A one-night stand or one-night sex is a single sexual encounter in which there is no expectation that there shall be any further relations between the sexual participants. It draws its name from the common practice of a one-night stand, a single night performance by an entertainer at a venue. The practice can be described as "sexual activity without emotional commitment or future involvement".[1][2]



The one-night stand is the most common form of infidelity[1] and is often used in research, polls and surveys to define the level of promiscuity in a society at any given time.[3] It has been suggested that such an act can be as threatening to a relationship as a long-term affair:

A one-night stand can be more dangerous than finding a lover with mutual considerations. This scenario is good for the business traveler who has the odds in his or her favor; however, it is very important to know with whom you are getting into bed, even for just one night. No one should be exempt from causing you a problem, no matter the distance or circumstance. A one-night stand is still a form of infidelity and can be just as damaging for you and your partner if discovered.[4]

Some women have suggested that women who feel sexually insecure or unfulfilled should seek out one-night stands for personal growth and fulfillment. One writes, "[a] one-night stand is the erotic manifestation of carpe diem— only we are seizing the night instead of the day".[5] Another source advises women seeking empowerment to "jumpstart your heyday by having a one-night stand",[6] and clarifies that the one-night stand should be a conscious decision.[6]

The prevalence of one-night stands has been abetted by the advent of online dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr, which allow people to connect for purposes including sexual encounters, although these tools can also be used to seek longer-term relationship partners.[7]

Further relations


Relationship therapist Laura Berman suggests that the circumstances that lead to such an encounter do not necessarily preclude a later relationship:

Certainly, having sex on a first date can be a death knell if your partner decides that a one-night stand is all he is after. On the other hand, many happy couples broke that rule of no sex on the first date and have been together for years.[8]

In contrast to a one-night stand, when the individuals involved have recurrent sexual contact without romantic involvement, this is considered a casual sexual relationship.[9][10][11]

See also



  1. ^ a b Jeffrey S. Turner, American Families in Crisis: A Reference Handbook (2009), p. 47.
  2. ^ de Jong, D.C.; Reis, H.T. (2016). "Love and Intimacy". Encyclopedia of Mental Health. Elsevier. pp. 25–32. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-397045-9.00107-5. ISBN 978-0-12-397753-3. Passionate love is an emotionally intense and consuming desire for union... people can feel sexual desire in the absence of passionate love (e.g., one-night stands).
  3. ^ "Liverpool named UK's most promiscuous city in 'one night stand' poll". Metro.co.uk. Associated Newspapers Limited. 8 January 2014.
  4. ^ J. Frances, Joann Perrino, Designing Infidelity: A Reference Guide to the Art of Cheating to Perfection (2006), p. 4.
  5. ^ Susan Cheever, "Sex With a Stranger", in Erica Jong, Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex (2011), p. 35.
  6. ^ a b Jodi Lipper, Cerina Vincent, Live Like a Hot Chick: How to Feel Sexy, Find Confidence, and Create Balance at Work and Play (2010), p. 167.
  7. ^ Laura Palmer, "Dating in the Age of Tinder: Swiping for Love?", in Julia Carter and Lorena Arocha, eds., Romantic Relationships in a Time of ‘Cold Intimacies’ (2020), p. 129-149.
  8. ^ Laura Berman, It's Not Him, It's You!: How to Take Charge of Your Life and Create the Love and Intimacy You Deserve (2010), p. 132.
  9. ^ Casual Sex, Explained (and Defined) — The Good Men Project Magazine. Goodmenproject.com (2010-08-04). Retrieved on 2011-04-28.
  10. ^ Casual Sex Archived 2011-05-05 at the Wayback Machine. Avert.org (2005-12-11). Retrieved on 2011-04-28.
  11. ^ Casual sex in college. Generally Thinking. Retrieved on 2011-04-28.