I read a lot of dating blogs these days. Recently I was catching up on posts from the brilliant Alice in Wanderlust blog and came across one which was all about being picky. One section, in particular, made me stop and think a little:
I was at a party, and one of my friends started along the same tired diatribe about how I should have a one night stand because I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know whether I would like it. His reasoning was that sometimes you can try a food that you don’t think you’ll like and end up liking it, so it’s always worth trying new foods. But that’s not how sex works. I’m prepared to regret eating food that’s a bit dodgy. I’m not prepared to regret a sexual partner. You should only have sex with someone if you’re 100% sure you want to have sex with them. Thinking “hmm maybe it wouldn’t be too bad” is not enough. You should feel passionately attracted to them. Be picky.
In some ways I totally agree with this, at least when it comes to relationships. Be picky when it comes to relationships. Don’t ever give your heart to someone who you aren’t totally committed to, or at least who you don’t want to try with. Relationships last way longer than even the most potent of curries ever will. They matter.
When it comes to sex, however, I think I disagree somewhat.
I’ll admit freely, I enjoy having sex. I don’t think that’s a controversial statement, nor is it one that I will one day be castigated by the press for my having made (you know, after I’ve risen to power and rule the world). Sex is a healthy activity and forms an important part of the lives of adults the world over despite rarely being spoken about in public.
Sex between two people in a relationship, whether new or old, is brilliant. It allows you both to get to know each other intimately and fully understand the wants and needs of your partner. It allows the scope to fit together perfectly and bring yourselves closer together than ever before.
That being said, that’s not all there is to sex in my experience. Whilst the best types of sex are those which involve heart, body, mind and soul, sometimes it’s enough just to include the body part of that equation. Not having regular sex is one of the worst parts of being single for me, especially when there is a distinct lack of “arrangements” with appropriate members of the opposite gender.
The physical side of sex is always worth appreciating. Yes, you should only sleep with people that you won’t look at the next morning and expect a record to scratch, the world to freeze frame and a voiceover to narrate the words “yep, that’s me; you’re probably wondering how I got here…”. But that leaves a lot of possibility in the world to explore.
If you find someone you are attracted to enough to want to sleep with them, then with all the usual caveats in place don’t feel bad for doing so. One night stands can free you up in ways regular sex in a relationship never can. You can try new things out. You can act in a way that might embarrass you to start doing several months into a relationship, say things, ask for things and push your own boundaries a little for as long as you feel safe and comfortable doing so.
Alternatively, you can simply do the things which you know feel good. We all have our favoured approaches, positions and techniques; often simply experiencing them is more than enough to put a smile on your face and a spring back in your step.
The nature of a one night stand is usually that it never gets repeated. That needn’t always be the case, but whether or not you want it to develop you then have the ability to try and make that happen. At the very least you’ll have an idea whether or not you are sexually compatible with someone else, which is something less to worry about finding out.
I’m not advocating promiscuity and sleeping with a different person every night. Besides the logistical issues involved (and an inability for most people to operate on just a few hours of sleep), that would devalue sex to the point that it means less and less. Some may be able to handle that – I still like it to feel special.
But what I am saying is that one night stands should not be ruled out by a blanket-ban approach simply because of what they represent to some people. I truly believe that every set of circumstances and every relationship, be it long term or hours old, is individual and should be treated as such. There are people I’ve dated for some time and never slept with, and others who I’ve had very enjoyable and mutually satisfying one-off experiences with.
With one or two exceptions (I was in a low place at the time, though that’s no excuse) I’ve not regretted them. I’m not planning on having many more, but I’m not planning on avoiding them either.
That being said, when it comes to relationships rather than sex I plan to be pickier than ever. Let’s see where that gets me.