I had S-E-X

I want to start this blog with a statement to alert any friends, family, or strict conservatives to warn them of what I am about to share, but it kind of defeats the purpose of what I feel I have to share. Not for the people I just listed, but for the people for which I started this blog: my widdas.

I had sex. I had a little too much of it after Kevin died, and a little too quickly. Kevin and I were unable to have sex once he became ill, and when he passed away, it had been six months since we had done so. I was mourning his loss, numb to the extreme, and aching for comfort. I was also a human, a woman, with a need. I did not have any really close guy friends in which I could propose an offer of “Friends with Benefits”, a term of which I would never have used before this time. A term that made me a bit sick to my stomach, but one that I finally understood. It was something I FELT I needed (capitalized for purpose).

I sought out a FWB (friends with bennies) online. I had a steady guy for a few months, one who could let me be a widow, let me be a woman, let me feel something other than pain for just a few moments. I was numb, I wasn’t dumb. But when that fell through, I still felt the need. This is where the problem began.

I will not share with you specific details, but I went from numb to dumb very quickly. I sought out more physical relationships, instead of focusing my attention where I should have, on healing, and it is only this that I regret.

Many widows have posed the question, of seeking out friends with benefits, on forums and support groups. I did the same on a very popular forum, and for this, I was “flamed”. By “flamed” for those who don’t know the lingo, some other widow(er)s chose to curse at me, call me stupid, immoral, that I was a sinner, and some even through in the occasional bible verse. I grew up Mennonite, I know what the bible says. My decision to choose the route I did, sexually, was strictly based on my needs at the time. I have since tried my best never to judge a widow for what she or he feels her/his needs are. I am not in their spot, feeling what they are. What I felt at that time in my life, was that I NEEDED that type of a relationship.

My first FWB relationship was helpful, and healing for me. It allowed me to cross a line I had never crossed, it allowed me to reconnect with my body again. It allowed me to breathe and let loose, if only a little. I have no regrets for the first relationship. The others, however, were detrimental. I had crossed the line too much. It was no longer about healing, but about denying myself feeling PAIN. I didn’t want to feel it. There is a very subtle line between seeking out a companion to help you through a difficult time, and becoming obsessed or out of control. Before you enter any type of relationship of this kind, you need to figure out your whys:

-What draws you to this type of relationship?
-Is this an escape, or are you entering this to enrich yourself and your needs?
-What do you hope this will help you achieve?
-Are you hoping this relationship may lead to a dating relationship or one of significance?
-How do you plan to keep yourself safe in this type of relationship?
-Do you have moral objections to this type of relationship, or did you in the past? What made you change your mind?

Observe your answers in detail, share them with your best friends, and other widows in a private manner if possible. Confide only in those who you believe can give you an un-biased opinion of your situation. This should not be an escape, it should be about needs or desires for release, not escape. If you are hoping this will lead to a more fruitful relationship down the road, you need to re-evaluate if you are emotionally ready for that potential relationship, let alone the phsyical one. Evaluate your moral commitments to yourself now. Make rules for yourself and stick to them!

I write this today, and am exposing a very difficult part of my life, a part of my life that until today, has only been shared with my most intimate of friends. I am scared to share this, but I feel I have to, for my widows.

At some point, you may consider this route. At some point, you will wonder, and I do not want you to experience the hurtful words that were written to me. I want you to know that whatever you decide, it has to be OK for you and your situation, but you need to do it safely. Use protection, choose wisely, do not go overboard. We all come to widowhood through unique situations, and mine may not be a reason for you to choose the route that I did.

I hope you will feel free to post here, but if not, please email me directly at BrendaBoitson at gmail dot com. I rarely give out my email address, but I want widows who do not feel comfortable discussing this publicly, to know that they can confide in me. I want you to have an outlet to discuss this, without judgment, which was not an option for me at the time.

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Comments 59

  1. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Your willingness to share on so many levels in your blog is helpful to me and others. Not too many people are willing to be honest about their “detrimental” relationships. But you offer some great insight from what you have learned.

  2. You are so brave to share this! Reminds me of a conversation we had…Thanks for talking about a subject that is hard to talk about!

  3. I am not a widow, but my husband did leave our marriage and me in a way that I felt was sudden. In the aftermath, I sought out just the kind of relationship you describe, and I, too, do not regret it. But I have lived the last few years looking for something outside of myself for healing instead of looking to myself for that. I am only now (almost five years later) learning to love myself again. May all of us find ourselves to be lovable for we are deeply loved.

    Thanks for sharing, Brenda. Really!

