One-night stands exist across the LGBT spectrum. It happens in all age brackets. Most people have had at least one; some have had many. Lots of people engage in one-night stands because they can walk away from it and not have to deal with the “consequences” of having a relationship. Sometimes it’s a rebound to fill a void in someone’s life. Others engage in one-night stands just to be impulsive – fill their needs quickly – one need at a time. But is someone who has a few one-night stands also completely commitment phobic?
There are a lot of people who are actually “relationship minded,” but still engage in one-night stands every once in a while. For these folks, it’s usually only on a situational basis — right time, right place. For other “relationship minded” singles, many times these people are insecure because a serious relationship doesn’t exist. So the physical intimacy — regardless of how brief — momentarily fulfills the closeness that a relationship provides. You don’t necessarily need to group these individuals with the “commitment phobic” label attached; but it’s a slippery slope.
Rebound one-night stands are probably the most frequent type of one-night stands. When a relationship with significant emotional depth suddenly ends, it is common for individuals to fill that emotional void with something readily accessible — in many cases, a one-night sex fix. Others might turn to a therapist to work on moving forward; some will fill the void with alcohol or drugs. These people can’t be tagged as commitment phobic people as they will engage in one-night stands to feed their emptiness, but also want that committed relationship bond with someone again in the future, and usually can work past their issue.
So, when does having one-night stands mean you’re commitment phobic? First, think about how you met. Did you meet while partying or when you were sober tooling around on Grindr? Do you know this person’s relationship background (i.e., does the word “relationship” even exist in this person’s description of his/her past)? Think of the follow up (or lack thereof) after you sleep together — was there a phone number exchange or was it completely anonymous? Consider your and your partners’ responses to these questions, as they may lead you to conclude (s)he’s just a one timer.
If you’re reading this article and follow our column regularly, chances are you are interested in a relationship and the dynamics that exist between two people in a relationship. Though you may engage in one-night stands, you might try to facilitate a phone number or email exchange after physical contact. Here, you were probably just acting on your physical needs. If your partner du jour hesitates or shudders at the thought of keeping in touch, (s)he is likely commitment phobic.
Another angle to consider is how you feel after a one-night stand. Do you feel ashamed? Do you swear off ever having another one after the last? Do you hide these encounters from your friends or give them the gritty details over brunch the next day? Signs that you might not be commitment phobic, but just acting on impulse, are when you tell close friends that “(s)he really is a good guy/gal”, and secretly hope that you’ll see each other again. Even if it’s something you keep to yourself, you’ve got the idea of being in a lasting relationship, but were looking for a quick fix last weekend. Commitment phobes will downplay any type of connection; they love the challenge of “conquering” their latest one-night stand pursuit, and love the game of seduction.
Someone who’s commitment phobic or one-night stand “obsessed” typically has not had a significant exclusive relationship in his or her adult life. They rarely love structure, in general, in their lives. They will compartmentalize their life, keeping work, friends and family completely separate. Commitment phobes are less able to fully commit in other aspects of their life, as in their career, apartment and city of residence.
Again, we understand that relationships aren’t for everyone — we want to pull back the curtain on those who will potentially use you and your emotions to get you into bed. Relationship minded people should beware of these types — they exist in all age brackets, and across all genders and environments.