Maybe you've known the feeling. You wake up the next morning, thinking you should have a sense of triumph or accomplishment, like the way you're certain guys do. After all, you just got lucky. You sneak out of bed, throw yourself together in the bathroom, and creep on out. Or maybe you have a slightly awkward breakfast together. But somehow, the moment you are out the door and alone, you feel… guilty.
By all logic, there is nothing you should be feeling guilty about. You're a human being with needs. You're entitled to some fun. You can make your own adult decisions. So why do so many women feel one night stand guilt? Why can't we just swagger home with a silly grin on our face after we get a little naughty?
Because we’ve been taught that naughty is not nice. And we should be nice.
Of course this is ridiculous, so here are a few steps to facing the one night stand guilt – and how to stop feeling guilty about it.
It's not you, it's gender stereotypes
As liberal as we've become compared to the days of yore when women were required to be virgins until marriage, we’re still taught that you're either a slut or a good girl. While it's difficult to avoid, you can make an active effort to not participate in these gender stereotypes. Don't call other girls sluts. Don't even call them good girls. You know the conversation; "Why wouldn't he want to date her? She's such a good girl! She's always had longterm boyfriends." Whenever you participate in validating these stereotypes, they become true in your own mind. And when you find yourself having a one-off sexy time, somewhere inside you’re thinking that you fit into the slut category, which you've now come to associate as a negative thing. So stop the labels.
Women are more likely to need a connection
You can chock this one up to biology. We’re nurturers by nature, and from a purely caveman perspective, we have more success with our lineage by having a reliable male around. That requires a strong connection. Of course, one night stands have nothing to do with creating lineage (well, ideally). Are you really feeling guilty because somewhere deep down you wanted a little more from your partner and you know you won’t have it in this case? If so, accept that it's a natural feeling, and focus on the immediate fun you had instead.
Give yourself permission to let go
Sometimes it's hard to give ourselves permission to let loose and have fun. Our logic interferes, or maybe we're grieving over another relationship, or it's just not in our usual nature. We can become so obsessed with doing everything "right" that we forget how good the "wrong" things can feel. And that's because they're not really wrong. Chocolate cheesecake? Not wrong. But you can feel pretty guilty after. Is it really worth the guilt though? Do you really want to negate the velvety sweet goodness of chocolate cheesecake by feeling bad about it after? Remember that you are allowed to indulge. So go ahead and tap that chocolate cheesecake.
If you still repeatedly feel guilty, why are you really doing it?
Are you just wanting to fit in with your friends? Get your numbers up? Not succumb to double standards? Those might not be the right reasons for one night stands. If you repeatedly feel guilty afterwards, maybe it's just not for you. And that's perfectly fine too. Make sure the reasons you're doing it are the right ones.
He wasn't what you expected the morning after
Ah, lighting. It can do a lot for a person. So can copious amounts of alcohol. So if you're feeling guilty because the thought of the person you were having sex with grosses you out the next day, well… You'll just have to wait that one out. It happens, but time heals all icky feelings. A palate cleanser perhaps? Just opt for better lighting next time.
I am married, he was married. We randomly met each other at a bar. He was from out of town and was here for work for a few days. We started chatting and realized our line of work was very similar. We even spoke of our spouses briefly. There were fliratations the whole night and finally at the end of the night, he asked me back to his room for a night cap and I went. It was the first time i had EVER had a one night stand. Given the circumstances–us both being married, and him living half way across the country, I knew exactly what this was. Somehow, even after the hookup I felt crappy. He had also promised to connect with me the next day. He did not. I contacted him the a couple of days after. No response. My ego DEFINITELY got the best of me. Wondering why didn’t he text, or if something was wrong with me–ALL of the guilt. But i realized I was wallowing in self pity. I knew what this was. I knew where this was going yet i still had expectations.
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As a recently single man, I had a one night stand last night with an older woman. Today I feel so bad, she later told me she had not been with a man in 10 years….To me it was a one off, I hope she doesnt feel anything more. I feel so ashamed.
Thank you for sharing. It’s understandable to feel ashamed in these situations (we all do!). But, we’re also human after all, and sex and connection is a basic need that we need to fulfill. It’s possible the woman you were with just really needed a connection or to feel intimacy (since she hadn’t been with anyone for 10 years), and might be okay with it being a one-time thing. If she does want more out of it, it’s also totally fine for you to not want more, (especially since you didn’t know about her situation until later). But it sounds like you are a sensitive person and will be able to let her down gently if it comes to that.
i still cant get over it
Thank you so much for this article. I had my first one night stand last night and I couldn’t help but be ashamed of myself. Reading this made me feel 100% better, everything you said is so right!
You make it look like if all men were just looking for sex and escape, I’m a male on mid 20s and I was looking for this because believe or not some of us also feel guilty after a one-night stand.
Right now I am not in a position to be in a relationship so I have to go for quick action to get rid of that “need” but after lights are on and show is over I felt…guilty and used, empty.
So please don’t generalize like all men are just fucking machine, you ask to stop labels while you are using labels right on that.
Thank you “Dude.” I’m a female in mid 20s and I’m not in a place in my life where I can have a relationship. One night stands are nice but I feel used and alone the next morning. It’s nice to know that it’s not only one sided. That even though it’s a one night stand, it takes two to tango.