So you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of a dilemma by getting a little too cozy with your friend/neighbor/roommate/colleague/favorite barman/ex. For whatever reason, you found yourself in a vulnerable position, and one thing lead to another. Perhaps you had a bit too much to drink and the alcohol not only blurred your vision but also the line between “YOLO” and “there is a good chance I will actually remember this”.
Perhaps you had just gotten out of a relationship and needed a hug (that’s what you were going in for before the situation was manipulated by pheromone ninjas). Perhaps Rihanna’s “Love in a Hopeless Place” began blaring through the speakers just as the two of you locked eyes with awkward sympathy. Or maybe you just wanted to release your inhibitions for once. Whatever the reason, you ended up hooking up with someone you’re generally ‘not supposed to’ and now reality has set in and things are pretty awkward between the two of you. You’re not sure where you stand, how you feel and especially not how you’re supposed to behave.
Here are 5 tips for how to handle the situation:
1. Be Cool.
It’s important that you don’t freak out OR coward out.
You may feel inclined to judge yourself, the other person or the situation a bit too harshly. If neither of you has spoken about the situation as yet, try not to assess things too much until the air has been cleared and you have had a decent discussion.
For now, refrain from making any assumptions.
Don’t assume that the two of you are now in a relationship and are going to go public or official soon. If nothing has been defined yet, please, just be cool.
On the other hand, don’t be cold about it. You may feel awkward or pressured (or just not interested) but you do owe it to them to be considerate and respectful. Just going cold and not speaking to them, is not cool. It’s better to simply tell them how you feel when you get the chance. Don’t underestimate someone’s ability to understand and accept a situation that is communicated respectfully.
2. Evaluate Your Feelings.
How do you feel about the situation? Deal with your feelings before you try to figure out how the other person feels. You may wake up in the morning and the first thing you think is, “What do they think of me? Am I supposed to call? Ask them out again?” But what about how you really feel?
Well, was it fun?
Perhaps you think it was exhilarating and liberating. Would you do it again?
Perhaps you think it was awkward and wrong. Would you rather that never happen again, ever?
Perhaps you did want it to happen, but not that way. Do you want more from this? Like a relationship?
It’s important that you know what you want from the situation, and that you’re honest with yourself because if you’re not, things could easily spiral out of control, especially because this is someone that you’re likely to see just about every day.
One of the most important things about a hook-up is setting personal boundaries and only allowing things to go as far as you’re comfortable.
If you’re not happy with your actions (or are feeling extremely anxious/guilty about it) then perhaps you need to come to terms with the fact that you’re probably not emotionally ready for casual affairs and that you may need to take time out to deal with your emotional anxieties before getting intimate with others.
3. Acknowledge the Situation and Confront It.
Unless you and the person have agreed to have situational amnesia, you need to address the elephant in the room before you have a stampede of emotion and confusion.
If you’re bothered by anything, speak to the person. It is better to just put it out there instead of walking around the house/neighborhood/office scratching your nose and putting your hand to your forehead every time the person in question walks by.
Someone needs to say something. Don’t feel like that someone shouldn’t be you. Wouldn’t you rather have things cleared up before people start asking questions and you start becoming paranoid about the possibility of rumors?
If this is a friendship it is especially important to discuss things and either re-establish your relationship or take things further – if that is what both of you want. If you want to see them again, you should let them know. If you don’t want to see them again yet it is obvious that they are trying to reach out to you, then you at least owe it to them to let them know you’re not ready for anything more.
What happens if you’re the person being given the cold shoulder? Again, don’t freak out, and you should definitely not cause a scene. It wouldn’t be in very good taste for you to hover over their cubicle, outside their window or at their workplace loudly asking, “Why haven’t you called me yet?!” It is possible that they have not called because they are unsure of how to handle the situation and are possibly hoping that you would address it first.
Perhaps they are giving you your space. Another likely option, unfortunately, is that they are not interested in seeing you again. The only way to find out is to put your ego aside and ask. Ask to speak to them privately to find out how they feel about what had happened between you two. If they continue to avoid you, won’t answer your calls or put off meeting you for a discussion, you might just have to accept that they don’t want to deal with the consequences of your hook-up and were not looking for anything beyond the affair.
4. Make a (Mature) Decision.
You’ve evaluated your feelings and had the discussion, now you need to decide what you’re going to do.
If you know you’re not ready to pursue anything beyond the hook-up, communicate and hope for the least amount of drama to ensue.
If you do want to pursue a relationship, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and not just because you think it’s the right thing to do since you’ve already hooked up. If the two of you are compatible, comfortable with each other, emotionally mature about your relationship as it stands and would probably get together in public, then perhaps you could consider it. If you have your reservations about each other and are completely uncertain about where this could go, then try to get to know each other a bit more (if that’s what you want).
If you want to continue with the casual affair and know that you would be mature enough to accept and respect boundaries, then by all means do continue.
If you are on the receiving end of the cold shoulder, the mature decision would be to let it go and move on.
5. Keep Calm and Carry On.
If the two of you will not be hooking up again, accept it and move on. If your feelings are unrequited or if you’re back in the friend zone, it’s best not to focus on ways to convince the other person that you’re right for them and focus on whether you’re willing to settle for the relationship as it stands.
If you’re still going to be just friends/neighbors/roommates/colleagues/exes, then try to normalize the situation by going back to the way you were before the hook-up.
Don’t focus on regrets and disappointments. See this as an insight – you’re at least closer to knowing what it is you want from a relationship. Now you’re able to set the boundaries for what you expect. When you meet someone new, let them know what you want from the relationship upfront. Remember that you never have to give control to anyone when it comes to your desires of intimacy. You don’t need to settle for anyone else’s standards. What you really need is to find someone who is compatible with yours.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Tessa on December 30, 2014:
I, too, had this problem; I work 16 hour night shftis and I had difficulties shutting off my head and leaving my work behind. I actually found an OTC sleep aid that worked and didn't cause any problems with my asthma, residual grogginess or other side effects. It's generic name is doxylamine succinate and it's an antihistamine, found at Wal-Mart for only a few dollars a box. I urge you to try this before you totally give up.Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable. Don't read or watch tv in bed, anything you do in bed besides what's supposed to be done can trick your brain into thinking that it needs to focus on something else than sleep at that particular time. Other than that, sit in a quiet room and read a book. It may also help if you take a warm bath, listen to music or drink a soothing, warm drink of your choice. Don't watch tv or surf the net until you're sleepy, it's too consuming. Make sure that everything is done for the day and the only thing left is for you to go to bed. Read until you can barely hold your eyes open and then go to bed!I found this to be the only thing to shut my brain off when I needed to sleep-the stress of work and the hours that I work shifted my focus from sleeping.I hope I've helped and that you find relief soon, God bless.
Ana on August 29, 2013:
I seriously had an LOL moment! super funny with some great advice. I agree with Nancy, in theory, but we seem to always find ourselves in those positions. Great Read.
Nancy Owens from USA on August 28, 2013:
This sounds like pretty good advice for after a mistake. I guess I am old fashioned, though, and advocate getting to know someone, then allowing the relationship to develop naturally, and finally intimacy.
If something is good it is worth waiting for. And I feel it adds a value component, one person to another. I mean, if they don't like you enough to just want to spend time with you, then why sleep with them?
Ocean123 on August 28, 2013:
Great article, very funny and informative. Keep it up.