Let’s say you’re 55, single, not in a relationship and want to have sex. Is there anything wrong with finding someone to have a sexy night with? Recreational sex, friends with benefits, a one-night stand, hooking-up—all terms used for sex that doesn’t fit the committed relationship category we were taught to consider proper and acceptable.

Not many of us would advocate recreational sex for our teenagers or grandchildren, especially not if they’re girls. There are the risks of pregnancy, the emotional complications of being immature and the stigma our society places on sexually open females. And, we should feel similarly about our boys as well.

Those same rules need not apply to those of us who are older. They don’t apply to men—in fact men have pretty much had a free pass for sex all their lives. No one judges a man for ‘sowing his wild oats’. Why can’t women in the second phase of life choose to live on their own terms? And if that includes sex with people of their own choosing, who is to judge?

I am not suggesting women go out to the nearest bar, Senior Center, or grocery store and invite the first appealing man they see to jump into bed with them. There are certain risks we need to understand and precautions to take.

What You Need to Know, and Do, Before Having Casual Sex

  1. Before you even get to the ‘having sex’ phase you need to think about the emotional aspects of sex outside of a relationship. Will it be satisfying for you? Are you willing to have a no-strings attached experience? How will you feel the next morning?  Not all of us can do this comfortably. You may have hang-ups about what “nice women” do. And, for some of you there may be the concern that sex without an emotional attachment will feel too impersonal and won’t be sexually satisfying.

  2. Safety—both from sexually transmitted infections and for your own personal safety. You want to pick an individual who will agree to use protection. And, more importantly, you don’t want to invite a total stranger into your bed.  No one wears labels that say, “abuser”, “rapist”, etc.… We have to use a little discernment and intuition when making these decisions. I can’t really tell you how to do this but taking some time to chat first and to have conversation about mutual expectations is a good beginning. Pay attention to your intuition, that little voice in your head that tells you when things don’t feel quite right.

  3. What are you looking for? Think about why you want to do this—are you missing out on sex? Do you want affection, a little cuddling mixed with flirtation? Do you have expectations? 

  4. You need to be able to communicate with a potential lover before the seduction starts in earnest. Make sure both of you are in agreement that this is a one-time thing. Get their consent to use protection. And, share any concerns you might have about having sex. It may feel a little awkward but it can be a good way to see how he/she will react and how open they are to your needs.

  5. Don’t have sex at your house on that first encounter. Suggest a hotel maybe, where you split the costs or someplace neutral where you can both feel comfortable. There is the safety factor and the issue of boundaries. If you never want to see this person again, it will be easier if they don’t know where you live. 

I think the idea of exercising one’s own sexual agency—the ability to make the sexual choices we want, as we want them, free of coercion or shame--is a good thing.  It’s not something many of us, particularly women, have been encouraged to embrace. Again as I said earlier, there is absolutely no reason not to make choices about our sexuality as we enter this phase of life.

So give yourself permission to ‘want what you want’. And, then take the steps to create a safe pleasurable experience. Envision it as a magical evening of flirtation and seduction—even though a little planning is involved it can add to the excitement.   Remember, this is about you giving yourself the pleasure you want and deserve.

Walker Thornton is a writer, sex educator and public speaker, with a Masters in Educational Psychology and over 10 years experience in the field of sexual violence against women. She is a strong advocate for midlife women’s sexuality, encouraging women to ‘step into their desire’. Kinkly.com ranked her blog, WalkerThornton.com, #17 in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2013. Walker is the Sexual Health columnist for Midlife Boulevard and writes about sex and the older adult for Kinkly.com. You can connect with her on her website (www.walkerthornton.com ), Facebook (https://facebook.com/AWomansPage )  Twitter  (http://twitter.com/WalkerThornton)  and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+WalkerThornton/posts ).