Sex with friends

In a recent Psychology Today blog post, Heidi Reeder addresses an issue that’s been much talked-about in recent years: sex between friends.

The idea that one shouldn’t have sex with one’s friends seems odd under even the most cursory scrutiny. If not friends, who? Strangers? If you meet someone interesting and jump into bed before you even know the person, how smart is that? Shouldn’t you establish a sort of basic friendship first?

An objection often raised is that introducing sex into a friendship will inevitably cause hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and estrangement. The same could be said though of any sexual relationship. Sex inspires strong emotions.

The things is, sex isn’t the problem. Emotions are not the problem. The problem lies in how people react to their emotions. If people treated one another with respect, and communicated their thoughts and feelings, all manner of strife could be avoided.

If two people respect each other, they will be honest with each other, and will therefore also trust each other. Without the dishonesty of deception or hidden agendas, the misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations that can often lead to hurt feelings will largely be avoided.

Friends who have known each other a long time are obviously more likely to have a high level of mutual respect. However, even relatively new acquaintances can treat each other with respect. Some people are just naturally more trusting and respectful than others. One’s baseline level of trust hugely influences how one treats others. E.g., if you basically expect others to be trustworthy, you will be more honest with the people you meet. Both genes and past experiences surely influence this basic level of trust of others.

Whether in friendships or committed relationships, most of the emotional hurt arising from sex is actually due to poor communication.

Here’s a good set of rules to follow:
1. Ask for what you want but make it clear you will respect the other person’s answer.
2. Don’t do anything that would be disrespectful of the other. If you’re not sure, ask.
3. Don’t assume that sex means deeper emotional commitment or exclusivity.
4. Likewise, don’t assume it’s just a bit of fun.
5. Talk it over and don’t be afraid to speak from your heart.

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