It’s happened to the best of us. You start to get to know someone in your friend group better than before. Or maybe it’s someone you’ve always been close to, just never really thought about. But suddenly there’s a nagging thought in the back of your mind: what if? Deciding to start hooking up with a friend is a loaded situation, and one worth carefully thinking over before any drastic measures are taken. Here are ten things you need to know and consider about the situation before you take those first steps.
1. It’s natural
Becoming interested in a friend is totally normal. If there’s someone you’ve gotten to know well, enjoy hanging out with, and are also attracted to, it’s no surprise that with that would naturally come some more-than-friends feelings. And once you recognize those feelings, you won’t be able to ignore them until something happens.
2. Incestuous friend groups are real
We all want to look down on friends groups that become incestuous, meaning each friend has slept with different people in the group and many people have slept with the same people until it all becomes a big complicated web. The idea does seem kind of icky, but in truth it’s just a reality. Hooking up with a friend is as natural as having feelings for a friend. When you hang out in mainly the same group all the time, those are the only people you know and spend time with. Unfortunately that’s where most of your dating potential lies. As long as it’s still a healthy environment, there’s nothing wrong with connections becoming a little twisted.
3. There will always be a risk
There’s no amount of thinking and planning you can do that will save you from a possibly messy situation when attempting hooking up with a friend. You can’t predict how either of you will feel as the fling progresses and you can’t predict what will happen. You’re taking a risk by sleeping with your friend, just as you would take a risk by starting any relationship. It only seems worse here ’cause if something happens to make things go south, you’ll still have to see them a lot.
4. Things are only awkward if you make them
This is one of my favorite sayings and I stand by it. If you sit and worry about a situation, saying, “Oh my god. It’s gonna be so awkward” about everything, then yeah, it’s gonna be awkward. But that’s only because you yourself will make it awkward being so set on that outcome. But keep things light and fun, shrug off that self-imposed awkwardness, and the mood will follow, both in friend situations and friends-with-benefits. You don’t have to let the hooking up bleed into every aspect of your outside lives. You can still sit next to each other at a party without feeling uncomfortable about your on the DL hook up.
5. Information definitely spreads
Just accept now that even if your intent is to hide the hooking up, or at least keep it to yourself, people are probably gonna find out. You have a small, closely-knit friend group, and, hey, people talk. It’s just a fact of life. You can avoid a lot of future stress if you get comfortable with that idea now. If your friends are cool (AKA don’t slut shame) and also are actually your friends, they shouldn’t think anything different about you. You’re just doing you. If they do, there’s something else there you need to reassess. And also it’s none of their business. As long as you’re not hurting any of your other friends by hooking up with a friend, then what you’re doing only has to do with you. Everyone else can stay out.
6. Feelings can always get involved
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can just be hooking up with a friend without feelings getting involved. Have you seen like any show or movie ever? It doesn’t work. Being intimate with someone is just like the phrase says, intimate. Whether or not it’s real, you start to feel close and connected to them, which causes natural jealousy once you spot them flirting with another person, even if you technically have no right to that feeling since you’re only hooking up. No matter how hard you try, those feelings are always going to sneak up on you.
7. It’s important to stay honest
To combat feelings like jealousy that might interfere with your fun friend hookup, you both have to stay honest. It’s your best case scenario for how things will turn out. You can start the honest conversation off right away by talking about what you’re both looking for. You don’t want to be on completely different pages if one of you is interested in a relationship, but the other just wants to hook up. Only disaster can follow. Once all that is established, stay open about any feelings or troubles you’re having to keep things going smoothly. If too much drama ensues, it’s best to just go back to being friends before someone ends up hurt.
8. You won’t know until you try
Like I said, hooking up with a friend isn’t something you can plan through and predict the outcome of. Weirdly, it’s like getting bangs or a short bob. You think about it and then you just gotta do it. One day the idea just occurred to me, “would I look good with bangs?” It got inside my head, and after that, despite the many, many people who told me not to get the cut, I knew I wouldn’t be able to start thinking about it until I just gave it a try and actually found out if they were right for me. You won’t know whether or not hooking up is a good idea until you give it a try, and until then the idea is just gonna nag and nag. And hey, I love my bangs.
9. Thing will definitely be different
Just like you can’t avoid feelings, you can’t avoid the effect hooking up will inevitably have on your friendship. Even if it’s just a small change, things will be different. You’ll have this entirely new layer to your relationship that alters how you see each other and how you think about each other. You can’t just have that kind of experience with someone and go back to interacting with them in exactly the same way.
10. But it doesn’t have to ruin your friendship
Different doesn’t mean bad, just different. Plenty of people come out of hooking up unscathed and able to remain friends, specifically in a large friend group setting. Just like you can hang out as friends even when you’re hooking up, you can still hang out as friends afterward without necessarily dredging up all that sexual history. Even if things did end on a kind of weird note, memories and feelings fade. You may need some time apart, but you can come back together in the end to reestablish that great friendship you started with.
11. The takeaway
Hooking up with a friend is a paradox, meaning it includes things existing in the same space that kind of shouldn’t be able to: a friendship and casual sex. Things are awkward, but they don’t have to be. There shouldn’t be feelings, but they always get involved. The urge is natural, but in the most complicated place. Rarely can things just be as simple as you long for them to be. However, if you approach the matter with the right mindset, knowing what you’re getting into, and attempt to keep the right balance in place between acting as caring friends and casual partners in the bedroom, you might just be able to make it work. At least for long enough to get the thought out of your head.