How To Preserve Your Friendship After BAD Casual Sex

What should you do when the friendship is good but the sex you had with them...isn't?


When it comes to my semi-sordid-somewhat-random sexual past, something that I'm pretty open about is, I had a pattern of sleeping with my male friends. What was that all about? Well, to this day, I've never had a one-night stand before and, I wasn't very quick to have sex with people either. For me, I needed more than just a physical attraction or even chemistry; there needed to be a true emotional connection of some sort—and that tended to manifest via my male friendships. Now, for a guy and I to get to a point of "showing each other our parts", clearly we were never truly platonic (check out "The Word 'Platonic' Is Sacred. Literally.")—yet, at the same time, there was enough of an attraction to wonder what it would be like to "take it there".

To tell you the truth, I'm still trying to figure out if that mindset was crazy or not. At the time, my rationale was, "I like him and I trust him. I don't really want anything super serious right now so, sex with a friend seems like the best of both worlds: the buddy and the booty." (That last part is a line that Queen Latifah said in the movie Brown Sugar). But when I tell you that sex, even so-called casual sex (also check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'"), changes the dynamic of a relationship—any kind of relationship—it is so true. Sometimes, it alters it in ways that you wouldn't quite expect. Take if you engage in sex with a friend, believing that it will be all good and then, when it's all said and done, it's bad. Shoot, worse than that.

Even if you both went in, not expecting to pledge your undying love for each other, less-than-stellar sex can still bruise egos and make things hella awkward (I'm saying that from personal experience). So, if it ever happens to happen to you, what can you do to preserve your friendship? These five questions can hopefully help to bring you some peace and your relationship, moving forward, with some clarity.

What Made It “Bad”?


Bad sex. If you're on this planet long enough (and you are sexually active while living on it), you'll experience some at some point. Thing is, the reasons can run the gamut. You may lack sexual compatibility. Someone may not be as "sexually knowledgeable" as they let on to be. What you fantasized in your mind may not be even close to the reality. Maybe your partner is selfish, boring or both. Like I said, the possibilities are pretty endless. But knowing what made the sex not so impressive is what can help you to figure out how to proceed.

Take one male friend who I had sex with. I always refer to him as my Cirque du Soleil-in-under-15-minutes experience because, I don't know what the brotha was trying to prove, but it was like he was trying to do everything possible in the time it takes to watch half of a sitcom. Before the sex, while I wasn't interested in being in a romantic relationship with him, I did find him to be fine as hell; so, I wanted to see if he was as good in bed as he looked (hey, I'm just being honest). He. Absolutely. Was. Not. Purely on the physical tip, the sex was so wack that it was almost comical. It was so bad, in fact, that there was no reason for us to fall out or anything. In fact, in hindsight, the end result is we became just friends. It was even hard to see him as fine anymore.

But if it had been bad because he mistreated me, lied about some other situations he had going on, gave me an STD, etc., etc.—well, I could see how that could produce an entirely different outcome. So yeah, if you are trying to figure out how to recover from a bad sex session with a friend, getting down to what made it so horrible in the first place is the first thing that I'd advise you to do. That, right there, can reveal…a lot.

What Was Your Motive for Doing It in the First Place?


An author by the name of Paul David Tripp once said, "We rarely do anything with one single motive." That really is so true. A motive is what causes us to act a certain way or it's the goal that we set to attain by saying or doing certain things. Keeping this in mind, a person's motive (or set of motives) tends to reveal quite a bit about them. That said, when you decided to sleep with your friend, what caused you to do it? What end game did you have in mind? If it all boiled down to curiosity, horniness or simply trying to "scratch and itch", for the most part, those reasons are pretty superficial and, like a surface cut or wound, you can "heal" from that pretty quickly. In time, the two of you might even be able to laugh about it (maybe). But if it even remotely had to do with some of the stuff that I said in the article "When He Just Wants To Be Friends, But You Want More...", that is another matter entirely.

One of the biggest gambles that comes with having sex with a friend, even if it is just so-called casual sex, is it still has the tendency to connect you to your partner on another level (after all, oxytocin doesn't know if you like, love or are in love with who you sleep with).

So, if you weren't honest with yourself before engaging with your friend, you could be lying to both of you about what your core motive was. On top of that, what made sex bad for you could be about more than just the physical. Maybe you were hoping it would start off casual but end up with him seeing you in another light. Or, maybe you thought that you would put it on him and it could become a steady thing, while he had more of a one-and-done mentality about everything. Yeah, a lot of us end up with our feelings hurt or being the peak of pissed because we weren't forthcoming about why we set out to do something. If you are "feeling some type of way" about the sex that you and your homie had, get back to the foundation before doing anything else. Ponder what your true motive was for taking things there.

