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What Is A One Night Stand?



A one night stand in the context of a relationship refers to a sexual interaction that only lasts one evening. Sometimes Person A will refer to Person B as a one night stand; in this case it refers to Person A and Person B having shared a one night stand, although occasionally it means the only role Person B can fill for Person A is a one night stand.

A one night stand differs from casual dating in that casual dating implies a longer term interaction, whereas a one night stand occurs only once. As well, casual dating usually refers to two people determining whether or not they are romantically compatible, whereas a one night stand is purely sex-based. Friends with benefits share sexual experiences together without a relationship commitment similar to a one night stand, but the 'friendly' portion of the benefits implies there's a prior friendship or at least ongoing interaction, where a one night stand could occur between friends but not for more than one evening.

The word one night stand originates from the same term used in the theater to reference a troupe or performance that offers a show for one night only in a certain locale.

Have you had a one night stand? Share your thoughts, experiences and advice: One Night Stand Stories

Mentions of one night stands in popular culture:

  • [book] My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler
  • [movie] Casella, Martin (Writer). (1995). One Night Stand.
  • [movie] Figgis, Mike (Writer). (1997). One Night Stand.
  • [song] One Night Stand by Enrique Iglesias.
  • [sport] Extreme Championship Wrestling, One Night Stand, 2005.
  • [TV] One Night Stand, 2010.


Also Known As: dalliance, illicit meeting, one-nighter, playing the field, promiscuity, sleeping around, tryst

"Liz: I had a one-night stand, and it was not the worst. And maybe you're right. I shouldn't give up just yet." ~ "It's Never Too Late for Now", 30 Rock (TV), Season 5 Episode 15 (2011)

"I'm not into one-night stands. I've only slept with three guys in my life and they all involve relationships. ~ Katie Price

"I'm not the type of guy who enjoys one-night stands. It leaves me feeling very empty and cynical. ~ Ben Affleck

"I think every woman should have a one-night stand. If it's done right, it can be liberating." ~ Rachel Perry

Readers Respond: Readers Share the Positives and Negatives of One Night Stands

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