What Women Want: The Significance of the Half-Night Stand

I'll be completely honest with you: I've done the half-night stand twice, once at my place and once at someone else's. I'd always considered these to be "one-night" stands, but after reading this article by Cosmo, I realize we can't even call them that. Upon further investigation—like, are half-night stands really even a thing?—I found out that even Urban Dictionary has a definition for them, and it appears to be a phenomenon spurred by the female in the sexual relationship. FEMALES LIKE ME. So what did I do? I decided to break it down. Why are women leaving in the middle of the night, and what should it signify to their sexual partners? *Clears throat/cracks knuckles.* Let's begin. 

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The interesting thing about the half-night stand—in my cases, my friends cases, and the cases of the women interviewed by Cosmo—is that it's not the same as the "leave before morning" trick men are purported to pull after they get their sexual fill. Cosmo sums this up pretty accurately: 

Young women began taking a page out of guys' playbooks and leaving before morning. But instead of leaving because they got what they came for (an orgasm) like guys do, they're leaving because they didn't. 

It's a sweeping generalization, of course, and not all women fit the "pillow talk" mold. The badass Samantha's of the world are just like, "That was fun bro, bye." It's true that women are generally more inclined to stick around if they're enjoying their time with their partner. For example, I'll gladly spend the night with a guy who is A) good in bed, B) fun to talk to, or C) all of the above, even if there's no prospect of dating ahead of us. If the situation is fulfilling in any capacity, I don't feel the burning desire to run to my house as quickly as possible—catch my drift?

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I imagine many men presume women do this to avoid feeling guilty when they head out in the morning, and perhaps there is a group of ladies out there who'd rather avoid getting home in broad daylight—but in the modern age of Uber, the so-called "Walk of Shame" is no longer terribly shameful at all. (And if you've chosen a good partner for sexy time, then the guy will probably at least let you borrow a pair of pants when you head out.) Slut-shaming is certainly prevalent in our society, but it's not shame that has us pulling our pants on before a dude has even caught his breath. It really is very simple, fellas:

Both college women and post-grads point to particularly bad sexual encounters as the reason they've made the half-night stand a habit.

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That isn't to say that you're terrible in bed if this has happened to you—your lady friend may not have particularly enjoyed the experience for any number of reasons, whether the chemistry was simply off or she felt uncomfortable with you or she just thinks you're an asshole. The takeaway is the same, though: You probably should not ask her over for Part II anytime soon. (Unless, of course, she's slept over before and this was a fluke thing. Shit happens.) As a friend of mine said, people don't usually walk away from good sex, and as women become more empowered, they realize they don't have to put up with bullshit if they don't want to. One woman Cosmo surveyed used my favorite phrase of all time to describe why she left some dude's house post-bang:

"If you're not going to return the favor and then you're not going to cuddle, bitch, please."  

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Oooh, girl, tell 'em. This wouldn't all be terribly significant if our partners understood the message we were trying to send. As I've experienced, the fact that we booked it the fuck out of there doesn't always translate. Cosmo surveyed men about half-night stands, and the results were unfortunately disheartening, probably because we as human beings interpret the actions of other people based on what it would mean if we did those same things. 

When 10 men between the ages of 24 to 27 who had all been half-nighted were asked, not one of them believed the woman's lack of sexual pleasure contributed to her leaving before morning ... Instead they pointed to early morning meetings and women not wanting to take the big step of sleeping over at their place as reasons their hookups left early.

It's the same male/female generalization, but here's the thing: Women don't usually consider sleeping over after sex to be a big step. It's not societally expected that when you sleep over at a guy's house, he will think you want to marry him—it generally just means you're going to have sex again when you wake up. It may very well be as simple as wanting her own bed, but for that reason, if she likes you (or the sex) enough, she will most likely stay.

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And no one, male or female, should ever buy the "early morning meeting" bullshit. Excuses always have and always will continue to be nothing more than excuses. 

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The article points to Tinder as a catalyst for the half-night stand phenomenon, and it could be true. Using an app like Tinder is, after all, equivalent to shopping for a sexual or romantic partner, and you often find yourself in bed with someone sooner than you would have in the real world thanks to loaded expectations and the ability to "get to know" someone virtually. Think about it: If you felt uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the person you'd just slept with, wouldn't you leave? This, in combination with the fact that women have a harder time getting off and frequently need to tell their partners what will work for them, means many women are unsatisfied with their hook ups. And at the end of the day, men and women do have one major thing in common: We all want to get laid and we all want to get off. 

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Regardless of what it is, exactly, that makes men OR women leave right after sex, there's one major takeaway: It's not good. When you boil it down, a partner leaving in the middle of the night means he or she doesn't want to spend any more time sleeping or talking or sexing with you. It certainly doesn't mean anything is wrong with you—many times, it's often just a poor pairing—but it is something to be reflected on by both parties, especially if it happens to you more than once.

I can only speak for myself, but I know one thing to be unconditionally true: I will stay for morning sex if I had myself a good time. Why would I waste a perfectly good round 2?! 

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Tagged in: half-night stands, what women want, one night stands, cosmo

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