One-night stands can be mind-blowing or regret-inducing, and you never really know which it's going to be. Cosmopolitan.com spoke with three anonymous twentysomething men about how they really feel about one night of sex without any commitment.
How old are you?
Man A: Twenty-three.
Man B: Twenty-two.
Man C: Twenty-four.
How old were you when you had your first one-night stand?
Man A: Twenty.
Man B: Twenty.
Man C: Seventeen.
How did it happen?
Man A: My first one-night stand happened while traveling abroad and she lives in completely different country than I do. Plus, we never got each other's contact information, so staying in touch was never an option.
Man B: We had been talking for a while on Tinder and finally, she told me she wanted to come over so she could get away from roommate drama, and I was surprised that she was making the first move. When she came over, it just happened and I went with it. We didn't see each other again because I was just really embarrassed that I let it happen in the first place. I'm very into one-partner sexual relationships, so every time I saw her on campus, I felt like like I was staring directly at my mistakes.
Man C: We had known each other through mutual friends from high school and I had actually been on a date with our mutual friend. One night when my parents were gone, I texted her to see what she was doing and she came over and we slept together. After that we never spoke again and I didn't have any interest in seeing her again.
Did both parties seem OK with the one-night-stand-ness of the situation?
Man A: Seeing as we were both tourists who totally knew we would never see each other again, we were both into it. That's probably just because it was so defined and people are usually more inclined to do things they normally wouldn't do when they're on vacation, so I have no idea how she feels about one-night stands in general. I did, and still think, it was a fun experience. I just saw it as two people who connected for a night, had a lot of fun, and then went their separate ways.
Man B: We were both OK with it because we'd always had sexual tension between us and figured it was inevitably going to happen at some point. At the time, it felt physically satisfying and it was a totally unexpected surprise, but looking back, I completely regret it. I really liked the girl I had that one-night stand with and I felt like I ruined the dynamic of that potential relationship by going through with it.
Man C: No, because the sex didn't last very long. I was slightly embarrassed that the sex was so quick, but I also thought, Man, I need to have one-night stands more often! Now, I look back and just laugh at myself.
What percentage of your sexual encounters are one-night stands now?
Man A: If we are talking about one and done, then it's probably about 30 percent. I'm in my early 20s in a major city, with no desire to settle down, and I want to enjoy myself while I can. I won't shy away from a relationship if I find someone I can't live without, but until that time comes, I plan on having a little fun.
Man B: I'd say 10 to 20 percent. I don't as much anymore, partly because I live out in the middle of nowhere and my town has less than 7,000 people in it, but mostly just because I'm looking for a connection with a committed partner.
Man C: It used to be 70 percent, if not more. But not anymore because I'm in a relationship.
Do you prefer one-night stands to relationships or friends with benefits?
Man A: I've never really had a serious, committed relationship, so I can't really speak of that. It's not that I'm opposed to the idea, it's just that I enjoy being single too much, and would rather focus on my career and my life than being with somebody else. Plus, I've seen what people become when they get in relationships, and I really don't want or need that in my life right now. I've tried having friends with benefits, which is obviously ideal, but one person always ends up having feelings for the other person, and if you are only having sex with that person, then you really are kind of in a relationship without even knowing it.
Man B: I'm not really very happy with either of those, but if I had to choose, I would choose friends with benefits. There's a certain kinship in a FWB relationship that is very comforting and the mutual understanding does wonders for the confidence of the relationship. To me, one-night stands feel very cold and foreign.
Man C: I am in a committed relationship now, but from time to time, I miss the one-night stands and friends with benefits situations. If I am single, I prefer friends with benefits to one-night stands. That way, you always have someone or multiple people on call. Being able to text someone, "What are you up to?" and have them know that's code for "Let's get it on" is a great thing to have in your pocket.
How often do you tell the people you're having one-night stands with that it's just going to be a one-night stand?
Man A: If I get the opportunity to tell them, I always make it crystal clear that I'm not looking for a relationship. I'm not out to hurt people. I want the woman to know where my interests lie, and if she is interested in the same thing, then it's on her to not let herself get too attached. It doesn't always work though because no matter what you tell some women, they still expect more, but for my own conscience, I feel I did the right thing.
Man B: My one-night stands have always been spontaneous, so I've never been in the position to tell them it would be a one-night stand.
Man C: I never tell them that. It just happens. I also always text them the next day and am really nice to them because sometimes I want to add them to my friends with benefits roster.
