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“What I Learned From One-Night Stands”


Think no-strings-attached sex is nothing but a guilty pleasure? Then listen to one woman who says there are some surprising relationship lessons to be learned from one night of passion.

by Elise Nersesian


ost women have a story to tell along these lines, though it may be hidden in some deep, dark, secret spot in her dating history: She met him at a bar or party, they bonded over (insert a favorite alcoholic drink here), and one thing led to another—and a one-night stand happened, for better or for worse. Women often feel it's for worse, actually: Many come to regret their fling. "What was I thinking?!" they ask. That's because one-night stands, while fun, rarely lead to a serious relationship. "Why waste your time?" they ask.

Waste your time? Ha. You see, I am a big fan of one-night stands—and no, it's not just because they're exciting (although that helps). These brief encounters have a lot to offer even the most marriage-minded woman. Though I know not everyone will agree with my perspective, here are three reasons why I believe women and the men who love them should feel okay about occasionally throwing caution (but not condoms!) to the wind.

Reason #1: One-night stands help you stop stressing about your body
Women tend to worry like crazy about their looks—"Will he want to date me again after he sees what I look like without any clothes?" That's
If you won't see the guy again, there's no reason to feel so self-conscious about your body.
exactly why one-night stands are so great. Since you know you probably won't see the guy again, who cares what he thinks about the pudge you've put on since college, or, for that matter, the fact that you haven't shaved you legs in three days?

"I've never been bursting with confidence in the looks department," says Leslie, 30, from Madison, NJ. "I'm really good at staying wrapped up in the sheets, or otherwise hiding my body from boyfriends." The night she hooked up with Mark (a cute British friend of a friend who was visiting America for just a day or two), however, changed everything. "Walking into my bedroom, I flicked the lights off, but Mark grabbed my arm. 'Hey,' he said gently. 'How am I supposed to see you?'" Knowing she'd probably never see him again, Leslie went with the flow: "I felt free and I felt good. I'm still not ready to pad around my place naked — probably never will be — but I'm much more cavalier than I was in the past."

Reason #2: You learn how to ask for what you want
With one-night stands, by definition, there are no second chances to have great sex with the guy in question. If you want something, you have to ask for it right then and there—and that's a skill many women are glad to acquire. Take Ellen, 30, from Boston, MA: "Outside the bedroom, I always ask for what I want, whether it's salad dressing on the side or a bigger raise from my boss. But when it comes to sex, forget about it; I clam up," she admits. Then she met Carlos. "I was instantly attracted to him, and we kissed for hours: In the bar, at my front door, and finally in my bed," she recalls. "Then he asked me, 'What do you want me to do?' I must have mumbled something unintelligible back because he asked me again. Was I really expected to answer? This was mortifying!"

However, she decided to give it a try "just for one crazy night. What a lesson I learned-that with a little communication can get you exactly what you want in bed. No crossed signals, no misinterpretation, and no confusion. And the funny part is that it took a virtual stranger to teach me that!"

Reason #3: You learn that someone who isn't your type could be Mr. Right
With one-night stands, women are willing to connect with someone who isn't "husband material." Is he unemployed? No college degree? Who cares—this isn't about
With one-night stands, if you want something, you have to ask for it—and that's a skill many women are glad to learn.
anything long-term, right?

Well, a fling can teach you that your dating standards are in need of renovation. That's what happened to me after college. I'd broken up with a guy everyone considered a great catch—a handsome med-school student from a good family. To distract myself from my heartache, I went out to a club with friends and met a guy who couldn't remember the last time he'd read a book and who had no discernible career path. But he had a sweet Southern accent, and one thing led to another. We wound up in bed and in the morning, over cold Chinese takeout, I realized I was being won over by this nice, unpretentious Southern boy—one who believed in the motto 'ladies first' in and out of the bedroom, and knew all kinds of corny jokes. And so I began to re-evaluate my boyfriend criteria: I whittled away "must love Woody Allen" and "must be an impeccable dresser" and substituted "must want to make me happy" and "lets me have the last egg roll." He paved the way for every guy after him who broke the mold, and for that I'll always be grateful.


Elise Nersesian is a New York-based writer. Her last one-night stand is still standing three years later; it's her current beau.
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