Sex with strangers is good for you
Nothing makes you feel mature and sophisticated like a one night stand. Think about it. Alcohol. Bad judgment. Spontaneous sex. Maybe drugs. Possible regret with a drop of anxiety about what STDs you might’ve caught. Pregnancy scares. It’s everything our parents promised.
That’s what a lot of people think, at least. They envision a steamy montage of naked bodies, ending with a double hangover and a missing kidney. But what if I told you that was a myth? What if some meaningless sex with a stranger was just what you needed to start recovering from a bad breakup? Take the red pill. Come with me.
My first one night stand happened midway through grad school. Even fledgling academics enjoy more chances for one night stands than the general population. We fly across the world and stay in luxurious hotels, courtesy of our credit cards. We meet new people all the time.
We like to drink.
But most importantly, we spend most of our 20s and 30s in a state of fear and dread that triggers a constant need to reproduce.
So we’ll jump practically anyone who looks twice at us, and can tell a good joke. That’s not true. Actually, kinda.
My first fling helped me out of a morass of self doubt and confusion about dating and trust and my future. I’d been dumped after 2 years with a cheating fiance. That lit a year’s worth of aborted relationships. Maybe I was out for revenge, dating people just for the sake of breaking their hearts.
I was like a vampire, or a mummy. If I could dump enough people in cruel ways, my heart would grow back.
But that didn’t happen. Every try only made things worse. Whenever a relationship started to bloom, I would spray black graffiti all over the petals and then stomp it to death.
In other words, I sabotaged my own romance.
How? So many ways.
For starters, I dumped one guy because he didn’t know what a CV was. I dumped another after he talked about going to law school after finishing his M.A. in English. Um, what? A sudden career change made me anxious about his ability commit.
If someone couldn’t stick with one discipline, then there was no way he’d stay with one girl. First chance he got, he would dump me for a sexy state prosecutor with blond hair who wore pencil skirts in the courtroom, because she could dammit. I just knew, deep down in my frontal lobe, that’s how we would end. I would come home after a long day of teaching, and catch them feeding each other stir fry with chopsticks, Huey Lewis and the News echoing through the apartment.
And then I would rip those chopsticks from their hands and stab them. Probably several times. And I’d shout something like, “Try prosecuting that, you fucking stupid bitch!”
Fuck that. Best to dump him first.
Think about how many lives I saved…
After that, I tried dating a guy with bangs. I hate bangs on men. What the fuck was happening to me? Not many girls can pull off bangs, either. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Krysten Ritter got rid of hers.
But something forced me to give this one a shot. “Try something new,” my inner angel said. “Expand your horizons. Fly outside your comfort zone. Date a guy with bangs.”
But ultimately I couldn’t handle the bangs. We never even broke up officially. I just stopped answering his texts. Probably the worst method of ending a relationship. The coward play. I was ashamed of myself.
After a year of that nonsense, a one night stand sounded like the last thing I needed. I’d resigned myself to a few months of celibacy, quiet long walks through the woods, Netflix nights by myself with wine. I was on a Riesling binge at the time. The bubbly, champagne taste reminded me of a kiss on New Year’s Eve.
Nobody plans a one-night stand. Not that I know of. That’s what makes them so great. It’s like finding a twenty on the sidewalk, except it also gives you a huge boost in the self-esteem area.
That first one night stand showed me what I’d been looking for the whole time — fun sex.
Not meaningless sex, exactly. But less serious. Just entertainment.
How did my one night stand begin? At a conference, with me just standing at a crosswalk one morning on my way to a panel. He walked up, messing with his name badge. His eyes flashed when he saw me. Yeah, handsome.
It turned out we were going to the same panel. Or maybe he lied. “Oh, I love Nabokov! I was on my way there, too.” But he knew enough to make the lie convincing. I mean, he’d even read Pnin.
We sat together. We had lunch together, too, and exchanged numbers. At first, I thought maybe we’d just become conference buddies. But then some sassy texts showed up. Not creepy. Just playful. Around 5 pm he said we should check out this sushi place. That turned into coffee and then drinks with some other grad students. About halfway through a cocktail party, he pulled me off into a back room, where we started kissing.
You’re not supposed to behave like that in academia, at least not in public. We both knew better. People who made out in public at conferences didn’t get jobs. They became the subjects of gossip and dirty stories.
The risk made those lips taste even better.
The other thing? He was married. Don’t worry, he told me first — while slipping an arm around my waist. He almost whispered it. They were getting separated, actually. In my old life, that would’ve made me puke. But that night, it made me feel sexy.
What was I to him? A harmless fuck? A treat after a rough year? Yeah, that’s it. I was a treat. That felt nice for a change.
A one night stand has plenty of meaning. It means someone wants you. Bad. So bad they can’t wait. They want to fuck you now. You feel a sense of urgency, adventure. It’s almost like a baptism.
Before that I’d only kissed once on a first date, and definitely no fucking until a third date. But that night, I figured common sense and good judgment hadn’t gotten me anywhere so far. Might as well try some mistakes. So we whisked onto the elevator and up to his room.
After guiding himself in, he stopped. “Just making sure…You know this is a one time thing, right?
“Shut up and fuck me.”
Of course, we did split a bagel at Starbucks the next morning. We teased each other and flirted. Neither of us felt the twinge of regret or hangover headache that’s supposed to come later. We even remembered each other’s names. Later that day, he texted me for another night out. So it was more like a two-time thing. Actually, three or four times.
It turned out that we kinda liked each other, even apart from the sex. He was funny, told interesting stories, and we got along well.
Sure, we were using each other for sex. But that didn’t make us evil or empty. We entered into the contract with our eyes open, and a sense of mutual respect. He wanted out of his marriage, and I needed some confidence and dignity restored. Not a bad deal for either of us.
Everyone talks about how much meaningless sex degrades you. That’s just not always true. Meaningless sex is great, when you do it smart.
Meaningless sex doesn’t hurt people.
People hurt people.
Sadly, none of my later flings lived up to that first one. The next one lied about his age by about 12 years. After that, I mistakenly almost fucked a cocaine addict. And after that, I cooled off and returned to monogamy. But I came back with a new sense of strength and self-awareness. So my advice? If you’re single, go fuck a stranger. You might be surprised what happens.