One night stands are obviously something very personal – it’s a personal choice based on your personal values and beliefs. Some people have just had one, some have had a few, some do it often, some haven’t had a one night stand – yet, and others would never have one at all. I have respect for everyone’s beliefs, morals, values, and all religions. The purpose of this post is not to bring out the moral or judgemental police, nor is it about wanting to ignite a conversation that further dilutes something I personally think we can do a lot better at understanding (and not judging). I want to provide for you, everything that I wish was said to me about one night stands.
I think one night stands are very confusing, unnecessarily judged, and extremely contradictory. There are very few kinds of sex that have so many double standards and misconceptions associated with them.
On one end, they are depicted as these exciting, intense, passionate encounters that are romanticized in movies, books, and on television. On the other end, one night stands are viewed as desperate, immoral, slutty, and something that you should feel ashamed of doing. Regardless, both are not constructive. They are destructive.
Think about it – the walk of SHAME is most often described as what follows a one night stand. And because of all the contradictory elements, there’s a lot of information out there that just focuses on one end or the other. Which is fine, but I think that this kind of black-and-white analysis contaminates our perception of one night stands in a way that doesn’t serve anyone or anything – other than perpetuating some pretty ignorant stereotypes and assumptions.
So far in my life, I’ve had two one night stands. One was a literal one night stand and the other was a one night stand that turned into a relationship that lasted over a year. Looking back, both had a degree of shame associated with them. The shame sabotaged the relationship I had with myself, and in the case where it turned into a relationship, the other person.
Just like there are two different depictions of one night stands, there are two different reactions most people get when sharing their one night stand experiences. There’s either this frat bro, high-five “tell me everything” kind of slumber party cheerleading or… the listener realizes that this is a great opportunity to covertly place themselves on a moral, ethical, and psychological high horse. They do this by emotionally recoiling and being passively judgemental (even though, more often than not, these people have done things that are much more ethically and morally questionable than having a one night stand).
There’s no judgment here on PMS. Ever.
I used to think that a one night stand and dignity could never coexist.
I was wrong.
Whatever your beliefs are – if you are having one night stands or if you choose to have a one night stand in the future…
There is a way to go about it where your dignity remains intact, your emotions stay in reasonable line, your boundaries are respected, and you don’t fall off your white horse.
I’ve found from my own experiences, working with thousands of clients all over the world and also, listening to friends…
There are many reasons why people will have a one night stand (whether it’s just once or habitually):
- It’s a way to connect with another person at a time where it may be too painful and risky to emotionally connect.
- It’s a way to emotionally thrill seek and connect for those who are unable to emotionally connect and therefore, unavailable to intimate relationships that are anything but physical.
- It can be exciting to instantly connect with someone with no strings attached.
- Carrot dangling. It’s a way to see if we really are THAT irresistible/attractive/special (we do it and then tie our value to seeing if the other person will follow up with us and want more).
- It’s a way to, for one night anyway, be the person we wish we that could consistently be (more spontaneous, more open, more sexual, cooler, more care-free, less anxious, more adventurous, etc.).
- It’s a way to connect with someone without having to really unfold/reveal who we are outside of this one night.
- It’s a carefree, enjoyable, superficial connection via a substantial (and hopefully gratifying) physical means.
- It’s a way to prove that you are attractive and desired without having to put yourself out there emotionally and relationally – where there is way more of a possibility of rejection. There’s much less of a possibility of rejection when it comes to no strings attached sex being on the table.
- It can be a form of compulsive avoidance. Being so busy “living in the moment” gives you a valid license to avoid facing the deeper issues that may be causing this behavior.
There are more but these are the main ones that I’ve experienced and encountered with one night stands.
The Do’s of One Night Stands…
As long as…
– You aren’t doing anything that you don’t want to do. Everything is consensual and safe.
– No one is breaking the law.
– No one is being physically or emotionally hurt/abused.
– You are both of age (physical age and emotional age).
– Your boundaries are being respected.
