Sexual Health

One night stands

Most people think one-night stands are okay if they are single, careful, don't have unrealistic expectations, and use a condom. One night stands don't always have to involve sexual intercourse, but may often happen at parties, or when people have been drinking.

Guys and women may see one night stands differently, with men using them for sex, whilst women may want a relationship. Some guys believe one-night stands might lead to a relationship, but they're not always certain at the time
There's also a double standard that exists, so girls who have many partners are called names like 'slut' or 'slapper', particularly by other women, whereas men are considered to be 'studs'
Many women are also worried about the risks of having a one night stand (including rape or being forced to do things they don't want to) and most would worry about going home with a total stranger.  
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Most people still expect girls to have fewer partners than men, and many girls find it hard to find a boyfriend if they have a 'reputation'. Some said it is still not okay for girls to show a 'healthy sexual appetite'.
Some of those we interviewed had never had a one night stand because it just doesn't turn them on. Many of those we talked to said they are not as emotionally satisfying as relationships (see 'What sex feels like, in your body and your head'). 
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Others we spoke to were aware that they were more at risk of catching an infection from a casual sexual partner who is sleeping around. They also knew that condoms are not 100% safe; they split, or sometimes come off (especially if they are not used properly). 

Some people we talked to had felt that they were being used in casual relationships. One woman said that as she has got older she has become more assertive and would no longer have sex just because someone finds her attractive. 

Most people we interviewed said they wanted a longstanding relationship rather than 'a string of' one-night stands. Often people we talked to learnt what they thought about one night stands after they've had one.

Last reviewed January 2016.

Last updated August 2012.


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