Friendly Fondling

Daniel Crowder

From spring’s cold beginnings until now – spring’s slightly warmer infancy – I’ve begun to notice an increased tendency toward friendly group sex. I don’t mean lots of group sex with friends, but lots of moderately casual to impersonal sex within groups of friends. Usually involving two partners (although I’ve heard of a few, ahem, merrier evenings) friendly fucks are going on across campus, and it’s making for some interesting study-break AIM conversations at the very least.

So you slept with your friend and, unlike your fuck buddy (who probably really isn’t your friend at all), you continue to hang out with this person. Neither of you wants anything more or less than what is, and everything is great until the friend you’re sleeping with sleeps with a mutual friend who neither of you had been with. You’re forced to decide whether things change for better or worse, or just stay the same. Well, you’re not alone. More people than you think are doing the same thing – and I’m not just talking about circles of gay friends.

Gay and straight become less relevant while partying, dancing and socializing in rooms with low lighting – the usual starting points of these types of hook-ups. When I think about it, though, these scenarios seem to work. It’s spring, the day is longer and people seem less apathetic than usual. With this situation, there’s the social aspect of hanging out with friends at movies and parties. But you always know sex is accessible – without having to deal with the complete lack of sentiment in a fuck-buddy situation or the emotional complexity of a full-on, boundaries-set relationship.

Of course, this arrangement isn’t for the faint of heart and can make for some slightly awkward, greater-circle-of-friends interactions, but nothing lethal – especially if many people in this group are involved in some way with others in the group. Rather than thinking of this as a type of friendly, emotionally-incestuous phenomenon, I think of it as a perfect solution for Northwestern students. In general, I’m fairly convinced that two avenues from which one arrives at sex in recent years are the drunken hook-up and the long-term, emotionally-committed relationship. The friendly sex set-up – free of expectations – allows for a little more exploration than the latter but also doesn’t mean a slew of one-night stands. It offers a little more human comfort than a fuck buddy, but doesn’t demand extensive commitment (or really any commitment more than friendship).

While not for everyone, this type of relationship is on the rise. So if you find yourself not wanting anything serious – but feeling unsatisfied by the one-night stand – I would suggest this to you. But I must stress the absolute necessity of knowing where your friend(s) stand on these types of encounters. A party may be the place where flirtation turns to something else, but whatever “something else” is should be talked about beforehand.

Weinberg junior Daniel Crowder is a PLAY sex columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]