  4. Brenda!

    WOW!!! This is the first painfully honest article I have seen written on this topic. We all feel those needs, NEEDS!!! I am so thankful that you were brave enough, yes brave enough, to share you inner most sacred thoughts. Amazing! This article will be one of my new favorites and I will refer many to it in the days, months, and years to come.

    Thank you!!!

    Christina Cassidy

  5. Wonderfully honest, and I agree with Andi, you can have the same thing with a divorce…..
    The judgements must have been so hurtful; after all, the way we adults get close is only though sex.
    I was going to post some more, but realised that it might be misconstrued, so Brenda,I just might contact you, with some other thoughts.
    Just continue being your wonderful honest self, my dear!

  6. Thank you Janelle. One of my biggest fears in life is judgment, so today’s blog is a big stretch for me. However, after sharing my concerns with my writing group, I felt a lot of encouragement. Today, with posting the blog, I had a lot of anxiety this morning, awaiting hate mail from people who were angry, or family or friends who didn’t understand. But I need to keep re-affirming that this is not about THEM, but about all the widows and people who ask themselves these questions, and need somewhere to go. Thank you.

  7. Thank you for your support!

  8. Andi-THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. This was not a history I knew about you. I often say that divorce and widowhood are not comparable, however, I do understand that both go through a similar grieving period, it’s just that the stages are felt at different times, in different ways. I am glad you do not have regrets. I have to keep looking IN for healing as well. Thank you for encouraging me in our writer’s group to do this!

  9. I have spoke of this in other forums and have yet to be flamed, at least not that I was aware. I always begin by saying a FWB is not for everyone but it works for me, for now. My FWB was a long time friend of myself and my husband. His long term relationship fell apart shortly after TJ passed. We discussed this before we ever entered into this type of a relationship. We laid out must stick to rules and agreed that if either one should begin to “feel” differently we would talk about it and possibly part ways with no hard feelings. We live in a small town so we keep our relationship a secret. Someone actually asked me yesterday if I knew him…LMAO! We try not to attend the same social functions but in a small town this can be difficult at times. While I do not feel I am ready for a relationship yet (lost TJ 15 months ago), my FWB fills a void as far as intimacy goes…both physical and not physical. Frankly, I think having him keeps me from going wild looking for the intimacy that I am missing and for that I am grateful. I imagine down the road one of us will move on to a real relationship and I am confident we will remain friends but until then we are content with what we have. I could go on and on about this but to me it all boils down to this…if it works for you then great!…if you have any doubt at all about this kind of a relationship then by all means do not even try it.

  10. CHRISTY-you have no idea how much it means to me that you posted, read, and are thankful that I wrote this. I know you come from widowhood with a more religious perspective, and that’s the main judgment I concerned myself with when I wrote this blog. Thank you for encouraging to speak my mind and share my story. More does need written about this, without fear of backlash.

  11. Karen-feel free to contact me directly. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, more in depth. Thank you for supporting me!

  12. Sandy-this was part of the reason I did it in the first place. I didn’t want to seek a serious relationship just based on my intimate needs. This helped me parlay that for as long as I did. While I did date off and on, I entered my first serious relationship about 1.5 years after losing Kevin, and I still battle with grieving within our relationship. Keep sharing!

  13. I did also what you did but not in the manner of FWB. I actually regret “all” the relationships. I too wanted to feel something other than physical pain of grieving…crying till your body hurt. Jason and I had not been together for months…his sister and nephew were murdered and we were both grieving the loss. After he died the desire for sex was overwhelming to me….after my first relationship ended I promised myself I was not going down that road again…I was a virgin at 27 when I married my beloved Jason. The sin was just eating at my soul. But like you said…I too became numb..very numb and over the line I went again. This time with an online guy that turned out to be a con man (he actually served time in prison for conning women)…in which I found myself pregnant. In that relationship (before I knew his past) I actually felt myself sliding down that huge hill and thinking when will I stop this reckless behavior…how many more…one two three four…a dozen. I found myself feeling I had no boundaries and I did not care. That is when I got scared. This was so opposite of “who” I was. Who waits till they are 27 to have sex then goes out and just has sex without any thought?? I felt I was losing my mind. When I got pregnant that was a HUGE slap back into reality!! She is now about to turn 10 months and I am happy to say I have regained my mind and STOPPED my reckless behavior. I honestly think it took getting pregnant to come back to reality. Being pregnant and still really grieving was one of the hardest things I have ever done. If I had any wisdom to offer to widows…I would say don’t. I so understand now God sets up rules to protect us even when we think we know best. I should have listened and I could have avoid so much more pain on top of the pain I already had.

