One night, still standing

Can anything good come from a one-night stand? A lot of times, yes.

Putting out on the first date – should you or shouldn’t you? The conventional wisdom is that you’re better off taking it slow if you’re hoping the chemistry might translate into something serious.


But when I look back at my own romantic history, pretty much every long-term relationship started out as a casual night of passion – one-night stands that ended up lasting years.

The idea that no one is going to buy the cow if they can get the milk for free is a powerful one. However, you wouldn’t buy a new car without taking it out for a test drive, and when you order a nice bottle of wine it’s expected that you’ll sample a taste first. (We could go on.)

According to the NOW Love & Sex Survey, our readers are feeling a bit conflicted on the subject. It’s as if many of you know in your hearts that the clichés are wrong but nevertheless find your opinion affected by societal pressures.

How else can you explain that 63 per cent of respondents think jumping in the sack early is a bad way to start a relationship, and yet only 11 per cent care enough to consider it a deal breaker? It seems half the brain is ashamed of its sleazy tendencies, while the other half knows it’s not really that big a deal.

On the bright side, we don’t seem to care so much about what the neighbours might think. Fifty-two per cent suspect or know that the people around them may view them as sluts, but a full 77 per cent don’t give a shit what other people say about their sex life. The idea that whatever happens in your bedroom is your business appears to be very well entrenched.

When it comes down to the details, there’s a predictably wide range of experiences, from heartwarming to tragic. On the wholesome side, a number of respondents are still married to their random hookups decades later, the longest such relationship being 35 years. Many have experienced casual sex turning into something more long-term and serious, and those who haven’t tend to be those who have never had a one-nighter (or have had one really bad one).

Note that the bad experiences were occasionally very bad (wear a condom, folks!), but usually just depressing. One respondent wrote, “Mr. Sensitive New Age Hipster Guy ended up being Mr. Asshole Just Looking To Get Laid,” and that appears to be a common story.

Often, though, even the downers provided at least a funny story to tell later. “After it was done and I was waiting for my cab, I had to sit through a very painful, awkward few minutes of him trying, but failing, to play Incubus songs on his acoustic guitar.”

We’re cringing, too.

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