A Modern Woman's Guide To Having Sex With The Same People As Your Friends
The Debrief: You might need a spider diagram
Speaking to Vanity Fair this month, Taylor Swift revealed that she thinks sharing is caring when it comes to boys. ‘We even have girls in our group who have dated the same people,’ she says, as though they’re the only crowd where someone has knocked boots with another’s ex.
I like to imagine that she, Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss and the rest of the gang use something like the giant relationships spider chart that covered one wall of my best friend’s kitchen when we were students. Ostensibly created to celebrate our Bloomsburyesque libertinism and avoid faux pax, it ended up functioning more as a gossip column.
I learned many things: modern dating is complicated, relationships (of all types) are fluid and my ex had fingered half of Archway.
Discovering that you and a close friend have had a dalliance with the same person is a situation strewn with emotional potholes. When I first started dating, I felt possessive towards my conquests. I may not have wanted to spend the rest of my life with this guy, but that didn’t mean I was cool with him banging my friends.
When I discovered a former boyfriend was dating a mutual friend, the feeling of having my territory invaded hurt more than the betrayal. Was he constantly comparing us in bed? If so, was I being found wanting? Part of me was desperate to ask her if she’d also found it weird when he sprung out of bed after sex to pour himself a Ribena. The rest of me just found it too awkward to ever speak to her again.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more relaxed about discovering that I’ve banged the same person as a friend. Call it emotional maturity, call it ‘realising life is too short’, but I think it’s a mistake to lose your best friend over a hand job they once gave your ex. On a more practical level, I’m bisexual and in an open relationship, as are many of my friends. I’d much rather sleep with someone whom a trusted friend has been able to confirm respects these things and understands consent than some randy random I know nowt about.
The frequency at which it happens is limited by the simple fact that we don’t all fancy the same guys. I’ve had good experiences with men a mate has dated, but others have left me cold. A friend once met up with a guy I’d seen when I lived in London. I’d found his anecdotes about accountancy and ironing mind-numbingly tedious during our (brief) date, but she shared his twin passions of dogs and test cricket and they had a long relationship. I wished them all the best.
However, there is an etiquette. If you’re going to be ploughing the same furrow as a friend, I’d highly recommend giving them a heads-up first. As well as being common courtesy, it’s a good way to fill them in about any little quirks that may appear when they get down to business.
For example, I was able to alert a close friend before a date with an ex of mine that, while he was both thoroughly charming and an excellent kisser, he was also an exuberant and enthusiastic dry humper, so she shouldn’t get too alarmed when he started to bang on her pelvis like a barn door in a gale when they made out.
I’d love my attitude to be as commonplace as it is commonsense, but our society encourages women to be competitive and possessive in matters of the heart. I mean, where would the romcom industry be without the tired ‘two women compete for a useless man’s affections’ plotline? I’m not saying that you should immediately get the girls round and start sharing intelligence on who you should, could and would immediately bang. But your time will always be better spent encouraging and supporting each other than falling out over some scrub.
So, kudos to Taylor for realising that dating the same guy as one of your mates shouldn’t be the kiss of death for your friendship. Her pals may be prettier and more privileged than us mere mortals, but at least they’re getting the basics of being friends right.
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Picture: Eugenia Loli
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