Are Friends with Benefits after 40 Really a Good Idea?
By Franki Hanke
What you need to know for happy, healthy sex.
Call it friends with benefits (“FWB”), a one-night stand, a no-strings-attached encounter, or simply sex with a friend. No matter what the question remains the same. Are friends with benefits over 40 a good idea?
There isn’t a simple answer.
Many of us are lonely, and for some, there’s nothing wrong with wanting sex. If you’re in a safe and consensual situation, this type of relationship can be healthy and fulfilling. But all relationships, rely on trust and communication.
Know Yourself (and Your Needs) First
Before you can communicate your needs, you have to consider what they are. If you’ve been friends with benefits before (or are now) think about the situation.
-Are you happy now?
-What makes you feel fulfilled and happy around sex?
-What sexual encounters or situations have felt unfulfilling or bad?
-What level of exclusivity matters to you?
-What are you seeking from this relationship?
It’s totally understandable to want sex. But, if you only want sex in a monogamous relationship, then these type of encounters won’t be positive for you. You first have to know what you want to communicate that in real life.
If thinking about sex like this is new, start with some education. Work on being comfortable talking about sex and the emotions around it.
Read Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski for an introduction to female sexuality. The book isn’t about friends with benefits relationships. However, it paves the way for understanding and discussing sexual pleasure.
Build from there with The Ethical Slut by Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton. Read it to learn about ethical non-monogamy. Much of our hesitation to flings stems from learned guilt about monogamy. This book, in the context of polyamory, is a frank discussion on this.
If you’re sexually unsated, but not ready for casual sexual encounters, try solo sex instead. Add in some fantasy romance fiction. If that idea is overwhelming right now, read Betty Dodson’s work. Vibrators are much less complicated than people.
Communicate Honestly and Often
Even more than monogamous relationships, sexual relationships need clear communication. You need to be clear about what everyone involved expects and wants from the FWB situation.
What does an enjoyable encounter together look like?
With a long-time best friend or a new person, you have to know expectations.
This definition might change. Oftentimes, we hear the story of an FWB that started fun but was painful when expectations changed. Communicate often and openly. Don’t worry about being embarrassed or emotional.
If you start wanting more emotional connection or exclusivity, communicate that. Even at the risk of the relationship ending, you have to be on the same page. Honesty is uncomfortable but important.
What kind of preamble do you want around sex?
For some, a phone call at 11 PM is completely acceptable. For others, direct requests for sex feels like being used. Communicate this with your partner.
-What kind of forewarning do you want for your schedule?
-Do your encounters need to involve hang-out time or dates along with sex?
-What language do you like or not like around sex?
What kind of after-care do you require after sex?
While your focus might be on your sexual encounters, sex can be emotional and raw. Communicate what you need after sex to feel fulfilled. Even a no-strings-attached relationship still involves people. People with feelings. You might want to continue spending time together after sex. That’s okay to want, but you have to say so.
Aftercare is part of sex. Every relationship involves care and respect. Be mature and open enough to say, “I don’t want to have sex if there’s not time to be together afterward.” or “I don’t want to have sex on nights where you can’t stay over.”
Seek partners who acknowledge your needs seriously. Do the same in return for your partners.
What are the boundaries and expectations for your friends with benefits over 40?
Before hurt feelings come on Valentine’s Day, communicate your expectations. Both in a serious context regarding peace of mind for sexual health and for your emotions.
-Will you have other partners?
-Do you need to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases?
-What types of sexual protection will you use with each other? —With other partners?
-What is the scope of your relationship?
There isn’t a single definition for a relationship. You can have a satisfying, serious relationship with a sexual partner that doesn’t involve dates, living together, or even celebrating Valentine’s Day together. The important thing isn’t what your relationship contains, but that you both know the expectations and agree to them.
Ultimately, friends with benefits over 40 is the same as any relationship; all people involved should communicate often and agree on expectations. Sex can be fulfilling and rewarding if done with respect for your partners and yourself.
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