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

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Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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