I forgot how dating works!
November 29, 2016 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Is it typical for a partner to not stay over after having sex for the first time, if it's not a casual sex situation and there's no obvious reason that they need to leave?

I'm a 31 year old woman. I recently started dating again after a breakup. I feel emotionally ready, but I'm out of practice with this whole thing and not sure what to expect anymore, so I'm having trouble figuring out what's normal. I've also never had sex with someone from a dating app.

After going on a bunch of mediocre dates, I met a guy on Tinder who I really hit it off with. He and I seem to be on the same page about a lot of things that are important to me and have tons of chemistry. For those of you who haven't been on Tinder recently, it seems to no longer be primarily a hookup app (based on stated profile preferences, and all of the people I've been out with have been looking for something serious even if that's not explicitly in their profile). I have in my profile that I'm not looking for a hookup but we hadn't had a conversation about what we're looking for out of dating yet. That said, we've both talked about this as if he doesn't see it as one-night thing (e.g., suggesting we do things together in a few months, planning elaborate dates that don't feasibly involve hooking up). I am fully able to use my words and talk to him about it, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

We went on our second date last night, which was awesome, and ended up going back to my place and having sex. I know that there are no hard and fast rules about the timing of having sex for the first time other than "have sex when you want to." Afterwards, though, I started to feel worried that it happened too soon, since I had meant to not rush into anything, we hadn't had the "what are we looking for" conversation, and I wanted him to take me seriously as a non-casual partner (I do know that being taken seriously and having sex early are not mutually exclusive; it was just a worry). We had sex a second time and he laid with me for a while, cuddling and being generally sweet. Then he said that it was getting late and he should leave, and I walked him to his car, where he told me we should hang out again. I was surprised that he didn't give an explanation for leaving. He lives close by and didn't have to be up for work in the morning. It left me wondering whether he's not serious about this, because in my past experience dating, not staying over has pretty strictly been a casual sex thing.

I'm crushing on him fairly hard and also exhausted from staying up late and not sleeping well, so I don't think I'm thinking about this as clearly/calmly as I usually would. It would be helpful to hear from others about whether this is normal so I can gauge my reaction.
posted by deus ex machina to Human Relations (33 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I have a friend who uses tinder exclusively for one night stands and the guys almost always spend the night still. Just wanted to point out that spending the night is not necessarily related to serious/casual. He could just be someone who can't sleep next to other people, or needed to change his contacts. If it happens again, you could ask if he wants to spend the night and see what reason he gives.
posted by monologish at 8:16 AM on November 29, 2016 [28 favorites]

I dated a woman for six months without ever staying over at her house. The reason was primarily her terrible, uncomfortable bed, but also it would have felt kind of weird to me to stay over on like the second date. There's something about the intimacy of sleep that feels different than the intimacy of sex (possibly because of hookup culture? We did have a real relationship over that time frame, though). Maybe he has trouble sleeping in a bed with a new partner, or maybe he does have plans in the morning that aren't work-related. I'm in your age group but not straight for what it's worth.

Oh, also! Did you ask him to stay? He may have felt like he shouldn't stay if you didn't ask him to, especially for the first time. After all, what if *you* had to get up in the morning and go to work or something?
posted by possibilityleft at 8:18 AM on November 29, 2016 [7 favorites]

maybe he was trying to be polite and was waiting for you to ask him if he wanted to stay over?
posted by cakelite at 8:18 AM on November 29, 2016 [11 favorites]

Possible causes:

He snores

He didn't have his antidepressants or other bedtime/morning meds with him

He has a sleep apnoea machine (CPAP machine he needs to sleep)

He has problems with insomnia

He has bad nightmares and wants to get to know you a little better before he reveals that...
posted by Sockpuppets 'R' Us at 8:19 AM on November 29, 2016 [18 favorites]

Maybe he farts in his sleep and isn't ready to subject you to that level of commitment.

