Most sexually active single people or any one on any dating app, will have experienced or been offered a one night stand. There are reasons why women enjoy them however, they are never simple and also often never just “one night,” you’ll either see them the morning after or in a fortnight when one of you is bored or drunk. One night stands can be empowering for anyone who’s experienced sexism or been slut-shamed in any way, but one night stands are much less complex for men than anyone else and this is unfair.
Even so, many people assigned female at birth (AFAB) enjoy one night stands, when in society women are viewed as sexual objects it can feel empowering to make the decision for yourself. When you are the one that asks them if they’d like to stay the night, it can feel like you have the power. However, sexual pleasure is often unequal, if they finish and you don’t, in what way was the night beneficial to you? Society is unequally in favour to cis-gender, straight, white men, why should sex also be? Men who leave without even asking if you finished are not worth your time. It feels wrong to encourage afab people to have one night stands when they are getting no or minimal pleasure and are just entertaining patriarchal fantasies. Pleasure and sex should be as equal as possible. Seeing someone for only one night when you do not properly know them does not encourage this.
After only meeting someone for one evening, it is difficult to accurately communicate the things you like and dislike. Unless the afab person is on top, the dominant party will always have their desires, fantasies and preferences prioritised. Poor communication will always lead to bad sex, the submissive or afab person should not have to be on top in order to have their needs met. Pleasure should be equal for both people and a priority for the dominant partner to make sure they both finish. If the intention is to only see the other person once then navigating equal pleasure is even more difficult. One night stands in the context of queer relationships are slightly different as there is a smaller power dynamic between both partners, nevertheless the power dynamic still exists. The dominant still has some level of power over the submissive and it’s still difficult to have effective communication.
Regardless of the gender or sexuality of your partner, it is very easy for one night stands to merge into casual sex. This can lead to hurt feelings due to false intimacy. Acts like stroking someone’s hair, kissing someone’s forehead or even spending the night make it much more difficult to distinguish between feelings of love and lust. False intimacy complicates things and can lead to one person getting attached. If you have ever caught feelings for someone after a one night stand or casual sex it’s likely that you both have exchanged falsely intimate acts. This does not mean aftercare should be forgotten. Looking after your partner is important every single time you have sex, no matter the type of sex – whether bdsm or ‘vanilla’,- both people should be considerate of each other, even if it is just making sure there’s something to drink nearby or something for your partner to eat if they need it. If every time you have sex with someone you sleep in the same bed with them or spend time cuddling after sex, it should not be a surprise if one partner develops feelings for the other.
There should be a clear definition between one night stands and casual sex. Casual sex with someone who knows your preferences, treats you respectfully while maintaining clear communication and avoiding false intimacy is entirely different. There is no point in having sex with someone if after they leave, your desires have not been met and are left feeling unfulfilled – some people with male genitals readily complain about ‘blue balls’ yet constantly give them to women and people with female genitals. One night stands are not the feminist stance we once thought they were – our sexual desires should no longer be ignored.