Why Friends With Benefits Is a Bad Idea

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Midlife daters would be wise to avoid blurring the lines of friendship.

Friends with benefits can cause a good friendship to end.

There are a lot of things to celebrate about dating in midlife, namely that you’re smarter about what you want from a romantic relationship now than you were in your 20s. But there are also times when you might feel lonely and in need of some comfort. Maybe you’re even thinking about hooking up with an old pal in a “friends with benefits” situation. But before you do it, here are some things to consider.

False Perception of Comfort

We all get lonely a time or two, and friends with benefits might seem like the perfect solution. After all, you’ve got a buddy who knows you and is attracted enough to you to spend the night. But after the sex is over, you will still be left with the empty feelings that drove you to seek out your friend to begin with. Only this time, you’ll add that weird feeling that comes with changing your friendship to include physical contact. Weird feelings with a little bit of loneliness? It can make you feel really bad about your situation and increase the perception that you’re alone.

One Person Has Romantic Feelings

As a dating writer, I’ve heard about a lot of friends with benefits situations, and in nearly every case one of the friends tended to have hidden romantic feelings for the other. For one person, sex was more than just attraction and friendship. This led to feelings of confusion for one of the friends, and even fear that they couldn’t really share their feelings. What do you do when the person you normally talk to about things like this is the one you’re having feelings about?

It’s Not Just About Your Body

Friends with benefits might seem like the perfect situation in midlife because you’ve got your act together and believe you can have sex without emotional attachment. That’s a perception that doesn’t quite hold water in the real world, however, because with the release of endorphins and oxytocin, your body will experience closeness with the person you’re having sex with that you can’t turn off with your mind. Combine that with the emotional bond that you already have with your friend, and you’ll get a mass of confused feelings heading your way that will make you wish you’d have kept your clothes on and your bedroom door locked.

Midlife Doesn’t Have to Mean Settling for Sex Without Emotion

Some midlife daters opt for sex with a friend because they don’t want to get married. But even if you’d like to remain single, friends with benefits will take away from all the hard-won sexual independence you deserve. It might seem like an evolved way to cure a sexual craving, but in reality it will add to emotional confusion. This is exactly what you’re too smart for as a midlife dater. Of the many benefits that dating in midlife has, knowing you don’t have to settle is at the top of the list.

Moving Forward With a New Relationship Can Be Difficult

I’ve talked to many daters who said that after they had sex with a friend, they found it more difficult to go on to date with someone else. In some cases, they felt guilty about trying to find a true romantic partner. Their dating life became something they could no longer discuss with their friend. In an effort not to hurt their friend’s feelings, some people even began to lie to their pal about the dates they went on.

The question to ask yourself is: Do you want to stay friends with this person down the line? A friends with benefits arrangement will make that difficult.