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A Guide to Guilt-Free One-Night Stands

Written by Gabriela Grant, Illustrated by Cein James, May 2020

Have you ever experienced that horrible feeling of guilt after having a one-night stand? If so, then don’t worry. You are not alone. Whether the guilt you’re feeling is internal or forced onto you by others, a guilty feeling after a one-night stand is very normal due to the stigma attached to being a sexually free woman. Slut shaming is an ingrained part of society, making women feel dirty and ashamed for having multiple sexual experiences. This guide will hopefully help you to reclaim your inner slut and put you on the path to guilt-free one-night stands for good. 

This guide may be slightly controversial. It isn’t backed up by any research or proof other than my own experience. Despite this guide being from a female heterosexual perspective, I hope that it is useful to anyone who wants to have a guilt-free one-night stand in the future.


1. You Must Want to Have a One-Night Stand. This may or may not seem obvious, but you must want to have a one-night stand in the first place.

Some people may go into one-night stands not really wanting to have one. You may have one because you feel like it is the ‘cool thing to do’. For many young adults after leaving school and in my case, starting university, expectations emerged that you should be experimental. Whether that is by making new friends or partying, drinking, taking drugs and in this case, sleeping around. Although doing things out of your comfort zone is important in order to have new experiences, learn and grow, feeling like you should have a one-night stand will not necessarily lead to a successful one. Don’t give into peer or societal pressure.

Another reason for having a one-night stand can be for self-validation. Having someone fancy you and wanting to have sex with you can often feel really good in the moment, but you need to ask yourself why you’re having this fleeting encounter? Is it for enjoyment and pleasure or are you doing it to feel pretty and wanted? If it's the latter, there is nothing wrong with this and sometimes this type of one-night stand is necessary but more often than not leads to disappointment. For anyone who has slept with someone for this reason, as I know for sure that I have, you will understand that the validation, that should supposedly follow, is often non-existent or short lived. Loving yourself, which I know is harder said than done, is key to having a guilt-free one-night stand.


Having an unwanted one-night stand can also come from feeling pressure that the person you are with wants to have sex and you are scared of upsetting them. This point in itself deserves a whole other article, of which I am sure there are many and I suggest you go and read them if this is something you have experienced. I will also link some sources below. However, in my experience, in order to feel like you have the power to say ‘no’, it is important to be in a safe space, coherent and in control, which I shall elaborate on below.


There are many other reasons you might have a one-night stand without necessarily wanting to. You may want to give the impression you are someone liberal and care-free. All your friends might be doing it and you don’t want to feel left out. Or simply, as so often happens, because you were drunk and one thing led to another, which leads me to my next point.

2. Don’t Get Too Drunk. Many one-night stands often occur on nights out but don’t get too drunk.


We all know that one-night stands are often as a result of a boozy night, whether that be clubbing, meeting someone at a bar or on a date. This is to be expected as alcohol gives people courage and loosens their inhibitions. Although make sure that you don’t get too drunk and this is why. 

Firstly, consent is the most important part of any sexual encounter. You must be coherent enough to be able to verbally consent and still remember it in the morning. 

Secondly, it is important to be in control of your sexual experience, so you can enjoy yourself, feel confident and empowered.

Thirdly, having a one-night stand should be a pleasurable, fun and exciting experience that should be remembered in the morning, otherwise what was the point of having one in the first place? 


3. Do It In Your Own Home. When choosing a location for your one-night stand, always choose your own home.

Some people prefer to go to another person's home for their one-night stand. This may be because you live with family / friends and don’t want them to know or you feel uncomfortable in these spaces. You may feel embarrassed of where you live. You may feel that you can make a quick getaway if things get uncomfortable or go wrong without awkwardly having to kick the other person out.  Although these situations may be unavoidable, I believe that it is important you are in your own space for the following reasons. 

A. Being in your own space means you’re familiar with your surroundings and will naturally feel more relaxed and comfortable. You can navigate your own space and lead the way. 


B. You don’t have to do the ‘walk of shame’, aka walking home in the same clothes you were wearing the night before after an unplanned sexual encounter. 


C. Most importantly it is safer. Often one-night stands happen with people you don’t know. Being in your own space means you will be surrounded by people you know such as family, friends or neighbours. If this is not the case, at least people know where you are and where to find you in the event something goes wrong. 


Going back to the awkward idea of ‘kicking someone out’, it is ultimately your choice if that person, after finishing your sexual interaction, stays or goes. Some of us have had the experience of being ‘thrown out’ of someone’s home after ‘completing the deed’. This can often leave one feeling used. We obviously want to avoid inflicting this feeling on others, but it is your choice if that person stays in your space or not, just be polite. If you wish for them to go, always make sure it is possible and safe for them to get home. Offer to call them a cab or if getting home is not possible, offer them the sofa. Sometimes offence might be taken, but it is important to set your boundaries.

4. Be In Control of Your Situation. Once engaging in sexual activity you must feel that you are in control of your situation.

When I say in control, I am not referring to domination and submission, but feeling that you have the power to decide what ‘you do’ or ‘do not’ want to happen. Communication is key whether it is verbal or physical. 

In order to have a pleasurable one-night stand I believe it is important to know what you do and don’t like in the bedroom. This you might have discovered on your own or with a previous partner.  Don’t do things that you don’t like and suggest trying things that you do. When someone is doing something you do like you can say ‘‘I really like when you play with my nipples, do that some more’. This can avoid you feeling awkward to say, ‘I don’t like that’ and help to divert from what is currently being done. BUT If you do not feel comfortable, you are not enjoying yourself or the other person is not listening, it is extremely important to stop the situation at that moment. 

