The best-laid plan?

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There's a dilemma singles have that married people don't have; in fact, if they've been married awhile, they often don't even see that it could create a dilemma.

The sex dilemma.

If you're single and interested in maintaining that part of your life while you go about the other parts — your career. your life as a single parent, etc. — but unable to meet and connect with someone romantically, you're kinda screwed (and not in the way you're wanting, either!).

Of course, you have options; you can:

— find somebody to love; anyone who's single will tell you that it isn't as easy as it may seem — especially if you're past 40 — and never seems to happen in a timetable you like.

— be celibate, which is fine if you choose that willingly; not so great if you don't.

— pleasure yourself, which is fine almost any time but doesn't offer that human connection.

— have a FWB (friends with benefits) relationship, which is fine and offers that human connection but often leads (unhappily) to one person wanting more, or expecting more, or trying to turn it into "something," thus changing the nature of the agreement.

— have a one-night stand, which often results from a night of too much booze (or so I understand; never had one myself).

— hire a hooker a la Mr. Spitzer, although paying for sex seems a tad tawdry, even if you're OK paying those prices.

— date people under false pretenses; act as if you're interested in him/her for a long-term relationship just so you can get him/her into bed. This, of all the above, is the worst — deceptive, manipulative, mean-spirited and hurtful. And, of course, it's the path many people take because it's easy and you can always pretend, at some point, that it's "not you, it's me."

So, what can you do?

I know some people for whom this is a non-issue because they choose a different option, but one that many people find distasteful: sex parties.

Many people believe there's something inherently wrong with that because it's just random, "meaningless" sex with strangers. OK, I'll grant you that it may indeed be sex with strangers, but it's not random — you have to want to be there and must be accepted by the hosts to be there.

And it's not meaningless — there's nothing wrong with people who decide that is what they want to do because it gives them pleasure or helps them play out some sort of fantasy or both. In fact, they're making a very conscious decision to be there and partake or not. When you think about it, it's more honest than what many people do — go online (or to bar) to meet someone, go on dates and have sex with people they know they have no desire to connect with for anything beyond that night.

I mean, haven't we all met people who have dishonest that way?

I'm not speaking from experience — never went to one. But for the people I know who do (mostly in between the times they're in relationships), they see it as a perfect way to take care of needs — theirs and others — in a safe (people are screened, safe sex enforced), kind (no one's being deceptive or hurt) and, yes, meaningful way.

So then why do people have such judgment about that lifestyle?

Or is it just judgment about sex in general?

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