Could be any number of reasons. I don't think this is a red flag, but I do think it's ok to say, "hey, you should stay over!" and see what he says.
posted by phunniemee at 8:19 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Sometimes people say that when they aren't sure whether they're overstaying their welcome. Did you offer to let him stay the night? After he said it's getting late and he should go, if you don't want him to go then that's your cue to say "Oh, you can stay here tonight" or something like that to indicate that he's not overstaying his welcome.
posted by Polychrome at 8:23 AM on November 29, 2016 [10 favorites]

If I wanted to stay over but didn't want to impose, I can see myself saying something like "it's getting late, I should probably head out soon" with the hope that I'll get a "you're welcome to stay if you'd like" as a response. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if he's sitting around wondering if you like him and why you didn't ask him to stay. (I also wouldn't be surprised if he genuinely wanted to sleep in his own bed for whatever reason - you just don't have enough information to figure that out.)
posted by insectosaurus at 8:26 AM on November 29, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'm one data point, but it usually took me months into a relationship before I wanted to sleep anywhere, sex or no. I would bone and go. It would be ok if he spent the night at my place, but I definitely left most of the time, and it didn't mean anything other than that I'm the kid who hated sleepovers, and I have issues with sleep.
posted by millipede at 8:29 AM on November 29, 2016

It didn't occur to me to offer to let him stay the night. He seemed pretty sure that he needed to leave, and I didn't want to pressure him. Maybe this is an ask/guess culture thing.
posted by deus ex machina at 8:30 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

As a data point, in my dating days I hated sleeping in strange beds and generally wouldn't get more than a few minutes of sleep and my neck/back would be wrecked in the morning. The lack of control of comfort/climate would give me claustrophobia-like symptoms. By default I left nicely unless it was pre-planned that I would stay over; I generally used my dog as an excuse (I mean, he needed me to go let him out, but I used him as a reason to not mention the other things).

Like, it's been like 14 years and I still just now got flashbacks from several miserably uncomfortable nights and then mornings that were not to my general preference, and I knock wood I never have to date again.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:30 AM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah I would guess that he wanted to give you the option of stay/not stay. Date 2 is not particularly quick for having sex or anything, but it could reasonably feel "soon" to someone for night farts/morning face/morning breath. Plus if he hadn't particularly planned for it, like people said--maybe he's got contacts, maybe he's got a cat to feed or something, who knows. I personally *hate* spending the night anywhere but my own bed unless I've planned it in advance--in the early days of dating my partner, we definitely retreated to our own homes at least half the time just for the sake of better sleep.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:32 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

He seemed pretty sure that he needed to leave, and I didn't want to pressure him. Maybe this is an ask/guess culture thing.

Sounds like it. To me (heavy ask user) there's no pressure involved in saying "You can stay here if you want" it's literally an expression of possibility. I think for a lot of people sleep is a thing that requires more setup than sex (i.e. maybe he needed medicine, earplugs, contacts, sleep machine, has pets, roommates, something else) and so leaving doesn't necessarily mean that he's thinking of this as casual. I'm a terrible sleeper and I often prefer my own bed unless I've made plans.
posted by jessamyn at 8:37 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

This might be a good time for an "I had a great time last night, when can I see you again?" text, both on the off chance he's puzzled you didn't ask him to stay and so he'll find it reassuring, and (more likely) because it sounds like if he responds positively you'll find that reassuring. The worst-case scenario is you find out he's not as excited as you are — which you would have found out eventually anyway if it's true — and the best-case scenario is you both enjoy knowing the other person is excited about this and you both get to worry a bit less.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:42 AM on November 29, 2016 [10 favorites]

I only stay over with people I'm seriously involved with; I sleep better alone, am cranky in the morning, and have a dog that gets lonely. So I wouldn't fret about that.

(But I also wouldn't assume that things are going somewhere because he talked about doing things in the future; I've found a surprising number of dudes on Tinder lie about being interested in something more serious than they actually are, even when ive been in periods when I only want hook-ups myself. Some of them do it because they personally like the way it feels, kinda pretending to themselves; others do it because it's more likely to get them laid. So give it some time before making assumptions in either direction.)
posted by metasarah at 8:44 AM on November 29, 2016 [18 favorites]

Then he said that it was getting late and he should leave -- that was your cue to invite him to spend the night.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 8:54 AM on November 29, 2016

Did he say whether he had a pet animal he might need to look after?
posted by zadcat at 8:54 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

He has no pet or contacts, and he has the same type of mattress as me, but yeah, there are many other possibilities.
posted by deus ex machina at 8:57 AM on November 29, 2016

Just to add one more data point, I am prone to insomnia and cannot sleep in an unfamiliar place. It usually takes me months to get comfortable enough with a person and their place before I even attempt to sleep there. I don't always explain this to others unless they press for an explanation because when I do mention insomnia everyone wants to press their favorite "cure" on me and I don't feel like getting into explaining that I've tried everything and already know what works and doesn't for me. I wouldn't read anything into it at all.