Having an orgasm is often the desired goal when having a sexual experience. For women in particular, as we all know, it can often be hard to reach this goal. This is why I suggest incorporating a vibrator into your one-night stand. As stated by the NHS and other research ‘it is (almost) impossible for a woman to achieve orgasm through penetrative sex alone’. Most women need some sort of clitoral stimulation to reach climax. Yes, this can be achieved in other ways that do not include a vibrator, such as oral sex or other types of stimulation, but in my experience for an almost 100% satisfaction rate, a vibrator is the one. If you have never used one, it is important for you try this alone first to see if it is something you enjoy. If you already use one, why not incorporate it into your one-night stand? You will be surprised at how many people will be turned on, rather than turned off.  If you don’t enjoy yourself during a one-night stand, as can often happen, you might feel like the sexual activity only served the pleasure of the other person, leaving you feeling used. Your pleasure is as important as your partners.

There are other small quirky ways to feel you are in control but these do not necessarily need to be applied they are just my personal experience. I personally never engaged in missionary as I am a small petite female and did not feel comfortable having an unfamiliar large body on top of me. Go on top if this helps you feel empowered and in control. I also felt more in control if I was not fully unclothed. I personally always kept my knickers on and simply pulled them to one side. It is okay to have your own solutions to stay feeling comfortable, confident and in control. If your one-night stand judges you or pushes you to do things you do not want to, this is not the one-night stand partner for you. 

5. No Expectations of a Relationship or Friendship. Go into your one-night stand with no expectation of a relationship or friendship.

This may seem quite a savage thing to say but a one-night stand is a mutual transaction. The transaction can vary from one person to another. Some people have one-night stands because they are simply horny and are in need of sexual gratification. Others like the thrill of picking up a stranger or sleeping with someone for just one night. Or maybe you crave temporary intimacy, getting to know someone and sharing your bed. Regardless of the reason, once this ‘transaction’ is completed the other person as well as yourself should not feel any pressure to exchange any more ‘goods’ so to say. Of course you should not then turn cold and mean. Uphold your dignity and remain kind and polite and inform the other person where you stand. If a relationship or friendship naturally prevails from this ‘transaction’ then this is an added bonus. No expectations means no disappointment but stay open-minded.  


6. Fuck the Haters! Surround yourself with people who do not judge you and fuck the haters!

Lastly surround yourself with people who don’t judge you for who you are and what you want to do with your body. Most of the guilt I experienced as a teenager was due to what others thought of me and what I was doing, rather than how I felt about the situation.  Look within yourself and make sure a one-night stand is what you want and what you enjoy. If this is the case, then surround yourself with people who are not slut-shaming individuals. This does not necessarily mean that all your friends will also enjoy one-night stands as much as you do or even share the same beliefs on casual sex. As long as they love you for you and support the decisions that make you happy, then this is all that matters. For anyone else that judges you or slut-shames you, ignore them, challenge them and know that you feel empowered enough to stand your own ground



Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope that it was helpful and you go on to have guilt-free one night stands!


Please feel free to leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on this guide. This is the first article I have ever written so feedback is welcome. 

If you have any questions, would like more links to information or just want to chat than please feel free to contact me. 


Links to other sources:


Illustrator Cein James @Cjamesdesign

Cein James is a dear friend of mine and an incredible designer and illustrator. She has designed album covers, posters and campaigns for the likes of G&G. Check out her Instagram page to buy some of her colourful and vibrant work to light up any room or commission something personal.

Planned Parenthood, ‘Saying “no” to Sex’

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/relationships/all-about-communication/saying-no-sex

Instagram Influencer, @Florencegiven

Florence Given is a sex positive, feminist activist, illustrator and writer. She covers many topics, including consent, advice to victims of sexual abuse, learning to love yourself and her latest stories cover female early experience of sexual pleasure. Look at her highlights. Really fun and empowering. 

Netflix Show, ‘The Goop Lab with Gwyneth Paltrow’, Episode 2: ‘The Pleasure is Ours’

This episode focuses on female pleasure. I thought it was particularly eye opening as they show the first ever female orgasm captured on screen that isn’t in Porn or Hollywood. I believe this is really important to show women what a ‘real’ orgasm can look like and not what it is meant to look like. In the episode they also speak to Betty Dodson who is an American sex educator who teaches women how to reach orgasm by getting to know your vulva. 

Channel 4, Vice Series, ‘Slut Ever’ with Karley Sciortino

In this series Karley Sciortino, a Vogue sex columnist explores different aspects of female pleasure and desire from sex toys to using CBD oil during masturbation and the notion of a ‘happy ending massage’ for a woman. Very innovative and progressive.

Podcast, ‘Sex Power Money’ by Sara Pascoe

I am new to this podcast but after listening an episode, I think it is captivating in the way it pushes the boundaries of female sexuality and asks the questions that people have been to scared to ask. They cover a range of topics, talking to different academics, sex educators and sex workers to get a rounded view of sex in the 21st century. 


NHS, Vaginal orgasm 'doesn't exist', researchers argue

https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/vaginal-orgasm-doesnt-exist-researchers-argue/


Links to Vibrators:

There are many variations and different websites to buy your vibrators from but these are ones that I have experience with and can personally recommend. 

To start with, a Bullet vibrator

https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=37158

If you are feeling worried about using a vibrator for the first time, start with something small and non-threatening. 

The best vibrator ever, The Mini Wand. It will become your best friend: 

https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=31087

This vibrator has different strengths from something weak to something strong. It is small, so perfect for travel, to hide discreetly in your drawer and include with a partner. By far the best purchase I have ever made. 

If you want Penetrative and clitoral stimulation

https://www.lovehoney.co.uk/product.cfm?p=29418

For those who want to take it one step further, the rabbit provides penetrative and clitoral sex with many functions. Mind blowing for some.



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