So let’s say, you get hot and bothered one night and decide to jump in the sack with a stranger (or friend, for that matter). NBD, right? Not quite. Casual sex isn’t quite that easy.
The stigma that surrounds one-night stands and commitment-free orgasms is real. But my advice? Screw the guilt and shame and embrace the hookup. Safely, of course. Who knows? It could possibly grow into something more. (Don’t count on it, but you never know.) Or at the very least, it could scratch a much-needed itch or evolve into a "friends with benefits" scenario.
Personally, I tend to compartmentalize such encounters, set expectations accordingly and not get caught up in what other people think. There’s really no reason for so-called meaningless sex to be fraught with so much unnecessary regret, because sometimes, skin-on-skin action sure beats masturbating.
Here are nine tips on how to handle no-strings attached night of sex:
DO: Be cautious
"If you’re going to a stranger’s home to do the deed, take every precaution," says dating coach Jonathan Bennett. "Just because that person seems charming and safe in a limited interaction is no guarantee of his or her true intentions." Alert a trusted someone of your whereabouts. A simple text with basic details can be a helpful safety net in case things go sideways.
DO: Talk about sexual history
It can be hard to broach what seems like the least-sexy topic on the planet, but the bottom line is that everyone has a sexual past. Ask partners: how sexually active they are? When were they last tested? For what and what were the results? Who are they fluid bonded with? Do they have any STI’s? Or what recent exposure might they have had? If you’re sexually active, it’s smart to get tested routinely – every three months to once a year, depending upon how many sexual partners you have. For convenient, at-home STD testing, check out MyLAB Box. It takes five minutes to test and results are available in 1-5 days.
DO: Use protection
Always use barrier methods (condoms, dams, gloves and finger cots) for protection, not only from pregnancy but also STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) and HIV. "Since you’re not in a serious relationship with the other person, you have no way of knowing his or her sexual history or background," says Bennett. “You don’t want one night of unprotected sex changing your whole life.” Here’s Planned Parenthood’s guidelines on safer sex practices.
DO: Give direction
So maybe it’s a one and done encounter. That’s fine, but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be sexually fulfilling. Sexpert and tantra teacher Helena Nista encourages partners to speak up for what they want between the sheets, particularly if they want something specific out of the encounter (a particular kind of touch, experience or sexual activity). And if the sex straight-up sucks, it’s okay to press pause and explain why you need to step out or he needs to go home.
DO: Be aware of privacy risks
"Remember we live in a small world, where everyone knows everyone, especially with social media today," says Tonia DeCosimo, author of Single and Not Settling: A Journey of Surviving the Dating World. “Your one-night stand could end up being someone’s tweet or text for the whole world to know.”
DON’T: Get drunk
Many bad decisions are made under influence of alcohol. "Nothing is as jolting as waking up with someone you'd likely never even speak to sober, so stay sober for no surprises," shares Weitzman.
DON’T: Feel guilty
Although we live in a world where living in the moment is celebrated, let’s face it, women are not worshiped for engaging in casual sex like men are. "There’s a lot of stigma and shame in our society around sex and promiscuity," says Nista. "Don’t let that ruin your experience."
DON’T: Expect anything more
"Always remember that a one-night stand is only a guarantee of one intimate moment," says Bennett. "Hoping for something more, like a relationship, isn’t realistic. You have to go into the one-night stand expecting that’s all there will be."
DON’T: Feel obligated to spend the night
"Never agree to spend the night unless you want to," says dating and relationship counselor, Donna Arp Weitzman. "Give yourself an excuse to leave if it doesn't work out."
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