I don’t know how many one night stands I have had. This is okay. Some people I have slept with because I liked them and hoped for a relationship with when the pillow talk was over. With others, I slept with them for fun, or because I was horny. This is also okay.
My first sexual experience was with a guy when I was 16 and in sixth year at a friend’s party. It was awkward and I didn’t know what I was doing. The next day, when I was over my hangover and dragged myself out of bed to relay all the details to my best friend, I felt amazing. I was no longer a virgin who couldn’t drive (I still can’t drive) and could pretend to be, like, totally grown up. I accidentally met the guy I had been with a few months later on a camping trip after the Leaving Cert. We politely chatted and acted as if nothing ever happened. I was glad. I didn’t want a relationship — I was ready to leave Donegal for Trinity and didn’t want any strings tying me down.
The next one night stand happened just before I left for college. Like many of my following experiences, it happened because of the game-changing app Grindr. I downloaded the app with my aforementioned bestie, lying about my age by a few months to get around the fact I was 17. I began chatting with a dude who lived close by. He was 26. Always one for an older man, I arranged to meet him in a hotel, paid for by him. The sex was forgettable and impersonal. Nonetheless, I went on my merry way home and waited for a text from the dude telling me he had fun and wanted to see me again.
I waited. And waited. This one got to me. I started to worry if I’d done something wrong or didn’t do something I should have. That’s the one problem with one night stands: there’s often not any closure. I chalked the meetup to experience and learned a valuable lesson. I need some emotional closure after sex.
Arriving in Trinity felt like a dream come true and I was ready to experience everything Dublin had to offer. Surrounded by more queer people than I could ever have imagined was liberating, and the fact that available bachelors were no longer few and far between was actually quite overwhelming. I decided to take it easy and not jump into anything (particularly a bed) with anyone unless I was sure I liked them. It was the right choice. I allowed myself time to settle into my new life and returned after Christmas break with confidence and, most importantly, a new Grindr pic.
Since then, I’ve had one serious relationship that lasted about six months, a couple of friends with benefits, and a few one night stands. Each category is different and the dynamics of sex changes accordingly, but I don’t want to say any is superior. Sleeping with someone you love is amazing. It’s magical to know someone and want to share yourself with them, but the truth is the first few times are also stressful. In the early part of a relationship you want to impress your partner with your amazing sex skills and keep them interested. But this can hinder the fun and it is easy to get caught up in how you look and can make trying something you haven’t done before really scary, until you realise that you’re in a relationship for a reason and your partner is already impressed with you. Of course, you and your partner also have to be sexually compatible. When my relationship ended, I realised that my ex and I were not.
After the break up, I wanted to explore my interests more and try the things my ex didn’t want to. I have a wonderful friend with benefits who I see quite regularly and we can be honest with what we need from each other. I’ve also had more casual one night stands where I’ve been able to try something new. All these experiences are valuable to my sex life and I would never write them off because I didn’t see the guy again. That’s a positive of the casual one night stand: you can do something new and exciting with the knowledge that if it is fun, great, and if not, you never have to be reminded of it again.
What’s important is everyone involved in a one night stand gets what they need and that everyone is on the same page. If you like to cuddle and spoon after sex make sure your partner knows. If you like to take things at a certain speed, say so. Most importantly, if you want that one night stand to become something more, then don’t sleep with someone not looking for more. One night stands are great if you both know it’s only for one night.