Hall-cest. Suite-cest. Friend-cest. We’re all intimately familiar with the various ‘-cests.” When you hang out with a group of people, of course some of you end up sleeping together. My group of friends has a more tangled web of hook-ups than anyone can even map out. It makes things interesting, but of course it leads to drama.

Now, I’m all about pushing the boundaries. Friends are the people you have a connection with. It makes sense to fool around with someone you like, right? Plus, they’re easily accessible. Why bother going all the way across campus when that cutie has a single right down the hall?

You already know how to talk to your friends, so it’s not as hard to negotiate those little things like, ‘Oh, baby, slightly to the right.” It’s easier to feel physically comfortable with somebody you already know a bit about. You’re not trying to catch up on their favorite color and their taste in music while you’re French kissing in the laundry room. It’s exciting to try new things and new people, but there’s something to be said for comfort and ease of communication.

There are drawbacks, though. When you’ve already got a certain relationship with someone, it can be tricky to shift it into something else.

Sex changes things. I’ve had hook-ups with friends that weren’t really a big deal, but the friendship still changed. Sometimes we got closer, sometimes it was just different afterwards. It takes some talking to figure out where you are.

If you’re already close with someone when you start sleeping together, it makes sense to want to be in a relationship with them. What is a relationship anyway, besides friendship and sex with the same person? Of course, not everyone’s going to want to jump into monogamy or commitment.

No matter what you’re looking for, it’s important to put it out there right at the beginning. You might just want a friend with benefits. It can be really great to have someone there that you can hang out with and fool around with stress-free. It won’t be stress-free, though, if one of you is totally in love and the other is just having fun. Stating your goals right at the beginning, though awkward, helps prevent some heartache later.

I find that pillow talking is one of the easiest ways to get this conversation out of the way. Intimate things just seem to flow more easily when you’re already physically close and sexually satisfied.

If you’re cuddling after sex or just hanging out, it’s easier to bring up what you want in the general flow of conversation. Sitting down and saying, ‘We need to talk” is sometimes what you’ve got to do, but it makes it even harder to broach the subject. It helps to just bring it up casually.

Another pitfall of friend sex is the unfortunate likelihood that Friend A, who you want to sleep with, has already fooled around with Friend B, whose company you enjoy and whom you don’t want to piss off. In big groups, this gets pretty inevitable, too.

If you know ahead of time that you want to sleep with Friend B’s former lover, it’s best to at least let him or her know. A past with someone doesn’t give anyone dibs on them, but some people will feel betrayed if you sleep with their ex.

I know that you can’t always plan ahead with these sorts of things, but it does save a lot of drama if you already know how B will feel before you get in the sack with his or her old flame.

That said, the point as always is to have fun and share the love. Hopefully, sex and friendship can coexist peacefully, even cooperatively. It’s all about the love, man, so have a good time.

If you have any questions about sex or relationships, you can write them to me anonymously (or not) at alyssa.waddill@rochester.edu. I will respond to your questions in a new section of the Campus Times blog. Look for my answers at www.campustimes.org.

Waddill is a member of the class of 2009.

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