One Night Only! The Pros And Oh Nos Of A One-Night Stand

Ah, the sordid glory of the one-night stand. It's much-maligned and much-coveted. It's confusing. But are they any good for us?

Before we explore the prohs and oh nos of this illustrious exchange—let’s actually define what it is and what it isn’t.

In my opinion, a one-night stand takes place when you have sex with someone once and that’s it. No strings attached, no additional communication and no further information available. Wam, bam, thank you maam (sir), I'll be on my way. If you see that person again, it’s no longer a one-night stand; it’s instantly transformed into a booty call or potential friend-with-benefits situation.

When It A Good Idea To Have A One-Night Stand?

Ok. In my opinion there are two occasions when you should absolutely get it on with a stranger. Once.

1. We’ve all been there. It's the loathsome heat of the dreaded dry spell. Like a bear scratching its back against the sweet rough bark of an old tree, you need some relief. You honestly and truly don’t want anything emotionally from another person, but you need to break the seal. (Or you might break a window.)

2. If you happen to have the opportunity to have sex with a celebrity. (It happens all the time in Los Angeles and New York. Really!) Take my word for it and yourself a glorious one-night stand. It’s worth it for the story alone.

The Prohs

One-night stands are a great way to get to know what you like in bed. We all know everyone has sex differently—a less hair pulling, a little more tongue, teeth, spanking, yelping, etc. etc. etc. When a partner uses his or her patented sexy move on you, you might realize that’s the express ticket to Orgasmville (a great place to vacation, by the way). So when you do find a partner you want to keep around more permanently, you can teach him or her how to make you scream. On command. Not too shabby, right?

Author, English professor and HuffPo scribe, Jill DiDonato, thinks one-night stands can be—interestingly enough—better for you emotionally than “repeated casual sex.” Think about it this way: with a one-and-done situation, you are way less likely to get attached because it’s all about achieving physical pleasure, rather than forging a connection. (Which can be exhausting and vulnerable-making in and of itself.) 

“You tell yourself you're not going to get emotionally attached, that you're going to keep the relationship 'just about sex.' I know in my experience at least, once I get naked with someone, I become more vulnerable. My 'casual sex' attitude usually goes out the window, but I'll spend months in denial of my true feelings, and at the end of it all the 'no muss; no fuss' ends up a mess. One-nighters are a good way for those of us who have a hard time separating the physical from the emotional to experience a purely sexual encounter—without ANY expectation of it turning into something more.”

When To Keep It In Your Pants

This goes without saying, but I'm gonna go ahead and say it anyway 'cause it's real-life heavy shit. If you are very intoxicated or don’t have protection, you could get yourself into a situation—from STDs to a Planned Parenthood clinic—that you'd probably like to avoid. Safety first.

If you have any true connection to the person you are considering a one-night stand with, such as working in the same office or it’s your bestie’s ex or perhaps even a frenemy’s ex, don’t do it! (Unless you are trying to get revenge, which in that case, it’s on!) But, if for any reason, there could be a glimmer of emotional fall-out or drama later, just keep it zipped and get your Tinder on.

If you are actually in your heart of hearts seeking out a real relationship with cuddles and smooches and date nights, then don’t have a one-night stand. The sexual momentum that usually propels a one-night stand doesn't typically translate to a long-term relationship. Think about it this way: “We met at a hotel happy hour, locked eyes and went up to my room," is rarely the answer you hear when you ask someone how they met their significant other.

Another problem? One-night stands can be emotionally dangerous for a lot of people. If you text the person you slept with last night and their response is “who is this?” it could push you right over the edge. Unless you really want to obsessively check your phone, crying and drunk texting … know your own headspace and only pursue sex if you can leave it at that. Sex.

You’re Only Conning Yourself

The problem with women and one-night stands is that our bodies often work against us (as if having your period isn’t bad enough). When women have sex, that pesky, bonding oxytocin hormone is released, woefully connecting us to our fleeting partner. And that’s when things get particuarly sticky. (See what we did there?) According to Dr. Kerstin Uvnäs-Moberg in her book, The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing:

"When a woman and man touch each other in a loving way, oxytocin is released in her brain. It makes her want more of that loving touch, and she begins to feel a bond with her partner. Sexual intercourse leads to the release of even more oxytocin, a desire to repeat the contact, and even stronger bonding. But, like dopamine, oxytocin is values-neutral."

So, basically your brain doesn’t care if you are having sex with someone once or a million times, you’re going to bond and feel all gooey and wonderful whether you want to or not.

So Should You or Shouldn’t You?

If you really just want sex (for serious, don’t even pretend), then go ahead and drop trous. But if you aren’t in the best place emotionally, you're genuinely looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, or even for a few waffles in the morning, it’s best to get your preferred dating app on, or have a night on the town with your friends.

And if you still have the itch? That vibrator wil make you moan and will always be there for you in the morning.

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