3 Arguments Against a Full-On One-Night Stand

Why an evening of heavy petting is far more fun than casual sex.

I'm getting ready for a weekend extravaganza: My hmpt-eenth college reunion! I'm not gonna tell you which reunion it is, because sheesh, I'm getting elderly, people. But I'm looking forward to seeing some old friends, to finding out how people I haven't stayed in touch with are doing ... and to discovering some obscure gems, people who have changed in ways that complement the ways I've changed, so that we suddenly feel a connection.

I'm also wondering if I'll kiss anyone.

At my last reunion, five years ago, as I mentioned recently on my Facebook fan page, I smooched one dude on both Friday and Saturday nights — and slept over with another boy, a pal of mine, on Saturday. But we didn't do The Deed. We simply made out a little and fell asleep in a nice hug.

Sleeping over but drawing the line at any kind of sex was my M.O. for a long, long time. Because I was a virgin well into my 20s, I had a lot of what I call "One-Night (Not Quite) Stands." And at my small college in the Northeast, it always felt relatively safe to get drunk and make out with some unsuspecting hot babe. (Or, in a few cases, to make out with the same very-suspecting babe all term, weekend after weekend.)

But after I got into the "real world" — when I was living in big cities such as Boston, D.C., and New York — even my (Not Quite) One-Night Stands started to feel a little dangerous. I was often going home with complete strangers from bars. I more or less thought of that kind of thing as innocent fun — a little adventure, a good story to tell my friends the next day, a way to experience the release and pleasure of being physically intimate without actually having any kind of sex. (I stuck to heavy petting.) Most of the men I came across were pretty sweet — I never had any truly traumatic experiences (although a few were mildly traumatic) or ran into any aggressive jerks — but my friends were worried. They told me it was probably just a matter of time before something bad did happen, and I started to think they were right. So I laid off the boozing, got into therapy, and managed to start having short, seminormal relationships for the first time ever shortly thereafter.

But what is the point of this post?

The point is: I think the Not-Quite One-Night Stand isn't a terrible way to go — and I think it's a far better option than a true One-Night Stand.


1. Heavy petting is always a lot safer than actual sex. And by heavy petting, I don't mean "everything but full-on intercourse." I mean "not exchanging body fluids or exploring any orifices except by mouth-to-mouth contact." Capiche? Oral is just as dangerous as anything else — more so, I think, because people rarely use a condom for a blow job, when the fact is, that'll get you an STD just as fast as regular ol' unprotected fornication.

2. If you're prone to regret, heavy petting will be less painful the next day. Of course, even with a low-grade sleepover, there's often a lot to feel embarrassed about — particularly if you fall out of someone's bed, or if you made out with his roommate the weekend before, or if you start calling him by the wrong name. (Not that I ever did any of those things. I swear!) But you'll feel weird in a much more subdued way if you forgo anything too intimate.

3. Heavy petting is probably just as physically satisfying — if not more so — than having sex. You get the nice little endorphin rush of skin-to-skin contact. And first-time sex is often awkward and subpar; rarely does it produce an orgasm. I bet it's all the worse if you're talking about a guy who doesn't know you well and might be very drunk.

Heavy petting: All of the pleasure, none of the guilt. (Or not as much, anyway.)