10 Perfectly Valuable Lessons You Can Only Learn From Having A One-Night Stand

Love them or hate them (or hate them and begrudgingly accept their existence), one-night stands happen, and the stigma that goes along with them can be real. It's lame and sucks, and we should all not only respect people's right to choose how to conduct their sex lives (so long as everyone is being honest and safe). I have a fairly even split among my friends between people who don't judge and hae participated in their share of one-night stands, and those who respond to tales of them with a pitying gaze. Spoiler alert: I'm of the former camp. One-night stands can scratch a specific itch as well as provide one hell of an education on a wide range of subjects.

I'd definitely argue sex is best when it's with a person you're highly stoked on who is also highly stoked on you. However, that isn't always possibly given life's circumstances and curveballs and geographic location and the list goes on. Often, sex can be very specifically—and unromantically—about getting off with the help of another human. It's a brief, (sometimes) beautiful moment with much of its appeal stemmed in the fleeting nature of it all. Everyone who does go about navigating one-night stand has their own personal list of dealbreakers and red flags, but once you're in the clear, you can fully, confidently go for it. Because along with a commitment-free orgasm, with one-night stands we can actually learn a lot. Some examples:

You'll never regret carrying a phone charger with wall plug

Because when your phone has a scant eight percent battery charge but immediately croaks just as you flick open an Uber request—well, you only ever let that happen once. Carrying a charger doesn't take much substantial space and is worth upgrading real estate-wise from a clutch to fit it. If, for some reason, yours is just horribly bulky, consider looking into space-saving alternatives. This won't benefit you exclusively in whiskey-powered situations at near-stranger's homes—keeping your shit charged is essential as a functioning adult human. You know, emails. And stuff.

There are many alternatives to eye makeup remover

Examples: conditioner, sunscreen, basic-ass lotion. Work a tiny amount into your finger tips and just swipe under the eyes, polishing off with a nice TP rub-down. Don't try to get ALL your makeup off—I'm talking only imperefect wings or the melty raccoon stuff. You wanna erase ~evidence~, when possible. But obviously be VERY careful not to get any of this shit in your actual eyeball. This can help when crashing with friends while traveling with limited supplies, and when you run out of eye makeup remover at home.

Sex isn't a numbers game

My friend Andy said this and I'll seriously never forget it: Just because you bone a lot of people, that doesn't mean you're getting better at sex, or having better sex. Unfortunately, sex with someone often improves over time, so having only one romp (usually after getting slightly hosed at some dark dive bar) isn't highly likely to satisfy the way you hoped. I'm not saying one-night stands are never super hot and orgasmically fulfilling—I'm just saying it's rare that first time sex is tops. Instead, try to focus on how this kind of sex is a different kind of sex and let your inner animal urges loose. And maybe opt for a little morning sex before splitting, if spending the night seems comfortable and safe.

You don't owe anyone breakfast, and vice versa

Often these late-night adventures don't entail a sleepover situation, but when they do, try very hard to skip breakfast. This lends a relationshippy vibe to the scenario which presumably is not what's next on the docket. Or maybe it is! Maybe you fell madly in love last night and want to go eat some eggs while you discuss your impending wedding! But in that case, it's not a "one-night stand" so much as it's "the first of many time you had sex in your now-serious relationship." So, if it's a real one-night stand, unless you're catastrophically hungover and there's a bagel handy inches from your getaway door, do your best to bolt before anyone mentions anything even rhyming with, "I know this diner..." No. Go.

You're never totally trapped with someone

Be it an awkward escape process from some 8-person Bushwick loft at 4AM or a long-term relationship that started sparkling and dissolved into flat-out emotional abuse, please remember that you can always hoof it out of there. Nothing needs to be permanent if it doesn't feel good anymore, even if it once did. You're always free and you belong only to yourself, so go forth and do your own damn thing. You can always bail if it starts sucking, whether that's an hour into the encounter, or five years.

People are impossibly weird

One of the most exciting parts of one-night stands is how they put you balls-deep into another human's life. It's a chance to take a few hours to peak in on how completely different and potentially strange as hell other people choose to live their lives. Like, this dude is in a metal band and falls asleep listening to his own recordings in a room lined with black velvet posters but also there are three other dudes sleeping on the linoleum living room floor among several variations of lizard pets? How the hell else would you ever get to see something so wholly bizarre?

Following up on social media is never necessary

Just...do not. Pretend they disappeared. You don't need to know their journey.


EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. If someone complains even as a joke, GTFO of there as you are clearly dealing with a garbage person and garbage people are never interesting enough to justify lavishing any attention at all on them or their crotch areas.

Always try to carry at least six emergency dollars

Cash is important, even if the newly-omnipresent iPads and card-readers in Brooklyn suggest otherwise. And a sixer can save your life by grabbing you a life-reviving muffin or iced coffee on your walk home. Or even in a very horrible situation which does happen, if you have to go directly from this one-nighter's home to work, you can pick up a life-suggesting lip color at CVS or something to look a bit more human at the office. Or one of those jetpacks of Red Bull. (I don't know your life.)

You'll get better stories, even if not better sex

I will champion one-night stands forever and ever, amen. But personally—and I speak only for myself, not for my age or any other demographic—that ship has sailed. It was a way I learned a lot about myself and the world and what I wanted and needed and I got a totally full arsenal of hilarious stories from this exploration, but I didn't personally get any sort of lasting fulfillment. Again, it's different for everyone, but one universal truth about one-night stands: your sex number is probably not positively correlated with your sex skills. If you bang one person once, you don't really have much of a shot at improving. You're sort of guessing and not hanging around after for feedback or a second, possibly more thoroughly guided go. Which has a sort of freedom about it, but it certainly doesn't do much education-wise. The stories, though? Well, those just last forever.

Images: Meg Wills/Flickr; Giphy (10)