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Dating After 50: Talk about Monogamy

Copyright © 2014 AARP. All rights reserved.

Monogamy is a big deal whether you're the person who isn't ready for monogamy and wants to date around or the person who can only have sex with one person at a time. Making sure your dating partner knows where you stand (or lie down) on the monogamy issue is critical.

You can have the monogamy talk at three different points in your relationship. One is way before you have sex together, while you're still exploring your sexual philosophies and talking about values. The second is when it's clear that you're going to have sex together that night or very soon. And the third is after you've had sex. (Guess which one of these is not highly recommended.…)

Discuss monogamy early on

How early is too early to discuss monogamy? Definitely not at a first coffee date! You need to have a relationship before you start talking about your sexual rules. Bringing them up at hello is too presumptuous and controlling.

On the other hand, after you've dated a few times and you start to get more interested in each other, sexual philosophies almost always naturally come up. In this case, you don't owe each other big explanations (unless you want to give them), but you do need to make one of the following statements:

  • “I'm a monogamous person.”

  • “I can be a monogamous person, but that's not the point of my life I'm at right now.”

  • “I'm not a monogamous person now.”

  • “I'm not a monogamous person in general. It just doesn't suit me.”

After you've said your piece, the two of you can discuss the matter further — or just file it under “Now I know the answer to that question.”

Having the talk when sex is right around the corner

If the two of you are so attracted to each other that you're already kissing and touching, then you need to have the talk sooner rather than later. You don't have to go into minute sexual preferences — that happens when you're actually having sex with each other — but it's time to say what getting sexually involved means to you.

Here are two examples to get you thinking about how to present your pro-monogamy or anti-monogamy stance:

Molly Monogamous
“I'm very attracted to you, and I'd love to go back to your place. But I need you to know what it would mean to me: It would mean that you and I are only going to see each other and that you can promise me that we're going to be monogamous. If you don't want to do that, I understand, but I'm a monogamous kind of lady.”
Fred Oh-So-Friendly
“I'd love to spend the night with you; I think you're wonderful. But I need you to know that I can't make any promises that I'm going to see only you. Am I interested in knowing you better? Absolutely. But I want to date around for a while, and I'm not ready to be in a monogamous relationship. Can we go with that? If not, let's keep the relationship at a level that makes you feel comfortable and doesn't make me dishonest.”

Having the talk after you’ve had sex

Maybe you've already done the deed, and now you want to know what it means. Obviously, there's much more room here for misunderstandings about what happened than if you'd discussed the issue beforehand. But that's too late now. All you can do is move forward with either a pro-monogamy approach or an anti-monogamy approach:

Molly Monogamous
“That was a wonderful evening. I thought we were wonderful together, but I'm not sure what it meant to you. To me, it meant that if we continue to have sex together, I have to be the only one in your life. Is that something you'd like too? If not, I think we need to move this relationship back a few steps and not have sex.”
Fred Oh-So-Friendly
“Molly, that was a wonderful evening. I loved it. But we never really discussed what we were doing. For me, it was part of getting to know you and appreciating our relationship. But I don't want to mislead you. I want to get to know you better and grow the relationship, but I'm not ready to be committed or faithful to anyone yet.
I hope that's okay with you, but if it's not, I understand, and I'm sorry if we did anything that you regret, knowing the place I'm in right now. Let me know how you want to proceed. Of course, for my part, I'd love to keep making love, but I understand if you want to cool this down.”

Is that awkward? Sure. But it may be the best you can do if you have sex without discussing what it means first.

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