It’s Better When They Stay: A One-Night Stand Will End Exactly As You Thought

by Caitlin Jill Anders

"Stay With Me," we sing on the street and to each other. We’re not so good at one-night stands, but we’re worth the stay, we promise. We’re young and stupid, and we take our clothes off to try to feel wanted again.

The clothes come off and our skin starts touching, and then, maybe we’ll want each other instead of just pretending. When it’s all over, when we’re sweaty and silent, wondering what to say, do we stay?

Sometimes we send each other on our way. It’s 2 am, but we have to get up early, so maybe you should go. We’ll see each other later and shrug off the awkwardness, wondering whether it would have been different if we’d woken up in the window sunshine together.

Maybe, if we had seen each other in the morning glow instead of the bedroom darkness, we would have discovered something more in each other than just late-night pleasure. Maybe.

Casual sex and one-night stands are part of our culture and most of us have at least thought about it, if not participated. They just happen. There’s nothing wrong with a one-night stand, but do we want more than that? A lot of us do.

But, when they don’t spend the night or stay in our lives for longer, we can’t let it measure our self-worth. If they don't want to continue seeing us after a one-night stand, it doesn't mean we're not worth staying with. We are.

Does it feel less like being used if they stay the night? We ask ourselves this alone in the morning, cocooning the blankets around ourselves to make up for the lack of another body. We wanted this, we tell ourselves. We’re good at this. But, is anyone good at a one-night stand?

Some people might be built for that. I think a lot of us just tell ourselves we are, though. For many of us, sex comes with a smorgasbord of emotions, and emotions are a hard thing to make casual. Maybe some of us are so emotionally jaded that we don’t care anymore.

The young 20-something men of the world view the one-night stand as the hottest thing, their ticket to getting to know the beautiful women of the world without having to commit. We want them to like us so we try it, too, but is it what we all want? In the end, I think, a lot of us want them to stay.

We wonder what they want, willing ourselves to be mind readers, but then, wondering if we want to know the answer. We project onto them what we think they want, when, really, it's just what we want.

We think we can make them stay. What if all they want is a piece of ass? Are we okay with that? Often, it is all they want, and often, we're not okay with that, even if we pretend to be.

They won't always stay the night after a one-night stand, even if we want them to. When they don’t stay, there are goodbye kisses, passionate looks and lingering fingers, as one person makes an exit – or is it an escape? They asked us if they should stay, and if they'd stayed, maybe they would have wanted to learn about us.

Maybe they would have wanted to know more. We wonder later if things would have been different if they had stayed. Would we have woken up entangled, side-glancing each other as an outer thigh is lightly stroked?

Would we have gone to grab breakfast together, overcome with a hunger and curiosity of how we might be in the daytime?

We probably would have had sex again, this time with more awareness and more focus. Things might have been different and, maybe, that’s exactly why they didn’t want to stay.

A one-night stand won’t make them stay. If they know what they want, it will be hard to change them until they're ready to change themselves. Many young 20-somethings just want sex — period.

Even if we're amazing, and even if we say everything correctly, if it's not the right time, we won't be able to change their minds, no matter how wonderful we are.

Sex is fun and sex is powerful, but sex is not enough to keep someone around, and it shouldn’t be, anyway. We shouldn't have to make them stay; they should want to.

A one-night stand isn't a way to get to know someone. It's just a way to pretend to have a connection or to have one for just a second and then be able to send it away again.

We want them to stay because we want them to want to know us, the way we take our coffee and how messy we leave the sink after we brush our teeth, not just the way we move our bodies.

We want them to know our passion for slam poetry and cooking food for friends, not just our passion in-between the sheets. We want them to know us. For some of us, it’s better when they stay.

Having one-night stands isn't the way to find someone to be with for longer than just a fling. It can be, I suppose, but don't sleep with someone in the hopes that in the morning, the person will want more.

Chances are, the person won't. If you want more than one night, make the person work to get inside of you.

Some of us want casual sex with many beautiful people who live in this world and that’s perfectly wonderful. Some of us want one person and are participating in the one-night trend to try to find the person. You don't have to do that.

After a one-night stand, after the flirting, small talk and momentary passion, they won't always stay.

More often than not, it's better when they stay.