What One Night Stands teach us about Happiness | breakinglove by Camilla

by Erica Surace

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I’ve recently had a one night stand after a while that I stopped having them. It was good overall, however the feeling afterwards was quite awful. After a while that you are used to have sex with someone with whom you have a strong connection and you have real feeling for, it is hard to go back and only have casual sex. 

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy sex very much and I can separate the physical and feelings part (most of the times, I am only human after all), but at least for me there is a real difference also in the quality of sex when you do it with someone you have a real connection and with someone that you don’t. Coming back from this one night stand, I started discussing about casual sex with my flatmate  and I was trying to recall all of the casual sex relationships I’ve had. Of course I am at this age (27) in which I even start forgetting some of them, and this made me feel guilty because there was a time in which I recalled clearly each one of them and now, well now not anymore. As any 90’s kid born in a small town, but even during my time in Milan and in England, I was never really comfortable in defining a casual sex relationship with someone as a ‘one night stand’. Probably because when I was growing up, one night stands were always shown as great when associated with males, but as ‘impure’ when associated with girls. I am literally translating an Italian saying ‘ a key that opens many doors is great, but a door that can be opened by many different keys sucks’ . Luckily after a while I became accustomed to this word, also because there were (and there still are) times in which I can’t give more to someone that only one night of sex, because I don’t feel emotionally open to anything more than this and I believe nobody should feel guilty as long as we are honest with the other person. 

But how do we know when we are having a one night stand, this time I’ll use Urban Dictionary: ‘Hooking up with someone for one night of sex with no strings attached and hoping to never see them again. It is important not to exchange any personal info with them so they can't track you down and stalk you later.’ 

One night stands from a female perspective are rarely represented both on screen and in books, however we have a couple of characters that really embrace the one night stands from a positive perspective and I think it would be worth it to focus on them. Lets take Samantha from Sex and The City. One of the best characters from the show together with Miranda, she truly embraces her femininity and success and never apologizes for it. She is open to everything not only from a sexual prospective, but also relationship wise. She is the only one of the group who tries to have a lesbian relationship and has to face cancer and she is very open about it (good and bad times). You can see that she enjoys sex very much and actually avoids feelings and strings attached. There are a few times in which she embraces feelings for a couple of guys, but she never betrays her true self only for the sake of being with someone or because she is afraid of being alone. There is a sentence that I love from the first Sex & the City  movie when she breaks up with Smith Jerrod in which she says ‘I Love You, But I Love Me More.’ 

Samantha made One night stand almost her identity and she is very upfront and open about it. I believe sometimes we should all try to be a bit more like her, we should not be afraid to admit that there are times in which all we want from someone is to have fun and that is it. I believe often, there is this outside pressure, due to societal standards of what an heterosexual relationship should be like, that anytime we start going out with someone has to lead somewhere. I have this especially with Italian guys I’ve dated (the one I met, I'm sure there are many who will dissociate with the following description, luckily, please don't take it personally). Even when it was clear from both sides that there was nothing more than good sexual chemistry, they always had to pretend like we were properly dating, going out to restaurants, drive me home with their car, text me every day. I'm not saying those things are not nice, and I really enjoy them when I can do it with people I want to build something with, but we should not feel obliged to invest all this time and emotional energy with everyone. 

Let’s take another character to analyse, Barney from How I met your mother. He, as much as Samantha, is very upfront about what he wants out of his encounters with girls, sex and no strings attached. He is also very clear when he wants something more than that, see at his relationships with Robin, Nora and Queen. Even with his friends, he is very upfront on the fact that he is not looking for a relationship and enjoys his being single, just as much as they enjoy being in committed relationships. Sometimes I have the feeling we tend to live our periods alone as a transition period in which we are just waiting for the next relationship to kick in. I believe instead it's important to take advantage of this period on your own, not only to understand what you want and who you are better, but also to have some fun and discover new things. Most importantly there should be a shift, not seeing these periods as transitional but as normal. At the end of the day, the first relationship we need to take care of is the one we have with ourselves; the other ones should only be a cherry on top. 

I know the feeling very well when you tell to a group of people that you are single and they look at you with pity eyes and say ‘ Don’t worry you are great you are gonna find someone’, like a if it is an illness or a problem that you need to solve, like if there is something wrong with you since nobody wants to be with you in a romantic way. I like Barney’s character because just like Samantha, he embraces and is happy about his single life and always tries to make the best out of it. There is nothing wrong in choosing ourselves over others and enjoying this time, just as much as we enjoy the times we are not alone and we are actually in relationships. 

What both those characters teach us, is that everyone finds happiness in different things. Just as Samantha, Barney ends up still single, choosing his own happiness over a marriage that was making both her and Robin miserable. As he says in the final episode  "This isn't a failed marriage, it's a very successful marriage that only lasted 3 years”. Isn’t it better to have 3 very good years, rather than 10 years, in which only 3 were really happy while the rest were kept because there was no courage in admitting that their relationship was not making them happy anymore. 

At the end of the day, each of us finds happiness in different things in life. There are some who find it in getting married and building a family, some who find it in travelling in the most diverse places without having anything that keeps them tight anywhere, others through living alone in remote places where they can be at peace with themselves and the world. Some of us only enjoy sex when its with someone we really care about, others enjoy casual sex with different people so that they can always try new things, some go through phases where they only want romantic partners and others where they feel like physical pleasure and no strings attached. There is no ‘one size fit all’ for what we enjoy in relationships as much as there is none for what makes us happy in life and we should all remember that.