The one-night stand: Is it always a spontaneous hook-up with a sexy stranger (well, sexy after a few mojitos, anyway), or can it be planned in advance with someone you know (a friends-with-benefits kind of thing)? It all depends on how you define it—and that can matter. Especially if you wake up hoping they’re still there next to you.
Was this just a one-time thing for them? Or did they also feel there was something more? Because that wouldn’t be unusual. According to Match’s scientific consultant Helen Fisher, 30% of relationships start out as a hookup. And perhaps surprisingly, Fisher’s research has shown that it’s men—not women—who are three times more likely to want that night of passion to blossom into something deeper.
While context matters, expectations are generally low after a one-night stand. But it’s actually this state of reduced assumptions that can provide the space for feelings to grow. After all, lying in bed with a stranger is a significant breakdown of barriers. You may have met just last night, but you already know each other pretty well—in a sense. And upon waking from a night of passion, there may have awoken within you the first tentative waves of romantic feeling—regardless of whether you recognize them at first.
There’s also a period of lucidity after sex, and it can be quite empowering. You’re thinking more clearly; there’s way less pretense. And that’s not even to mention oxytocin, the magical hormone whose production kicks into overdrive during cuddling and intimacy. Oxytocin has the power to enhance and deepen attraction, drawing you to this new person in a fundamental, unconscious way that you may not even be aware of right now.
But then they have to go to work. Or you’ve got a mega day of errands and groceries planned. You think you want to see them again—but do they feel the same? Because we’ve all been there: There’s chemistry fizzing between you like tiny bolts of lightning. You can’t wait to get out of the bar and back to theirs. You can barely get in their apartment before you’re all over each other—and the sex is sublime.
But then the excuses start.
They’ve got a meeting early in the morning they need to prepare for. They need to clean their place up before their parents arrive tomorrow afternoon. Their cat’s got an urgent pedicure booked, and the entire day’s been cleared for the occasion. No time for niceties—your presence is no longer required.
But if you not only sleepover at their place, but when you wake up there’s coffee on, they’ve made breakfast, and they ask what your plans are today—things are looking pretty good. You’re in their private space, and they’re clearly enjoying hosting you, making sure you’re comfortable and having a good time. It’s early days, sure—but you’re definitely no longer just a random hookup.
A one-night stand can be great if you just need to let loose, have a bit of fun, enjoy a moment of human connection. But unless you gave them your number—and you have no interest in seeing them again—you can confidently and happily consign this memory to a footnote in the grand narrative of your life. But what if this stranger could actually become a bigger part of your story?
Depending on how you want to play things, you might wait for them to make the first move. And if they do, then apart from anything else you can be sure of precisely one fact: You’ve been on their mind. Whether they just say hi, or check in to see what you’re up to, they’re clearly enamored of the memory of that night. And if they reach out to make plans—be that when they’re walking out the door the morning after, or a few days later—the message is clear: They want to get to know you.
All this being said, it’s important to manage your expectations, take things slowly, and make sure you both stay on the same page. Remember, some people are neither exclusively into hooking up nor exclusively into relationships. Lots of singles are happily walking the line between casual and serious, getting to know various people—sometimes at the same time—and keeping their options open. That’s their prerogative, sure—but if they’re not honest with you about that, or they string you along, they’re probably not worth your time. Look out for yourself first and foremost—and if they’re a keeper, have faith that the relationship will develop organically, romantically, and all in good time.
And if you’re ready for something totally new—if having a one-night stand is no longer satisfying you spiritually or emotionally—we can help. Maclynn International is a world-renowned dating consultancy based in New York. Our global network of elite singles are all ready to settle down—and our matchmakers make that magic happen daily. So get in touch today, and together we’ll begin writing the next chapter of your story.