How To Save A Friendship After Hooking Up

Whether it was a spontaneous moment of drunken passion or the logical conclusion of a steady buildup of flirting, sleeping with a friend will shatter your relationship. There are several paths your relationship can take from this point. Here’s how to try and save your friendship after hooking up with someone who’s always been a platonic part of your life.

  1. It depends on the type of hookup. “Hooking up” is one of the most ambiguous pieces of relationship terminology out there. It can mean anything from a quick make-out session in the corner of a bar to full-on intercourse in someone’s bed. Kissing does not need to ruin a friendship. It can be chalked up to a moment of tipsy playfulness that does not need to go further. Sex, on the other hand, is harder to overcome. Sleeping with a friend fundamentally changes a relationship and requires immense effort to move beyond.
  2. Talk it out until you can’t anymore. Even though it’s hard, you need to communicate as soon as you can. If you leave things too long, you’ll start making assumptions about how the other person feels and what they’re thinking. Be patient. Communication takes time, especially when feelings are uncertain. When you need a break, agree to leave the conversation where it is and take it up when you’re ready.
  3. Give it time. You can’t force difficult situations to resolve themselves, and sometimes, talking only tightens the knots and tangles. Give each other space when you need to. Don’t try to fix everything right away. Your feelings for each other, perception of the situation, and understanding of your own needs will grow clearer with time.
  4. Figure out why it happened. Let’s be honest, it didn’t come out of nowhere. Maybe it felt like it in the moment, but if you analyze the weeks and months leading up to the hookup, there were clues. Before you start to talk about the future of your friendship, figure out why things got to this point. Was the sexual tension building for a while? Have you been attracted to each other from the day you met? Understanding why you hooked up will help you decide how to move forward.
  5. Don’t hook up again until you’re on the same page. One of the risks of hooking up and trying to move past it without talking about it is that you’ll just keep doing it. This is especially true if the hookup was surprisingly great. Starting to hook up on a regular basis without discussing what happened will ruin any chances you have of remaining friends. As soon as sex becomes the dominant feature of your relationship, you can never go back. Eventually, you’ll both end up feeling used and misunderstood.
  6. If you want to be friends with benefits, don’t fall into it. Being friends with benefits without losing the friendship is a lot more difficult than it sounds. On the surface, it seems like a casual, mutually-beneficial relationship that covers all the needs a person could have. In practice, however, it requires ongoing communication and clear ground rules from the outset. If the two of you decide that you want to become friends who have sex with each other, you need to have realistic expectations of the difficulties you may encounter.
  7. Be respectful of each other’s emotions. Unfortunately, you may not feel the same about hooking up. One of you might not think it’s a big deal while the other is experiencing a roller-coaster of feelings. Do not judge each other or take the other person’s reaction as verification that all hope is lost for continuing your friendship. You need to talk it through and respect where each of you is coming from.
  8. If one of you has feelings for the other, you can’t be friends. When you analyze the reasons behind your hookup, you may encounter an uncomfortable disconnect. If one of you has feelings and the other just wants to go back to being friends, it is impossible for both of you to be happy. One of you would always be repressing or faking emotions that they do not feel, and this is an unsustainable situation. A friendship is only possible if neither of you wants to pursue a romantic relationship.
  9. Maybe it can be the beginning of something new. After all, some of the best, most enduring love stories start with a friendship. In fact, recent research shows that most couples started as friends before their relationship became romantic. Transitioning from a friendship to a romance is not seamless, but if you have feelings for each other, there is no reason to stay friends when your relationship has the potential to blossom into more.
  10. Sometimes you can’t save it. Sometimes hooking up reveals underlying cracks in a friendship that can’t be fixed. Maybe it reveals that the relationship is one-sided and that one person makes more effort and cares more deeply than the other. Maybe it reveals that sexual tension was always at the heart of the friendship and that hooking up was the logical conclusion. Whatever the issues, hooking up can be the sunlight that reveals the incompatibility that was always there.

Rose Nolan is a writer and editor from Austin, TX who focuses on all things female and fabulous. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theater from the University of Surrey and a Master's Degree in Law from the University of Law. She’s been writing professional since 2015 and, in addition to her work for Bolde, she’s also written for Ranker and Mashed. She's published articles on topics ranging from travel, higher education, women's lifestyle, law, food, celebrities, and more.