affected his next relationship or the other concubines, concurrent or subsequent.) Isn't it possible he would do something like this for you, too? I have to admit my "baggage comparison" isn't really as decisive as I might have wished.Can a casual sexual relationship exact an emotional toll?For sure, people who associate intimacy with commitment are ill-suited to sex that's as meaningful as a summer breeze; for them, the FWB arrangement would be a bad idea.Many older divorced or widowed men and women are in the same boat. You're probably not desperate enough to stalk your neighbors, or to go looking for friends with benefits in all the wrong places (bars come to mind).They feel protective of their privacy and peace of mind, but they haven't become eunuchs or hermits. But offered a chance to reconnect with someone from your past — dinner with your high school steady, for example — you might just surprise yourself by winding up in bed.