“Friends with benefits” — do we need a new term?

Question to readers: I know that many people in our age group have “friends with benefits” (FWB), or would like to. Do we need a new term for it?

I’m talking about a relationship that is sexual but also a solid friendship — we like each other in and out of bed — yet it’s not a committed relationship and will not become one.

We’re not partners and we’re not dating exactly — we just get together when we both want to, and sex is usually part of the package. We stay in touch in between times together. We’re both free to pursue and explore other relationships. We don’t have goals of our FWB becoming more (or different) than the way we’re enjoying each other right now. It is what it is, and we like that.

It’s not the same as a “hookup” or “bootie call” because we share an emotional closeness — yet without any expectations or restrictions about what we do when we’re not together.

What do you think? Is “friends with benefits” a good enough term? Or does that sound too casual or non-caring? One person suggested “limited relationship” as opposed to “committed” or “primary” relationship, but that seems to emphasize what it isn’t rather than what it is. I suggested “lover-friends.” I hope you’ll add your point of view.

I hope you’ll post a comment using a first name of your choice (choose something other than “anonymous”), plus your age, please, so we can see how our generation thinks.

Feel free to add your FWB experience after age 50, if you care to share. I think this kind of relationship is far more common than we know!

Thank you in advance for commenting!



  1. Amber on March 12, 2023 at 3:33 pm

    When I was exploring polyamory in my fifties and early sixties, I called my relationships with men I was having sex with, lovers. When I became “primary” with one lover, it increased the complexity. Having other lovers who required less upkeep added spice.
    At 67, I am now in a monogamous marriage. 😉
    And still friends with my former lovers.

  2. Mary on March 11, 2023 at 7:09 am

    Currently in one. Divorced since 2019 after 37 years…the last 10-15 was devoid of sex altogether. Prior to that, husband had PE, so traditional intercourse was over very quickly and I have never experience a orgasm during penetration. Far too many years later of being sexy frustrated!

    I’ll be 72 in a few months and my FWB is 20 yrs. younger. He lives about 2 hrs. away. Not ideal…but nice right now. Very comfortable when we’re together, similar likes, no expectations of making it long term. Even better is the fact he has no trouble maintain an erection! I’ve been on a few dating sites and sadly have not found any men near my age, or where I live who I find interesting or attractive. To me, they’re old, out of shape, either a widower or are looking for a purse or a nurse. If there is no spark 🔥 when we meet…I know immediately not to continue. I’d like to add, my “boy toy” and I knew each other through texting/talking on phone for almost a year before we met. When we finally got together, spent an evening on my sofa watching a movie, did some light petting and then went to bed…I was so wet there was no lubricants necessary.

  3. Bobby Ray on March 11, 2023 at 6:42 am

    I am 62 this year and I just say lovers. We know what we are there for and we both agree.

  4. MrKelin158 on January 6, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    I am a single late 60's white male. Have been divorced for 10 yrs living alone. I am just now beginning to look for a serious relationship with someone who does not have marriage in mind. I have been alone long enough it would be hard to adjust to anyone in my life full time. I am not saying there might not be that very special person out there who could change everything. At my age I have no desire to have meaningless sex with just anyone. Their has to be a click between us to spark interest and feelings before we jump into bed. There is a special friend that we get together a very few times a year because of distance and job. Yes we consider what we have Close Friends with Benefits. Who knows maybe some day one of us will run into someone who steals us away or distance becomes no problems. But as this time we choose to use the saying Close Friends until something better comes along in words. To me your suggestion of lover friends especially with our own kids could spark other suggestions of words that could cause problems between everyone. To me close means you are in a special category as being more than just regular friends but with no mention of the relationship being of a sexual nature. Just my ideas. We may be seniors but we sure aren't dead. We have worked all our lives and raised families so now its OUR time.

  5. Cathie on December 9, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    I am a single 71 year old white woman who has not had sexual relationship in six years. I started a relationship with a man aged 74 who is very into giving oral sex. He also likes to talk dirty and the although I am NOT opposed to it I have never engaged in it and do not seem to be able to get the words out. Is there some place you could suggest for me to look for ways to start or practice? It also seems that he is too big for me in girth but not length and it makes it difficult to enjoy penetration. I have not known him very long but enjoy his company as he is intelligent and fun.

    • Margaret on March 11, 2023 at 7:13 pm

      Re: Talk dirty. For years I had an adverse reaction to “pussy”. Then the word became normalized by the 2016 election and subsequent women’s March. On Pinterest, search “sexy quotes for men.” I borrowed many of them …sometimes on postcards or cards or letters to my boyfriend. It loosened me up.

  6. Deb on December 8, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I am a 61 year old woman who had not been with a man for many years due to my husbands illnesses. I am single now and met the most wonderful 69 year old man. He was what I was looking for. Quiet, thoughtful before he spoke, kind, a musician. We loved to kiss and touch. We eventually ended up making love. He could get an erection but not maintain it. He was absolutely mortified. He felt the need to give me oral which was kind but not needed. He ended up disappearing from my life saying "you deserve a younger man who can meet your needs". No amount of talking could make him see otherwise. I am very sad now and wish we had just continued to kiss and cuddle. There are so many ways to be intimate…kissing, hugging, laying naked and massaging each other's bodies. I so wish he could have seen that his penis is not what I really wanted.