How do you deal with misunderstandings about the seriousness of the hookup?
Man A: I definitely don't ignore a woman I had one-night stand with. If I see her, I'll say hi and be courteous, but I'll also make it pretty obvious that I have no intention of seeing it further. I do the best to be civil and cordial about everything I do. If I'm the one that mistook it for something more than it was, then I normally rely on the rule of two. I will contact them twice, and if they don't respond, or I feel that they're are not interested, I'll leave them alone.
Man B: A girl I knew at college was interested in me and I was interested in her, so I traveled to see her and we had a one-night stand. I went back to see her again to hook up another time, but our dynamic had changed and I was very confused. We eventually talked it out and she explained that she just didn't feel a connection with me. It really hurt to hear that. I had put myself out there and went against my normal pattern of traditional dating to have a chance at casually hooking up with this girl, and getting turned down put me in a really bad place for awhile.
Man C: In college, I had a few of those situations, and they actually turned into relationships. In every situation, either she or I were playing hard to get and that just made the other person chase harder.
Would you ever date someone who was initially a one-night stand?
Man A: Sure. Just because I'm not really looking for a relationship doesn't mean I would shy away from one if I found someone I really liked. I've had a few instances where it started off as a one-night stand and became more of a friends with benefits situation. One of those instances in particular was going very well, but she eventually developed feelings for me, even though she knew I didn't want anything more than that, and she ended up feeling hurt and frustrated.
Man B: If there's a mutual interest in each other and it feels right, then yeah, I would. I once had a one-night stand turned into one of my most satisfying relationships. We had sex and then afterward we had a real conversation and I decided that I needed to make a move toward a relationship with her. A couple weeks later, she was my plus-one to a family wedding and then we started being exclusive. That relationship lasted for about six or seven months. I still keep in touch with her and her family, and my family always asks how she's doing. I miss her a lot.
Man C: That seems to be how all my relationships begin. Sex always happens before the relationship does because I like knowing we have sexual chemistry from the start and going from there. There was a girl at work who I was very attracted to, but I worried that sleeping together would mess up my career. Then, one night all the coworkers went out together and I woke up the next morning naked in her bed wondering what the hell happened. We've been together over a year now.
Do you view the woman you've had one-night stands with differently than women you've dated?
Man A: I definitely look at women I could see myself dating differently than women I'm just purely sexually attracted to and want to sleep with. Overall though, I don't really view women I have one-night stands with any differently than women I date.
Man B: Yes, because I generally regret my one-night stands and try my best to avoid them. It's nothing personal though, since most of my one-night stands were wonderful girls. It's more about my internal struggle of trying to be that guy that is OK with hookups because everyone else seems to be, and also being the guy that was raised in a Catholic household that emphasizes romantic love over erotic love.
Man C: Not at all. If I'm doing it, then I can't judge them for it either. I respect all women and hate guys who think it's trashy when women do it, but they do it too.
Was there ever a time when you got tired of one-night stands?
Man A: Not yet, but I'm sure I will some day.
Man B: I feel that way right now. Mostly because I'm not feeling any sort of deep satisfaction with one-night stands, so I'm less likely to want to keep pursuing them.
Man C: Yes. When you are having sex with different people over and over again, it does get boring. You get to a point where you want to be able to wake up next to someone and cuddle, as opposed to saying, "Want me to get you an Uber?"
If you could change anything about your one-night stands, what would it be?
Man A: I wish there could be better communication about what the situation is. I think if both parties were aware that it was a one-night stand from the get-go, it would be so much better.
Man B: I wish I could take my feelings out of a one-night stand and just do it, no matter how little I knew them beforehand.
Man C: Nothing. I enjoyed them all.
What advice would you give people considering having a one-night stand?
Man A: Don't go looking for love with a one-night stand, and make sure you can really detach yourself from any feelings. If you can look at the one-night stand as two people who are having fun together without any strings attached, you won't have any problems.
Man B: Be absolutely sure you know what you're doing and actually want to do it. If you find yourself questioning whether or not this is actually a good idea, don't do it. Some people aren't built for it, and if you're not and you do it anyway, it'll only cause you grief.
Man C: I'd tell guys to be polite afterward and continue to be. You never know when you might need a friends with benefits hookup or when one of these women might become your girlfriend. Plus, if you are rude, you can develop a terrible reputation that could hurt your chances with other women. Overall, I'd tell people to have fun. You only live once and deserve to let loose.
As told to Lane Moore.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.