Here’s a philosophical one. We – as in women – need to stop being so hard on ourselves. Let’s embrace the one night stand for what it is. A great time that need not be repeated nor explained. Here’s what led me to this breakthrough. 

I’ve been seeing this guy for a little over a week now. He was a distraction from a more serious not-yet-exclusive relationship I’ve been pursuing. That seems like a good place to start. We’re going to call him Dave*.

Dave is adorable. Despite being in his early 30s, he’s got the charm of an early 20-something with cute dimples and curly hair to match. He even dresses like a post-grunge teenager. On one of our dates he legit wore flood pants.

He seemed harmless enough. Date one was post-work drinks. I had other plans so I had to dash after a few hours. Date two was almost the same, but it was on a Sunday. We drank Pimms in under the unseasonably hot sun at Southbank Centre and after a few hours I had to head in for a show.

Our third date was the one where I really put aside some time for him. Although this was a “real” date – dinner, drinks etc – I decided in advance I wouldn’t be bringing him home. To begin with, I had my period. And it wasn’t a light day. My flat was a disaster and I made sure to leave it that way so when I got home at 2am I wouldn’t decide it would be a good idea to bring him up. Despite all my efforts to thwart drunk me you can guess how the evening went. Pretty sure I have a low-key sex addiction.

Let’s put a pin in that for a second. Who is Dave? Dave has a good and respectable job with ambitions to pursue politics. He’s a homeowner (we’ll get back to that). And he’s Cambridge educated. Check, check, check. He’s funny too and chill to be around. I enjoyed my time with Dave and he was not only the worthy distraction I was looking for but there was even some genuine mutual attraction.

Maybe now’s a good time to mention his living situation. He bought his flat five years ago with his then girlfriend. He says that they had broken up six months earlier. I would pepper our conversations over the course of our dates with questions about this relationship. They sleep in different bedrooms and apparently she only spends 20% of the time in the flat. Right. Because that makes tons of sense.

Let’s talk about date number three. We met for drinks at a pub, went for dinner at a trendy Peruvian and capped the night off with fancy cocktails. We shared a ravenous kiss somewhere in St James and it was on fire. Followed by more through the park. Wanna know the most romantic spot in the whole of London? There’s a bridge in the middle of St James’s Park that has a view of the London Eye on one side and Buckingham Palace on the other. I hate PDA so I knew I had to get him back to my flat at the other side of the park.

We sat around my living room interchangeably talking and making out for a few hours and that’s when I’d decided that’s all that was about to happen (it’s not relevant why exactly I thought this, but there is evidence that I never meant for it to go as far as it did). Anyway, we ended up doing more than just having a sleepover. I won’t skirt around this. We had the bloodiest, messiest sex I’ve ever had in my life. For the past two decades I’ve gotten my period on a monthly basis, but never have I personally been more horrified by how bad this one was. I played it off as though it were nothing.

And BONUS, we also didn’t use protection. He seemed to assume I was on the pill. I can’t take the pill because it makes me insane. But then again now that I’m writing this, I feel more insane than ever. My point is, it wasn’t regular first time sex. It was filthy. And not because either of us are into filth. That’s just how it was.

We talked a lot too. Early that morning I asked him how dating works with him and his girlfriend living in the same space. This is where things got a bit weird. He said “Sorry, you won’t be seeing the inside of my flat. Her stuff is everywhere including in my room.” And I’m like “Dude, relax. I don’t want to see the inside of your flat. I’m only asking because you’re here right now and I obviously don’t share my place with anyone.”

ANYWAY that was weird. He leaves around noon. He didn’t even seem to want to leave and I made it clear that he was more than welcome to stay as long as he wanted. There were no crossed lines of communications here. We were very much on the same page. I suggested getting breakfast at a local greasy spoon, but changed my mind when I realised how unwell I actually felt that day. He agreed I should stay in bed.

It’s Monday now. I’ve taken the day off work because I feel like a train hit me this weekend (physically, not emotionally). I hadn’t heard from him at all since he left my place which is sorta strange. I ended up clearing the air when I shot him a message at 7am Monday morning (today, actually) telling him I was still really out of it. He literally responded as I’m writing this. Two very aloof messages sent almost 30 mins apart. One about how it’s sad I’m sick [sad face emoji] and another about how he’s fine and made of strong stuff.

I’m either insane, dating a 14 year old or both. Probably both. But here’s my closing. I felt bad when I didn’t hear from him. I felt even worse when I messaged him and he didn’t reply for 8 hours. But this is how we as women are conditioned to feel. We shame ourselves into feeling bad about the choices we make when it comes to sex. Yes, I slept with him. It was the third date. Sure conditions weren’t perfect, but it was a decision I made and could have retracted at any time. I didn’t. I enjoyed it. Because he didn’t give me the feedback that’s socially acceptable in a situation like this, I further shamed myself about having made these choices. Enough now.

Showing continued interest after an intimate encounter is pretty much the biggest of all non-negotiables. He failed big time on that front. Not every paramour is going to become the love of my life. And that’s okay.

NB: Dave definitely very politely ended things over the weekend. After responding to a WhatsApp he could have easily ignored, he told me that his circumstances had changed and that it wouldn’t work out with us [grinning emoji]. I almost didn’t respond. That’s what I do. But for some reason I did and told him that was okay. Things happen. It was lovely to have met him.

Whether it was his ex, someone else or a lack of attraction to me, it really was. And frankly today I feel so much better than any day last week not knowing.

*Name has been changed.