Don't, no matter how temping it seems!
Whether you're 20 or 60, I'm a firm believer that a friends with benefits relationship doesn't work. Regardless of age, most people can't have emotionless sex. Your body produces oxytocin -- the lover hormone -- during intercourse, so removing sex from emotion is as impossible as getting a catchy song out of your head. People who can shut down their emotions are few and far between. I understand that you may find yourself newly widowed or divorced, but you will want to think twice before embarking on a journey of sex for sex sake.
At some point in any friendship, curiosity about the other person will peak. You're single, the other person is single, and you enjoy each other's company... Add a couple glasses of wine and suddenly it seems reasonable. Research says the brain is your most powerful sex organ since dopamine has the largest effect on libido. So I'm going to ask you to put your brain in gear and consider some things before you venture into the murky waters of friends with benefits. Be very honest with yourself! What do you want? What do you deserve? If this person truly is a friend, are you willing to risk that friendship and the so-called benefit simply because you decided to combine the two?
I believe the title of "friends with benefits" is really a safety net for feelings. People naturally want more. I know one woman who proudly touted her friends with benefits status and the simplicity of it all until her job asked her to relocate. Her first thought? That her "friend" needed to relocate too! Despite her initial easy-going attitude about having a friend with benefits, she had romantic feelings that she hadn't allowed to surface until a life change forced her to see the reality of the situation.
So why are women settling for friends with benefits? Dating is exhausting and passion is exciting. We've already had a lifetime of experience seasoned with great loves and equally great disappointments. Believe it or not as an empty nester, we sometimes have less time. We're fitting dating into a full calendar and when we do jump into dating with both feet, we aren't just asking "Am I ready to put myself out there (again)," the question has suddenly become, "Have I still got it?"
Women end up testing the "Have I still got it?" by seeking out passion, and passion is intoxicating. Women typically mistake this excitement and mystery for reality. I do want to burst your bubble if you're thinking like this because that friend with benefits is not perfect; you just haven't had enough face time to notice the scuffs and dents in the armor. Think of it like shopping -- that new outfit you've pulled out of the shopping bag feels fabulous to wear the first time, but after being dry cleaned and worn countless times it slowly makes its way to the back of your closet because it doesn't have that same magic.
Now, for the sake of argument, let's say you beat the odds and you really are just friends with benefits... good benefits. Do you really think you will want to lose good sex? Hell no, you want to hang on to it! So here's another complication to add to list.
If you really buy into the friends with benefits concept, please know that the relationship is not about what each of you adds to the other's life. At the core, you are performing a robotic routine and you would get as much (or more) out of a bedroom accessory. If you are friends with benefits, I urge you to examine your relationship: Are you really engaging in anything more than mutual manipulation? If you want something bad enough, like a relationship, you have to make the time and fit that person in to your life -- not just your bedroom.
Know that you deserve more. Intimacy with commitment is more fulfilling at any stage of life. As we age and we grow more comfortable with ourselves and our bodies, we become less timid to ask for what we want in the bedroom. Like a fine bottle of wine, I truly believe that we become better, more robust and wiser with the passing of time. Experience almost always trumps enthusiasm, and intimacy is no different. True companionship doesn't stop the second you're out of bed.
Sometimes it feels like the foundation of your social life is so strong that you no longer find the opportunity to meet new and exciting people. Throw a barbecue or party in which guests bring a friend that no one in the group knows. Alternatively, tag along with a friend the next time their office has a company picnic or function -- this is a great way to meet somebody who you know is responsible enough to hold down a career and who you can 'check out' with an acquainted friend before you agree to a date.
There's no longer a stigma about a woman learning to golf or a man taking a Pilates class, though such activities are still gender lopsided enough one way or the other to open up the dating options for the minority sex. In time you'll be able to go to a local public course and complete someone else's foursome, or cap off an exercise class by going for coffee with some of your fellow students -- both of which will give you the opportunity to meet a host of new people (most likely of the opposite sex). Just make sure you're doing something you want to do -- it would be a shame to begin a relationship under false pretenses.
Organizations such as "Habitat For Humanity" allow you to come into contact with people of all ages and from all walks of life, all of whom have strong, respectable values. And it's not just a great chance to meet a prospective date -- volunteering attracts interesting, good-natured people who themselves are excited to meet new faces and make friends.
Book clubs are great places to meet well-read, like-minded adults -- you can usually find one by calling your local library. Similarly, wine clubs, outdoors clubs and gardening clubs are good options as well depending on your interests. Joining a club allows you to grow as an individual and sets up the opportunity for you to meet someone who shares a common interest.
Singles over 50 are flocking to the online dating world more than any other demographic. It would be a shame to let 20th century prejudices about online dating spoil the opportunities that could await you with a membership. The perception that dating sites attract eccentrics or shut-ins is a dying one, but if you need convincing, just see for yourself the array of adults turning to sites like "Match" and "eHarmony" to help them begin meaningful relationships with interesting people. Here are the top five most popular dating sites for Post50s.