Ask Wendy

Can Friends-with-Benefits Be Bad for You?

Friday, October 4, 2019
Hi Wendy,

I am a divorced woman in my early fifties. I’m looking for a long-term partner but am not currently dating anyone. I have a friend with benefits that I see occasionally, but I always end up feeling very depressed after seeing him. The depression is fairly intense and lasts at least a day. I really want to have sex sometimes and don’t think there is anything wrong with it because I’m not in a relationship and neither is he. But I can’t seem to get past the depression. And this has happened with other men that I’ve slept with in the past, too. When I was married, however, I didn’t feel the depression after sex. Any ideas on what to do?


Diana M.

Hey Diana,

Severe depression for days…that’s terrible!

We can noodle around with some lifehacks to see if we can get a different result, but it sounds to me like what you want is a partner, and the depression sets in after you get a taste of intimacy without the lasting connection aspect you crave. You might need to wrap your head around the concept that friends-with-benefits is not the best choice for you.

I used to drink alcohol socially. Around 40, I started getting headaches. By 45, I was getting headaches that lasted three days—just from one drink! So I stopped. Mostly. Except for when I didn’t. I always know I run the risk of a three-day headache, but sometimes I’m called to have a tasty adult beverage with a friend or three. Maybe it will be like that for you, knowing full well you run a likelihood of feeling terrible for days, but the moment speaks to you and so it’s worth it?

Much like a science experiment, you could try the following, but no guarantees:

Option 1) Plan a fun “hang out” day with your friend-with-benefits after sex. For example, you go out and do the dinner-and-sex thing on a Saturday night. He spends the night and takes you hiking all day Sunday. You have Sunday dinner together, and then part ways. In other words, spend the full 24 hours together so that you’re good and filled up with attention when you return to regular life and alone time.

Option 2) Only plan an evening with him if you also have a fun day planned with friends or family the next day to distract you from the post-hookup letdown. Choose people to hang out with that following day with whom you feel safe talking about the guy.

Option 3) Solo it the next day. If you do this, I recommend going out to a film, as movies suck you right out of your everyday life and into the fictional one on the screen. Bonus points for fantasy or sci-fi; the less like real life, the better!

Ultimately, if you find that it’s just not worth the downspin, then go to your local woman-owned sex shop and grab yourself a Hitachi and/or some other fun toys so you can take care of yourself while looking for your person—minus the post-hookup depression.

Good luck!

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