Does He Feel the Same Way That You Do?


For this particular topic, I decided to hit up a good friend of mine in order to get the male perspective, since I happen to know that he's had quite a bit of experience when it comes to sleeping with female friends. As we were discussing a message I once heard about the fact that women deal in "wire" or string (everything tends to connect to everything else) while men deal in "boxes" (they tend to compartmentalize stuff), he shared with me that this fact actually applies to this scenario.

"When it comes to us, sex has to be really bad for it to totally suck. Like, for me, I would say that if it would be easier for me to get a nut by jacking off than having sex with someone…yeah, that means she's bad in bed. Otherwise, even if the sex isn't great, I probably won't even bring up that my mind wasn't blown. For me, it's more about if you are bringing drama to the friendship outside of the sex. Can I still talk to you about other women? Are you about to have unrealistic expectations? Are you trying to be more than friends on the sly? If we can still maintain our friendship, I'll be real with you—we can still be friends and probably have sex because guys don't look at sex as being 'good' or 'bad' so much as who is better or best."

Interesting. I asked a few other fellas I know to share their thoughts on this, and they basically nodded their heads in agreement. To me, what this all boils down to is, unless your male friend has been secretly crushin' on you, chances are, you don't have to worry about unimpressive casual sex with him ruining anything. That is, unless you choose for it to.

If It Was Truly “Casual”, What’s the Problem?


I'm pretty word particular. That's why, personally, I'm not a fan of the word "casual" being used in the context of relationships. Casual means without serious intention. Casual means careless. Casual means apathetic and unconcerned. Seems kind of weird that two friends—two true friends—would intentionally participate together in anything that falls in line with those definitions. But if you have, again, I get it. Because I didn't think all of this through super deeply at the time, I've been there.

And you know what? A part of what caused casual sex to ruffle some feathers in my friendly hook-ups is that I expected the sex to be casual but not the "aftercare" that followed. Meanwhile, my male friends were like, "If we're having sex with serious intention, why should I be penalized for not being super concerned if you didn't enjoy it as much as you expected to or if I'm exactly the same afterwards? We just friends, so what's with all of the 'extra'?" And, to a large degree, those guys would have a point.

If the two of you had sex one night and had some really bad sex, all with the understanding that it shouldn't have happened and neither of you want it to happen again, there really shouldn't be (too) much more energy put into it. But if something about the definitions of casual trigger you, when it comes to what went down between you and your friend, well, something tells me that it might not be as casual as you've been trying to let on. Something tells me that, even if you don't have serious feelings for your friend, you are looking for a little more interest and empathy on his part. And, if that is indeed the case…you should probably ask yourself "why?".

Do You (Still) Value the Friendship More than Anything Else?


Out of everything that we discussed in this, at the end of the day, what it all boils down to is what you value the most—holding onto a disappointing sexual experience or preserving your friendship. Now, if something about the sexual experience has caused you to question your value or self-worth, please get down to the root of that as soon as possible. No matter how unimpressive a sexual experience is, if it's with a friend, it still shouldn't affect or infect you in that way. But if it really just boils down to the bad sex making things weird and awkward, remember that this is your friend that we're talking about. Like my male friend said, chances are, it's eating at you far more than it is your male friend. Plus, he probably wants to get past it all so that you can get back to being just friends.

The main thing to keep in mind is that sex with a friend, whether it's good or bad sex, tends to alter things more times than not. And, many times, how it does that is unpredictable. If you're not prepared to deal with those odds, you might want to stay out of the bedroom. After all, there are so many other options out here. Why take this kind of risk with your male friend(s)? For real.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Who Knew There Was Such A Thing As "Bad Orgasms"?

When Your Sex Drives Aren't in Sync

These Are The Deal-Breakers You Shouldn't Hesitate To Have In The Bedroom

6 Signs You're A Sexually Mature Woman

Feature image by Giphy

Related Articles Around the Web
The Evolution of Serena Williams

It is like witnessing magic when you watch an athlete do what they do best. To see a mere human soar in the air over to the other side of a bar or to witness someone run at a speed quicker than a human thought. A basketball player defying gravity just to get a ball into a hoop. A ballerina turning their body into a top, spinning and spinning without fatigue.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
Lori Harvey On Dating With A Purpose & Not Compromising Her Peace For Anyone

Lori Harvey’s dating life has consistently been a hot topic on social media and now the model is shedding light on some of her dating do’s and don’ts. In an episode of Bumble’s new “Luv2SeeIt” content series, the SKN by LH founder sat down with the series' director, producer, and host Teyana Taylor and disclosed some quote-worthy thoughts on dating and relationships.

