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Guys' Take On: Running Into Last Year's Hook-Ups This Fall

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You’re walking along the sidewalk heading to your next class. It’s a beautiful day and you have plenty of important things to think about: your first major exam, what you’ll wear to that party tonight, etc. You probably make quick eye contact with the people that pass you, maybe smiling at an acquaintance or two. And then it happens. You make slight eye contact, pause for a second, have brain recognition and realize that you’re looking at a guy you hooked up with one night last semester. Awkward! Do you stop and make conversation? Do you quickly look away and pretend you never noticed him? Does seeing him bring back a rush of old memories from your brief encounter?

It doesn’t matter whether you hail from the biggest of campuses or smallest of private schools—it's impossible to avoid anyone forever. It’s likely that neither of you were expecting to see each other. Since there isn’t some all-encompassing rulebook for this situation, he will feel equally uncertain. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have the advantage and be able to listen in on his thoughts when you both make eye contact?

Related: 17 Things We Wish We Could Say to Our Exes

Her Campus talked to 18 guys about how they’d feel if they ran into a former flame back on campus. We asked them about their reaction, your reaction and what they would want to happen after your chance encounter. So next time you find yourself in this potentially uncomfortable situation, you’ll have an idea of what’s running through his head—and how to come away from it with no harm done.

In his shoes

Let’s start with what he’s thinking when this all goes down. What’s his initial reaction? What factors affect how he’d react upon seeing you? How can you turn the situation in your favor… or at least make it bearable?

Almost 63 percent of guys said that they would view running into a former hook-up as an awkward situation. Brian from Washington State University has experienced this firsthand: “Last semester I ran into a girl that I hadn’t seen since the morning [after we hooked up],” he says, “Obviously it’s going to be awkward if the last time you saw each other, she was quickly throwing on clothes and trying to get back to her place. I honestly just sort of did a head nod and kept walking. I probably should’ve stopped and talked to her or something, but I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable either.”

Several guys, such as Danny from Mississippi State University, have tried to make conversation only to end up making the situation worse: “When I realized that [a former hook-up] had a class with me, I decided that it would be best to talk to her before class started,” Danny explains. “Within a few seconds of conversation, I realized that she was extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed about what had happened. Then, class started and we had to sit next to each other with all of this awkwardness between us until it was over.”

We agree that these situations sound less than pleasant, but seeing a former hook-up doesn’t always have to be awkward. Almost 25 percent of guys said they would be indifferent if they encountered a hook-up and another 12 percent of guys felt seeing a former hook-up would be nice. Who knows, maybe seeing you on campus will be just the thing that makes his day!

The factors

So what is it about running into a former hook-up that has some guys (and some of you collegiettes, too!) on edge? After being allowed to select each option that would be a factor to them, almost 88 percent of guys said not speaking to each other since you had hooked up would make the situation most uncomfortable. “If I were to run into a girl I’d hooked up with but not spoken to since, I would feel pretty bad and that would make things awkward,” says Michael from Southern Illinois University.

Half of the guys surveyed said that it would be most awkward if they had ended things on bad terms with a former hook-up. Blake from the University of Missouri just wants to move on from the drama:“I hooked up with a girl that clearly wanted more when I clearly didn’t,” Blake says. “I was pretty straightforward about it, but she still was really angry and upset. She basically blew up at me and I haven’t talked to her since. If I ever run into her on campus, it will be awful.”

Sometimes, though, a run-in with a hook-up can be the exact opposite of Blake’s situation. About 37 percent of guys said it would be awkward if they had wanted the hook-up to turn into something more. In that case, a collegiette could be running into a guy that she had to let down. “I ran into a girl once that I wanted to date when she just wanted to hook up,” says Kyle from Vanderbilt University. “Seeing her was obviously tough because I’d been rejected. I just decided to be polite but get out of the situation as quickly as possible.”

The key: making a point to amicably end your contact with a hook-up will pay off in the long run. But if things went sour before you cut off communication, it’s always best to just be polite and avoid re-hashing any drama that may have gone down in the past so you can be on your way.

His reaction

When it comes to how he thinks he’d actually react in the moment, there was much less of a consensus. The guys we talked to were in a three-way tie for how they thought they’d act if they ran into a former hook-up:

  • He would stop and start a conversation… No biggie!
  • He’d give a quick form of acknowledgement (a wave or head nod) and then move on. OR… He’d find a happy medium and give a short ‘Hello!’ or ‘How are you?’ and then move on.
  • Ben from the University of Missouri prefers a happy medium: “I’d give her a ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ and that’s about it,” he says. “You don’t want to give someone the cold shoulder because that’s immature, but you don’t want to start a conversation either. There probably isn’t much to say and no one wants small talk to get awkward.” 

In your shoes

Now that you know how guys think they’d react to running into a former hook-up, let’s turn the tables. How would a former hook-up ideally like you to react if you ran into each other on campus? The answers were mixed, but we’ve ranked them in order of most preferred to least:

  1. You give him a quick ‘Hi!’ and move on (38 percent).
  2. You wave or smile at him and move on (36 percent).
  3. You’d stop and make pleasant conversation (13 percent).
  4. You’d stop and try to make conversation, but you’d be awkward about it (12 percent). 

Luckily, most guys want the same thing for you as they want for themselves – a quick acknowledgement so that you can both go back to your day.

You had him at ‘hello’… or not

This may surprise you, or it may not… Some guys secretly hope that after your encounter, he may turn into something more than just ‘a former hook-up’ of yours. When it comes to rekindling things, or hooking up again, 63 percent of guys said they’d consider it. Danny from Mississippi State University said that he’d be interested in starting things up again with a former flame: “If we had a good time [when we hooked up before] and it wasn’t awkward afterwards, I would definitely consider it,” he admits.

When the stakes got more serious – we asked whether guys would potentially want to be in a relationship with a former hook-up – fewer of them were interested. About 37 percent of guys would consider dating a girl they’d hooked up with before. Mike from Northeastern University says, “It would be the same as if I were getting into a relationship with any other girl. [I would consider] her personality, future plans and how we were around each other.”

Blake from the University of Missouri says, “It would obviously depend on whether I had a girlfriend at the time or not. If we had a good connection, we were both single, and we both had time to give it a try, I would [go for it].” The odds of him wanting something more are pretty good if your time together showed potential and you had fun together. However, around 38 percent of guys didn’t think they’d want to, and another 25 percent of guys said ‘Definitely not!’

So when it comes to having any sort of contact with a former hook-up, what do guys prefer? It’s kind of a toss-up – half of guys said that they keep in touch with a former hook-up but it varies in regards to how often they actually contact them. Most prefer brief communication (a text or saying hello when they see each other) every once in awhile. And if one of you is in a relationship when you run into each other? The consensus was that it’s best to just cut communication: “I wouldn’t want to be rude if I ran into a girl that I’d hooked up with,” says Kyle from Vanderbilt University, “but I’m in a relationship now, and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize anything by starting up a conversation with her. I’d hope that my girlfriend would do the same in that situation. Just give a quick hello and keep walking.”

So there you have it, collegiettes! Next time you find a campus stroll interrupted by a guy that you had shared ‘intimate’ relations with, you will have a good idea of how he’s feeling.By keeping your cool and being concise, you can move right along to your next class (and the next Campus Cutie) without a backward glance!

Have you ever had a horrifically awkward run-in with a former hook-up? How about a run-in that rekindled a former flame? Tell us your stories in the comments!


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