Taking a lover is a complex dance. I do not suggest it unless you are absolutely NOT looking for a relationship. Perhaps you’re focused on your career so you’ve put your love life on hold. Perhaps you’re in a spot to enjoy your accomplishments without tying yourself down. For whatever reason, having someone in your space is simply not appealing.
So how is a lover different? It’s not a booty call. It’s not sleeping with an ex. It’s not a friend with benefits. It’s a monogamous relationship created to celebrate the moments you are together and no more. You won’t be introducing this person to your family. You aren’t harboring any hopes of being in a relationship with this person. This person will not be your date for social or work functions and should you run into someone you know you will be introducing them as your “friend”.
Should you decide to take a lover, the rules should be stated upfront and rigorously adhered to. How often will you see each other? What social activities are allowed and which are not? How are you to react should you see each other in public? Cover as much ground as you can in the negotiation phase so things don’t get messy later on.
The trick to taking a lover is to keep it clean. This relationship has no future. This person is not entangled in your social circle. Should one person develop feelings other than friendship, the relationship ends immediately and with no further contact.