“It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.”
~ Mandy Hale
He slept with me and now wants to be friends; this may be the inner narrative that keeps replaying in your head. How did this happen? How did I get here? Am I not worth a relationship?
To begin to answer these questions and process your current “situation”, let’s start from the beginning.
Yes, he slept with you, but YOU also slept with HIM. You were a willing participant in the event.
- Were you two exclusive before you had sex?
- Was it promised to you that if you had sex, you would be exclusive?
- Was it your hope/assumption that if you two had sex, then you would be exclusive?
You need to ask yourself what was spoken (out loud) and what was unspoken, the narrative in which we tell ourselves.
Do you feel like you were both on the same page going into having sex with one another? If so, and he completely pulled a switch on you afterward, then you have every right to be angry! You were duped; your emotions were toyed with.
Were you two “just friends” or “casually dating” before you two had sex?
If this is the case, you may have taken a risk if you wanted something more. He has every right to declare he wants to be friends if there was no prior commitment.
As emotionally large as having sex is, it is not contractual.
It does not mean that either party owes anything to the other after having sex with one another. That being said, they do entirely, if either party entered into the sexual contract on the premise that it would lead their relationship to a more exclusive place than it already was.
Communication is power.
Communicate with your partner before and after. Make your needs known and advocate for yourself. If you are afraid of pushing an individual away by communicating with them, they are unfortunately not the individual for you.
Lori D’Elia, MA, LMFT, CPC – www.deliafamilysolutions.com
Moving from an intimate encounter to friends only is sometimes a good move and other times a painful move.
When he tells you he only wants to be friends, start by being mindful of how you feel.
Do you feel relieved, happy, or content by his request? Do you feel disappointed, sad or angry?
It’s important to reflect on how you feel in order to know how to move forward.
I would also challenge you to sit with the emotions for some time versus immediately responding if you can. Occasionally the immediate reaction does not match how we truly feel.
Create space to sit with his request and sort out how you feel before responding if possible.
Once you know how you feel and what you want, share your desire and your boundaries.
If you feel relieved, happy or content with moving towards friendship, share that with him as well as your boundaries with the friendship.
Friends only or are friends with benefits allowed? What does being friends mean to you? How will you navigate encounters together?
If you feel disappointed, sad or angry, share that with him as well as the boundaries you have.
Do you need no contact from him or space from him? Do you want a friendship?
Be as direct and clear as possible as you set boundaries.
With all relationships, we can learn and grow from them.
What did this sexual experience teach you? What do you want to learn from it? What do you want to do differently next time?
To heal, we need to feel and deal.
Deal with it by reflecting and learning from it so that you can heal.
Rachel Elder, LMHC, MHP – www.rachel-elder.com
There are many lessons to be learned when it comes to dating and relationships.
The most important and the most trusted lesson is to take things slowly.
That means, you need to slow up the physical intimacy until you are sure that there IS a relationship and that it is something you both want.
The problem with bringing the physical relationship in too soon is that one or both may misinterpret the meaning behind the connection.
- Does this mean you are now a “couple?”
- Does this mean he really likes you?
- Does this mean he is making a commitment?
In other words, when you become physical, before the emotional bond is made, you may be surprised that he feels differently than you.
So, you need to reevaluate what intimacy is and make slow progress towards that end.
You can be intimate with your partner by sharing secret experiences. You can be intimate by being thoughtful and caring. You can be intimate by flirting and being mysterious. These tactics can bring you closer by making the emotional bond stronger and the physical attachment more binding.
There is nothing more unnerving than having your partner surprise you with an unexpected revelation – “I just want to be friends.” All your assumptions, all your expectations and all your hopes and dreams are shattered when you two are not on the same page.
Perhaps you can ask these few questions of each other early on:
- What are you looking for in a relationship?
- What are your dreams for the future?
- Are you just interested in dating or do you want more?
These are hard questions to ask but may be necessary to avoid being sideswiped by a guy who is not interested in a true relationship.
Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com
Sometimes when sex happens the parameters aren’t very clear. Two people hook up in a moment of passion and there’s not much, if any, talking. While in some ways sex is a very intimate and shared experience, in other ways it can be a very separate experience for the two people involved.
While sex is a physical act, there is a very strong emotional overlay, I think especially for women.
What we tell ourselves can differ greatly, from “it’s no big deal” “to this means the beginning of a commitment”. Unless you have communicated (verbally), you really don’t know what each other’s expectations are.
People used to wait a long time to have sex; usually they were in a relationship, so the expectations were understood. Today, sex is often more casual so there is a lot more room for ambiguity.
Unfortunately, the situation in which the expectations differ after the fact is really not fixable. The sex is a fait accompli; you are now left to deal with the disappointments resulting from wanting different things.
Usually, it’s pretty hard to go from a sexual relationship to a friends relationship.
The feelings and expectations between the two are so different. There is often a feeling of rejection experienced by the person who has been “friended”. While there’s nothing inherently wrong in changing the status of a relationship, it’s usually not easy.
I’m never a fan of trying to talk someone into anything that they are saying they don’t want.
Wanting to be friends instead of lovers is a pretty clear statement. You are better off looking for someone who wants what you want. He’s out there but I recommend sorting out the expectations before you engage in sex with him.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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