  14. It is great to hear someone else discuss the fundamental need for sex and physical touch. My husband was also sick for a long time before he died and I went for a long time without any physical intimacy. I ended up with a friend with benefits the summer after he died and I truly believe it kept me sane. Criticism from some of the people around me made me feel guilty so I brought it up to a grief counselor. She said, “Good for you. You are making the best of a bad situation.” No one has the right to tell us how to grieve.

  15. Thank you for sharing your intimate and devastating story. We never know what pushes us down that road.

  16. I’m glad you found your footing and could move forward!

  17. Whoo HOOOOO!!! YOu didn’t need me after all. I MEAN TO PUBLISH, SHeesh people. Nicely done, and bravely under your own name. Good for you!

  18. Brava! Thank you for talking about this hidden side of widowhood. I was there, I did the same. “Skin Hunger,” I’ve heard it called. After my husband died, I needed sex to stay on the planet. It was as simple as that. First a FWB situation, then a boyfriend. Both worked as long as they needed to, both were healing, and I don’t regret a single moment of either.

  19. I met someone thru match dot com 16mos after my Husband passed. I was looking for a committed relationship because I wanted to pick up where my Husband & I left off. The guy I met was very attentive, open, smart, strong & good looking. Two months prior I had started drinking, which tricked me into acting more outgoing & “Happy”. We met face-to-face and I decided I didn’t like him. But the next night I invited him over for a booty-call & it was absolutely incredible. I thought I had found my next Prince Charming. I had told my BFF that I had a feeling that we would be married soon. We were together 24/7 for almost 9 months and had A LOT of S-E-X. During that time he shared many of his secrets with me. And darker secrets, I stumbled upon on my own. That ultimately made me reevaluate what I wanted in life- To settle & be with someone that told me “I’ll be with you if you (do this) with me” (OR) To find someone that LOVED ME the way that *I* needed & wanted to be loved? Off & on for 5 years we were “FWB”, including one year that he wanted to be a Couple & said that he had changed. When I found out he was up to his old tricks I realized that he would NEVER change & would NEVER be monogamous. I finally got a backbone and said “GoodBYE.”
    Sad thing is, I was a new Mom when all of this began, and ended up having his Baby. I still can’t decide if it is a good or bad thing that he finally decided to man-up when she was 2. She knows that Daddy has alot of “Friends” that are female. But that he doesn’t have a “Girlfriend”. And me? I’m still alone. He finally broke me in the end :o(

  20. I wanted to take the time to reply to you again since I feel I didn’t really expand.

    I met my husband on the internet, but prior to that, had some bad relationships. One gentleman turned out to be married, and lied to me and said he was divorced. I was DEVASTATED. Soon after, for a public speaking course, I actually wrote a speech about doing background checks on people you date, especially those you meet online. While I hadn’t done so with my previous boyfriend, whom I did not meet online, I know enough about him to know his past without doing a background check. We need to be careful out there, whether dating or choosing to be in a casual relationship.

  21. THANK YOU SUPA-some friends grew some balls for me 😉

  22. Brenda – I’m no nothing of your kind of suffering, but I will say that many people try to find comfort in the physical world when they are hurting emotional. I’ve done this in other ways. Thank you for sharing and being so open to expressing your life. I hope it felt good to post this.

  23. I love the term “Skin Hunger”-I think it’s the best description of what we ache for when we lose our spouses. From there, we decide if we’re going to live with it, find a substitute, whatever that my be, or find a human. I’m glad you have no regrets. Thank you for sharing.

  24. I don’t see it as he broke you, other than he broke a habit you developed of giving into him. It sounds like you are making the right call in your life to find love yourself. I know you cherish your child, and what came from that. Second chances are what life’s all about.

  25. It feels good, including overwhelming, scary, fearful of what this will lead to in the future. I have no regrets though. Thank you for your encouragement.

  26. I thought I was the only 1 in the world who had these feelings and struggled with this aspect of widowhood. this seems to be a taboo subject so thank you for opening yourself up and sharing your story.my husband and I had a wonderful physical relationship, all 27 years,and when he died suddenly,I’ve struggled with this so much.I remember the 1st time I shared this with 1 of my sister’s, of my struggle of no longer having intimacy,sex.her response was”I can’t believe you can think about that right now!!”I asnswered”he died,I didn’t!”it is difficult.J

  27. Thank you for sharing. Skin hunger is very real; touch is a basic human need. In fact, it’s more than a human need- remember the pictures of that tiny baby monkey clinging to the cloth “mother” rather than the wire milk-giving “mother”? Touch is vital; it’s best to be safe and honest with yourself in seeking out that touch; it is critical not to criticize the need for it.

  28. Hi Brenda,

    Thank you so much for your honesty and courage in sharing your experience with other widows. I am so sorry some did not take kindly to this. I know by you sharing this I hope many widows can forgive themselves and healing can begin. Thank you again for your courage.

