One Night Stands: How to Safely Get Back to Dating?
People are social animals, but over the past year and a half, maintaining a social life has become challenging. Now that the Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted, many of us are having mixed feelings about returning to life as we knew it. Especially returning to the dating scene.
Romantic relationships are an important part of what it means to be a human. And of course, there isn’t one right way to approach dating and relationships. Many people engage in casual dating and casual sex. While there is nothing wrong with casual relationships, they come with an element of risk.
Getting back to dating
The pandemic has changed how we interact with each other. For some, lifting restrictions means our need for interaction can finally be met. But for others, the thought of returning to a more active social life can cause anxiety. We need time to adjust.
This article is for those who feel ready to re-enter the dating world. For a more detailed analysis of the effects of the pandemic, read our article here.
In those countries where vaccinated people are allowed to socialize, the demand for contraceptives and STI (sexually transmitted infection) treatments is once again on the rise.
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Why a one-night stand?
A one-night stand is a single sexual encounter between two consenting adults, with no expectation of further communication. Lockdown limited social interaction and stripped many people of their sexual outlets. When returning to dating, consider what you want from it now. There can be many reasons to engage in casual sex, including:
To have fun. It is normal to feel desire and want sex, even when you don’t want a relationship. Sex also comes with benefits such as better sleep and reduced stress. Engaging in sex with someone who has similar expectations can be very satisfying.
To discover your sexuality. Your sexuality is yours alone. Only you can decide how to explore it. Some people choose to experiment with themselves, some do so with partners. Others enjoy sex with no strings attached. If you don’t feel like committing to anyone but still want to have sex, one-night stands could be for you.
You aren’t ready for a relationship. We live in a fast-paced world and there isn’t always time for other people. Romantic relationships take a lot of time and effort, so if you aren’t ready to commit, a one-night stand can be a way to connect and get some of your needs met. Abstaining from relationships does not necessarily mean abstaining from sex. Both are valid practices, but don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
What are the dangers of one-night stands?
STIs are a risk and can sometimes cause long-term health issues.
According to the CDC, one in five people Americans is carrying an STI.
STIs are more common than many people think and can affect anyone who practices unsafe sex. There are many types of STIs, including viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Women tend to suffer more from adverse effects of STIs and risk contracting pelvic inflammatory disease, living with chronic pelvic pain, or becoming infertile.
Inappropriate behaviour. Consensual and respectful sex is fun and satisfying, but not everyone understands these concepts. Before having sex with someone new, it’s important to make sure they will be a safe partner. Of course, some of the excitement of one-night stands is the risk—you don’t really know the person you’re sleeping with. Too often, one-night stands happen while drunk; this contributes to a lack of good judgement.
Never engage in sex with someone who doesn’t feel safe. If your potential partner says or does something you don’t feel comfortable with or acts manipulative—think twice! Listen to your gut feeling. If at any point you feel unsafe, leave. There is no shame in protecting yourself. Inappropriate behaviour should never be tolerated because it can grow into sexual violence.
Sexual violence. Sexual violence is a widespread problem in many societies. It affects both men and women. While no one is protected from sexual abuse, a one-night stand can put you at higher risk of mistreatment. It’s much more challenging to identify red flags and judge a person you just met.
How to have safer one-night stands
Always practice safe sex. With new partners, always use a barrier contraception method such as a condom or a dental dam. Make sure to use them correctly.
Most STIs spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Viruses such as herpes simplex can spread through skin contact and saliva.
Of course, it would be good to know that your partner has been recently tested and is STI-free. But you can’t always trust people you have just met, so you should do everything from your side to protect yourself. If your partner refuses to use a condom or other protection method, don’t compromise. Leave. It isn’t worth risking your well-being.
Regular STD checks and vaccines. You should get checked for STIs at least once a year. If you have multiple partners, consider getting tested more often. The tricky part about STIs is that you can be infected but asymptomatic. That means that you can spread a disease to another person without knowing it. The best way to prevent this is to practice safe sex. Some STIs can also be prevented with vaccinations. HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B all can be avoided with vaccines.
Notice red flags. It would be best if you could get to know the other person a little before having a one-night stand. Even a single conversation can help you notice red flags and better read their intentions. Unfortunately, abusers often have a charming exterior and are hard to spot. Some red flags to be aware of include:
Manipulative behaviour—they insist you to do things you don’t want to do
Aggression—they are quick to anger, whether at you or another
Sexist remarks—they use hateful language and make comments about your gender
Secretive behaviour—they refuse to answer your questions and reveal very little about themselves.
Notify people. Before getting involved with a stranger, let your friends or family know what you are about to do. Sometimes this can be the friend you went out on the town with. Describe the person you are going to leave with and let someone who loves you know where you will be. This doesn’t take much time and can be the difference between life and death.
Check in with your emotional health. One-night stands can be fun and exciting, but only if you want to engage. Sex is intimate. When we engage in sex, we make ourselves vulnerable. If you don’t feel ready to have casual sex, you don’t have to. If someone is pushing you, you don’t have to let them get their way. Always ask yourself first how these interactions make you feel.
The key is being honest with yourself. Perhaps you have just ended a serious relationship and are craving uncomplicated intimacy. Maybe you want to let off some steam. Or maybe you feel like it’s something you should be doing. Sex is fun only when both people feel comfortable and safe.
One-night stands can be a great way to relax, enjoy yourself, and have fun. But no matter your circumstances, always prioritise your well-being. Follow these return-to-dating safety tips and have safe one-night stands.
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