How To Do Damage Control After 'Accidentally' Sleeping With A Good Friend

by Christine Tarlinton

Remember that famous scene in “Dawson’s Creek” when Joey and Dawson were sitting on the swings and slowly leaned in to kiss for the first time, bringing a close to years of sexual tension?

Well, luckily for Joey, those corner-of-the-mouth smiles paid off, as she and Dawson successfully transitioned their friendship into a relationship.

This is the romantic, best-case scenario version of what can happen; the alternative goes a little differently.

In real life, you wake up in a pool of unflattering sunlight, your phone has 5 percent battery and the only thing that hurts more than your hangover is realization that you’ve just slept with a friend and you now to have to deal with the giant sex-elephant in the room.

Check out the guide below to proceed as best as you can:

The morning after the night before

Accept it and acknowledge it. I’m all about weaseling my out of situations and am not opposed to climbing out of the window and repressing a memory or two, but unfortunately, this isn’t just a stranger who will go down in your personal history as a funny story.

You have each other’s numbers; you’re Facebook friends; you're actual friends and you will almost definitely see each other again.

So, address the situation immediately and acknowledge that you were mentally present when it all went down. Casually mention that last night was fun and do a thumbs-up (everyone loves a visual aide).

Depending on how you feel, you’ll either need to head into friend-zone mode... or reserve a wedding reception venue.

Setting the "we" or "me" tone

After awkward pleasantries and acknowledgement of the past night, you'll need to establish the direction of the day. Because, believe it or not, how the next few hours progress will mean something.

If you’re in love, clear your schedule and conjoin your bank accounts. If, however, you’re not so taken with the previous night, you’ll need to set the tone — quickly.

Begin by casually mentioning the many errands you need to run during the day; don't be a jerk about it, but do be firm with your wording. "Me" and "I" are your friends, while "we" will lead to an afternoon of walking through the park with juice and scones.

Again, depending on your feelings, you'll either want to announce the news to the world or lock it deep away in the vault of your past. If it’s the latter, a verbal agreement of “let’s just keep this to ourselves” is enough.

Mutual friends are great when you’re dating, but in situations like these, they will likely make things worse.

Re-establishing the friendship dynamic

In the days and weeks following the sex, it’s important to reinforce the friend zone by doing your best to revert back to your pre-sex dynamic.

He’ll get the picture — so long as you’re not simultaneously inviting him to attend weddings with you or asking for his opinion on which bra to buy via picture message.

Most likely, the dynamic will quickly settle if you’re not too weird about it, and even if you are feeling weird, fake it until you make it.

However, if things got a little heavy and you said a bit too much, or you got drunk and transformed into the obnoxiously loud girl who smokes the wrong end of a cigarette, it might be time for a friendship hiatus.

Switch into damage-control mode and scale back your friendship until you feel more in control of the situation or you’ve ignored enough of his messages in a row for him to get the hint.

Testing the waters

After the enforced cool-off period, it's time to come out from hiding and make contact (just not the full-body type). Since you're friends, you’ll undoubtedly be seeing each other sooner rather than later, so when that moment comes, you need to approach it head on.

If you’re lucky, he’ll have since had a whirlwind romance with a girl who reached for the same orange at the supermarket, and all of the work will be done for you.

He’s over it, you’re over it and everyone can move on. However, if you’re both still available and there’s a distinct sense of longing and desire in his eyes, you need to ease yourself back into the role of unavailable friend. Affection of any type is off the table.

In "When Harry Met Sally," Billy Crystal says that men and women can’t be just friends "because the sex part always gets in the way.” That much is true, especially if you have sex.

Sex is to friendships as icebergs are to ships, but if dealt with correctly, your friendship might live to tell the tale.

Confine your relationship to platonic, preferably sober environments, and if that’s not doable, just learn to recognize the point at which your better judgemnt took a mini vacation.

After all that, if it happens again, you’ll either need a reality check or a better game plan. Only God and Oprah can help you now.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It