    Shelley Davis
    One Step At A Time Life Coach For Widows.

  29. How awful that they “flamed” you. It’s your loss, your grief, your time, your way, your feelings, your needs.

    I actually asked an ex-boyfriend from when I was 15 (like a century ago) if he could “help me out” and that Friday was on a flight 🙂

    I don’t regret it. I cooled it off after a couple of visits because I realized that while he was a welcome distraction and I proved I could … that was the problem, he was a DISTRACTION from the grief and I really needed and still need to work through it.

    On the plus side he has turned out to be one of my most valuable sounding-boards

  30. Thanks for sharing Boo-yes, somethings it becomes too much of a distraction from what w SHOULD be feeling.

  31. Thank you Shelley for sharing with me. It is important for us to value one another, as grieving widows. We are also so vulnerable and we need to love and support.

  32. Yes Tigereye…touch is vital, it is so important, and I believe it’s important to healing.

  33. My biggest fear in posting this was my family & friends reaction. Some know, many do not. But when I spoke of the idea of such an intimate blog to a neutral group, they cheered me on. This blog, these thoughts, are not about THEM. It is about a very real thing, something we truly miss and feel we need. It is a huge loss, a secondary loss, on top of losing our spouse. Thanks for sharing Jana!

  34. You are amazing, Brenda. Thank you for continuing to be honest with everyone on the hard topics. Love you! Love you! Love you!!

  35. Brenda, reading your blog this morning was the ultimate therapy….your courage blew me off. Thank you so much for sharing…

    Having come from a strong religious back ground..I had vowed I would never have sex until i remarried but the skin hunger got so bad that i thought i was going crazy…i would, some nights cry myself to sleep.The worst thing is that I could not even share with my BFF because I was afraid they’d harshly judge me. So I kept this load to my self…and pretended I had it all together LOL.

    One year down the line I had sex with a guy that i had met a couple of years back while working and that felt so good. Due to his nature of work I don’t see him often but whenever he’s around, we get together and have fun “with no strings attached.” We decided if our feelings for each other ever changed, we’d move on and still be friends or even get married.

  36. After Jean died, I had 3 months of numbness, a year & a half of insane crushes and then a year+ bad relationship. FWB might have been healthier. In a good, still young relationship now.

  37. Brenda, you are very brave to broach this subject, especially when you have bren flamed on this topic previously at a time when you needed support most. I can’t begin to imagine what you went through, but you are absolutely right. We need physical comfort. As long as we keep everything balanced, stay safe, in control and don’t let it interfere with the healing process, widow(er)s should be able to seek physical intimacy and should be able to talk about it in a safe, supportive environment. Well done, dear.

  38. Thank you Amanda, I appreciate your support and understanding of this need!

  39. Steve- congratulations on your new relationship-I think that’s great. I know what you mean about the numbness and crushes. Everyone looks like potential at some point when we’re that numb.

  40. Beta-I appreciate people sharing that come from a religious background, as I do too. My former self never would have considered this, and I too would have judged people for this behavior. But, as a widow, a broken spirit, I have much more understanding and know that others are going through the same journey. Take care and have fun!

  41. Thank you Kirsten!!

  42. Brenda- amazing…you , the blog and love the discussion that followed. You are definitely …on your way.
    Honest, courageous, love.

    Every day, I am more glad I know you.

  43. *hugs* Thanks Maui!

  44. Thank you for posting this! I have thought that something was wrong with me. I have thought that I was so horrible for feeling the exact same way. Thank you for sharing….!

  45. Carla-I’m happy to report there’s NOTHING wrong with you!

  46. its not always about right or wrong,, its about survival. some may think by writing that you show something ‘less’ about you,, but the truth is it shows nothing but your beauty as a survivor. we all have to survive. we make mistakes… but no one is prepare for the weight placed on our souls.. beautiful. you know what i say, ‘so what’ you slept with men ‘so what’ YOU ARE THE ONE WHO CARRIES THE BURDEN OF DEATH.

  47. Thank you for sharing so honestly and boldly

  48. Thank you for being brave enough to speak on such a taboo subject. It’s something I cant even talk about with my closest friends. It’s only been a week since I lost my husband. He died of leukemia. He had been sick for months so it has been quite some time since I have been held or comforted by a man. I know all to well how real “skin hunger” can be. I am very young, only 28, and my husband and I had an active intimate life before he got sick. I have such strong feelings i’m not sure what to do. I have been tempted several times to sleep with random guys just for relief and a few moments to forget the crushing grief of losing my husband. I haven’t acted on a single urge. I’m just hoping the feelings ease so i dont end up doing anything i will regret later.

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