Keep reading...Show less
Tisha Campbell Opens Up About Finding Herself Again After Divorce

Tisha Campbell has a new show on Netflix called Uncoupled which stars Neil Patrick Harris as his character learns to rebuild his life after a breakup with his long-term partner. While Tisha’s character may not be going through a breakup, the veteran actress has had a similar experience in real life. The Martin star divorced the L.A.’s Finest star Duane Martin after 22 years of marriage and 27 years together in total. Soon after the divorce was finalized, Tisha claimed that Duane left her with $7 to her name but now she is in the restoration phase of her life.

Keep reading...Show less
Black Women, We Deserve More

When the NYT posted an article this week about the recent marriage of a Black woman VP of a multi-billion-dollar company and a Black man who took her on a first date at the parking lot of a Popeyes, the reaction on social media was swift and polarizing. The two met on Hinge and had their parking lot rendezvous after he’d canceled their first two dates. When the groom posted a photo from their wedding on social media, he bragged about how he never had “pressure” to take her on “any fancy dates or expensive restaurants.”

It’s worth reading on your own to get the full breadth of all the foolery that transpired. But the Twitter discourse it inspired on what could lead a successful Black woman to accept lower than bare minimum in pursuit of a relationship and marriage, made me think of the years of messaging that Black women receive about how our standards are too high and what we have to “bring to the table” in order to be "worthy" of what society has deemed is the ultimate showing of our worth: a marriage to a man.

That's right, the first pandemic I lived through was not Covid, but the pandemic of the Black male relationship expert. I was young – thirteen to be exact – when Steve Harvey published his best-selling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Though he was still just a stand-up comedian, oversized suit hoarder, and man on his third marriage at the time, his relationship advice was taken as the gospel truth.

The 2000s were a particularly bleak time to be a single Black woman. Much of the messaging –created by men – that surrounded Black women at the time blamed their desire for a successful career and for a partner that matched their drive and ambition for the lack of romance in their life. Statistics about Black women’s marriageability were always wielded against Black women as evidence of our lack of desirability.

It’s no wonder then that a man that donned a box cut well into the 2000s was able to convince women across the nation to not have sex for the first three months of a relationship. Or that a slew of other Black men had their go at telling Black women that they’re not good enough and why their book, seminar, or show will be the thing that makes them worthy of a Good Man™.

This is how we end up marrying men who cancel twice before taking us on a “date” in the Popeyes parking lot, or husbands writing social media posts about how their Black wife is not “the most beautiful” or “the most intelligent” or the latest season of trauma dumping known as Black Love on OWN.

Now that I’ve reached my late twenties, many things about how Black women approach dating and relationships have changed and many things have remained the same. For many Black women, the idea of chronic singleness is not the threat that it used to be. Wanting romance doesn’t exist in a way that threatens to undermine the other relationships we have with our friends, family, and ourselves as it once did, or at least once was presented to us. There is a version of life many of us are embracing where a man not wanting us, is not the end of what could still be fruitful and vibrant life.

There are still Black women out there however who have yet to unlearn the toxic ideals that have been projected onto us about our worthiness in relation to our intimate lives. I see it all the time online. The absolute humiliation and disrespect some Black women are willing to stomach in the name of being partnered. The hoops that some Black women are willing to jump through just to receive whatever lies beneath the bare minimum.

It's worth remembering that there are different forces at play that gather to make Black women feast off the scraps we are given. A world saturated by colorism, fatphobia, anti-Blackness, ableism, and classism will always punish Black women who demand more for themselves. Dismantling these systems also means divesting from any and everything that makes us question our worth.

Because truth be told, Black women are more than worthy of having a love that is built on mutual respect and admiration. A love that is honey sweet and radiates a light that rivals the sun. A love that is a steadying calming force that doesn’t bring confusion or anxiety. Black women deserve a love that is worthy of the prize that we are.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image: Getty Images

Honey & Spice Author Bolu Babalola’s Hopeful Romance
Some may see romantic comedies and dramas as a guilty pleasure. But author Bolu Babalola indulges in the genre with no apology.
Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
Former Beyoncé Dancer Deja Riley On Changing Her Career For Her Mental Health

Former Beyoncé Dancer Deja Riley On Changing Her Career For Her Mental Health

"I felt like I was not enough. And my mental health is important. So when I started feeling that way, I knew that it was time to shift."

Latest Posts