As you may have guessed, I have a problem. It requires a little background information, so here goes. I have been very good friends with a guy in my grade (we'll call him...uh, Blurf) for six years. He used to have unrequited feelings for me, but those have since passed (he got a girlfriend), and our relationship is seemingly back to normal. However, a couple of nights ago, we were hanging out, and... we may have done the HND (don't worry—we're both consenting adults). I'm not really sure how it happened, but it did, and I think it thoroughly confused both of us. I know it was just a hookup, but at the same time, there's some history there, and it obviously throws some unwanted tension in our relationship. How do I broach the topic without being awkward, and how do I approach our friendship afterwards? I'm fairly certain that we both want to remain Just Friends, but there's going to be some weirdness there and I want to try to avoid it as much as possible.
Also! I just realized that I left out some important information. There was NO cheating involved. He wasn't in a relationship at the time we hooked up. I'm so familiar with the timeline that I completely left out that chunk of information.
Well, his feelings can't have been THAT unrequited. I guess it's possible that this was a complete physical accident, but I am having trouble imaging that scenario. ("Oh no, that raccoon stole my pants! Aw jeez I tripped! Oops! Wowzers!" [Suggestive Noises])
If there's one awful dating thing that guys tend to be more guilty of than girls, it's feigning interest until a hookup occurs, and then pretending the girl is not alive. If one person in a friendship secretly wants to hook up, it's usually the dude. If there's one study I constantly link to prove this point, it's this one. The lesson to take away from all this appears to be that dudes would hook up with a cactus as long as you put a wig on it. Your case is an unusual one, though, because I get the impression that he's the one who has Emotions and Feelings, and you're just like "SHRUG." But I'm getting ahead of myself.
1.) Decide what you want to happen here.
You say you're fairly certain that you both want to remain Just Friends. At the risk of sounding all stern and adulty, I think you need to be totes certain, not fairly certain, or else you'll be throwing out mixed signals like an amnesiac quarterback. The dude will think you do like him romantically, then he'll think you don't like him, and then he will be hit by a blitzing linebacker. I don't have any great advice for this step, because I have the brain of a dude, and therefore can't imagine being unsure if I like someone or not. I suppose you could picture yourself dating the guy, and then note your initial reaction to that thought: Is it "Blech!" or "Ooooh!" Of course, you're a girl, so it will probably be "Buh?" or something similarly unhelpful. Anyway, I can't tell you whether or not you want to pursue a relationship with him, but you need a firm answer to that question before you can do anything else here.
2.) Communicate that thing.
I just wrote a post about how FWB-type relationships almost always end badly because one person is like "This is fun! Whee!" and the other person is like "I secretly love you! Nooo!" and the two have different understandings of what the relationship means. Yours isn't an ongoing arrangement, but your boy does need to know that this hookup didn't mean anything more. (I'm assuming you've come to the conclusion that you don't have any deeper feelings for him.) This is especially true if you initiated the hookup, or did anything to imply that you do have feelings for him. (Other than, you know... hooking up with him.)
You can just say something like "So, about what happened..." and give him a chance to blurt out "OOPS I LOVE YOU," which is what I expect to happen, or you can lead by clarifying that you don't have those kinds of feelings for him ("I just wanted to make sure I didn't give you the wrong impression," et cetera). Avoid saying anything too blunt—don't tell him it "didn't mean anything," for example—but you really do have to communicate that this is not a budding romance. I really hope I'm not sounding prudish or judgmental here; you're totally allowed to have fun and I am not someone's mean grandpa. I'm just concerned that your reaction was essentially ,"Oops! Oh well!" and his reaction, for all we know, might have been, "Finally, my six-year plan has come to fruition, and soon we will be double-married!"
3.) Give it time for things to go back to normal.
You asked how to approach your friendship afterward, and the answer is to approach it exactly like you'd approached it before. Once you've delicately explained that this was a momentary silly lapse and not a prelude to marriage, you just need to act normal, bludgeoning him with normalcy until everything is so normal it's insane. The idea is to acknowledge that this thing happened but then stop dwelling on it; don't bring it up, and especially don't tell a bunch of people about it (not only for the sake of his privacy, but also because it will only make it harder for him if he does have unrequited feelings for you). Treat him the same way you always used to, and the weirdness will subside over time.