Are One-Night Stands Enough?

Can a fling lead to long-term happiness, or is that a fairy-tale pipe dream? We talked to single men about hooking up and living happily ever after.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

he animal attraction was overwhelming, and you hooked up sooner than expected. But here’s the problem: You actually like him and want to see if there’s more there. Is it possible to transition from a casual encounter to a stable relationship?

It’s a conundrum
We asked guys to tell us about moving from hookup to happily ever after… or at least to a second date.

“Hookups that lead to real dates? Those can be nice, but they’re rare,” says Charles, 36. “Once I sleep with
"My philosophy is not to share everything up front."
someone, part of the mystery is taken away, and with it, the attraction. That is, sleep with someone immediately, and I’m viewing him more for his physical attributes. If I got to know the guy better, I’d feel like I was sleeping with a person — not just a body.”

Boris, 33, occupies the middle ground. “If I’m not physically attracted to someone in the beginning, I almost never become more physically attracted to him as I get to know more, although I can grow to appreciate him and enjoy being with him.” He might enjoy the encounter, but that doesn’t mean he thinks it merits a second date. “If that initial fire isn’t there in the beginning, it’s probably never going to be there.”

Shane, 41, opines in the other extreme. He’s hooked up with several guys only to find himself seriously enamored of them in the morning. “It’s tough because there was a physical and emotional attraction for me, and I went with it. It hurts when the other guy doesn’t.”

It happens all the time
“Shane’s situation is not uncommon,” says Kirby Tepper, M.A., a Los Angeles-based coach. “After you hook up, the other guy may not want to call you, either because he’s not interested in pursuing more or because he thinks you’re not interested in him.”

“It’s tough,” he counsels, “but you have to stay out of his head and remember you don’t know what he’s
It doesn’t have to mean more than it did.

Tepper advises stepping back from the edge. “Jumping too quickly into thinking a hookup is going to turn into something more can mean trouble. It doesn’t have to mean more than it did.”

You either need to be okay with the hookup and nothing more or call and check it out, but Tepper warns that it’s crucial to keep it casual. “Call him if you want to go out again,” he says. “Don’t make a big deal about it. Just say, ‘Do you want to go out next week?’ and see what he says.”

Saving something for later
After several situations in which he immediately pursued a sparky situation only to have it lead to a one-night stand, Shane has changed his approach. “Now my philosophy is not to share everything up front; instead, I play things cool until several dates reveal a mutual desire to heat things up.”

“That’s more like it,” Tepper says. “If there’s something there, you have to let it evolve naturally to a point where you can talk about expectations.”

“The key,” he says, “is to forgo fear. Neither of you should be so afraid of rejection that you’re unwilling to get to know each other before becoming intimate.”

Margot Carmichael Lester is a freelance writer who frequently contributes to Happen.
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