The Alluring One-Night Stand
Written by Aadya Gupta
The first thing that comes to mind when we think about one-night stands would probably be something like this: Cue some movie montage of a twenty-something girl, in a short sparkly dress waking up in someone else’s bed. She looks to the side to see who she slept with last night, rolls out of bed, horribly hungover, tries to find her heels from wherever they are in the flat, and sneaks out. Cue the walk of shame, and the teasing from her friends when she comes back home. Advil and orange juice, coupled with dramatic lines on the telephone to a friend- “God, that was SO awful I’m never doing that again! ”
Why, though, do one-night stands get such a bad rep?
For most men, one-night stands are more about fulfilling their socially determined goal of being known as a player amongst their peers, with the sole aim of ‘getting action’. For women, after its all over, it’s about being horribly self-critical, and judging themselves for being ‘easy’. It’s about having to uphold ourselves to self-imposed, unrealistic standards, and knowing that men and women are not measured by the same yardstick when it comes to sex. But where do the double standards end? If you’re being safe and you’re not harming anyone, then what you do with your body should wholly be up to you, and no one else. For, on the flip side of the coin, one night stands can also be very liberating.
What’s so great about a one-night stand?
One night stands can also be fantastic learning experiences, and please know, right off the bat, that it takes a lot of courage to open yourself up to the possibility of one. So if you’re considering it, kudos to you! Yes, there are negatives. You’re going to be as intimate as two people can possibly be, with a stranger. But that’s exactly what makes this sort of experience so unique. By its very nature, anonymity is assured, for both parties are equally involved. And there are two things both sides have in common- you’re both willing to be intimate and you both want to have a good time. Think about it like this- You’re free to explore your sexuality, in a way that maybe you couldn’t with a long term partner, and any demands you might want to make won’t be looked at with censure, but with interest instead. You both are creating a non-judgemental space to be yourselves, and explore. New people can open your eyes to new ideas in the bedroom, and if you don’t have the time, space or the desire to invest in a long term relationship, one night stands are excellent ways to de-stress, feel free in your own skin, and let loose.
Remember to go easy on yourself throughout the experience of a one-night stand
Keep one thing in mind, though: You shouldn’t feel the need to justify it to yourself. If you’re feeling lonely, don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend, recently went through a breakup, or are just plain ol’ horny, and you find yourself at a party with a cute guy/girl who seems to catch your eye, and you find yourself considering… well, why the hell not?? At best, you’ll have mind-blowing sex and whenever you think of that night, you’ll smile. At worst, you’ll have an embarrassing story to tell your friends when you’re all drunk. And if it goes badly, well, you don’t ever need to see them again.
Society has evolved to make one-night stands easy for us:
Society pressurises young working women to stay chaste until marriage, while men are supposed to be ‘experienced’ come wedding night. Feelings of guilt and shame that have been internalised in almost all Indian women since childhood with regards to feeling sensual in our skin, or having positive sexual experiences, which was seen as something very rare for someone of our mother’s generation. But there is a clear change, with technology and society having evolved to normalise one night stands and hook ups. With the advent of dating apps, a stress free ‘hook-up culture’, public networking communities, and more importantly, hotels like Oyo or Airbnbs which promise safe and secure rooms to unmarried couples, the world is your oyster- ready for single, urban professionals to play the field. Ideally, you live with roommates who are free-thinking and liberal, much unlike our parents, and your dorm room/rented apartment is a safe space to come back to and hook up in. If not, you always have couple-friendly hotels to rent a room for the night.
A few things to keep in mind about one-night stands:
Since you don’t know the person you’re going to get intimate with, communication is the way to go, and confidently initiating an honest dialogue is the fastest way for two people who don’t know each other to get comfortable and have a great time. And don’t be selfish in bed! You’re not riding a solo train to orgasm-ville, it’s a group effort. Furthermore, being exclusively orgasm-focused can sometimes leave you or your bed-mate feeling unfulfilled. Just remember, you got into this to have fun. Keep it light, and the communication flowing. When in doubt, ask your partner what they like/want. Give, and thou shalt receive twofold in return 😉
Risk Factor: Zero, with some foresight : Like most experiences that can be fun, there’s always a little bit of risk involved. Most women regretted those one night stands where they ended up contracting an infection. Do NOT have sex without a condom, because it can maybe definitely lead to an STI or an STD, and on the off chance it doesn’t, you might end up pregnant. Make sure your partner is hygienic, the environment is clean, you’re comfortable, and allow yourself to be off the hook for the rest of the night. If you were feeling spontaneous, read more about emergency contraception here.
One last note about one-night stands
Every time we own our own sexuality and dismiss the preconceived notion of how often we ‘should’ have sex, and what the ‘correct way’ to have sex is, we create a safe space for more people to reclaim their bodies on their own terms. When we succeed in feeling uninhibited and confident about ourselves, we’re essentially reclaiming a part of us that society didn’t want us to keep. And that’s a tiny revolution in and of itself.