I'm Not The Woman Who Regrets One-night Stands
We're a special breed, apparently.
It's a word thrown around callously these days. We use regret to justify bad decisions.
We use regret to excuse ourselves from behaviour we believe is untrue to ourselves. We rely on 'regret' to atone for bad sex. If only we hadn't slept with them. If only.
I've said it a few times. It's probably the only thing I regret about my life, having blamed my mistakes on the regret concept.
When it comes to my first and last one-night-stands, there are no regrets. In many ways, it's that simple for me. I made the choice. I live with it.
But let's face it, though. This decision to never regret falling into bed for one night with someone is more complicated than that.
People in my life think I should regret my first one-night stand
When I first dipped my toe into the joyful act of one-night stands, I was a teenage adult. Old enough to make my own decisions, but still youthful enough not to know better.
And not about sex. No-friends. I was still surrounded by the same private school, closed-minded conservatives who couldn't say the word 'vagina' without giggling.
Two of these girls in my friendship group went on to be nurses. How they overcame their maturity about the body and what it naturally wants to do still boggles my mind.
But with this group of friends, it was socially unacceptable to engage in one-night stands. Those females who engaged in one-night stands were the sluts. If they weren't a slut yet, this was their initiation into slut-hood.
Or you harboured a delusion that this was the way to land a guy and have him fall in love with you. Cinderella-style.
If you believed that, you were simply justifying sleeping around with strangers you will never see again.
No matter the reasoning, you were a slut.
So being the first of my group to openly admit to having a one-night stand was risky. I didn't see myself as a sexual pioneer in this group of un-relatable women. Yet, I was paving a path, nevertheless.
They thought I should regret my actions. I thought I should embrace them. It's a simple lesson in the inability of friends to agree on a common topic.
Alas, there we were.
Everything a woman like me should have felt scared about
My so-called friends made a case for a woman like me to keep my legs closed. There was everything to feel scared about in the big bad sexual world. It was enough to keep me tied up at home if I let it dominate me. I heard endlessly the fears about:
- Falling pregnant when I was old enough, wise enough or rich enough to raise a child.
- Contracting a sexually transmitted disease or something worse - apparently, there was worse out there, things they couldn't name. But they were out there.
- Being assaulted, kidnapped and sold to the black market - Somebody call Liam Neeson and get him on standby. I need his hunting skills.
- Being disrespected from uninvited treatment by the man I was with.
I can't doubt any or all of these events might have happened to me. There are awful things that happen to women, unthinkable actions that have begun with an experience of trusting a stranger.
I don't deny anyone who would have warned me based on their own experiences. Or who warn others based on facts and research. I would have listened to those people and considered their point of view.
And I took my own precautions with the situation. I evaluated the risks I was willing to take. I evaluated the situation and put my health and security measures into place. I wasn't wild and reckless.
My friends knew all of this. I told them.
But my friends weren't issuing warnings from a good place. They were fear-mongering and slut shaming me.
There is a difference, by the way. When there is genuine concern for someone, the conversation feels different. The tone, the words used, and the overall delivery, with sympathetic timing, combine to form a heartfelt, caring conversation.
Despite our immaturity, my friends were capable of genuine warning. Yet, they weren't concerned about my safety, health, or even my emotions. This wasn't the tone of the conversations we had.
It was their way of reminding me they didn't approve of my decisions they didn't understand. And this was their way of justifying this disapproval.
Their warning didn't make much sense to me other, considering all these fears could have happened with a partner I knew and cared about.
The fact they were a one-night stand made them more likely, in my friends' eyes.
My only concerns with regret
If I'm honest, there are some one-night stands I could entertain putting in the regret column. The only regret I harbour is that I trusted these men to give me a night I would never forget. And they did not do that.
Ok, so the lack of orgasmic thrills isn't entirely in the hands of the partner I was with. It takes two to tango and all that.
But when comparing the experiences against each other, there was a commonality that didn't change no matter how many people I slept with. That was me. I was the common denominator.
So if the one-night stand sucked, and not in a good way, I knew something wasn't perfect on their end. Or we weren't meant to get it on. The two of us didn't work between the sheets.
Despite their being the tiniest of regret, I learned so much from these dud one-nighters that I can't complain. If I didn't have these fleeting affairs, I wouldn't:
- Know what I want in the bedroom - One relationship doesn't make the benchmark for perfect sex. Especially when it's your first and you don't know any better. Or it was your last and it's all you can remember because it's been so long. I found my sexual desires by having different sex. It wasn't much more complicated than that.
- Know what is down there - Size. I'm talking about the perfect male appendage to keep me satisfied. Sure, there is the whole "it's not the size that counts" thing. But let's be real here. Everyone has a size they like, but you have to go through a few penises to find it.
- Fulfilled a curiosity - I didn't want to get to a point in my life where I regretted not having sex. There is this societal idea that women regret the sex they do have, but I was the opposite. I worried about all the sex I would miss out on. Sometimes, a one-night stand allowed me to fulfil my curiosity and move on. The guys didn't seem to mind, either.
One-night stand sex regret doesn't override the idea its rinse, repeat
What's the point in regretting my actions if I was only going to do it again?
Sometimes I felt this overwhelming pressure from my friends, from society, from the people who didn't understand it, to issue regret. It was almost like it was an apology to the world. Forgive me because I had sex.
But who was kidding who here? If I said I felt regret, didn't mean it and went and did it again, I'm the liar. And then I'm no better than the people criticising me. I didn't want to be a hypocrite.
I am, by the way, waiting for a few apologies I will never receive.
These friends finally grew up and figured out there was some joy to be had in one-night stands. Yes, they indulged and went about their exploits with a single ounce of regret.
They expected me to respect their decisions, which I did, because that's what I wanted from them. Being the first though had zero upsides.
Despite everyone else around me doing the same thing, I would never receive any apology for raking me across the coals.
How do I thank that first guy?
And if I sit here waiting for an apology that will never happen, I should issue a thank you to someone who surely deserves it.
Thank you to that first guy, way back when, who introduced me to a normal one-night stand and regret-free sex.
I owe you everything.
I don't even have his number to call him up and thank him. I don't even remember his name, actually. I'll just call him Bob. Thanks, Bob.
I don't remember the sex either. There is a regret I'm not sure is worth harbouring; I didn't take enough mental notes about the experience.
Yet now I'm married and my one-night stand days are over, I don't regret hanging onto all the little details. The freedom and liberation of having sex the way I want to will live with me forever.
And that's enough.