    • Cathie on December 9, 2015 at 4:23 pm

      This is a situation I am presently dealing with also. They just disappear I guess because they can't talk about it. But then I start to feel less than thinking perhaps I could have done more. Even though we discussed oral sex beforehand

    • Kendra Holliday on December 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      As a sex surrogate, I see many men in their 50's and 60's who have ED, especially with a partner. I try to teach them communication, vulnerability, how to deal with someone else's energy when they aren't used to it, relaxation, different creative approaches, and goal-free sex. I try to get through to them that sex is not about THE PENIS, but about pleasure and connection.

    • dan on December 21, 2015 at 4:30 pm

      Sad this: "You deserve someone younger who can meet your needs." Then let her, help her find him; don't run off. Share! Read More Than Two

  7. Anonymous on November 26, 2015 at 11:21 am

    I like Miriams's take on this subject. FWB doesn't sound very intimate to me nor does it sound like actual friends. Being with someone for purely sexual purposes just doesn't work for me no matter how much I enjoy sex. For me, it has to be intimate. My former sex friend (and still very close personal friend) and I had some magical fun times for several years before we became physically intimate where we got to know each other quite well. We lived apart, saw each other infrequently and knew neither one of us was going to move to give a relationship a go. One day meeting for a lunch date we spontaneously kissed passionately within 2 seconds of seeing each other but it took another year before we had sex. We are just the greatest of friends. After this experience, I am even more certain the sexual act is less important than knowing I love my friend and that is what made the sex so great…..and yet, we really were only friends and understood that. To me, having a lover (a hookup or FWB) is the far lesser than being physically intimate with a friend. I also do understand how very different we all are. I suppose a term I take to would be "intimate friends". I'm coming to believe we should all be more physically intimate as I think we NEED touch beyond hugs or massages given by strangers. I'm 56. (sorry Joan, could not figure out how to use just my first name, Ken)

  8. Miriam age 62 on November 26, 2015 at 3:59 am

    As I've mentioned before, I use "sex friend" as a way to describe a very close friendship with someone with whom I also have sex occasionally. We both date others and know that the sex happens only when we're in between other love relationships. Sex Friend describes it quite literally for me. And everybody knows what I'm talking about. In my circle, FWB is a derogatory term, like, "Is that all you can get out of him?" Whereas Sex Friend — because the younger hook up crowd doesn't use that term — seems to garner more respect among my peers.

  9. David M. Pittle on November 25, 2015 at 2:55 am

    Every relationship is different. Friendship is built on an implied contract. The clearer that can be, the better, as long as room for growth and change are provided. Some friendships become sexual at various levels, some do not. Some create more intimacy (Not to be confused with sex) some do not. Some include sex as an expression of intimacy, some include sex as an expression of play and fun.

  10. Anonymous on November 25, 2015 at 2:48 am

    Like to her some women point of view. How did the FWB start?

    • Dan on November 26, 2015 at 1:05 am

      Tristan Taormino in Opening Up says in the US things got started with marrieds with multiple partners among post WWII Flyboys who made tight pacts with fellow fly buddies to take care of their wives if they went down. In the Bible in Deuteronomy 25:5, some say there is a precedent for this.

  11. Dan on November 24, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    FWB; Secondary; Same Time Next Year (month/week); Open; Poly; Poly Playful; Ethical Non-Monogamy; Expanding Our Marriage Bed; love, friendship, sex. Many terms.

    No person or couple does it or calls it by the same name. Yes, and being older–married or single–makes these questions far more relevant. It has for us at least; this last year; after a decade together, 68/65.

    We read a few books on this topic that slowly changed our traditional marriage as to love, sex, friends: Opening Up; More Than Two and Mating In Captivity. Spend some time reading here and you will get a look at how it is being done today and what people call it and where support groups are meeting on this each month to make sense of all this.

    • Cathie on December 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Good lord!…support groups?!?

  12. Anonymous on November 24, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Chris, 54yo.
    FWB is a well embedded term for a relationship that is ongoing as well as NSA.
    I have a relation with a younger woman who firstly needs emotional support but also someone who understands her need for forceful 'punishment' by hand and flogger.
    Nothing pleases her more than looking back in the mirror and see the marks all over her body.
    Yet often she just needs a cuddle and listening ear what I also happily provide.
    So we are friends, with no claim and benefits for both of us and believe the term needs no adjustment.

    I hope this helps with your assessment Joan. With love, Chris.

  13. John Button on November 24, 2015 at 10:43 am

    I and most of those I'm intimate with call ourselves plain 'lovers'. Have to say I really don't like FWB either as a term or as an explanation — as well as lovers I have plenty of friends with a whole array of benefits!
    So, my vote is for lovers — does what it says on the packet …

  14. Anonymous on November 24, 2015 at 7:12 am

    FWB describes it perfectly.

    Dan 65

  15. Bob. 66yo. on November 24, 2015 at 5:09 am

    I believe friends first is a very good idea. When I was younger it was thought that if you wanted to mess up a good friendship Have sex with them. I think at our age we are looking for a deeper relationship. Not a commitment but a friendship. And for me sex should always be a part of a close friendship. I believe that is why poly relationships do work. True friendship with a healthy sex life.

  16. Jim on November 24, 2015 at 4:27 am

    More power to you if you can get your head around a FWB relationship. I can't. To me being intimate should mean more than a fling in the sack. Call me old fashioned, prudish, whatever you want. I know this is all about us old folks defining our sexuality but I know that for me I need more. Jim 59

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