How to Have a Half-Night Stand Without Hurt Feelings
Not so many years ago, the idea of meeting someone online was stigmatized to the point that when this did happen, and you were asked how you met your partner, you had to create a false "meet cute" story which would rival the Arthurian legend. With the acceptance and large scale use of dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid, casual dating and instigating a romantic relationship seem to be more commodified than ever. One offshoot of this trend is the rise in half-night stands, having sex with someone you don't know well, but not waiting until the morning to leave. Although in some ways a sign of evolution, human beings can still struggle emotionally with these interactions so we at oneHOWTO are on hand to work out how to have a half-night stand without hurt feelings.
What is a Half-Night Stand?
While the terminology may be new, the practice is not exactly something novel. Meeting someone you are physically (or otherwise) attracted to and going home with them to have sex has been happening since neanderthals began sexting on cave walls. Whether you are a stranger in a bar, a friend of a friend or some other social acquaintance, getting caught up in the moment and going home to sleep with someone has often been called a one-night stand. You meet, sleep together, fall asleep and leave in the morning, however sheepish or exhilarated you may be for that to happen.
If you realise post-event that your actions may have been a mistake, then some may choose to do the needful and slip out while the other is asleep/making a grilled cheese/high-fiving their neighbors. What sets this new half-night stand terminology apart is that the leaving part is more direct. Whether it has been agreed upon beforehand or a new idea introduced afterwards, the person who leaves is up front and doesn't sneak away in the middle of the night, but makes a conscious and announced decision to leave.
Why Do People Have Half-Night Stands?
We suppose the reason someone has a half-night stand is pretty obvious - they want to have sex. The better question might be is why do they want to leave afterwards? There are many practical ones. Professionals young and old are having to work harder and harder to keep their career on track, so many might just want to have a decent rest before work the next day. Not staying till the morning is a practical choice so that you can sleep in your own bed, have a shower, breakfast and not have to deal with, in all likelihood, awkward small talk. With the rise of dating apps, there seems to be a little more directness in how people approach these types of interactions, so preferring to sleep in your own bed and actually doing it seems to be quite common.
Some other practical reasons might include the quality of the hook-up space for the half-night stand. The bed might not be as comfortable as yours or the lack of adequate heating or state of the place might be distracting from a good sleep. If the half-night stand is purely based on a physical attraction, there is the possibility that the two people don't want to spend the night together because they don't actually like their respective personalities.
There are some thoughts on the matter which say that the newer generation of active daters are able to compartmentalize relationships a lot better with a greater ability to separate a physical hook up and real intimacy. In other words, once the movie's over, you can brush off the popcorn and head home. This can be the case never mind how successful the connection might be.
So far we have implied that people want to leave either for practical reasons or because the night didn't go very well. But it isn't out of the ordinary to have a really great experience, yet still choose to go home afterwards. If the act of having sex doesn't have to mean anything more than that, it doesn't necessarily mean you don't like the person. Having a half-night stand can be pragmatic as things have gone well, so you don't want to ruin it with sleepy awkwardness. Leave on a high and you might even have a better chance of seeing them again.
Negatives of a Half-Night Stand
There are practical and emotional positives for having a half-night stand, but it depends on the approach and intention of the individuals involved. As enlightened as some may be about casual sex, it would not be wise to completely disregard the emotional impact it can have on people. This is especially the case when the two (or more) individuals involved are not on the same page. Even if everyone is honest with what they say, charged hormones and sexual contact don't always make for the clearest mind. Whether it is the case for one or both, what is said in the moment doesn't always feel the same just after and we should be prepared for that eventuality.
Also, compartmentalizing our lives can be very useful, especially in terms of career and general productivity. However, once we start taking this approach with people we run the risk of objectifying them. Treating someone we have just slept with like going to the dentist might affect our levels of callousness with others and if we prioritize the superficial it may complicate our approach to the more significant aspects of our lives.
There are some who point to surveys which claim heterosexual men are better at no-strings sex common to the one-night and half-night stand than women. Perhaps historically or anecdotally they could have a point, but it is pretty reductive to think like that in this day and age. It also doesn't take into consideration the equally complicated natures of same sex or intersex people. If someone decides to leave during the night, even if it has been agreed upon that it will happen, the person who remains might feel an element of rejection or being used, regardless of gender identification. The same goes for someone who leaves who might be surprised by feelings of shallowness or even loneliness. Human nature is complicated to navigate and the information age has a way of simultaneously making some elements clearer while complicating others.
If hurt feelings do occur, it could point to a certain amount of insecurity. Generally, behaving in a way which negatively affects your self-esteem, even if enjoyable at the time, isn't a good way to go. If the half-night stand is so strictly physical that you don't actually like the other's personality, you might ask yourself questions about the company you keep or worry that it might affect your other more important relationships.
How to Avoid Hurt Feelings After a Half-Night Stand
There appear to be two main ways to avoid hurt feelings after a half-night stand. The first is honesty. It may be that things don't work out the way you'd hoped and you have to leave, which is a different matter. But if you never had the intention of staying over in the first place, then declaring your desire to leave immediately and go back to homebase might come as a surprise to whoever you're with. This could lead to hurt feelings or even, in the more insecure, anger. Letting other people know that you don't intend to stay the night allows them to agree or disagree with the scenario before anything happens. If they feel hurt after that, then at least you were honest with them. It might also avoid any awkward conversations where one tries to convince another to stay. If you've been straight up with them, then it helps you to be more assertive.
The other main way is to avoid hurt feelings after a half-night stand is to assess your emotional state before you even go out to meet someone. If you are feeling lonely and insecure, meeting up with someone for casual sex can exacerbate these feelings, something leaving halfway through the night can make worse still. If you really are able to separate the physical from the emotional, then you should feel little else other than happy and sexually content (as long as the sex was good). If you're unsure in yourself and just want to leave halfway through as a way to seem aloof, it's unlikely it's going to go well.
However, this leads us to the last point. If you don't enjoy the kind of behavior which leads to a half-night stand, then the best way to avoid hurt feelings is not to have them in the first place. If you are emotionally strong, are pragmatic about who you go home with and trust yourself to reconcile any negative feelings a half-night stand might lead to, you shouldn't have much of a problem.
If you have any thoughts or advice, please feel free to leave a comment below.
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