But then it gets you thinking: You're single, too — what could be so bad about a casual night in bed with someone you like but don't love?For 50-plus types unwilling to walk — possibly rewalk — the path that leads to romance, rings and relocation, the prospect of a "friend with benefits" is looking less and less like a millennial indulgence.After all, it gets awfully lonely waiting around for "the one." Perhaps you've decided that what you need at this point in your life is someone to talk to and laugh with — someone with whom you can share the sheets, but not the tax refund.
Possibly — until you stop to consider how many of us are comfortable with being unpartnered but how few of us are willing to remain untouched.Sixty-something sexologist Joan Price, for one, endorses "gray hookups," but with a couple of strong caveats: The people involved must be emotionally capable of handling their status as noncommitted bed partners, and they must protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases.After55.com’s survey offers other possibilities closer to home for single seniors who live in a senior-housing or retirement community.We asked respondents to look over 25 potential senior-living activities to pick which ones interest them the most.In a national study conducted in 2012, the Center for Sexual Health Promotion found sex partners over 50 twice as likely to use a condom when they regarded a sexual encounter as casual rather than as part of an ongoing relationship.
Mature sex partners do not have the best track record when it comes to using condoms, but at least they're likelier to use them when they know very little about a partner's sexual past — or present!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.A few weeks later, she joined him for "a wonderful weekend" in his home state. (For men, the figure was 90 percent.) And should they be propositioned by someone they found attractive, 48 percent of the women (and 69 percent of the men) said they would be tempted to have sex outside the relationship."Don't book the church yet, Mom — it was just a hookup!" At first, her disclosure strikes you as too much information.The following list is my best attempt at summarizing the results of my informal survey, with a few of my own observations based on a bit of research I conducted myself.