To homie hop is to have sex with multiple people who are friends with one another. You “hop” from one member of a friend group to another, either after your sexual relationship with the first has ended or maintaining the sexual relationships simultaneously. Homie hopping is another landmine in the field that is hookup culture. Though, of course, one could seriously date two friends, one after the other or even both at the same time in a consensually non monogamous relationship, this is less common. For the purposes of this discussion, we are talking purely about sex, any arrangement that falls under the umbrella term “hookup”.
And like almost every other social or sexual relationship, homie hopping and the friendships it puts at risk are largely impacted by gendered expectations. I’ve always believed masculinity can hinder friendships. People raised with the expectations of manhood often struggle to find platonic relationships where they can truly be themselves. They may rely instead on the women and non-men in their lives to provide the emotional intimacy their “bros” do not. They may keep their feelings bottled up, prone to explosion. There are cultural expectations at play; feelings aren’t allowed to get hurt when you’re not supposed to have or express them in the first place. So what happens within these friendships when sex becomes a factor, not sex between friends, but friends being sexually interested in the same person?
The term “homie hopper” originated as a phrase to slut shame women. “She’s for the team” guys say to one another behind closed doors.
Even the connotation of the term “homie hopping” centers on women who have sex with men. Men sleeping or attempting to sleep with the friend of their partner is normalized, we shrug and think “he just can’t keep his dick in his pants”. Whereas “homie hopper” originated as a phrase to slut shame women. “She’s for the team” guys say to one another behind closed doors. As we begin the reclamation process and remind people that there are tons of situations in which it’s perfectly fine to have consensual, pleasurable relationships with people who are friends, we must also explore situations where feelings can get hurt. Those where people feel silenced, and those that prove that maybe we’re not yet as sexually progressive a society as we pretend to be.
Homie Hopping in Practice
Let’s lay out a few scenarios. Homie hopping either involves
1. Actively trying to sleep with a partner’s friend(s),
When you decide on your own that you’re interested in your partner’s friend. Think that cliche of a situation where you saw the rest of the friend group and realized you didn’t pick “the right one”.
2. Actively trying to sleep with a PAST partner’s friend(s),
You and this person are no longer sleeping together, and THEN you decide you’re interested in their friend, you still being the initiator here.
3. A partner’s friend(s) trying to sleep with you,
A lot of us have been there, in the midst of a FwB or established fuck-buddyship when you see the infamous story reply from that person’s friend. And what’s worse, this friend is sexy.
What’s important here is context, context you cannot possibly have until you ask either your original partner or the friend.
What’s important here is context, context you cannot possibly have until you ask either your original partner or the friend. Does your friend know you’re hitting on me right now? Was this a part of their plan all along? Would they be hurt to know what you’re doing? Are you being a bad friend?
4. A PAST partner’s friend(s) trying to sleep with you.
Your former partner’s friend is pursuant of you. All in all, this is the situation where the least responsibility falls on you, but of course that doesn’t mean that it’s certain no one will be hurt.
As you can see, ethically, each scenario looks different, and each scenario will feel different depending on the individual person you’re dealing with. Absolutely, there are people of all genders and sexualities who see the mixing of their friends and their sexual partners as a boundary they’d rather not have crossed at all. Perhaps out of concern for their sexual health, perhaps because of the emotions they associate with being intimate with someone and their wanting to keep that sacred, perhaps out of fear that sex with the same person will negatively impact a friendship they feel is important to them. All of these are completely valid.
The pinnacle of ethical homie hopping would entail asking your partner or past partner how they might feel if you were to express interest towards their friend... BEFORE any moves were made.
The worst-case scenario here is hurting someone’s feelings, especially the person you initially slept with who never got the chance to consent to your homie hopping. Erring on the side of caution here would mean operating as if this reaction, this boundary, is how one would be expected to react. This response, the pinnacle of ethical homie hopping, would entail asking your partner or past partner how they might feel if you were to express interest towards their friend, and asking this BEFORE any moves were made. It would entail leaving room for a “no” or “I’d prefer if you didn’t”. You would create as safe a space as possible to be turned down by letting your partner know you are perfectly content no matter what their response.
The truth is that for those plagued by toxic masculinity, this boundary is not the expectation. It is far more likely for a woman to be empowered to react poorly and honestly to a partner pursuing her friend than a man. It is also likely that if a woman does react poorly, nobody cares to console her. The other hard truth is that this conversation would be uncomfortable. Telling someone you’ve been intimate with that you want to have sex with their friend opens up room for conflict. You have to find time to bring it up without being completely awkward, you have to find the words to express yourself that will hurt the least. If you are to take this route, admirable, but if not understandable.
The ethical homie hopper will keep this in mind, ensuring that the original partner knows your homie hopping is not a reflection of their value.
In friendships where masculine expectations are absent, patriarchy is still present. Some friends may feel like there is rivalry over male attention, bubbling under the surface. Sex might not simply be about their own pleasure, but a reflection of them as a partner, how wet their pussy is, how deep their back arches, how perky their breasts are. The ethical homie hopper will keep this in mind, ensuring that the original partner knows your homie hopping is not a reflection of their value. The key is to navigate the jungle gym that is sex with multiple friends as morally as possible, the methods of which I will outline below.
