Ask Joan: A Widow’s Needs
Note: This is a composite question based on combining several similar questions from widows. – Joan Price
A Widow’s Needs
I was married for 40 years when my husband died. We had our ups and downs, but it was a good, loving relationship, and we continued to have sex until he got too sick. Now, two years after his death, I’m still grieving emotionally, but physically, my body is crying for sex. I get hugs from my friends, and I masturbate, but that’s not enough. I long for human touch, teasing, arousal. I want to feel an orgasm that I didn’t create all on my own.
How do I find a good man who wants no-strings-attached sex?
Not ready to date, but…
Start dating again, you’ll say? But I know I’m not ready for a new relationship, I’m still grieving. I just want sex from someone who cares about my pleasure and enjoys my company but doesn’t need any more than mutual sexual satisfaction and kind words. How do I find a good man who wants no-strings-attached sex?
I don’t want to use the swipe-left-swipe-right apps that depend on physical appearance — I’m a 65-year-old woman who’s been crying for two years, and it shows. I thought the online dating sites that let you write a longer profile would be a good source of “prospects.”
I worry that it would draw the creeps that just want sex without caring about my pleasure, consent, or safety.
But would I be misleading potential matches if they’re looking for their next life partner and I’m only looking for my next sex partner? If I stated that fact up front, though, I worry that it would draw the creeps that just want sex without caring about my pleasure, consent, or safety.
How do I do this? If I find someone willing to share sex with me without wanting more, what are the rules these days? STI testing? Condoms? What if he has no idea how to please me and vice versa? The more I think about how to have sex with someone new after 40 years with my husband, the more defeated I feel. Should I give up on this idea until I feel ready for a new relationship (if that ever happens)?
– Widow Just Wants Sex
Joan responds: I’m so sorry for your loss. Grief affects sexuality in different ways. Some grievers shut down, go numb, and can’t imagine sex with a new person for years, if ever. Some want to be sexual immediately for stress release, a hunger for touch, and the yearning to reclaim joy. Most are somewhere in between, coming to sexual need on their own timeline. As I’m sure grief counselors have told you, we don’t get over grief, we just get through it.
Your body speaks
You feel ready for sex, but not for a commitment or a serious relationship. This is quite common and not shameful. Your body is asserting itself, and you know you would be comforted by sexual pleasure. Good for you for keeping a masturbation practice going — orgasms are good for you! It’s understandable that the kind of sex you crave now includes another human being giving you touch and stimulation.
I strongly urge you to read my latest book, Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality after Losing Your Beloved. Along with all the topics you bring up, I write about different kinds of relationships that are possible with new people that do not involve commitment. It sounds like you’re looking for a “friend with benefits” a.k.a. “FWB.”
As I write in Sex After Grief about my own search for a FWB, “I wasn’t looking for love, but I was looking for satisfying sex without commitment or expectations for the future. My ideal sex buddy would be an interesting man who pleasured me in bed, held my interest out of bed, genuinely cared for me as a friend, yet didn’t want us to be a couple. He would not demand much of my time, but when we were together, we would be completely focused on each other. Then he would go away until the next time.
In other words, I wanted a “friend with benefits” (FWB) with as much emphasis on “friend” as on “benefits.”
The key is honesty, finessed to protect your vulnerability and safety.
Widow and Widower supports
I hear from other widows and widowers that they found their FWB on dating sites or grief support groups, or they were old friends or former lovers. The key is honesty, finessed to protect your vulnerability and safety. For example, you might join Match or OkCupid and include in your profile something like this:
I’ve been widowed for two years, and this is my first time dabbling in online dating. I am trying to balance my grief with a need to move forward. I seek an understanding, non-judgmental, open-minded man who will become a friend — possibly with benefits. I’d like to get to know you first to see if there are sparks, with the understanding that I’m not interested in a romantic or committed relationship, and that’s fine with you.
Making it work
Once you find someone, here’s how to make it work:
- Honesty. Be honest with with each other about what the relationship is and is not.
- Communicate your sexual needs, wants, preferences.
- Sexual generosity. Be intent on giving pleasure as much as receiving it.
- Safer sex always. View the free video, Safer Sex for Seniors with Joan Price.
- Laughter. Let setbacks become reasons for giggles and compassion.
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Middle Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash
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