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Is It Ever OK to Flirt With Your Wife’s Friends?

Emily Flake answers your burning questions about love, sex and Ted Lasso mustaches

Woman at bar with drinks, smiling
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I’m pretty sure my wife’s friend came on to me. Should I flirt back? Or feign ignorance?
—Brad, Phoenix, Arizona

I gather from your breezy tone that you are unaware of the minefield atop which you stand. If she is, indeed, coming on to you, please know that it’s not actually about you. Maybe she has a major beef with your wife and has chosen a truly evil path toward revenge. Maybe she wants to blow up her life out of sheer existential boredom and figured she’d take along some collateral damage for funsies. I want you to imagine me thumping you in the forehead with every syllable here: DO. NOT. FLIRT. BACK.

The author, Emily Flake
Generation Sex: Emily Flake answers your burning questions about love, marriage, and midlife sex. Send your queries to aarparrow@aarp.org. /
/ Matt Salacuse

I’m thinking of growing a Ted Lasso mustache. Should I consult my partner first?
—Jason, Detroit, Michigan

Are you also planning to start weaving gentle wordplay, optimism that borders on martyrdom, and narratively useful panic attacks into your personality, or are you just looking for a way to jazz up your face? 

The good news is, at least according to several recent surveys, women do seem to prefer facial hair to a clean-shaven face (as long as you wash it occasionally). Mustache, stubble, a full beard — it doesn’t matter. But I submit that if you’re going to pattern yourself after a hirsute Ted Lasso character, you’d do better to choose Coach Beard, whose whole “regular-degular sports jabroni in the front, Weimar-era Berlin sex club in the back” persona is low-key devastatingly hot.

My best friend says he and his spouse practice “ethical non-monogamy.” Is that a real thing?
—Brian, Atlanta, Georgia

“Ethical non-monogamy” is the veganism of kink. Sure, it may be a more evolved, kinder, more ethical approach to life, and maybe they have their points or whatever, but OH GOD, IT’S SO ANNOYING, JUST CHEAT LIKE A GROWNUP AND SHUTTTTTT UPPPPPPP. Anyway, yeah, it’s a thing. Sorry.

I don’t know what’s happening, but I suddenly feel insecure in bed. I’ve been with my wife for 20 years and still love her. I don’t have any health problems, as far as I know. So why am I having performance anxiety out of nowhere? 
—Mitch, Berkeley, California

If you’ve been together for 20 years, unless you got together as literal children, you’re at an age where nothing looks or works like it used to. One of the supremely dislocating things about age is how not like yourself it makes you feel. I am constantly surprised and upset by how much more face there is on my face. And when you’re not feeling like yourself, it’s hard to feel comfortable and confident in your usual roles — even if you’ve been playing them for decades. 

But with that good, solid bedrock, you have the great advantage of a loving partner who will almost certainly hear these concerns and help you to address them — assuring you she loves your dad bod, communicating more in bed, sneaking a fun little finger where you least expect it, that kind of thing. I mean this sincerely: Good luck!

I don’t have kids, but my mom still won’t accept that. My wife and I are in our late 40s, and my mom still pressures us about it: “It’s not too late!” How can I make her stop?
—Justin, Bordentown, New Jersey

Zoomers and Millennials talk about “setting boundaries” all the time, and here I am forced to concede that they have a point — you’ve got to set one with your mom. A very direct “We do not want children and have no plans to try for any. I do not want to talk about it ever again” should be enough. Of course, what is family but a series of violated “shoulds”? The best you can do is hold the line, and firmly shut her down.

What’s the over/under on cuddle time with a new partner? How long do I have to invest before I can split?
—Brendan, New York, New York


How do I avoid “old man penis”?
—Lance, Chicago, Illinois

“Old man penis” can mean a lot of different things, from shrunken testicles to loss of color to just plain ol’ no-longer-doing-its-job. Annoyingly, the answer to all of it is that these things can be partially mitigated by living like a monk, or at least like a grownup who cares about his health or whatever.

It turns out that the secret to avoiding old man penis is the same thing as avoiding old man anything else: eat healthily, get enough sleep, exercise, stay clean. Boring, I know — I, too, wish the answer to this question was “wash it regularly in the healing waters of a woman’s bajingo,” but alas.

[Send your relationship questions to The Arrow's love and sex columnist, Emily Flake, at aarparrow@aarp.org.]

Follow Article Topics: Sex-&-Relationships