Recently, I've been forced to reevaluate the value of this arrangement.
About this columnist:
You know how one minute you're in a happy and fulfilling marriage and the next you find out that your husband of 20 years has been cheating on you with someone 10 years younger? Well I do. I went from country club wife and mother of high school students to a single, 39-year-old “cougar.” In this weekly feature, I will share with you all the mind-boggling, head-scratching, is-this-someone's-idea-of-a-joke moments from my so-called single life. Consider this your private invitation to my tremendous learning curve…
I was offended by several aspects of the single life when I was forced back into the world of dating. I liked my marriage and my life, so when everything fell apart I felt like I'd been cast adrift in an ocean of sharks with an inner tube around my waist.
More than one girlfriend and guy friend suggested I consider the "friends with benefits" approach to relationships while I waited for "the one" to come along. After being in a committed, monogamous (on my end anyway) relationship for so many years, my brain was literally hardwired for full-time commitment. I couldn't fathom a day when I thought it would be OK to have somewhat casual sex with an acquaintance that I had no intention of getting involved with until…
I've mentioned in other articles my fascination with the "cougar" phenomenon whereby young men are attracted to older women. I don't know why it exists when there are so many attractive, thinner, able-bodied, kid-less young women parading around. Maybe young guys are bored with their partying peers, maybe it's a rite of passage that they all brag about with one another or maybe older women just baby guys more. I don't get it, but it exists.
Lately, I've found myself in this habit of meeting up with a 31-year-old on occasion for a dinner out, or a sporting event and sometimes that leads to a little (in the immortal words of Borat) "sexy time." Four years ago when I was going through a divorce, I would have been horrified at what I'm doing now. But it works. I don't want to date, I don't want a boyfriend right now and while he's kind of a punk — and not the kind of boy you bring home to Mom, the kids, the dog — he's young, hot, fun and has a good sense of humor. For right now when I've got to scratch that itch, he's my go-to place.
There are several crucial elements to the successful friends with benefits arrangement, many of which you can figure out on your own as far as physical attraction, etc. The one element that must be present for this arrangement to be successful is that you really don't want to be in a relationship with the guy.
You can find him cute and funny, and you should feel some level of affection for him like you would a friend (or the sex will suck), but he has to be a guy that you say, "Yeah, he's fun for the weekend and all, but he's not boyfriend material." If you enter a "friends with benefits" situation and you have a crush on the guy and you're hoping something will materialize, you are headed for disaster. Your friend with benefits has to fall into the Mr. Right Now category — and by right now, I mean for 24 to 48 hours.
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