Ah, summer. The time of year where you can sit back, relax, and sink your worries deep in the ocean while sipping a cold beverage on the beach. You can travel, meet new people, and explore new places. You can fall headfirst into a summer romance. Of course, you can just as easily fall into the bed of a random hottie, only to sneak out the next morning.
What is so attractive about the one-night stand? They happen everywhere: in movies, in TV shows, in books. They float around in our heads, tempting us constantly. But why? “One-night stands can work as a good distractions,” says Sarah Mann*, a doctoral student at Florida International University. “Some people feel lonely and long for some sort of connection; some are stressed and want some sort of release; some think that sleeping with someone new will help them get over a previous relationship. For others, it is simply a conquest.”
Conquest indeed; Mann hit it right on the nose. According to Jeannie Bryner at LiveScience, in a study done on both sexes, results showed that men involved in one-night stands reported feelings of success; they saw themselves as desirable to others and found the experience sexually satisfying. Women, on the other hand, found the experience unsatisfying in the sense that it did not lead to a meaningful relationship, but rewarding because they felt flattered and desirable. Let’s face it; men aren’t the only ones with sex on the brain. Feeling attractive to the other sex can be a powerful motivator for some people; it drives them to make decisions they normally wouldn’t make.
Alcohol and drugs are also responsible for many one-night stands. According to sex educator and famed sex blogger Dr. Petra Boynton, drunken sex and random hook-ups are seen as rights of passage for many college kids. “We know that people have unprotected sex. We also know that the use of drugs and alcohol can increase sexual encounters, which can lead to people sleeping with someone they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t.” College students also find the anonymity of college hook-ups attractive; most schools have a large student body, and the chances of running into a hook-up buddy on campus are slim.
Another popular form of the one-night stand is the age-old “friends with benefits” agreement. “When it comes to hooking-up with no strings attached, I learned the hard way that it can’t be done,” says Mann. “After a bad break-up, I tried the whole friends-with-benefits thing; what I realized was far from what I really needed.” Mann explains that while it was an exciting night, it lacked the respect and emotions that she was used to from a relationship. “I realized that I still expected to be treated like a girlfriend because that was what I was used to. I’m sure that many people can wake up the morning after a hook-up and be okay, but it’s not for everyone. Sometimes, it will make you feel worse instead of better.”
Whether a one-night stand end up being a positive or negative experience, it’s important to remember that no matter how drunk you are, there’s never an excuse to have unprotected sex. You can plan ahead by packing an overnight kit Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23 style, fully equipped with condoms, a toothbrush, cab fare, and a fresh pair of underwear. Plan ahead; if you’re on the pill, pack it with you before heading out for the night. Letting loose for the evening is one thing, but unexpected pregnancy is quite another. Be responsible for your body; that way, the worst that will happen is suffering the walk of shame home.
Dr. Boynton offers advice for any future one-night stands. “Take precautions – use condoms and avoid having sex with someone you don’t know when [you’re] drunk or on drugs. Always tell someone where you’re going, and if in doubt, leave. Don’t have a one-night stand just because your [friends] will think you’re great, because you don’t want to lose someone, or because you think everyone else is doing it.” Boynton says that even a fling needs to be handled sensibly. “If you want the one-night stand to go further, make it clear at the outset.” Boynton advises potential one-night stands to keep an open mind; while some one-night stands can continue into relationships, most are strictly physical.
One-night stands certainly aren’t for everyone. They can be messy and hurtful or fun and wild; either way, they’re full of risks. So if you decide to venture down the road of temptation, follow Dr. Boynton’s advice and do so safely and soberly. If you have any doubts, it may be wise to spend your summer lounging in the sand instead of a stranger’s dirty sheets.
*Name has been changed.