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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Sexcapades: The morning after

Published: October 29, 2010
Section: Opinions

This week, I thought maybe we should face the issue of post-hookup etiquette. Recently, I’ve seen, or experienced, a number of encounters that make me think this seriously needs to be addressed. Even after a one-night stand, potentially with someone you’re not so proud of, it’s always better to be the better person. There is no reason for avoidance, running, head turning or awkward movements during encounters with the other person. In fact, it usually wouldn’t be awkward if you didn’t make it that way (although, this is Brandeis …).

Last spring, after a fight with my best friend and the end of a sexual relationship I had come to enjoy, I went to Joe Sent Me, a local bar, with the intention of having fun with my friends and flirting a little. The night ended with me drunkenly stumbling home with a guy I’d thought was cute since first year, who was excitingly, newly single. When all was said and done, even though Boy asked me to sleep over, I realised I wasn’t comfortable doing that and so I left. While getting dressed, however, I couldn’t find my pantyhose or my hair clip, and decided to leave them behind and ask about them later. It never occurred to me that this guy I’d been friends with for two years would suddenly change his demeanor towards me. Somehow, I never saw him again last semester, but this semester I’ve had a few run-ins and, on each occasion, he has made it excessively obvious that he has no desire to be associated with me. That’s all well and good, but we have friends in common, and therefore encounter each other in social situations that cannot be avoided.

Last weekend, at a party, I saw him, and decided against saying hello when I noticed that he turned his head or body away from me whenever I looked in his direction. A mutual friend suggested that I be the one to go up and say “hi,” but I declined because it seemed to me that I would have been invading his space. This morning, when driving up the Loop Road, I saw him again and, as he walked towards me, he spotted me and immediately turned to walk in another direction. This action made me realise that I should have said hello at the party, just so that it was clear I was unaffected by a hook-up that happened months ago. What makes a guy—a senior and an athlete—think that the appropriate reaction to seeing old hook-ups is running away? Especially on such a small campus!

A friend of mine had a similar thing happen to her recently. She was invited to a party by a guy who was clearly interested in her and spent the night with him. Much like I did in my own experience, she left when she felt was appropriate to make sure that she was comfortable and that she was not intruding in any way. Following her graceful exit, his response has been anything but. When he sees her on campus or in class, he carefully avoids making eye-contact or creating a situation where they might have to say hello. Socially, he is only making his own immaturity noticeable. No one but the two of them need know that something happened between them; however, because he so clearly avoids her, people around them begin to wonder what the back story is.

No matter what the situation, we’ve all at least experienced it in a second-hand way. Friends have told us stories about guys girls being awkward and acting differently around them. Maybe you’ve seen the interactions—a girl standing talking with friends before the start of a class and a guy walks in, glances at the girl, and quickly settles himself as far from her as possible. We go to a small school, with a social scene that is smaller still. These things cannot be avoided but the awkwardness can be. The best way to act post hook-up is to act as though it never happened (this is not recommended for dealing with a post-relationship situation however). That ensures that both parties, as well as the people around them, are not made uncomfortable. Additionally, it means that life can continue as normal and friends don’t have to worry about people who have ended up in bed together ending up at a party together.