Say the words “casual hook up” and a lot of people's minds might go to gay or bi men. This is because there's a stereotype that men have mastered the one-time fling, thanks to a long history of cruising culture and apps like Grindr. Queer women, on the other hand, are supposed to be bad at them. Our “thing” is moving in together immediately, blending our book collections (whose copy of The Argonauts is whose?) and then having a messy break-up that takes years to get over.
As with most stereotypes, the above is not always based in reality. Plenty of men prefer long-term love and commitment. And plenty of women just want some casual lust and non-monogamous depravity. A person's predilection for casual or serious encounters has nothing to do with their gender or sexuality.
That said, it’s arguably more culturally expected for gay or bi men to have spontaneous one-night stands, at least within certain queer communities. There isn't a dyke equivalent to Grindr – that I know of – and most of my lesbian or bi friends probably wouldn't know where to start when it comes to picking someone up at the gym.
But plenty of queer women have absolutely mastered the art of the casual hook-up, so I've canvassed their advice for a guide on how to have a one-night stand as a queer woman. Here are their dos and don’ts.
Make sure you're both on the same page, emotionally
There's nothing worse than having a one-time thing that you didn't realise was going to be a one-time thing. Obviously, both parties are perfectly within their rights to change their mind at any point (maybe you thought you wanted to see them again, but then realised you were sexually incompatible after the act!). But it's still important to be upfront about your expectations, wherever possible, and communicate.
The most obvious way to do this, a lot of queers tell me, is by making sure you have something like 'non-monogamous' or 'casual hook ups only' in your bio on dating apps. There are plenty of others who will be looking for the same and they’ll be the ones you match with.
Even if you're picking someone up from the club, there are ways to ensure you're both on the same page from the off. Alice, a 21-year-old bisexual woman “who once considered [herself] quite the expert at the one-night stand, pre-COVID” says that she'd often work her “leanings towards non-monogamy and keeping things casual” naturally into conversation during that initial encounter. If you tell someone that you're a one-night kind of girl, then everyone knows what to expect.
Don't get completely trashed
This is a good rule of thumb for most encounters, but it's more fun and safe intimacy-wise if you're not, like, vomming behind their sofa at the end of the night. Obviously one-night stands often happen after a few drinks, but you don't want to be so messy that you can’t find their body parts in the dark.
“It's so important to be aware of how drunk you are and whether or not you're in a good state to, a) consent (as your partner should also be!) and b) have fun,” says Alice. “Plus, it's unsafe to start fucking around with BDSM – especially restraints and choking – if you're both drunk.”
“I have found that getting food [like] cheesy chips and gravy, a famous aphrodisiac, on the way home is helpful for sobering up a little bit,” Alice adds.
My personal rule of thumb is: If you lie down and the room starts properly spinning, then you shouldn’t be having sex. Another queer woman tells me that she has a five drink rule. Any more than that, and she’s going to her own bed.
Do behave like a decent human being
Just because you might not see this person again, doesn't mean you have to bypass any social niceties or avoid genuine intimacy. Some of my most enjoyable casual encounters have culminated in homemade breakfast the following day, or at least a book swap. Remember that casual doesn't always equals cold, and brief doesn't always equals meaningless (unless you're both into that.)
Don't try and be casual if you're not looking for casual
Listen, we all grew up wanting to be Shane from The L Word. But some of us aren't wired that way. Some of us have anxious attachment styles and prefer snogging people who might later tell us they love us. There's nothing wrong with not being the chill girl. What sucks is if you pretend to be the chill girl, and then later end up tracking them down on Instagram and feeling upset when they don't accept your follow request, even though you've literally been inside them.
Hurt feelings can be avoided with honesty and communication, and that includes being honest with yourself. If you're not sure you can have a one-night stand without getting emotionally invested, then don't do it. Date people who are open to the possibility of hanging out again. And re-read point one.
Do aim for amazing sex, but don't expect it
A one-night stand with someone who isn’t familiar with your body or mind might not culminate in multiple orgasms. They might not enjoy all the things your ex liked, and it might not be the time to drag the overflowing toy box out from underneath the bed. “Although I have had mind-blowing sex and ground-breaking moments during one-night stands, that’s definitely not the norm and sometimes it’s fun to just have a laugh and know that things aren’t going to go any further,” says Alice.
That said, the joy of a hook up is that it's all about pleasure. That's literally the point. Remember that you're both there to have fun. Hannah, a 30-year-old bisexual woman, says that she used hook-ups as a way of recentering her own pleasure after years of feeling sidelined. “I'm a fat woman and I've always been conditioned to believe that my mere existence needs to come with an apology when it absolutely doesn't,” she says.
“When I was at the height of my hook-up days, I made sure that my selfish desires were what I focused on first. Not only did this make the hook-ups better (gotta make sure they get you off right) but it also kept me safe. At no point did I feel like I owed anyone anything, so it was easy to drop things when they felt icky or unsafe without doubting myself.”
And finally, don't shit where you eat
This is a relatively straight forward rule for heterosexual people (don't get off with blah-blah from the office, don't go for your best mate's brother etc). For queer women though, this rule is a little more complicated. If you live in a small town, for example, you will most definitely shit where you eat. Even if you live in a larger city like London, you will still probably shit where you eat.
That said, when it comes to casual hook-ups, try to keep it as anonymous as possible. If you go to the same club every weekend, don't finger the bartender. Have a one-night stand in a different club, city or country. Be someone new for the night. Venture out. Unleash.