If a one-night stand is a hookup that implies you’ll be sleeping over and skulking off first thing in the AM, then the “half-night stand” is apparently a hookup where you bail well before that. Specifically: because the sex was bad.
While it must be said that women have been opting out of staying the night for a long time, for a variety of reasons, over at Marie Claire Tess Koman defines the modern mid-evening bail as the perfect antidote to bad sex:
The half-night stand, a postcoital exit to avoid the awkward morning-after “walk of shame” completely, seems to have caught on with young women slowly in 2011 and really picked up in 2012. (The same year Tinder launched, maybe not so coincidentally.) As the app became the go-to for twentysomethings looking for casual sex, 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.
Koman speaks to a few twenty-somethings who admitted to habitual half-nighting—in one case, the guy had a micropenis, so 21-year-old Nicole asked him to leave; in another, Veronica, 20, says she left “if the hookup wasn’t satisfying for me and the night was still young.”
These anecdotes are really interesting (if brutal), and perhaps are truly reflective of a new generation of women finding a way to express their dissatisfaction with the epidemic that is bad sex in your twenties (even if that epidemic is not new). It’s not your job to educate every man on his, ahem, shortcomings—under certain circumstances, you can and should just bail.
Of course, this isn’t how it’s ever really portrayed culturally. After sex, women are clingy and needy and in love with you—even if you’ve just hooked up the one time—because everything women do is engineered to lock down a boyfriend. In part, I blame (a movie I really like!) When Harry Met Sally, in which the following exchange takes place between Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan):
Harry: How long do you like to be held after sex? All night, right? See, that’s your problem. Somewhere between 30 seconds and all night is your problem.
Sally: I don’t have a problem.
Harry: Yes, you do.
First of all, I don’t want to be held all night. It’s one of the single most uncomfortable experiences possible. But also, anecdotally, every non-Millennial woman I know has snuck off after a casual hookup before the sunrise, for reasons including but certainly not limited to bad sex:
- Sex was great, but this is not your boyfriend
- Conversation was bad
- You don’t like cuddling
- You like cuddling, but cuddling with this dude is bad
- Twin bed
- Bed is a gross futon
- Don’t want his roommates to know
- Entire place smells like cat litter
- No coffee for the morning
- Your mom is coming in the morning
- Dog at home
- Pretty sure your period is coming any minute
- Have to take a shit
- Need a shower, do not trust his shower
- Walk of shame looks better at night
- Phone’s dying; he’s got an Android
- Window for package delivery starts at 9 am
- Allergic to his pet
- You haven’t finished watching season 2 of Bojack Horseman
- Still thinking about Tony
- Leftover Vietnamese food at home would be so fucking good right now
All that said, I am not being dismissive of Koman’s piece. It’s intriguing. I think it has to do with an overall shift in our sense of autonomy, and perhaps also with the fact that we’re beginning to embrace the idea of what “just sex” can really entail. Why stick around with a dude who you don’t want to be your boyfriend? Louis CK had that famous insight about why women want to cuddle after sex: it’s because you didn’t fuck them right. Maybe women today are simply giving up that ghost and are no longer interested in pretending.
I don’t think anyone has high hopes that sex for young people will get any better—sex being any good in the first place tends to be about experience and intimacy more than anything else, and you just can’t fake that. But I do hope women really do no longer feel the need to participate in that polite, contrived post-coital girlfriend experience, particularly when it leaves something to be desired.
And after a night of mediocre, disconnected fucking, you’re probably still horny anyway—in which case, home is probably where you can actually get your needs met.
Image via USA/Trainwreck.