Sexuality has never been more fluid, sex club memberships are sky-rocketing, and more people than ever are experimenting with polyamory. At the same time, however, casual sex is falling out of favour.
There are lots of reasons for this. The pandemic has shifted the goalposts somewhat, with impromptu flings severely hampered by the need to ‘stay at home’, but our lives were already heading in a sexless direction. The increasingly common view is that casual sex is “time-consuming and unfulfilling”, with just 8 percent of people involved in a recent survey by Match.com admitting to having a one-night stand, and a survey by Plenty of Fish finding that 51 percent of singles think that one night stands are a thing of the past.
Megan Barton-Hanson couldn’t disagree more. “I love sex, and it's only because I've explored things with different partners and allowed myself to be liberated and free and try new things and not feel shame for it,” she says, advocating for more women in particular embracing the joys of casual sex. “You've got one life, and it's only because the society that we live in tells women that we shouldn't be sexually free that we’re not all out doing the most. As women, the more we’re just like ‘fuck you!’ to that whole thing, the better things will be.”
In that spirit, this week’s column from Megan teaches us how to have a one night stand and actually enjoy it. You can read her previous column for VICE here.
Be safe during a one-night stand
First and foremost: be safe. Tell a friend where you're going, send them the guy’s number or Instagram handle if you can, and if you’re particularly worried because it’s the first time you’ve had a one night stand or hooked up for sex, you can even link up with someone on Find My Friends so they can see where you are.
In our younger, more reckless years especially, you can definitely get into some sticky situations. Whether that’s going back with a guy and him being more aggressive than you thought he was going to be, or being stuck in someone’s flat after you’ve had sex and they’ve fallen asleep but you want to sneak out. In the moment, when you've had a few wines and you're feeling horny, it sounds like a good idea to go home with someone, but as a woman you always need to put safety first.
Be clear about what you want so you’re not hurting anyone’s feelings
I love sex and I’ve been been open about that and, in the past, I would just assume that men are exactly the same – that they’re not looking for a relationship, and if there's a fit girl who wants to fuck them, they'll be more than happy to just fuck and that's it.
But you’d be surprised by the amount of guys who actually do get their feelings hurt, like ‘Oh, is that all you wanted me for? Are you ghosting me?’ Some people do get more invested, so make it clear when you meet up that you’re not looking for anything serious if that’s how you feel. Like, yeah, if you’re a good fuck we could be friends with benefits maybe, but it depends how good the dick is!
Don’t feel pressured to do anything during a one-night stand
You can talk all the talk leading up to sex and agree to meet up for a few drinks, but at the end of the day you’ve never actually met this person before. If they don’t look like their pictures, your personalities aren’t clicking, or you’re just not feeling it, you can say no.
Just because you've arranged to meet up on the basis of hooking up and you’ve spoken about sex the majority of the time, you don’t have to go through with it. You might feel a bit awkward, but you don’t owe this person anything. Don’t ever feel pressured into going back to someone’s house, having dead sex and not enjoying it. A one-night stand can be such a powerful thing as a woman, so we need to keep that in mind and not give in to the pressure of expectation.
Limit your drinking if you’re going to hook up
Obviously, it's meant to be fun. There’s no need to go into things stone-cold sober and wracked with nerves. At the same time, if you go overboard with the drinking, first of all you're not going to remember it the next day. And more importantly, you probably won't reach climax. You want to be present and know that you're making the right decision, so that when you see them for a second time (if the sex was good), you’ll know they’re a solid 7/10 – not a 2/10 with beer goggles on. Stop after a few drinks, and maybe leave the tequila shots for next time.
Set your boundaries before the one-night stand
Discuss what kind of sex you’re both into beforehand. It doesn't have to be super planned out, but sometimes you can go home with someone and you’ll both be on completely different pages, and that’s not fun. When it’s a one night stand, some people see it as a free for all where they can be the kinkiest porn star that they’ve wanted to be – but that’s not the case. You can still have a one night stand and want it to be super intimate and passionate and cuddle after and be loving. So chat about what you’re into and what you’re willing to do. It can be a total turn-on when you're sitting there talking about what things you like and the sex you’ve had in the past, anyway!
Don’t overthink things while hooking up
At the same time, leave some room for mystery. People put so much pressure on sex and take sex so seriously, like it has to be perfect or like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey, but it should just be fun. The beauty of a one night stand is that you’re never going to see this person again. If you don't vibe or have much in common but you're still attracted to each other physically, this is your chance to go mad. If you’ve wanted to try something and you were a bit embarrassed to give it a go with a long-term partner, like using a new toy or anal or being tied up – go for it. Worst case scenario, you go absolutely wild and fall off the bed or fanny fart, but who cares? You’re never gonna see them again.
Don’t fake it during sex
I’m looking at you, ladies. We’re all guilty of it, but a one-night stand doesn't mean one-sided pleasure. You don't have to be rude and go off on one about how his dick game is weak and you’re leaving, never to be heard from again, but drop some subtle hints. Direct them and tell them what you like. Nine times out of ten, if you’re genuinely loving it the person will pick up on that and you’ll both have a better time. We’ve all experienced those guys who will go down on you and you can literally tell they're counting down the minutes in their head until they can get up and put their dick in you, and it’s horrendous. When someone’s really into it, it’s such a turn-on. That works both ways.
Bore off with ridiculous beauty standards
Once, when I was 19, I went into a guy's bathroom and used his face razor on my vagina, because I wasn’t prepared. Then there were just all these jet black hairs between the blades and I was like, ‘Shit, how am I going to get these pubes out of his razor?’ We don’t need to be doing that anymore! No one is waxed and buffed every hour of the day. If you get caught off guard, don’t let the fact that you have a bit of leg hair stop you from getting involved.
If anything, I think it’s endearing and cute. The older I've got, the more carefree I am. I have a little snail trail around my belly button that I don’t shave anymore, I just let it live. Why are we still so old fashioned that we see having no body hair as perfection? We all have it and we’re fit with or without it, so fuck it. In the throes of a 69, absolutely no one is going to be thinking “hmmm, her armpits aren't perfectly shaved”.
Fuck society – literally
There’s such a sense of shame around women having one night stands. It’s still so common for men to judge women for having casual sex, or for their number of sexual partners. It’s something we’re still heavily battling, but I think it can be one of the most liberating and empowering things as a woman to just go and fuck someone if you want to, and not care what your body count is, and just been present in the moment. As long as you’re safe and it’s consensual, live your best life and get some dick!