Behind Closed Doors: The ghosts of love-lives past

    Oh, what I wouldn’t give to live in a sexual vacuum where every man is pressure-sealed and packaged just for me. There would be no complications, no exes and no prior history to deal with.

    But I don’t live in a vacuum. All my hookups aren’t packaged with my approval all the time. I live here, in Williamsburg, with a meager 5,850 undergraduates to choose from. You’d think with a number that high we could all hook up with different people, but somehow it never happens that way.

    At some point during these four years, many will find themselves hooking up with someone who has already been with their friend. It’s bound to happen at a school our size or of any size, really. Friend groups form, and incest follows. It’s the natural way.

    So what is proper etiquette in this situation?

    Accept that there will be a little awkwardness. Tell yourself that awkwardness isn’t that bad. Often times, acknowledging that a situation is awkward will fix the problem — and a little tension can make sex even spicier.

    Ask yourself a few questions about your new lover’s past. How recently was he or she with your friend? How long were they together? How far did they go? Are there still residual feelings? Most importantly, find out why it ended … from both of them. If there’s a lesson to be learned from hooking up with this person, find out what it is before you learn it the hard way.

    With those questions answered, try to move on. Don’t form your opinion of your potential mate based on your friend’s experience. Let your feelings for this person develop organically, without speeding up the process by learning their life story from your friend. Who knows? She might have missed something. It would be a shame for you to miss out on how cute his face can be in bed just because your friend keeps her eyes closed during sex.

    Absolutely do not compare notes. This is insensitive to all parties involved. A little dish about your bedroom romp is fun, but everyone deserves privacy. You don’t want anyone’s feelings getting hurt — you could lose those sweaty love sessions, or you could lose a friend.

    Leave your baggage at the door. Don’t bring up your friend unless the time calls for it. You don’t need to know about every detail of their time together; it probably won’t change your relationship with either of them. It also creates distance between the two of you with constant talk about someone else. Talk about yourself, you’re the disco stick she wants to ride on.

    As always, use protection. I remember my high school health class videos saying this, and I think it bears repeating: Every time you have sex with someone, you’re having sex with everyone they’ve ever slept with.

    Spread the love among your friends, but not the sexually transmitted infections. Due to the current widespread panic over H1N1, I feel I should remind everyone that you should also administer a throat swab and culture it to see if they have the flu before even holding hands. Condoms and hand sanitizer are where it’s at.

    Also remember to look for red flag’s. Has this guy hooked up with more than two of your friends? Is he manwhoring himself out to your sorority? Has this girl moved from one of your friends to the next in less than a week? Is she truly interested in you and not using you to get back at your friend? Will your booty call screw up your groups’ dynamics? All of these questions should be considered before getting together.

    If you follow all of the above advice, there is a huge positive in this situation: You are doing the dirty with someone you know you can trust, and whom your friends already approve of. In the words of Paris Hilton, that’s hot.

    __Maya Horowitz is The Flat Hat sex columnist. She keeps a Venn diagram of all lovers and friends, just in case.__

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