Valentine’s Day leads some people to focus on their lack of a partner, and where they can find one -– even just for the night.
Lack of love, lost love, betrayed love -- these are often compelling reasons for a one-night stand. Love itself? Not usually.
Of course, the one-night stand is not limited to Valentine’s Day. People are driven to hook-up on any day of the year for any number of reasons. For example:
- Inability to assert oneself to say ‘no.
- ’Wanting to feel attractive and desired.
- Looking for sex.
- Retaliating against a former boy/girlfriend.
- Being intoxicated.
- Wanting to do something risky or dangerous.
Notice love is not listed. Neither is looking for a long-term relationship. Instead, we have opting out; acting out our insecurities, anger, or loneliness; and acting against invisible ropes that bind. Of the seven compelling reasons listed, six will find little resolution in the one-night stand.
So what is the truth about the one-night stand?
It won’t come as any surprise that sex is often a very different experience for men and women. Men typically receive sexual and social benefits from engaging in a one-night stand.
According to a study in the journal Human Nature, 80 percent of men say they were over-all happy with the experience. Most were sexually satisfied, secretly hoped their friends would find out, felt greater confidence, and would repeat the experience.
What research doesn’t speak to is men’s tendency to compartmentalize their emotional and physical experience. For example, it is not uncommon for me, as a counselor, to encounter a man who is distraught over breaking his marriage vows even though he enjoyed the one-night sexual encounter.
It seems possible that the man’s sexual experience is less likely to be diminished by emotional issues, not because they don’t exist, but because they don’t typically overlap in his mind when it comes to the one-night stand.
So while a woman may feel flattered by a man’s attention and desire to be with her for the night, research indicates that a man vastly lowers his standards in order to achieve a one-night stand.
Furthermore, research indicates men pay more attention to a woman’s body than her face when making a selection for a one-night stand.
Conversely, women are more likely to make an exception to their normal behavioral standards for a one-night stand, and they'd like the man to validate that.
When a woman hopes a one-night stand will inflate her ego, the exact opposite often results. She usually reports feeling used and regretful.
While 54 percent of women in the Human Nature study said that they were over-all pleased with the one-night stand, 58 percent said they would not repeat the experience.
Most women reported the sexual experience was less than they’d expected. Of the 46 percent who said they were not happy, most were concerned about feelings of being dirty and used, and damage to their reputation.
When people use a one-night stand to fill emotional needs, disappointment and regret are the likely results.
If you're looking for love on Valentine’s Day, begin with the end in mind.
Women, consider spending the evening with people who love you, who won’t use you physically, and who will respect you in the morning.
Men, consider opening your mind to what you’re missing in your life besides sex. If you spend the evening with friends, you might even end-up meeting someone special there, and the two of you will have the start of something new.