As a psychotherapist, I get a lot of questions about this topic from my clients, a few of whom have asked me to write a column about it. It’s a tricky subject, but I’m up for the challenge. There is so much to say about it that I’ve made it a two-part column.
Bring up this topic at a party, and you’ll probably find that people have strong opinions about it. I’ve discovered that it’s a very polarizing subject: for some people, having sex with their friends is no big deal, something that’s normal in their social circle. For other folks, it’s hard to imagine such a thing: friends are friends, not people to have sex with. And some people would like to have sex with their friends, but are afraid that it’s a death wish for any platonic relationship.
In this two-part column, I’ll try and be objective, looking at the pros and cons of having sex with your friends. So, whatever your point-of-view, I invite you to keep an open mind…and read on.
To start, here are some questions you might consider:
- What do you want from sex?
- What if you and a friend have sex, you want to do it again, but they don’t? How will you handle that rejection?
- What if you have a great friendship but the sex is mediocre? Will that have a negative effect on your friendship?
- What if – after having sex – you start to fall in love with your friend?
- How solid is your friendship? Is it strong enough to withstand the waves of emotion that a sexual encounter may bring?
From talking with people who have sex with their friends, two factors became clear to me: (1) your intentions – and those of your friend – need to be clear and (2) kindness and honesty are crucial at every step of the way. Otherwise, you may end up in a situation where sex ends your friendship:
“I thought we had something good going on between us but, after we had sex, he ghosted me the next morning. We never talked after that. He wouldn’t answer my texts. Whenever we saw each other, it was really awkward. The friendship was over.”
Sometimes, two friends have a lot of love and affection for each other, and it seems like there could be more. But ultimately, the sexual chemistry doesn’t click. Then what? Can the friendship overcome that kind of (temporary) discomfort?
“It was uncomfortable after we hooked up, but soon our friendship was back to normal. The sexual attraction faded with no hurt feelings. We’re both okay with it now and can even laugh about it.”
It’s hard to predict if your friendship will survive a negative sexual encounter, but you can minimize the drama by making sure that you and your friend talk about it ahead of time. You may not feel like talking about it before anything happens, but, in my experience, it usually works out a whole lot better than two friends who, one night, get super drunk and then fall into bed together. On the other hand:
“My friend and I went out drinking and hit the bars hard. In the Uber home, we started making out. It felt weird at first but, once we realized that we were both on the same page, we just went with it. Back at my house, being naked together for the first time was cool because we know each other so well. We’ve talked so much about sex with other people that we even know what each other likes! Once it was over, we fell asleep in each other’s arms. Yeah, the next morning was a little weird, but our friendship kicked back in and we went to brunch and had a good laugh about it. Sometimes, we still hook up, but it’s no big deal: our friendship is solid and that’s what really counts.”
If a friendship really matters to you, don’t let sex mess it up. A lot of the problems that come from hooking up with a friend result from a lack of communication. Ideally, this is something you two can talk about beforehand, but a lot of times it doesn’t work out that way.
Want to know more about “Should I Have Sex with my Friends?” Check out Part Two of this column, available in the next issue of LGBTQ San Diego.
—Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBTQ clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.