A few nights ago, I had my first one night stand since college. Most people understand a “one night stand” to be a single night of casual, no-strings attached sex, but there’s a second definition for the term, one that I invented and never really thought to share with anyone until now. Have you ever sat down with a near total stranger and had an unexpectedly intense conversation about your life, relationships, hopes for the future, and regrets about past, only to never speak to that person again or never have the same quality of conversation again the next time you meet? That’s my second definition of a one night stand.
Not this kind of one night stand. (Photo source)
Just as the sexual one night stand allows you to be naked and physically vulnerable to a stranger for a single evening, without the intention or expectation for a long-term relationship, so does the conversational one night stand make you emotionally vulnerable to someone you never expected to share your thoughts and fears so intimately with. And since you don’t really have much in common aside from the circumstances that pushed you into having that conversation, it’s unlikely that you will be able to sustain a long-term friendship from that evening onwards. In other words, the conversational one night stand is not the prelude to a friendship; just a nice, fairly random evening (or afternoon) where a girl and a girl (or a guy and a girl) get things off their chest, be it boredom, or school stress, or in my recent experience, existential angst. However, unlike the sexual one night stand, the conversational one night stand has no element of physical attraction or sexual tension whatsoever, and should not be used as a means to try to get laid. Then you’re just a sleazeball taking advantage of an emotionally vulnerable person. Finally, conversational one night stands are a spontaneous occurrence, the result of an impulse to hash it out with the nearest person available rather than a planned event. Nobody ever really plans to open up to a near-total stranger unless you’re seeing a therapist, and that doesn’t really count.
So much for these definitions and qualifications! When I refer to “one night stands” from this point onward, let’s understand it to mean the conversational type, not the sexual type.
The one night stand from a few evenings ago happened with a girl I met at a party and became Facebook friends with in 2009. She randomly sent me a message saying that she read an article I had written about fashion schools and wanted my career advice. I found the coincidence rather strange; I myself have been feeling majorly confused about my so-called career and where my life is going, and looking for people who might understand what I’m going through. But this girl was asking for advice, something I’m not in the position to give because of my own confusion and lack of qualifications about fashion careers. I nearly declined for this reason, but then again, I had nothing better to do that evening and she said coffee was on her. I put on my best I-have-my-shit-together-you-can-count-on-me-for-advice face and drove off.
We actually went to a Coffee Bean. (Photo source)
I can never sustain a fake face for long though, especially when I get comfortable and start talking. At first, we lingered on the reason she drew me out – she was on the verge of signing up for fashion school and wanted my opinion on what to do if she were aiming for a career in Europe. However, conversations have a life of their own and rarely ever stay on the course you set out for them. We went completely off-tangent and started talking about our lives. Though we come from different backgrounds (she worked as a hair dresser in San Francisco before coming to Manila), we shared one interesting coincidence – we are both 24 and convinced that this is the year we start working on how the rest of our lives will turn out. I confessed about my own total lack of direction: I’m bored with what I’m doing and ready for a career change, but to what? Certainly not an office job, and certainly not anything to do with the Internet, which I’m also starting to get very sick of these days. The conversation then veered towards the direction of our relationships, and I soon found out why talking to her was so easy – she had just left her boyfriend of three years. I’ve observed that single girls make far more interesting conversationalists than girls with boyfriends, perhaps because they tend to seek more experiences, which give them a colorful variety of subjects to talk about.
We talked and talked until she had to go home to appease the old-fashioned aunt she was living with. I don’t know if we walked home with any concrete answers that evening or if I was able to help her at all, but it felt incredibly refreshing to talk to someone other than my boyfriend about my existential angst. One night stands can be very helpful if you need a new perspective about your current situation or a different sympathetic ear. But for me, the real magic of the event lies in the fact that it’s something I am least likely to do. I am not a chatty person, not one to make new friends easily, and certainly not one to open up to someone I’ve never said more than a “Nice to meet you!” to before. How often do I get to encounter completely different people who happen to be on the same wavelength and who can carry a good conversation for a prolonged period of time? Hardly ever.
Perhaps it’s premature for me to declare that friendship after a conversational one night stand is not possible, but let’s see if time and future social encounters can prove this wrong.Google+