One-Night Stands Can So Lead to Beautiful Relationships

photo by e.esders

Before we started writing about sex, we had no idea that so many scientists and researchers spent time so much time studying our sexual proclivities. These days we have trouble thinking of anything sexual that hasn’t been qualified and quantified and written up in a science journal.

Take the age-old issue of whether you’re ruining your shot at a relationship if you sleep with someone on a first date. According to science — at least, according to a new study out of the University of Iowa, just published in the journal Social Science Research — not necessarily. Once you factor out people who weren’t serious about entering a relationship in the first place, it’s pretty much even-stevens. Meaning, couples who boinked on the first date tend to be just as happy and satisfied in their long-term relationship as couples who held off for a while and just masturbated furiously when they got home after a date. (Okay, so that furious masturbation thing wasn’t actually in the survey — we made that up.)

Read the rest of this post on SUNfiltered


  1. This study doesn’t take into account the people who were interested in a relationship and then backed off after someone giving it up on the first date… I know plenty of men who have done this in certain situations. The only thing this study is saying is that when a relationship happens, the quality of the relationship that started as a one night stand is no different than others that didn’t. That doesn’t mean that one night stands have a high chance of turning into a relationship if both partners were looking for a relationship.

  2. But really, though, this is the kind of report that’s going to disappoint practically everybody. First of all it’s obviously going to upset slut-shamer Susan Walsh, who’s trying to build a career out of saying the only way to land a man in the first place is never to have sex at all. But it’s also going to disappoint a lot of people who were madly drawn to each other but held off for fear of jinxing themselves.

    That doesn’t mean everyone should run out and start having one-night stands — I’m still a big fan of waiting till the third date to kiss… followed by carpet-unraveling abandon on the fourth. In fact I think it’s unlikely to change people’s behavior much at all.

    I mean, I think it’ll be more like the end of the false but once iron-clad rule that you’d die if you went swimming less than an hour after eating: you can do what seems sensible rather than fearful or desperate to you and probably be just fine. Whether it’s on the 1st date or the 101st.


  3. @AlanK: Also, flirty skirts instead of shorts are going to make a difference? It’s not quite “she’s asking for it” territory but it sounds like you’re assuming women in short shorts are going to draw the attention of players more than women in skirts. Or be easier marks. Having been at least a semi-player in my youth I don’t remember either of those assumptions being true at all.

    Also, based on my own years of first, second, and third-hand experience working in party-college university-area beer bars, I think Em & Lo are right: players (men and women both) can play their marks for weeks or months… before dropping them cold after a night in bed.


  4. Alan, we mostly agree with you — what we were trying to say is that if you discount the players (who weren’t going to end up in a beautiful relationship anyway), then having sex on the first date won’t affect the quality of the resulting relationship. You’re right: if someone’s a playa, it’s not going to end in a relationship no matter how long you wait.

    However, we’re not sure that waiting necessarily weeds out all the players… unless you’re willing to make them wait, like, 6 months! Plenty of players will hang out for a while and then dump you as soon as the un-relationship is consummated. So if you really want to weed out the players, having sex with them is an even speedier way to spot them! Of course, this requires having lots of sex with lots of players, which we don’t necessarily recommend…

  5. Aha, E&L, I–Dr Science–refute your argument. Call it self-selection bias. You’re right; anyone who wants to be with you will wait for a while or welcome early intimacy if offered. However, someone who does NOT want a relationship is much less likely to wait. Hence, holding off a few dates helps to winnow out the players.

    Of course, if you want to have sex with the player while waiting for Mr/Miss Right to come along, that’s another argument. But for many of us, it’s hard to focus on finding one man/woman while still sleeping with another. And anyway, do you really want to get naked on an on-going basis with people who aren’t treating you like a real person?

    A little flirting, wearing swirly dresses instead of skin-tight shorts in summer, couldn’t hurt either.

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