As a psychotherapist, I get a lot of questions about this topic from my clients. There is so much to say about it that I’ve made it a two-part column. To read Part One, please go to Part One.
“Should I Have Sex with My Friends?” can be a very polarizing subject: for some people, it’s no big deal. For other folks, friends are friends, not people to have sex with. And some people would like to have sex with their friends, but are afraid to.
I asked some people who are comfortable having sex with their friends, “What advice would you give to people who want to try this?”
- “Be respectful, it has to be okay for either party to say ‘no’ or ‘I’ve changed my mind” at any time.”
- “Make sure you and your friend are comfortable as the sex progresses, from the initial making out to final orgasm.”
- “Be as sober as possible so there are no misunderstandings.”
- “Don’t try to manipulate your friend into doing something that they don’t want to.”
One of my clients told me that they found that sex with a friend can be a lot more relaxed than a Tinder/Grindr hookup: “You already know the person, so a lot of the awkwardness and uncertainty is gone. You can relax: you trust this person and vice-versa.”
When this topic comes up in a therapy session, I ask my clients questions like: Is this something you want to make a regular part of your life? Do you have a specific friend you’re attracted to? Did a friend express a desire to hook up with you and now it’s on your mind?
Instead of having the whole thing be one big, confusing emotional mess, if you’re clear about how you want your sexual encounter to play out, it’s easier to check in with the friend you want to hook up with and make sure you’re both up into it.
On the other hand, maybe you don’t want to sleep with a friend who suggested it and you want to find a kind way to say “No thanks”. Or perhaps you’d like to start sleeping with your friends but you’re a little nervous about it. You could brainstorm the idea with a therapist or some friends that you trust.
Most people value their friendships too much to risk them, and if sleeping with a friend would end the friendship, most of us wouldn’t do it, no matter how horny we are.
And after you’ve slept together, what comes next? One client told me, “We (my friend and I) don’t need to talk about it, it’s no big deal. If we want to do it again in the future, then we’ll talk about it.” However, some people need to talk about it, to process any emotions that may have been stirred up. When in doubt, a simple check-in will let you know which way to go. “Is there anything you want to say about last night?” or something as simple as: “Are we good?”
Once you and your friend are “good”, check in with yourself to make sure you feel good about the experience. You may want to do it again, or maybe once was enough.
Don’t be surprised if having sex with your friend(s) brings up emotions. As a psychotherapist, I encourage you to pay attention to your feelings and listen to what they’re telling you. For example, if you or your friend start having romantic fantasies about each other, or begin to be jealous of each other being with other people, take note. If you feel that having sex has changed how you feel about your friend, pay attention to that too.
I recommend that you not talk with your friend immediately about any stirred-up emotions. Instead, sit with them for a few days and then, when you feel grounded and calm, consider bringing them up. Be patient and gentle with yourself and your friend: you may be in uncharted territory. Whatever you do, be kind and don’t ghost them just because you’re feeling some uncomfortable emotions. Remember – you’re friends! Treat each other accordingly.
—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.