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The Dos And Don’ts Of Having An Adult Sleepover

Our guide to spending the night

by Amy Rose Spiegel

If you maneuver it right, sleeping next to someone can rule. Whether you’ve known the person in question for a few weeks or a few hours, all it takes is some strategic limb lanyarding and a general spirit of generosity with the blankets. Other people’s homes can feel strange no matter how comfortable you are, though, and this is especially true if you happen to be boning the occupant. The basics of any living space are more or less the same, but everything’s, at least, a little different—light switch positioning; cats vs. dogs; attitudes about a pitcher of filtered water in the fridge versus “tap is fine.” Unless you are a Priss Master (which I can sometimes be), none of that matters much. There are tons of ways to feel at home anywhere, even if you wake up in someone else’s underwear and old XXL promotional T-shirt from a rave thrown by an energy drink company. One of the best parts of spending the night together: You can also make out again (or more) in the morning if you’re so inclined. (The aforementioned outfit never actually looks as bad on you as it sounds.)

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Do: What accouterments do you need to be generally comfortable in the world? Make a practice of keeping a travel kit in your bag, whether you’re anticipating a sleepover with someone you’re dating or escorting a stranger out of a party. Its contents are your subjective call: I find eyelash glue, and a notebook and pen essential, so I make sure never to leave the house without them.

Basic supplies can counteract the more common stresses of bed-hopping: no protection, sudden phone battery death, and, of course, dog breath. Waking up together doesn’t have to mean combining the bad tastes in your morning mouths. Gum, or better yet, one of those little single-use toothbrushes, is the most obvious route to saliva-tion. More fundamental is packing a condom (or two, or, if you’re into morning sex, three). If you don’t want to pay for them, find free condoms near you. One-night stands improved my overall well-being by leading me to carry a portable phone charger to most other bed-free destinations. (Hitting it and quitting it has also been a boon in that fucking randos is an anonymous way to practice freaky behavior with people you’ll never see again so that, later, you know how to introduce it to people whose opinions do matter to you. That’s another story, though.)

Don’t: You don’t have to call off a sleepover if all you have on you is a debit card, a neon lipstick, a condom, and a stamp on your wrist from the club you’re leaving together. Any person worth sleeping with will have mouthwash or, at the very least, toothpaste with which you can do the Beggar’s Brush in the morning: Wash your hands and put a tiny bit on your index finger, then go to town. It’s not all that glamorous, but is it less glamorous than trying to french with a terrible next-day mouth? If the person has face wash, it’s also fair game. If you spy moisturizer: (a) good work on finding a partner who prioritizes skin care; this is a good sign of attention to detail (I’m only partly kidding) and (b) put a tiny bit on some toilet paper to easily remove indelible-looking eye makeup sinkholes. Refresh your neon lipstick, if that's your vibe. 

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Do: Suss out what you and the other person are comfortable with in terms of snuggling. If you’re both into it: Which party is going to be the big spoon, or, as I vehemently prefer to call it, the ladle-cradle? You don’t have to have an overt discussion about this if you don’t want to. Just inch up in there and see how you feel—and if your partner seems comfortable, too. If they’re suppressing some grim-looking expression, ask if they’d like a little room. “I loved hanging out tonight, so I hope you don’t take it personally that I like a little space.”

Don’t: Why hesitate to gently turn someone who’s snoring like an old, broken A/C unit, gently tug your rightful share of the sheets back over you, or go get a glass of water if sexual sound effects leave you parched in the dark? It’s okay to (quietly) do what you’ve gotta to get some sleep when the other person is already out. If you accidentally wake them with your rustlings, just apologize and settle back in—or ask for what you need, if you can't find it.

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Do: Look, it might sound like a soap-operatic bummer, but part of being a freewheeling person with the autonomy to have sex whenever they want is taking precautions to protect your safety. If you don’t otherwise know the person with whom you’re spending the night, text, “I went home with this hot piece who lives [at whatever address]. I’ll let you know how it goes!” to a friend to whom you tell most of your life’s details anyway. If you’re all, “Why would I sleep with some creep who made me feel like I had to text a friend in case of murder situations?” recall that there’s no “type” of person who is intrinsically above or below board, as most women are well aware. The vast majority of this planet’s boning populace is not out to get you but have your own back.

Don’t: Avoid going home with someone if you’re plastered or super high, or if they are. It’s hard to know if what you’re doing is consensual—for either party—if you’re observing it through cross-faded stop-motion. If you do find yourself below-the-wasted, please make sure your phone is charged in case you need a cab or another exit strategy. 

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Do: Have sex again, if that seems like the wave. Otherwise: If you’ve got to jam, just go—you don’t have to wait for the other person to wake up. Leave a note or get in touch later. Feel free to use the shower and, of course, the necessary supplies for engaging in the Beggar’s Brush, as long as you don’t leave the bathroom a mess. If you’d prefer, you can ask the person to get breakfast, a shared activity that can be almost as enjoyable as boning. If you wake up solo, take all the time you want, but be respectful about the other person’s stuff. It would be sweet of you to make the bed if you’re into that, but there’s no obligation.

Don’t: It’s no big deal if some or all of these guidelines, outside of taking protective measures both in terms of condoms and safety, haven’t applied to your sleepover. Go fall asleep next to a person whose bed you’re glad to be visiting, and if you don’t want to wear their old caffeinated beverage–centric clothes as pajamas, just sleep naked. It’ll probably help maximize the likelihood of your scoring again in the morning.