A guide to the not-just-one-night-stand

I promised a post on one-night-stands, so here it is. I’m curious to see whether this gets as many hits as the threesome post, since me talking personally about kinky sexual experiences I’ve had seems to be more popular than me talking abstractedly about vaguely feminist issues. Anyway, we shall see.

I am not as experienced with one-night-stands as I am with threesomes, and there is a very good reason for this. Alexander put it best, when he told me ‘anyone worth screwing is worth screwing twice’. Sex doesn’t have to be a one-off for it to stay casual, and if you’ve got good chemistry with someone and had a great time, there is no definite reason why you should stop there. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I wanted to start with why someone might want a one-night-stand in the first place. And by someone, I mean me, since I can’t speak for anyone else.

Sex can be hugely emotional, and intimate, and if it’s good, the sudden release of so many endorphins can be incredibly powerful. It’s intense, and intense emotion (if you count feeling happy from endorphins as emotion) can lead to a form of emotional connection. But it doesn’t have to. Some people are very good at separating sex and emotions. Some are not. I don’t buy into the view that ‘sex can never be fully detached from emotions’, but nor do I think that it’s always as purely physical as some people claim. Again, it depends on the person. It’s also not necessarily a gender divide. The narrative that men want sex while women want emotional intimacy is so generalising and out-dated, not to mention dismissive to female sexuality, that it’s not even worth commenting on. Maybe gender does play a part, or hormone levels, or cultural factors, but that’s not what’s important here. All that matters is that sex means different things for different people, and that’s okay.

So where do I fit in on this spectrum? I have, over the last six years, had a lot of casual sex. Some of it was with strangers I’d only met that night, some with friends after a few drinks, and one memorable time with the man I would end up spending two years with in a committed, long-term relationship. Of these encounters, only about three of them actually ended up being one-night-stands. Because Alexander has a point: if you’ve gone through the games and the flirtation, put aside the awkwardness of sex with a new partner and got to the point where you’re doing something deeply intimate with them, why not do it again? For me, sex makes me see a person in a different way. Even if I don’t want a relationship with them, the fact that we’ve been in bed together changes the way we act around one another. He touches my hand as he passes me a drink and I remember other places his hands have been. She gives me a hug goodbye and I’m struck by a sudden flashback at the smell of her hair. That doesn’t mean I desperately want to do them again (although I often do), but just that it’s hard to see someone in exactly the same way once you’ve had them naked in your bed.

Casual sex gets dismissed quite a lot in our society, especially when it’s women seeking it. It actually has some pretty major advantages if you have a ridiculously high sex drive (or even just a moderately high one), but for whatever reasons don’t want to be in a relationship. Or, of course, if you’re in an open relationship, but don’t want to get too deeply involved in other partners. Also, it’s fun and new and exciting, and you get to find out all sorts of interesting things about another person and possibly learn something about yourself too. I’ve done everything from walking up to a complete stranger in a bar and asking if they want to take me home, to spending two weeks talking to someone online about exactly what we were going to do to each other when we met. Right now, my preferences lie more towards the latter, because I have a very clear idea of what I want from a sexual partner, and it’s much easier to gauge whether that’s an option if you’ve had a decent conversation with them. But I won’t deny there’s an incredible thrill in taking a stranger back home, and knowing that you could be anyone to each other. That’s not a narrative we see very often, and that’s exactly what makes it so incredibly hot.

So why do I want casual sex right now? I’ve just got out of a serious relationship, and not only do I not feel emotionally ready for another one, I don’t want one. I like being able to flirt with anyone, and to decide at a moment’s notice whether I want to go home with someone. It’s fun and it works for me. But I am painfully aware that it doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve been the girl who swore blind she was okay with casual sex when she really wanted an exclusive relationship, and I’ve been one pretending to believe a partner who said the same. Both hurt, and neither are particularly healthy. So now I have rules. One of the great things about being so forward is that I don’t feel uncomfortable telling people in no uncertain terms what I want. (That is, ‘I want to be able to fuck you a few times but I don’t want a relationship’, rather than ‘I want you to handcuff me down and spank me’, although I’m working on the latter.) I don’t want someone who is looking for more, hoping a casual fling will become a serious relationship. And, just as importantly, I don’t want someone who’s up for the casual fling, but whose other partners aren’t.

This is a big problem when it comes to one-night-stands: a lot of the people who are also looking for what I’m looking for have other partners. And this is a good thing – I have other partners too. But when they don’t tell these people, when they lie and pretend to be exclusive, or else maintain an open relationship with someone who clearly wants monogamy, that is an issue. I’ve been the ‘other woman’, several times, as well as being the one being cheated on, and I like to think I’ve grown out of it. No, it’s not my responsibility to make sure someone else’s girlfriend stays faithful, to avoid any contact with their boyfriend in case he has a moment of weakness and jumps me. Not my relationship, not by problem. But on a purely selfish level, it makes me uncomfortable knowing that I’m doing something incredibly intimate with someone who can’t be honest with the people who are close to them, who is, intentionally or not, hurting those who trust them. If they’re like that with their serious partners, then how on earth can I trust them with me? How can I be sure that they will respect my boundaries in a sexual context, if they don’t respect their other partners’ in a relationship context?

This, sadly, narrows down the number potential casual partners quite significantly. And I guess for an actual one-night-stand, maybe it wouldn’t be an issue. But I know from experience that if I enjoy fucking someone once, I will want to do it again. (And again and again, until we either end up in a relationship or one of us gets bored.) I like sex too much to give it up with someone I find attractive just to stick to the ‘one night’ part. And for that, there needs to be trust, even if that trust only goes as far as ‘I trust you to make me feel amazing, be honest about your emotions, and not hurt anyone else by being with me’.

If we find each other attractive and you can promise me that, then I can guarantee we’ll have a lot of fun together. And if not, I wish you the best of luck with your other relationship(s), and I really hope you grow up enough to be able to deal with the drama that will almost definitely ensue. I’m here to offer advice if you need me.

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One thought on “A guide to the not-just-one-night-stand

  1. Pingback: Things I’m reading | Procne The Swallow

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