As one more data point, several friends of mine who live in the Midwest and mountain west tell me the local dating culture is you only sleep over once the relationship has moved out of the dating phase and into the committed stage, but not sleeping over is not an indicator that they are not interested in eventually getting to the committed phase.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 9:00 AM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

Going against the grain here to say that the idea that sleep with someone you intend to see again is somehow more intimate or difficult than sex is utterly foreign to me. And it's probably too soon to just ask him at this point. It would feel like having "a talk."

Maybe gauge his level of commitment over the coming days/weeks and go from there. I think the answers here make clear that people have very different feelings about this. If he stays around and you decide to give it another go, offer to let him stay. If he doesn't accept, then ask. Having to wait for the answer to this has to be a little nerve wracking. Good luck.
posted by cnc at 9:09 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nth-ing the folks above who said they need to get home to get sleep.

I wouldn't read too much into it. Have fun!
posted by intermod at 9:10 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Back in my single days I NEVER stayed over and NEVER allowed anyone to stay over, unless things were properly serious. It is just a comfort and privacy thing. A date could have gone super awesome fantastic and I would STILL want to go to sleep and wake up alone. First time having sex? HA! I'd be more likely to take a huge smelly poop in their bathroom and then loudly exclaim how proud I was of it and ask them to come take a look before I'd sleep over.

For real, sleep time is scared and private and important for some of us.

True examples:
- I am married to the best person I have ever met in my entire life and practically vomit happiness over the fact that I am married to him, but I still have my own room in our house that I call my Sanctuary with a strict "NO BOYS ALLOWED" rule where I go to hide and be alone when I need it. Which is frequently.
- I was literally in love with my husband before we started dating (long story) and it took me MONTHS before I was comfortable sleeping over. And I sure as hell never had him sleep over. Not once. And even now, over six years of sharing a bed later, I still don't sleep as well as I used to. And this is someone who I love the crap out of.
- I dated a guy for almost a year and even with him I NEVER slept over and pretty much kicked his ass out most nights. It sentiment would be somewhere along the lines of "Wow, great sex, I had a great time, get the fuck out of my apartment, I'll talk to you tomorrow, kisses! [boot to the ass]".

Sure, I skew more towards introversion and deeply value my alone time and person space, but that has exactly zero to do with my partner and how much I enjoy their company.

Other factors:
- It is also worth noting that I am very sleep sensitive in that I am an extremely light sleeper AND I am a massive sack of shit the next day if I don't get enough sleep. - I talk in my sleep, and it weirds people out and... lets just let things go as long as possible before I freak out someone I'm interested in. But seriously, this is a much smaller factor than the rest.
- I am on pretty time sensitive morning meds, so I really can't dick around with that.
- I'm more than a little paranoid about safety and having people in my home when I am not fully awake and conscious.

So yeah, don't take it personally.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:14 AM on November 29, 2016 [10 favorites]

I really, really, really like waking up in my own bed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:15 AM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

If a person I'm not already dating wants to stay over after sex, I mentally sigh and write off the first 2-3 hours of shit I had to do in the morning, because they're gonna want to wake up and snuggle and maybe have morning sex and use my shower and have breakfast with me and, just... I have shit to do, and even if I had an amazing time on the date, that doesn't mean I want the date to last for 20 hours, you know? I planned my night around you, not half of the next day as well. And this definitely applies to people I actually want to date.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:24 AM on November 29, 2016 [16 favorites]

How long has it been since he lived with a romantic partner? It's been almost 3 years for me and I am so ingrained in my routine that I wouldn't consider staying the night at someone else's house until we'd been dating for months. I would be so anxious I'd just lie awake all night. So, another vote for it means nothing about you or his interest in pursuing more. Don't waste your time reading something into it.
posted by AFABulous at 9:45 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I think that sleeping together is more intimate than having sex, and I sometimes will also be the one to get up and leave after a good romp, even with someone I'm serious about. That and I don't sleep well with new partners because I'm too self-conscious about snoring or farting or talking in my sleep or whatever.

I wouldn't take it personally at all. Maybe invite him to stay next time and reassess the situation then.
posted by greta simone at 10:35 AM on November 29, 2016

Dating is one big experiment. You can hypothesize the result and micro-read the intermittent data, but the only way to find out the result of the experiment is time.

Two people, in a petri dish of a relationship, plus time, and you find out what the result is. The result might explode in your face, or fizzle, or just keep on going. But you've got to let the experiment run its course to find out for sure.

