By: Caitlyn McGuire
Picture this: After a night in Five Points, you end up back at the apartment of the boy who bought you vodka cranberries all night and told you your eyes were “so pretty.” Waking up in a daze, you awkwardly accept his “Shacking Shirt,” paired with your skirt from the night before. To be courteous, he asks for your number and you trek down the stairs of his apartment barefoot, heels in hand. Just when you thought things couldn’t get more awkward, sitting on the couch is not only his roommate, but also the kid you have been talking to in your Poli Sci class. Perfect. Does this scenario sound familiar? Being in college, most of us have either experienced or heard of a similar horror story.
One-night stands have become so common they don’t hold the same shock factor, as say, for our parents’ generation. A possible bevy of physical and emotional dangers relating to one-night stands, most students know the basic facts of sexual health. The choice is yours, but before staying the night, it is important to learn the “who’s, what’s and whys” of college one-night stands.
Who’s having them?
In college, it could be anyone. Sometimes it’s the most unsuspecting ‘nice’ boy or girl that can regale you with tales of their late night romps. Needless to say, this does not mean everyone is doing it. From speaking with students, G&B found that there are those that haven’t, those that have, and those that have had too many.
How bad are they really?
One-night stands can be harmful physically and emotionally. The cause and effects of one-night stands vary greatly among students, from harmless to devastating. When the outcome may be unpredictable, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Be aware of the unknown. Bringing a stranger home for one-night puts a lot of trust into them. You don’t know their personality well enough to predict their actions. Never disregard the possibility of physical and sexual abuse, date-rape drugs, or even theft.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
We are much too old, wise and educated to pretend STDs do not exist on campus, because they do - and more readily than you’d think. Using protection is a frontline defense against STDs but it isn’t effective 100% of the time. Even though it may have been your first one-night stand it does not mean it was your partners’ first one too. Furthermore, some people who have an STD may not even realize it. In a report from the University of North Carolina, chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea and hepatitis B may not show any symptoms while affecting an individual.
An accidental pregnancy is life-changing and a one-night stand is far from the support system needed at such a scary time. As we know, a great majority of one-nighters happen after a long night of drinking. In a 2012 study conducted by the National Coalition of STD Directors, almost half of college freshmen that were under the influence did not use a condom during sex. It’s assumed after freshmen year, that the nearly 50% did not all of a sudden begin wearing condoms during intoxicated sex. Birth control is an effective method of pregnancy prevention, however nothing is 100% effective and while Plan B is an option, it’s an expensive one.
Cause and Effect
Aside from the possible physical side-effects, one-night stands can leave impressions lasting much longer than a single evening. Although touted as a carefree activity, for most, it’s hard to keep emotions separate from intimate encounters. Here are some of the common emotional aspects behind staying the night.
One-night stands can occur from simply being caught up in the excitement of a moment. When we asked, USC students, a common answer was that a person having a one-night stand was in some way expressing personal insecurities. Everyone faces their insecurities at some point, but how they deal with them can manifest in different ways. A third-year male student describes one-night stands as “instant gratification for people who aren’t satisfied with themselves.” A 2010 Kansas State University research journal suggests the more people engage in one night stands, the lower their self esteem may become. If one-night stands are used to temporarily ease self-esteem issues, the ensuing chain of effects - avoiding problems as opposed to confronting them, can possibly lead to depression.
If the night didn’t end up being all you thought it would, ruminating on regretful decisions made from the past will only make you feel worse. It’s important to take responsibility for your own adult actions and understand the risks at hand. In college, sex happens. Whether you are engaging in it or not, be aware of it and its effects.