No matter where one is situated on the globe, the general consensus is that sex always feel better when one is doing it with someone he or she loves. To this writer, sex is like gaming — an activity that feels great whether he is doing it alone or with familiar favourites. However, what happens when one is pitted against something new aka venturing into one night stands? Invigorating, yes. A potential pitfall, maybe.
Casual sex has its novelty and inherent sexiness but it can also suffer from a lack of open communication and openness. One cannot exactly question “can I go one inch to the right” and neither can he ask “how freaky are you exactly” without shame incurred from a lack of familiarity.
To give some context as to why humans now fornicate without a care, there is a need to dial 10 decades back to the 1920s where the first instance of one night stands was highlighted. They were called “petting parties” — an activity that was part of the flapper lifestyle and made easier with the automobile and dating venue boom.
Both novelties allowed for the ease of casual hookups because women were starting to own their sexuality in a post-victorian era where bodies were no longer concealed and lustful thoughts were not shamed. This then tipped over to the 1960s and 1970s where birth control, the Women’s Liberation movement and the legalisation of abortion in many countries became a norm.
However, one of the biggest pushes that have carried over to the current time would be that we have started rejecting the traditional white picket fence ideals of matrimonial practices. The blueprint of most lifestyles no longer revolve around getting married and producing offspring.
View this post on Instagram
One night stands can be summarised as an open-ended game. One picks his path — be it the linear or open world — and ventures along. Nixalina Watson — a dating reality show presenter and podcaster exploring the topics of sex and dating — summarises it succinctly.
“The art of sex and ideas around it has changed from ‘something you do as a couple to make a child’ into ‘a pleasurable act as a human being’, so we’re all embracing the idea of sexual hook-ups, minus the shame and guilt.” “I see more people, especially women, embracing their sexuality and steering away from the shameful ‘slut’ label into a healthy and sexually active normal human being who has typical needs and desires.”
Like the parallel universes of fashion, music and art, the movies of each era closely informed the behaviour of the public. 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally — a will-they-or-will-they-not meets friends with benefits (FWB) meets one night stands situation — nailed the dating tropes of the era.
Photos posted on dating sites were slightly less reliable than squinting at someone through a drunken stupor in a dark bar, a storage for love messages was a box of love letters under one’s bed and the grandest gesture of love was a personalised mixtape.
“Prior to advancements to the internet or the invention of dating apps, you’d physically have to meet someone and decide to go home with them (or not) during trysts, but now dating apps make one night stands even easier too — you can swipe, send a message and get your desired hook- up, pronto,” says Watson.
“Very rarely do you get two people who genuinely have the sex- only-with-no-emotions-attached feels that make an FWB situation workable. Or, it starts off sex-only and one then develops the emotions they swore would never happen.”
“It is pretty hard to have regular awesome sex with someone and not start to feel any emotional attachment to that person — after all, you’re still ‘around’ each other talking and texting before and after sex, discovering more about each other’s life beyond the bedroom,” reveals Watson about the sentiment that echoed on the big screen in the 1990s and the early noughts.
The tropes were not particularly inventive and usually ran along similar lines like the 1999 movie 10 Things I Hate About You or 2002’s Brown Sugar.
A dorky man falls in love with an attractive lady (or vice versa) and they eventually get together in a stroke of cinematic disbelief, or they could be childhood friends who just happened to have coitus because their pituitary glands were extra active.
Time indeed waits for no man but in the realm of casual hookups, no movie, “top 10 scenes that’ll remind you of true love” or novel will remind one of this — there will always be someone in friends with benefits situation who gets hurt.
“If you start off as just friends, engaging in an FWB situation can ruin the platonic relationship you guys have. I’m not against the concept by any means and if two people can genuinely make it one night stands work for their personal lifestyle without catching any feelings, then awesome!”
“But I see the chances of both parties being on this exact same playing field pretty slim,” shares Watson.
Sidetracking a little and to put an unsexy slant to this story, there is a scene in the 2007 Pixar movie Ratatouille where the little rat chef realises that it has been getting too reliant on spices.
To draw the line between the anthropomorphic rodent and casual sex (someone had to), one is advised to not try so hard or do things he is unfamiliar with. Casual sex is not the time to tell one’s partner that he has never had sex in a car and neither is it the time to request to be tied up like a Christmas ham. It is a time for one to partake in what he is usually comfortable with and be perfectly civil when engaging in the act.
“The problem with people is that they can be too much, too fast. Sure, you want a hookup but that doesn’t mean you can forego any of the initial niceties or act like the person is just a piece of meat.”
“The best-kept secret for men would be that the ladies are more likely to say yes and engage in one night stands you if she thinks you’re not just about that life. I’m not suggesting you pretend you’re after marriage as soon as you say hello, but you can still treat her like someone you might like.”
“I’ve always said I’d rather a man be honest (not to be confused with direct) in that I’d prefer someone to let me know from the get-go that they’re only looking for casual and not long term so that I can then make my mind up whether I’m cool with that.”
“It will always be better received and nicer to the other person than pretending to want something more until you get laid, then disappearing.”
“For the ladies, you are perfectly capable of making the first move. I believe there’s still this stigma attached to women who want to just have sexual gratification, but we can and should be okay with putting our sexuality out there.”
“If you want a man for one night stands, don’t hang around waiting and hoping he comes over — make the first move,” advises Watson.
Herein lies another elephant (the Aesop fable does have some context within real life) in the room. Should one sleepover post-coital?
1,290,000,000 Google search results on one night stands have varying different opinions. Some advise the 30 minutes rule — leave or get one’s partner to leave 30 minutes post-coital before pillow talk happens. Some recommend telling the truth (“I have pets”) or to fib convincingly like a villain (“don’t worry, we’ll see each other again”).
Interestingly, men generally advice their fellow brothers not to linger (the rule book goes: pillow talk first, shopping for furniture together at Ikea next) while women advise looking inwards post- satisfying themselves before answering.
However, Watson advises one to do whatever he or she wants regarding one night stands — just be honest.
“If I’m tired and it is in the early hours, all I want to do is sleep! I’m happy to pass out and then exit stage left very quickly in the morning. Or I would share a cup of coffee (I’m nothing if not polite) before parting ways. That being said, I’m aware it can sometimes be weird sleeping in someone else’s space, particularly if you don’t know them or care to know them.”
“Back in my student days, a couple of guys got up and left in the night when I was asleep leaving me to wake up alone. I understand why they did it — to avoid any awkwardness or difficult conversations in the morning if I was somehow going to ask them to see me again.”
“But the secrecy and knowing they just disappeared was awful. I recommend people to be honest with their expectations and to encourage their partners to do the same.”
In short, Watson and this writer are telling one to shoot his shot (figuratively and literally) regarding one night stands. Just do not forget to clean one’s apartment before the dirty because the judgement does not start and end on an app or at a bar.
“The home space of somebody speaks volumes about who they are as a person — unfinished food, a stench, unwashed clothes, dirty cups.” “I wouldn’t go back to that man’s house again if he was a mess, nor would I want to see him again either, even if he was an Adonis. It’s the same for both genders!”
Catch Nixalina Watson’s podcast “Sex And Singapore City: The Podcast” weekly every Monday on here.
This story first appeared in the July ’20 issue of Men’s Folio Singapore.