En español | You made the mistake of asking your adult daughter if that guy she went out with last night was "anything serious." She gave you a nonchalant shrug and smiled.
"Don't book the church yet, Mom — it was just a hookup!
In addition to the emotional anguish loneliness creates, it also has devastating effects on our mental and physical health.
Loneliness depresses our immune system functioning, increasers inflammatory responses that put us at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, and can literally shorten our longevity.
The next morning (or even that night) come the recriminations: Was it wrong to give that person the sexual green light when you had no intention of rekindling the emotional side of the relationship?
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.
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.
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.
In short, we lose the love and the affection but stay in the marriage; ironically, often out of a fear of being lonely, although by doing so, we potentially doom ourselves to the very loneliness we were trying to avoid.
How to Combat Loneliness in Marriage The emotional isolation that encompasses us when we’re lonely leads our relationship muscles to atrophy, as we rarely use them in meaningful ways.