The other night I was over at my friend Lily’s house. We’ve been friends since high school (I’m currently in college) and we are very close. It was a Friday night after finals, and we were celebrating with a few (too many) beers. One thing led to another, and we ended up having sex. The next morning we talked about it. I was OK with it and felt it wouldn’t change our relationship. It was a one-time thing, for me. Then, she proposed that she wouldn’t mind making it a regular activity. This threw me a bit. Was she talking about dating? Would we get emotionally attached? If we stopped, would it ruin our friendship? I like her more as a friend, and don’t want to screw things up. What should I do, Marni?
This is a tricky one! But also a situation that happens to so many people after one too many beers!
First of all I want to commend you for putting some thought into this: so many people in your situation would probably jump straight in and then worry about how it was going to pan out afterwards!
This sounds to me a little like what Lily’s thinking. In my experience ‘friends with benefits’ arrangements (though popular in the movies) don’t work out so well unless both people are 100% on the same page, and the fact that you’ve taken the time to write me this email shows that you’re not on 100% the same page.
Also (and I know this is going to sound patronising but it’s meant well) Lily is very young and these kind of complicated ‘FWB’ relationships require quite a lot of maturity and independence to work effectively.
So my initial instincts and yours are the same: she could develop feelings, this could easily get complicated and you both may get hurt in the process.
What’s more you’ve stated quite clearly that you prefer her as a friend: so why go ahead with something you’re not sure of?
Instead, I’d be very casual about the suggestion and let her down gently. Say something like, “the thing is I do genuinely value you as a friend. It’s rare that you meet someone of the opposite sex who you can share that bond with and I don’t want to screw things up. So for now what I’d like to do is keep hanging out as normal, keep it relaxed, be great friends to one another... and possibly not get quite so drunk again! As it’s important to me to keep you in my life.”
Then see how things go. In time both of your feelings may change, what you both want may change, but for now it’s simpler to acknowledge that you hooked up but don’t let it affect your day to day bond.
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