The unintended one-night-stand: Lowered expectations Vs raising the bar?

Whether you like it or not, the pecking order of hookups connected to relationship status has widespread acceptance even though it is not very logical


Online dating bios are either dead set against a One night Stand (ONS) or actively seeking it! It is not easy to understand hook up culture without being immersed in it. That is why some dating apps are derisively looked at as mere hook up apps just because the members can explicitly seek only ONS or FWB (friends with benefits) sort of dates. 

This perception stems from the premium placed on when to be physically intimate. There is marriage, affianced love, love before a formal commitment,  exclusive relationship and finally, dating before deciding to be exclusive. 

Also read: Sex column: Something casual? Choose the meaning

Whether you like it or not, the pecking order of hookups connected to relationship status has widespread acceptance even though it is not very logical. After all, every single (not married, widowed, divorced) person who seeks physical intimacy is essentially hooking up with someone they are neither married nor engaged to regardless of when it happens (before or after an emotional connection).

Sex without any sort of prerequisite does not pass muster because there is a premium placed on other forms of intimacy before sex. That is why someone intentionally seeking one time sex is such an interesting oddity. Why wouldn’t someone want to meet more than once? Of course, the most common explanation is that they don’t want to commit to more. But, there is always FWB!

The truth is one can talk all about desiring variety in sexual relationships and wanting to live life king size and experiencing more on one’s Tinder profile, but dating is a big hit or miss game for most people. Day after day you throw yourself into the game hoping to strike a match. 

And then have the same conversations over and over till you pass muster and finally meet someone. And that someone who you liked enough to want to be physically intimate with wants to be with you. 


Now think about what happens when you are sexually intimate. What would you do if the sex is truly awesome? You’d want to hook up again, right? If you say no, then, you sir have mastered the art of living because you have achieved true contentment, nirvana, inner peace or whatever for being able to turn away from such pleasure! 

But, if you are honest with yourself, then you know that you don’t want to end up as a one night stand. You may put on a brave front and claim that it is the max you hoped but you know deep down that you’d jump at the chance of doing it again! And that is as true for women as it is for men. THE MAN asked a few women* to share how they ended up with one night stands despite following a screening process to vet potential dates. None of them mentioned seeking the dreaded C-word —commitment. Though there were plenty of other words to describe what went wrong or rather what was missing from their sexual encounter. One can look at it as satisfying a hierarchy of needs and wants and desires.

Also read: Why women ghost? It's not them, it's you

Satisfaction not guaranteed!

Just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs begins with fulfilment of physiological needs, so does physical intimacy. Even if sex is not all there is to be had in a relationship, basic sexual gratification needs to be a given! 

Seema, 40, a writer from Mumbai, had never been intimate with anyone after her divorce when she went to meet a Tinder date at his place. “I didn’t intend to hook up with this guy till we started making out. He was a good kisser and I certainly had the impression that he knew what he was about. I was going with the flow and having a lot of fun but it all came to a crashing halt after the guy climaxed,” she laments. Seema had no clue about what to do in such a situation and when she tentatively asked him whether she could give him some feedback, he laughed. “This is not customer service. If you like it, you come back and if you don’t like it, then you know what to do!” 

Seema was stunned and while she didn’t go back, she certainly took the lesson to heart. Though tons of articles about sex and dating and her own friends tell her that she needs to tell a guy what she likes, she took date number one’s response as a mantra and simply doesn’t bother to go back for seconds, no explanations given! Her reason, “If he can’t be bothered to ensure that I am satisfied, then I am not going to be the one to tell him. After all, what is the guarantee that he’s worth all the trouble?” She is clear that she is not interested in training any guy on how to satisfy a woman because she feels that he will learn or ask if he is truly motivated.

A checklist of needs: 

Ability to orgasm, basic hygiene, mutual pleasure are some of the issues that popped up as basic needs. Another oft repeated issue was preferred size or unwillingness to use protection. In fact, not using condoms is a deal breaker according to these women.

The subtle art of giving a damn!

Compatibility goes beyond ticking the boxes of competent sex. Yes, you are satisfied. Yes, it was mutually pleasurable. But, it is not your jam. Somewhere, something fell short in the post-coital analysis that makes you want to steer clear of the guy like Vidya, 42, a professor from Bengaluru did.

“I invited him home and that was my undoing. I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough and obviously I couldn’t leave. I had a lot of fun during the act even though he was a bit rough and not at all what I am used to. But, I like to experiment and was caught up in the excitement of the moment,” she reflects. However, everything was not hunky dory after she eventually got the guy out of the door. “I was a bit sore and though that was to be expected, what I didn’t appreciate was a huge hickey on my neck. I had to wear weird turtlenecks and scarves to college for a few days and it was embarrassing!

More than the discomfort, it was the lack of compatibility that made her block the guy. He was into the kind of sexual activities that she knew she would not enjoy regularly. 

Also read: Sex column: Decoding your Tinder bio. It's not rocket science

The heart wants what it wants

Whether it is PDA or deciding where to meet, it is great when both partners agree. In fact when it comes to  enjoying activities, both in and out of bed, the more overlapping preferences the greater the compatibility and lesser the chances of mismatched expectations.

Certain sexual acts are a strict no-no to some women and they are not willing to risk being coerced by going back, especially if the guy reeked of desperation the first time round and caved only after they put their foot down.

Just not feeling it!

The “it” or “chemistry” is an intangible quality. The magic that happens beyond the ticking of boxes like sexual satisfaction or compatibility. It may seem like a flimsy excuse to not meet someone especially when the person says the sex wasn’t too bad and they guy seemed decent. 

But, to someone for whom basic needs have been met, a deeper connection is not something they are willing to sacrifice. This may or may not have anything to do with deepening the relationship to seek more commitment. Even while remaining within the boundaries of a largely unlabelled relationship, there can be a deeper emotional or mental connection. A spark that makes you want to spend time with the person. 

Anita, 44, a single mom from Mumbai, says that perhaps she has raised the bar too high because she has dated someone who showed her what it was like to be in a physical relationship with someone and not feel like a booty call or sleazy in any way. “I am used to conversation,  laughter and passion and can’t settle for less. My time is valuable and I can’t waste it on a guy who is still primitive enough to think that every woman is seeking marriage or that getting away with sex without committing to a relationship means not even offering the bare minimum companionship.” 

Something as simple as not wanting to cuddle or spend any time out of bed is a major red flag according to her. “Whenever I have given a guy a second chance despite having misgivings after listening to a friend or perhaps ignoring my instincts it has not been at all what I hoped for so now I prefer to cut my losses. If it is a one night stand, so be it!”

Also read: Sex tips: Oh-so-stupid things men must stop saying, even if women don't call them out

Desire my company

The reasons we long for someone’s company are different for each person but it can all be distilled to the way the person makes us feel. Joy, peace, passion AND contentment are some of the words women use to describe meaningful connections. Nothing can be sexier than being fancied for who you are!

Top 3 reasons for One Night Stands

1. No sexual gratification

2. Expectation mismatch

3. Seeking more than just sex


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