In each of the four aforementioned scenarios, one must consider two words. The first is the term “actively”. In situations 1 and 2, you are the homie hopping instigator, you are pursuant of your partner’s friend. It is precisely this that may hurt your chances of successfully hopping homies without hurting feelings. It may strike feelings in your initial partner of “why wasn’t I good enough?” Guys may feel embarrassed, like this is you publicly announcing that their dick game wasn’t strong enough and you needed to outsource. Friends may tease them as well.
It’s virtually impossible not to compare yourself to those you think better meet the ever-changing, unattainable beauty standard.
People who were raised as women know what it feels like to be in constant competition with other women. From social media to BBLs to video vixens to porn stars, it’s virtually impossible not to compare yourself to those you think better meet the ever-changing, unattainable beauty standard. If you’re already feeling “not enough”, this could push you over the edge. All of this is to say that as someone in a circumstance where you could hurt someone else, you need to be cognizant of these social positions as you homie hop. Maybe that means asking yourself and contextualizing with your partner why you feel the desire to hop.
The second term, “past”, on the other hand, might really help you out. In scenarios 2 and 4 where any sexual relationship between you and the initial partner is distant history, some of the potential hurt may be eased by all the time that’s passed. Now, watching you engage with their friend, your past partner is less likely to see your decision as a reflection on them and more likely to see it as “if you and I aren’t having sex anymore, you’ve got to get it somewhere.” They may be relieved, assuming you weren’t looking at their friend sexually WHILE you two were together, you started afterward (which may or may not be true). Sure there are a lot of fish in the sea, but not all are equally accessible and the friend is RIGHT THERE, you already know them! Hopefully, your former partner is able to recognize that. Of course, there is still room for people to get hurt, but “past” really helps the odds weigh in your favor. There are more of these “past” situations where you might feel less inclined to check in with your past partner beforehand, though you may want to anyway just to be sure you aren’t stepping on toes.
A certain level of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the friend in scenarios 3 and 4, where the friend goes after you.
In all honesty, a certain level of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the friend in scenarios 3 and 4, where the friend goes after you. Often in situations like this I assume that, considering that it’s more so the responsibility of a friend to ensure their friend’s wellbeing than it is for a sexual partner, the two have either already come to an agreement with their friend that this is ok, know their friend’s character enough to know they’d be okay with it. If they are being a shitty friend, that again falls more on them than it does I.
In the name of open communication and radical honesty, you can learn and teach your partner about sexual novelty. The Coolidge effect was named after an anecdote about former president Calvin Coolidge. While visiting a chicken coop, Mrs. Coolidge told his wife to notice the single rooster’s sexual stamina, to which Mr. Coolidge countered “there’s more than one chicken.” What the story means is that novelty, new people or exciting objects, or unfamiliar activities, are crucial in maintaining sexual interest. This has generally proven true, the brain loves new sexual experiences, and homie hopping definitely counts.
What is MY duty? What do I owe a partner?
Assuming you’re taking the role of homie hopper, you may be thinking to yourself “well toxic masculinity is not MY fault, why should I compensate for a system that harms me too? I should just sleep with who I want when I want.” And you’d be right, but also lacking crucial nuance.
Check in with them no matter how uncomfortable the conversation, no matter the gendered expectations that fall on them.
Especially if you have a friendship or emotional connection with this first partner, or for whatever reason don’t feel like this is something they’d be alright with, I’d urge you to check in with them no matter how uncomfortable the conversation, no matter the gendered expectations that fall on them. If you feel it is unnecessary, that’s an evaluation for you and only you to make, but make it from a place of seeking harm reduction rather than one of prioritizing your own pleasure. And of course, after doing your due diligence, purchasing a box of contraceptives, and asking your partners about their sexual/testing history, remember to forget the stigma and stereotypes around homie hopping. Why? Because you’re having MORE SEX, and experiencing pleasure with more people who you’re interested in sexually. What could possibly be wrong with that?
Unfortunately, people still receive judgment no matter how much compassion they approach their situation with, from members of that friend group and from society as a whole. Shaming sexually liberated folks is trendy, especially shaming women, especially shaming people of color. This is sad because in comparing all of the aforementioned situations, having sex with multiple friends who all know and are okay with it is the most ideal model for informed consent, and if anything should be celebrated.
As Twitter tells us, “sometimes, someone comes into your life just so you can meet their homies.” Publicly reclaiming the label homie hopper is a radically good thing! Any practice that results in more pleasure and connection has the potential to be a positive thing. And though hook up culture generally is not conducive to communication, you’ll have a more enjoyable, stress-free homie hopping experience if you communicate with as many parties as possible. Weigh the factors in your particular situation, whether you’re pursuing the friend or they’re pursuing you, whether you’re still seeing the original partner or not, whether masculinity may hinder this person from expressing how they truly feel. This will allow you to decide which responsibilities are yours, and which are the friends, to ensure you’re doing your part to preserve that person’s feelings.