When You’ve Hooked Up With a Close Friend

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What is the protocol when you find yourself locking lips with someone who’s been your best buddy for ages? You know them well, you trust them, they wouldn’t be initiating something physical casually, would they? Of course not! Let’s get naked and figure this out over pillow talk.

In an era where people hang in groups and develop lots of platonic cross-sex friendships, there’s ample opportunity for attraction to develop even between people who “never thought of you that way.” Because there is a trusting relationship in place, we feel secure enough to act impulsively, assuming that we’re on the same page.

Sometimes it works out. But let’s face it, the assumptions we make as we’re undoing our BFF’s belt buckle are pure projection. (See that oldie but goodie When Harry Met Sally for more details.)

More than a few times women have reported to me that as soon as the fireworks fizzled the guy started expressing worries about what this might mean, or that he hoped they could still be friends. When you’ve impulsively hooked up with a close friend it can be very tricky to navigate what happens next.


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Here’s an email I recently received:

Dear Susan,

I recently hooked up with a guy who I have been friends with for two years. I would not say he is my best friend, but for me he is one of the friends I have felt closest to.

My question is, would a guy be friends with a girl for that long because he’s only physically attracted to her and not mentally or emotionally? He’s flirted with me before and asks about what kind of guys I like and that sort of thing. And he’s always been a good listener, most guys I talk to seem more interested in talking about themselves than in what I have to say, but I always felt like he paid attention and actually cared.

We did not have sex, but he was pushing for it. Afterward he texted me a couple of days later and was asking me about things like how work was going, and it seemed normal. Then I left town for 2 weeks and didn’t hear from him at all.

A couple of days after I got back he texted me to say we should hang out, but we didn’t keep a conversation going. I’m not really sure what to think or what he’s looking for. I just think it’s odd that I wouldn’t hear from him in two weeks. It’s hard to believe (or admit) that someone I’ve been good friends with would treat me like that.  I’m not really sure how I feel about him, so I have been hesitant to show much interest or initiate any contact.

My question is, would a guy be able to be friends with someone for that long, just so he could hook up with her, without having any romantic feelings for her? Or is he just trying to get a FWB situation and was never as close of a friend as I thought?



I’m afraid what I have to say may not clear up your confusion – he’ll have to do that if you choose to ask him. But I can certainly provide some food for thought.

My question is, would a guy be friends with a girl for that long because he’s only physically attracted to her and not mentally or emotionally?

No, not unless he’s a sociopath. This would require his faking interest and empathy for two years only with the ultimate goal of getting into your pants. I think you can rule out this kind of dark, devious motive.

It does sound, though, like he’s been attracted all along, so while he has been willing to invest in a platonic friendship with you, he may have been hoping all along that it would turn physical at some point.

We did not have sex, but he was pushing for it.

This is what concerns me the most. Huge red flag here. Why would a friend who truly cared about you try to push you into something you didn’t want to do? Or wasn’t sure about? In retrospect, if he’d known right then and there he wanted to get together as a couple then I could see it – knowing he was ready to go all in and feeling confident you were too, he might have seen no reason not to act on all that smoldering passion. But he didn’t say that, which he certainly should have done if that’s how he was feeling.

On the other hand, he may have been feeling in the moment like he knew he wanted sex, but had not gone so far as to decide what would come after. In other words, it was a truly impulsive act on his part, and he did not think through the possible consequences, including hurting your feelings. You say here:

I’m not really sure how I feel about him, so I have been hesitant to show much interest or initiate any contact.

My guess is that your ambivalence is something he is well aware of. Maybe he thought that getting physical would bring you around. Or that because you have never seemed that into him, having sex would not affect you emotionally. You say he is treating you poorly, but he may truly have no idea what you want. In which case he might treat you exactly the way he did before you hooked up. I doubt you would have been troubled by not hearing from him when you were traveling prior to your having an intimate encounter with him.

From your perspective, everything’s changed – or has it? From his perspective, perhaps nothing’s changed – or has it?

Another possibility is that he would love FWB – I have seen many cases where a guy wanted to take a platonic friendship to FWB because what could be better? Total freedom plus sex on demand from someone whose company you enjoy very much. And the right to pursue other women at the same time. Nice work if you can get it.

Bottom Line: I can’t say which of these possibilities represent his state of mind. Only he can do that, and only you can ask him.

I know it’s hard, and awkward. But your friendship has clearly already been affected. My advice is to assume he’s not a jerk or a sociopath. Trust the history of your friendship one more time and approach him in the way you always have when something was on your mind. Ask for his honesty, and let him know how his actions made you feel. Sex is never casual, so I’m very glad you didn’t have it! I think you’d be a lot more upset had he succeeded in persuading you.

But keep in mind he may have seen that as a rejection, or perhaps a sign you were not attracted to him.  So you should be prepared to talk about being unsure of your own feelings. Think about what you want from him before asking him for a confession of feelings you’re not prepared to reciprocate.

I hope this helps!


Readers, do you agree with my take on this?

How should Confused handle the relationship now so that it doesn’t dissolve into permanent awkwardness and misunderstanding?

Let’s discuss.

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