The thought of having sex with a friend can sometimes seem like a fantastic idea. You’ve known each other forever, you care about each other, you’re insanely comfortable in your own skin whenever you’re together, and maybe you’ve even been tossing the idea around in your head for awhile that sex would them would be great. It’s easy to assume that if your friendship is really that strong, then it can handle throwing some sex into it, because why not?
But the problem with sleeping with a friend is that, if you’re not careful, you can change your friendship in ways you can’t change back very easily. You go from just being friends, to having a drunken kiss, to having sex once and swearing it will never happen again... to way more than once. Then, before you know it, you’re falling down the dreaded rabbit hole of being friends with benefits. Unless your life is a Nora Ephron film called When Harry Met Sally, we all know how that situation tends to turn out. Research shows that few people end up with their friend with benefits, and a lot of people lose that friend all together.
As someone who has (mistakenly) slept with a friend or two in her life, there are certain things I wish I knew before I went for it. Here are some things no one tells you about sleeping with a friend, but oh, how I wish they would.
1. It May Not Feel As Natural As You Might Think
Because you may be making so many assumptions that your friendship can easily handle sex, you may also be assuming that sex with your friend is going to feel completely natural since you know each other so well. That’s not always the case. In fact, you may realize halfway through that it feels a lot weirder than you expected. It's not easy to transition from friends to lovers in a matter of minutes.
2. It Might Change The Dynamic Of Your Friendship
Why? Because, to get directly to the point, you go from never knowing what your friend looks or sounds like when they orgasm, to knowing all the intimate details of it. Suddenly, things you were technically not supposed to ever know is knowledge that you'll probably never be able to shake from your memory.
To quote my therapist after I slept with a friend of mine, “You’re not supposed to know your friend’s O face.” And that’s why she gets paid the big bucks.
3. Boundaries Can Become Blurred
So you’re friends, but you slept together once, twice, and I guess you’re also counting that third time, even though you stopped before things really got going. You think about texting them late at night to get some action after a few drinks, but they’re also the first person you want to call to bitch about someone you’re dating. Like, what are you two? Friends with benefits? Part-time lovers?
"Engaging in a ‘friends with benefits’ (FWB) relationship can be like walking with a blindfold on," Lori Bizzoco, relationship expert and founder of Cupid's Pulse, tells Bustle. "You never know the boundaries that are established in regards to what’s acceptable and what’s not. Having friends with benefits is bound to become problematic as a result of uncertainty!"
Even if you’re anti-labels, it can be stressful to figure out WTF is going on.
4. Jealousy Can Be Become A Factor
Fun fact about life: Sex can lead to unexpected feelings. Even if you’re happy that your friend (the one you're sleeping with or slept with) found someone awesome to date and you don't necessarily want to date them, it's still possible you'll feel a little jealous if they start seeing someone new.
"Having a FWB suggests that you two are not in an exclusive relationship," Bizzoco says. "If seeing your FWB talking to other people bothers you, it signifies that you’re not OK with the casual status of your relationship with them."
In other words, continuing to sleep together can only be detrimental to your head and heart.
5. It Can Possibly Open A Can Of Worms
Another issue that can arise that some people disregard is the fact that maybe you or your friend already have romantic feelings for each other, but just didn’t realize it.
"So many [people] end up in these situations because they are hoping that the [friend] will eventually become their [partner],"relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein tells Bustle. "In reality, that's not a great reason... more often than not it ends up being painful and upsetting. The only reason to have a no-strings attached sexual relationship is because you truly desire no-strings attached sex. Not because you are hoping it will evolve into something else."
If that’s the case, then whoa, Nelly, did you just unearth a whole boatload of drama.
6. Feelings Can Get Complicated
Even if you and your friend aren’t in love with each other, after all this sexing around, your feelings can start to be confusing. Like, should you feel more? Is it weird if you don’t feel more? Is that a desire for a pizza or a desire to see them stat? Not everyone is capable of having sex without feelings getting involved.
"Casual sex is a slippery little beast, isn’t it?" sex therapist Vanessa Marin previously wrote for Bustle. "Casual sex is sort of like that great idea you have for an art project — you can picture it perfectly in your head, but when you actually sit down to do it, it never looks exactly how you thought it would."
Casual sex with someone who's already a friend? It's not as easy as one might think to avoid feelings.
7. It Can Put A Strain On Your Friendship
Between feelings of jealousy, confusion over what your relationship is now that you're sleeping together, and all the boundaries that have been blurred by sex, it only makes sense that your friendship would suffer. Having such a "situation" — and it is a situation — can create the type of strain that makes you realize that maybe your friendship wasn’t strong enough to handle all this sex after all. Like, maybe, just maybe, it was a mistake.
8. You May End Up Missing Out On Other Opportunities
Even if you manage to avoid officially becoming friends with benefits, there’s a chance you’ll end up spending too much time analyzing what it all meant to have sex those few times. You can become so engrossed with that “issue,” that you may end up missing out on other people you could have actually dated and had romantic relationships with.
"Don’t persecute yourself over it responding to your desires for an emotional connection," Clarissa Silva, a behavioral scientist, relationship coach, and the creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method, tells Bustle. "All you did was cross a line both of you weren’t prepared for. However, remember that it can be complicated to revert back between both roles when thinking about the future and function of the relationship.”
9. It’s Not Always Easy To Go Back To Being Just Friends
The most painful part of all? As Silva mentions, it's the complexity of trying to revert back to being just friends. You can do your best to get back on track and let it all be water under the bridge, but there’s no guarantee that you won't see each other a little differently. Certain things in life are difficult to undo and sleeping with a friend just happens to be one of them.
While not everyone may agree that sleeping with a friend is absolutely, positively a bad idea, it is important to keep in mind what it means and how things can change. It's all about trying to figure out what's best for your friendship and how much it's worth to you.
This post was originally published on May 6, 2016. It was updated on August 21, 2019.
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