It sounds like the date went well. I don't think anyone here can give you any answer at this time though.

Don't try to hurry the experiment along. Don't try to force a result. Be a scientist. Keep your eyes open and clear, and it will be obvious whether this is something or this is nothing.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:47 AM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I never slept over at a guys house I was not living with in my entire history of having sex as an adult. Not even once. And I promise you it was not for lack of sex having and this included committed relationships. I would not read too much into it.

Some people also just aren't at their best in the morning, so he might not want to show you that on Date 2.
posted by corb at 11:33 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

There aren't rules other than the ones the two of you establish. Talk to him about this, not us.

For what it's worth, I wouldn't assume I was invited to stay over unless I was invited to do so. It's not clear from your description, but it sounds like you may not have said, "You should stay over." If I'd said something like "It's getting late, I should go," and got no response other than "I'll walk you to your car," I'd probably walk out to my car.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:03 PM on November 29, 2016

Personally, I really like being cuddly and relaxed and half-asleep together- that's a huge part of what I like about sex- so I choose to only involve myself in interactions where that vibe is part of the mix (which could totally happen on a first date, and which could totally not happen with a longterm relationship- in my experience, that comfy-affectionate-sleepy vibe is not intrinsically linked to duration of relationship). If I am told, or if I strongly get the feeling, that a sleepover wouldn't be welcome on a given night, I probably wouldn't do sexual things that night.

I think it's totally ok for people to have sex and then not sleep over- it's just not what I want. Everyone's different, and it's certainly something you can talk about and ask for what you need... with a caveat: If what you want is a stay-over, there are some people who will simply never want to stay over for whatever reason-- but if you explicitly make staying over a condition for sex, they might stay over reluctantly or transactionally. That is something I definitely do not want, and it can be hard to navigate with a new person, so sometimes, depending on the partner and the general forthrightness of their communication, I might try to use vibes and indirect communication rather than direct communication when sussing out someone's sleep-over preference, because in my observation, directly communicating about this desire does not always lead to the outcome I actually want, which is twofold: staying over AND feeling enthusiastic about it.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:29 PM on November 29, 2016

It's interesting that so many people on here don't spend the night after having sex. For me I would most certainly spend the night with a girl I was sincerely interested in having a relationship with. Wouldn't think twice about it. But I guess not everybody feels the same way. Though I can't help but think there's a reason he's not spending the night...and not a good reason. But of course it could totally be that he doesn't like sleeping at someone's house or just feels more comfortable alone in his own bed. Truthfully I prefer to sleep alone but in my opinion cuddling after sex is key to cementing that relationship. The next time the situation comes up definitely ask him to spend the night. And if he says no ask him why. I think you'll have more answers soon. Hopefully it works out.
posted by ljs30 at 9:21 PM on November 29, 2016

When I was younger, I would have spent the night. Felt obligated to. And probably wouldn't have slept very well, though I would have been very careful to not thrash around.

I'm older now. My girlfriend (of a couple years) and I actually schedule "sleepovers" separate from sex, since we can sleep well together, but we usually won't have a great night of sleep unless we plan ahead (making sure neither of us has anything to worry about in the morning, for example). Rather than have a crummy night of sleep after sex, it's a lot easier for us to separate the two. They are a different kind of intimacy. We also have sex when it would be inconvenient to go to sleep afterwards, because that works for us.

If we move in together, we'll have separate bedrooms. Sleeping together is nice, but there's also nights where we want to be able to sprawl out, hog the covers, or wake up at 2am and work on a project when inspiration has suddenly struck. And those nights are almost never the same nights for both of us. And we're old enough (50s) that that's okay.

You should talk about it, but try not to worry too much. Some couples want to sleep together every night. Others don't. Everyone's different, and what will work for you may be very different from what works for everyone else.
posted by DaveP at 3:55 AM on November 30, 2016

As a guy I wouldn't want to assume I will be staying the night.
posted by xammerboy at 12:26 PM on November 30, 2016

I would not assume I was staying the night with someone I had only met a few times unless it was explicitly offered. I would also not suggest it myself (it would feel pushy) though I would happily stay if it was offered. I would (probably*) offer if it was my place, but not feel bad if they declined.

*The comment above about writing off half the morning is some truth right there. I love waking up slowly with someone and cuddling and having breakfast together. But I don't have time for that every damn day.
posted by Nothing at 2:07 PM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

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