Don’t be so quick to brush off that brunette you brought home from the bar: One in three marriages starts as a hookup, finds new research from the University of Virginia.
Yes, the stranger you sucked face with last weekend could become your soul mate. Researchers credit the surprising stat to casual sex being more common—and less stigmatized—these days compared to in previous generations. “For some people, hooking up is a step on the way to a relationship, rather than the other way around,” says study author Galena Rhoades, Ph. D.
One caveat: While one-third of marriages in the study began with a fling, only a tiny percentage of hookups actually lead to the altar, Rhoades says. For example, participants had an average of five sex partners before getting hitched—so you might have to slog (poor guy!) through several one-night stands to find your match.
Still, in case the next woman you meet at the club is marriage material, be prepared to make the most of your casual encounter. Here’s how:
1. Be a great listener.
Get her gabbing, and she just might fall for you. Women have more fun if they talk 60 percent of the date, says a study from Texas A&M University. Ask her if she’s out celebrating something, or how she knows her friends, and then shift to more illuminating questions about her interests and goals. Interjecting occasionally with phrases of agreement like “That’s so true” or “That happens to me all the time!” will help the two of you click, according to Stanford University researchers.
2. Seal the deal.
If you’re really hitting it off, see if she backs away when you brush her shoulder or thigh. No? Go in for the smooch, and pay attention to how intensely she’s kissing you back. If she’s hungry and passionate, she’s giving you the green light to ask her back to your place. You could try a funny approach, like asking her over for milkshakes and Jenga, or just be honest and say you’d really love to be alone with her.
3. Don’t let her get away.
The morning after is hardly the time to play hard to get. Chances are she likes you, but is wondering if the feelings are mutual. Start by telling her how great the sex was, says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., professor of sociology at the University of Washington. Follow up with a text later that day to say how much fun you had and that you want to see her again.