Then you may be engaged in a several-night stand, a modern conundrum wrought by dating apps, the illusion of choice and the idea that relationships can meet the full spectrum of human need while remaining utterly meaningless. Perhaps congratulations are in order for cracking the monogamy code, but possibly the woman you are with is very confused. We know this because over at Broadly, Maria Yagoda explores this new dating phenomenon from the female side, and it is not a ringing endorsement.
As its name suggests, the several-night stand is like a one-night stand, but takes place over several nights, often over a period of weeks or months. That counts as intimacy, yeah? The several-night stand arises because one person wants a girlfriend or boyfriend for a night, maybe a few times a week. The stories are basically the same: Told ya up front! He either suddenly treats her like a psycho, or simply says any discussion of the relationship beyond this fake relationship version is simply too much.
Dating, as fraught as it is to do a dance of courtship, at least used to be something like layaway, in that it came with the possibility of something more committed down the road if both parties agreed.
But such is the dilemma of the several-night stand. Evan Marc Katz, a relationship coach who often translates male behavior for a female audience, fielded this exact question from a woman recently who found herself in a several-night stand situation.
I have been in an exclusive relationship with a man for 6 months now. He has shown up in every way AND more. I had major surgery and he stood by me, slept in the hospital, and took care of me at my worst for my 3-week recovery. He just took me on our first trip away. He wants to see me every day and I love that. Women waste years on men who said they want a casual relationship on their terms only — and then claim to be shocked when it turns out he was telling the truth.
Yes, to be clear, women can also enact this version of stringing a man along who wants more while she still plays the field. But because women can still get casual sex pretty much anytime they want, the illusion of equal-opportunity meaninglessness inevitably dissolves. When, had they simply said they wanted sex, they might have gotten it and nothing more?
The problem is that the convergence of two people who want this same arrangement, and who can communicate enough to effectively establish it and allow it to exist but not develop into something lopsided, is rare. This is a unique byproduct of endless dating options bumping up against the eternal human need for real intimacy. In the end, though, one thing is still true: When it comes to love, most of us do whatever we can get away with.
One of these versions is pathological you; the other is socialized you. All relationships negotiate this midpoint, and this is why we have everything from furries to polyamory to sister wives. That is an age-old dating concept women have been fielding for years: