How to handle the aftermath of a one-night stand

This past week I got a load of questions about how to deal with a one-night stand. (Thank God for that Halloween party!) Specifically, I got questions about how to deal with bumping into your one-time lover post-sex. So, instead of ranting on about some random shit, I decided to dedicate another column to pleasing you, the readers.

Sex is a wonderful, wonderful thing. To me, it is one of the most wholesome acts that two (or more, or less) people can partake in together. Actually having the sex is something that is so effortless. Yes, technique and performance anxiety can be a nagging bitch. Once your bodies get going, however, you melt into a glorious concerto of ten shades of pleasure. But, what happens after the grand symphony is over?

The same feelings that make sex this sweaty philharmonic phenomenon are responsible for the feelings that make it super weird later. The sex itself is not the culprit here, but sexual intimacy is the reaper of all things awkward. There’s no reason for it to be grim in its nature though. It’s totally normal to feel a bit uncomfortable if the dude who ‘did you doggie’ last Saturday suddenly appears behind you in the Kohlberg coffee bar line. So, don’t freak! Take two deep breaths and break the situation down as follows:

Intimacy

I always dedicate a bit of my spiels on one-night stands to this topic. When you have mutual nub rub with someone, remember that you are touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, feng shuing, etc. their most private and intimate areas. Your partner is inviting you to meet their sexual selves — the deep, dark naughty school teacher inside. Because of this, sex comes with this sense of intimacy whether you want it or not.

Once you have engaged in a sexual relationship with someone (whatever that entails), there’s no need to brush it off as a purely physical fix. Most people recognize that casual sex is used to satisfy a carnal craving. But, many don’t also realize that we, as intellectual beings, also hanker for a lil’ intimacy, too. It is, after all, the brain that holds the title of ‘biggest organ in the body.’ Feeling close to someone is a major sexual driving force. Those one-nighters are just as much about pounding the mind mound as the meat mound. So, be conscious of this momentary emotional intimacy when you see your past partner at Sunday brunch and how it can be (or not be) affecting them.

Respect

Even though they are not your lifelong lover, your short-lived companion deserves all the respect you would give to someone who is. Whether the circumstance was good, bad, awkward, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, drunken, life-changing, regrettable or whatever, it is your obligation, as a willing participant of a sexual experience, to be civil with this person later.
Firstly, it’s bad sex manners to ignore or act callous towards that partner. Like I always say to my friends, if you know what someone’s junk tastes like, the least you can do is acknowledge that they exist later. The worst way to convey the “I don’t ever want to sleep with you again” message is cut them off totally. That doesn’t free someone from the brief relationship you shared. It makes them feel angry, sad, self-conscious, hurt or insufficient and, ultimately, makes them dwell on that encounter. That’s no way to pay someone back for vacuuming your vag. Regardless of how things end (as long as all the sex was consensual), always give your guy or gal a little wave if you see them around campus.

Privacy is also a key part of respect. If you travel out of the bubble to find some extracurricular lovin’, then this is not such a big deal. But, if your one-nighter is a fellow Swattie, respect his/her right to some discretion. There’s no reason for everyone and their momma to know every intimate detail of your introduction to anal sex in the DU bathroom. Yeah, sure, share your exploits with your close buddies, if you are so inclined. But, I think it’s inappropriate (though very entertaining) when I hear about the size of some dude’s apple-headed monster from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who defeated the great beast. This school is way too small and the grapevine way too intricate for you to go around being the fountain of forking folktales.

The confrontation

If your one-nighter is a Swattie, it is inevitable that you will see them again. Be a mature, respectful adult and acknowledge them. Say ‘hello’ or make polite conversation. If you can talk to randos from stat class about your extensive presidential stamp collection and your Thanksgiving weekend, you can definitely do the same for someone who you’ve seen naked (or have been intimate with in some other way). You don’t have to become their next BFF, but keep a casual acquaintance, at least directly after the incident. It’s not too hard to make small talk, but it makes a big difference.

If the subject of your night of passion comes up and you feel weird talking about it, don’t be awkwarded out. Dan Savage, my hero/idol/forever-unrequited-love, gives the best advice for talking to your casual sex companion post-smash. He advocates the “laugh it off method.” What this entails is, very basically, casually acknowledging that it happened, laughing a bit, maybe throwing in how you felt about it, and then changing the topic. Something like, “Hey, yeah that was wild night,” small casual laugh “I really had fun. That whole night in general was great. The music that they played at Paces reminded me of the time I fell off a building …” And so on and so forth. Feel free to cater the speech to your own experience.

If the subject of continuing the relationship comes up; be honest about how you feel. As Americans, we are taught polite dishonesty is the way to escape awkward encounters with your lovers. This is an especially popular tactic on Swat’s campus. However, leading someone to believe something that is not true can be just as damaging as telling them the hard (or soft) truth. Tell your partner the truth about what you want. This could even be slipped into the “laugh it off” speech. (“Yeah it was fun, let’s do it again sometime” or “Yeah, it was fun, but I don’t have time for anything too serious now. Biochem is killing my personal life and general will to live.”) Also, don’t be afraid to be the one who asks for a second date. If you really dig the person, take a chance on asking for a round two. A casual sex partner can never become just a regular partner without one person taking the chance at asking. You never know.

If you find that you cannot deal with these unpleasant after-intimacy encounters, then be upfront with your partner about all of this before you have sex. If you find pleasure in being a sadistic ass, refrain from one-nighters. Spare the world (and any potential partner) from your cruel narcissistic torture. We get it—you love yourself more than Jesus loves children and you don’t care about how anyone else feels as long as you got what you wanted. There are fetish websites for you—look there, not on the Paces dancefloor. Conversely, if you have really thin skin and find that a partner potentially ignoring you or being cruel is emotionally damaging, one-nighters are not for you. You never know how a stranger will treat you in the end, so avoid taking the chance of having a bad experience. Committed casual sex, like a friends with benefits situation, may be a better option for you.

Continuing the love

After you jump over all the awkward hurdles, you may find that you land right into a relationship that both parties are interested in developing. If this is the case, have a conversation about what you both are looking for in said relationship. This is especially important to talk about after casual sex because each partner makes lots of assumptions about how developed or serious the relationship actually is (or will be). Regardless of what you both want your relationship to become, it is important to realize that you may want to take a couple of steps backward in the relationship. You skipped right to the dessert (custard cream pie, anyone?) and you may want to savor the appetizers before continuing. Give yourselves some time to chat and get to know each other. Casual sex gives you a momentary feeling of security and intimacy, but these feelings can have very shallow roots. Important things like trust, respect and communication must be firmly established to continue the relationship, whether it is intended to be a casual one or something more defined. The key is to get to know one another, so that you can build that mutual security.

That’s the in and out of coping with a night of in and out. Rendezvous of the brief variety have the potential of being sexually satisfying and emotionally nonthreatening. All that you need to do is be a responsible, respectful sexually active adult. When someone swallows your load, the least you can do is swallow a bit of uncomfortableness later. Be respectful, practice safety, and have fun.

Vianca is a junior. You can reach her at vmasucc1@swarthmore.edu. You can submit your questions and inquiries anonymously at www.swarthmorephoenix.com/sexedquestions. All submissions will only be read by Vianca.

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