– There’s a common denominator: You are both looking for/wanting the same thing.
– Communication is clear.
– You don’t have unreal expectations. No one is trying to wake up engaged the morning after.
– You’re not making yourself feel better in the moment at the expense of the other person’s heart and emotional well-being.
– You are doing it to add to an already great life and life experiences – not literally make your life, your confidence, your self-esteem, and be THE experience.
– You are in alignment with your own emotional GPS, values, and beliefs.
… I really don’t see the problem here.
Nor do I see a need for shame, guilt, or judgment – from yourself and others.
If upon having an honest conversation with yourself and objectively examining your patterns, you can see that you’re having one night stands to…
– Put a bandage on the cancer of your loneliness and insecurities.
– Emotionally cut in the name of reaffirming a self-fulfilling prophecy that you aren’t worth a real relationship.
– Carry out an experiment to see if you’re so good that you can hook the other person into wanting more (whether that’s more sex, a relationship, whatever it may be).
– Fill a void because you don’t know how to be alone. You are desperate for true love but are always in a limerent state. You crave intimacy but feel like you don’t have the social skills or confidence for anything more than physical intimacy.
– Feed an addiction. For some people, one night stands are a full-blown addiction. Because you feel so worthless and unloved, you become addicted to feeling wanted, special, and loved for a night.
- Don’t ever think that having a one night stand is going to change anyone – yourself or the other person.
- Don’t do it if you already know you are going to have a regret hangover.
- Don’t do it if you know that you’ll get emotionally attached/dependent/clingy/anxious. Also, don’t do it to perform a test/prove to yourself that you can do it without getting attached. You will lose every time.
- Don’t do it if you are using the one night stand to try to get the other person (or the situation) to make you feel a way that you can’t make yourself feel.
- Don’t do it to forget your ex (even if they were toxic, it will just highlight their absence that much more if you haven’t done the emotional work. A one night stand won’t erase or replace anyone).
- I would also suggest not doing it if you’re drunk or on drugs. It’s a bad look and unsafe.
Keeping Your Dignity Intact…
The best way to keep your dignity intact is to communicate through your words and actions that you have self-respect. Don’t lie and say that you’ve never had a one night stand if you have. Just be YOU. If you’re adult enough to have a one night stand, you’re adult enough, to be honest.
If at any point you feel as though you can’t be yourself, FOLD. You are either with the wrong person or, you feel like you are wrong – either way, save yourself the shame, guilt, and heartbreak. Do not proceed.
I wish that there wasn’t this reputational fear mongering that always came with one night stands when I was younger.
I wish I wouldn’t have been told that one night stands are disrespecting yourself, will make you look bad, give you a bad reputation, etc.
I wish I would have just been told that if you end up in a place where you are seeking this kind of connection… All you need to do is take a step back and ask yourself WHY you are doing it. That’s all.
If you are doing it for the wrong reasons, you should prioritize looking for more sustainable relationships such as true, mutual friendships (with yourself first and foremost) and spend some time alone. Get to know yourself, figure out what it is you really want, and go for THAT.
Little by little, you’ll start to enjoy your own company. Soon, the thought of being alone won’t elicit emotional triggers that are so powerful, you have to chase hot and heavy moments – that ultimately end in an even lonelier existence than before.
I was always told “Natasha, you will regret it.” “Don’t do it.” “You’ll appear slutty.”
I guess that was much easier for people to say than “just make sure you don’t have zero self-esteem and an inability to deal with your loneliness, your insecurities, your life, and yourself.”
If all of those are intact, I promise that you will feel secure in WHATEVER it is you choose to do or not do. And you won’t care what anyone else thinks because you will be unapologetically, powerfully, and confidently acting in light of your own moral compass and code – not anyone else’s.
Do I regret having one night stands? Not at all.
And it’s not because I had them for the right reasons and didn’t mess up. It’s because I learned as a result and stopped allowing the shame to define me.
What defines us is the growth and evolution from lessons learned – not the shame from acting on insecurities that we ALL feel.
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