Nicole, 32, doesn’t have one-night stands. She has half-night stands. After sex, she heads back home and wakes up in her own bed.
Her hookup buddy doesn’t mind, because he, too, prefers half-night stands.
“We enjoy our time together but when it’s over, it’s over,” Nicole, who works as a writer and project manager in Dallas, Texas, told The Huffington Post. “We both have demanding careers and insanely early mornings. Starting the day in my own bed ― where I can race to my computer at 6 a.m., if necessary ― is just easier for everyone involved.”
Half-night stands are becoming more and more common. They’re essentially an abbreviated version of the one-night stand ― instead of staying the night, one person makes their exit after sex.
“If you don’t want anything more than sex, what’s the point of staying overnight with a stranger?” Bay Area sex therapist Celeste Hirschman told HuffPost. “It’s just easier to go home so you can sleep in your own comfortable bed, wake up, and start your day fresh.”
According to Tammy Nelson, a psychologist and author of The New Monogamy, the half-night stand trend suggests women are simply asserting more sexual agency.
“Women call the shots now,” she told HuffPost. “They choose to go to bed with a man or choose to leave after the sex and go home to their own place. And if they choose to stay, they make that choice. It really is a new time of sexual freedom for women.”
“We live in a ‘swipe’ culture where it's easy to hook up quick and move onto the next encounter."”
Of course, no-strings-attached sex is nothing new. But this is no-strings attached sex without the awkward morning after. And naturally, it’s not only women who are hooking up and forgoing small talk the next morning.
Max DuBowy, a 26-year-old gay writer and life coach in Portland, Oregon, leaves early, too, by and large without regrets.
“I think there are two reasons millennials like myself are choosing to cut and run after hooking up,” DuBowy explained to HuffPost. “First, we live in a ‘swipe’ culture where it’s easy to hook up quick and move onto the next encounter. Sex is sort of like ice cream, in that it comes in all kinds of flavors; Some evenings vanilla ice cream tastes good, but other nights, you’re really craving rocky road.”
Plus, DuBowy also believes millennials are smart enough to compartmentalize sex and love.
“Sex is simply an activity. Love is intimate and deeper,” he said. “It’s easier to move on after getting it on since love usually isn’t part of the experience until you’re in a committed relationship.”
But half-night stands are often to the detriment of meaningful human connection.
“When I only wanted to get my jollies off, I felt satisfied and content after a half-night stand,” DuBowy said. “But if I wanted to use sex to get my mind off feeling lonely, I felt lonelier after the hookup.”
“Be sure to tell the person you’re going home with that you can’t spend the night before you actually get to their home.””
And of course, sometimes there are weird, conflicted feelings after a half-night stand. To text or not to text the next day? Was this one night of passion and nothing more?
As 27-year-old writer Brenda Mejia has discovered firsthand, half-night stands become a lot more complicated when feelings are involved.
“It’s definitely something that can cut both ways,” said Mejia, who blogs about travel and sports at Traveleira.com. “People want their own privacy but you’re still intimating passion and still feel a sense of attachment during that time.”
That’s why people who prefer half-night stands should be transparent with their sexual partners, said Seth Meyers, a psychologist and author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.
“Be sure to tell the person you’re going home with that you can’t spend the night before you actually get to their home,” he said. “Or that you have an early morning so you’d prefer they not stay over.”
If they have a heads up “and it feels like the two of you made the decision together, there shouldn’t be awkwardness when it comes time to leave,” Meyers said.