I hooked up with my friend, and I want to do it again. But I’m also worried that it could affect our friendship. It’s like my head and heart want two different things. We’re both single so there is relationship potential, but she is also talking about moving, and I wouldn’t want to start something that would fizzle due to distance. We’re super compatible as friends and I never thought about her that way, but the way things went down was so smooth that it’s really got me seeing possibility where I would never have thought there was any. We have plans to go out this weekend and she suggested she might sleep and mine and if so then we’ll hookup again, which is what I want. But I keep feeling like we should process what happened before we find ourselves in too deep and wreck the friendship in the process. No one else knows about us, and everything is moving really quickly. Help!
– Wants it Both Ways
Dear Wants it,
Your friend is in a life transition. Your relationship is also in a transition right now. You say there’s potential and maybe that scares you, because your friend might be leaving town soon and you don’t want to catch feelings.
If you really want to protect yourself, above all, then you are free to call your hookup a one-time thing and reestablish boundaries. That would require a quick conversation, ideally, since your friend is planning on a repeat this weekend. You two would have to talk about what happened, how it was totally fun and worth it, but how you really value the friendship above all and for that reason, you’re backing away from future dalliances.
That’s certainly an option.
Or you could be open to your friendship evolving to include casual romance and, who knows, something more. That would also involve a conversation, one where you would be a bit more vulnerable and there’d be less certainty in the whole thing. That’s an option, too.
I suspect part of your discomfort comes from the fact that no one else knows, and so there’s a secret intensity between you two where every look and touch means multiple things and you can’t talk to anyone and so you’re up in your own head, going round and round and round about all of it.
Take a deep breath, Wants it. Ask yourself if all the stories you are telling yourself — whether it’s your friendship falling apart because things change or you getting feelings and your friend moving away — are true, or if they are just that. Stories.
Remind yourself that you’re operating with only partial instructions for everything. It’s like putting together an Ikea dresser with every other page missing.
Discretion is probably a good idea at this stage: There’s nothing concrete to tell your pals, and disclosing that you two are hooking up on the side could weird out your group. But if everyone in your group is a poly post-queer, then go ahead and share the news (you know, with your friend’s permission). Having an outlet to talk things out with — and someone who knows you both — will ease the pressure.
If you want to keep things going, establish communication about your hookup. It sounds like she’s trying to do this by making it super-clear her plans for the weekend include your bed.
Take a cue from her: If you want to hang out as friends, tell her you need a friend date. If you’re expecting sex only, let her know that.
Balancing these roles requires a willingness to be flexible (say, if you planned on hooking up but she got into a fight with her roomie and needs to process that) and respect for her as a person. You can’t exactly ghost on her the way you might another fling. Your friendship is important.
Before you pick a course, consider what option feels right to you. You don’t have to continue the hookup, but you can and should if it appeals. Not every relationship needs to be a forever-love for it to be fun, healthy, and mutually beneficial. If you could use some low-stakes, let-loose sex with someone who thinks you’re amazing and would drop-kick anyone who tries to hurt you, try to stop overthinking things and let yourself enjoy what you’ve got.