Behind Closed Doors: Ghosts of hook-ups past

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October 30, 2014

8:56 PM

It does not take long to realize that the College of William and Mary is not a big place. While the Tribe’s small size  supports a tight-knit community, it also reduces anonymity. For better or worse, you see everyone around at some point, including past crushes, flings, hookups, significant others and any number of other classifications you can assign to people with whom you’ve been involved. But before you reach for a paper bag to put over your head before you leave your room, take a deep breath. I promise those encounters will make for some pretty funny stories later.

See if this situation sounds familiar: It’s Monday morning and you had a little too much fun this weekend with somebody, so you start the damage control. While you are busy “untagging” all those compromising pregame photos, you experience the first phase of dread in the post-hookup process. Still in the bubble of your room, you can’t help but wonder who knows what about your evening and what messes you still need to clean up.

It’s enough to give anyone terrible anxiety. The feeling that things are out of your control makes this stage hard, but the only way to get past it is to get out of bed and deal with it. Nearly always, things are never as bad as you imagined.

Fastforward to after the initial dread phase. Things probably still are not totally resolved. You can’t quite seem to shake the embarrassment. I only have one thing to say about ruminating and letting yourself think over and over about what you wish you had done differently: Cut it out. It will only stress you out. Save your energy for dealing with situations as they arise.

Sooner or later, that situation that you’ve been dreading will come up. Maybe you run into the person in the Sadler Center. Maybe they text you. Maybe you show up to the first day of the new semester and they are in your class (which definitely happens, take it from me).

While those situations can be absolutely excruciating at the time, this is the part where things start to get better, because all the uncertainty is gone. You can stop worrying, because you ran into your weekend fling in line at Aroma’s and it wasn’t really that bad.  Even if you were having a sweatpants day.

Sooner or later, that situation that you’ve been dreading will come up. Maybe you run into the person in the Sadler Center. Maybe they text you. Maybe you show up to the first day of the new semester and they are in your class (which definitely happens, take it from me).

If your weekend hookup (or date-gone-horribly-wrong, or ill-advised late night “hang out,” or whatever) really made things that awkward for you, it had to be pretty funny at some points.
Take it in stride and laugh about it. Your friends will probably appreciate a few stories about somebody from your history class trying to pick you up at a party by telling you they looked you up on the course roster, or about getting assigned to the same class project group as a person that you had a sloppy dance floor makeout with freshman year.

Finally, give your awkward hookup counterpart a chance. They might be wishing things had gone better also. Who knows, things might even turn out pretty well with them, despite the current situation. It will always be pretty entertaining to look back and remember that things all started on a sweaty dance floor somewhere, especially if you’re looking back on it from a happy relationship. Some stories have a happy ending, right?

If you’re like most people, you will make some sex and dating mistakes while you’re here. It happens to the best of us, and you don’t need to let it stress you out. Do whatever reputation repair you feel is necessary, and then let it be a funny story and nothing more. Take some chances, mess up, and make mistakes. That’s what college is for.

Cate M is a Behind Closed Doors columnist who has probably made enough mistakes for all of us.

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