Should I follow up with a random hookup?
May 8, 2008 6:12 PM   Subscribe

A few years ago I had a very drunken, but very exciting hook-up with a woman I met at a bar. I never saw her again, but now she's working at my institution. Should I follow up?

I knew her name and where she worked. And every now and then, bored, or for whatever reason I'd google-stalk her. I wasn't really interested in seeing her again... but it was just some little harmless thing I would do. I was always hoping that her job would put a picture of her up on her employee page, just so I could get a look at her again...

Today, again bored and thinking about past hookups, I googled her again and this time she popped up at my own institution! With a picture. It's definitely the person I remember.

About the hookup: We met at one bar and hit it off. Went to another and drank some more. We talked a lot and realized we were about the same age, had the same interests and similar career paths. As we left we stopped in the park and that's where we got physical. We parted ways and I never saw her again. It was very exciting, and I still think about it every now and then. Mainly I think, "Wow. What a weird hookup. That was cool..."

So here I am looking at her entry on my directory. It's all there: office hours, phone number, email, etc. I could stroll over and pop in if I wanted. Freaky, huh?

Realizing all the strange stalker-ish issues involved in a question like this, I'm 99% sure I want to leave it alone. But that 1% thinks it would be very interesting to maybe stop by and say, "Hey. I remember you. We met..."

The way our institution is she is in an entirely different building... so it's highly unlikely I would ever run into her randomly. Also, it'd be hard for me to arrange to "accidentally" bump in to her, although I suppose it could happen if I were to cruise her building form time to time.

So what do you think, hive mind? It's a bad idea, AMIRITE?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's a bad idea, AMIRITE?

No, why would it be a bad idea? What harm could sending her an e-mail do?
posted by jayder at 6:18 PM on May 8, 2008

It's not a bad idea. Don't push your luck and try to force anything, but come up with one good reason you're in her building (colleague works there?) and then try to randomly run into her. When you do, her face should tell you everything you need to know about how welcome you are around her. If she doesn't seem put off by your presence, ask her if she'd like to get a drink sometime. (No sense pretending you don't want to get physical again, but no need to be lascivious about it, either. If she doesn't respond well, don't bother her again.

Yeah, there's a chance you'll freak her out, but she's every bit as responsible for the hook-up as you are, and running awkwardly into former one-night-stands is just a part of that choice. She'll only be freaked out for a short while, anyhow, as long as you behave yourself.
posted by chudmonkey at 6:20 PM on May 8, 2008

Drinking, hookup, then separation... You google her at times, then one day she pops up. I'd say go for it! In fact I don't see why you'd avoid it now that you know how to reach her.
posted by ddaavviidd at 6:31 PM on May 8, 2008

i don't think it's a bad idea, i just would examine why you never followed up with her after that night, because i am sure SHE will wonder. maybe you were just young and irresponsible, and that's a valid answer (assuming you were 22--this doesn't fly as well at 32). but just figure out where the cards lay on your side of the table in regards to her before getting in too deep.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:36 PM on May 8, 2008

go for it, but given your work situation do it slowly and respectfully
(put yourself in her shoes)
posted by caddis at 6:38 PM on May 8, 2008

I admit, there are maybe one or two people in the world who I actively avoid and would rather never see again. But I am generally really happy when I run into people I thought I'd lost (unless she's g-stalking you too...isn't that what the kids do nowadays, suck face at the bar and check out Facebook the next day for camera phone pictures of the event?)

If I was the lady, I'd probably be uncreeped and happy to see you.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:40 PM on May 8, 2008

Sure, walk over and "accidentally" run into her. But -- be prepared for the awkwardness of you saying "OMG, is it really you?" and her saying, "uh, sorry, have we met?"

Just because this was a seminal event (so to speak) in your life doesn't mean that it had left any lasting impression on her. Be prepared to handle that (or perhaps worse, her recognizing you but pretending she doesn't, so she doesn't have to explain you to her new hookup in the next cubicle) with grace and tact.
posted by Forktine at 6:44 PM on May 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

Seconding Forktine. When you run into her, be prepared with some comments about you had that great conversation about X at Y place years ago, with something about how you are still in the same field and work over in building Z -- keep it short and sweet, and something that anyone else nearby would find fairly boring. This will help remind her of you, give her an out if she doesn't want to be reminded of you, and give her an in if she likes being reminded of you.
posted by yohko at 7:48 PM on May 8, 2008

i'd start with dropping her an email. safer, more distance, and it seems simpler and safer all around. maybe "i was googling for people i knew and lost track of and discovered you were here" sort of approach.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:51 PM on May 8, 2008

I am also a big fan of the accidental run into approach - I don't know how you fake stumbling across her email address.
posted by crossoverman at 8:12 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding the email approach. Could save a lot of potential awkwardness for both of you.
posted by onalark at 8:15 PM on May 8, 2008

Accidental run-in. Even then, creepy,
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:21 PM on May 8, 2008

Face to face is SOOOO much better when you're trying to gauge someone. Accidentally run into her would be the way I would go. Just work through some of the variations of how the conversation could go, it could be really awkward if you aren't prepared for it. Just come with a smile "plow through" any of the odd moments.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:30 PM on May 8, 2008

Face-to-face, for sure. However, be prepared for her to react oddly by seeing you, especially given the context change of work, and be prepared for her to be now (and possibly then) in a committed relationship or otherwise unavailable. Plan for a quick exchange of hellos, see how she reacts (being flustered can be a good sign), and suggest meeting up for a coffee after work the next day.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:15 PM on May 8, 2008

No no no not email. Email is to trivialising. Face to face or maybe on the phone. It's absolutely reasonable to want to touch base now you know she's at your institution. Be direct, friendly but totally non-pushy and without expectation. Good luck!
posted by anadem at 9:17 PM on May 8, 2008

I wouldn't try the 'accidental run-in', because it would seem pretty fake (unless you had a totally legit excuse). The problem with email is, what if she doesn't respond? Then what? You obviously can't do the accidental run-in at that point right?

A third option would be to just pop by and say hi, but of course that could be pretty awkward. You'd need to really keep your cool, but face-to-face interaction is better and you want to keep the artifice to a minimum.
posted by delmoi at 9:17 PM on May 8, 2008

Not email! There's no context in email. It's too ambiguous. I would definitely pop over and say hi, but just keep in mind that her impression of the evening *may* not be the same as yours. Do NOT gush. Do not even slightly allude to the former bonking! Just say hi, and make it clear that you are happy to see her again. Try not to say or do anything that will set up any expectations (do NOT invite her to lunch, or god forbid, your car*)! Also, keep in mind that she is going to be waaaay caught off guard, so even if it goes well, she will file it under "oh good lord, that was weird, I sounded so effin' dumb!" If you can keep it very short and sweet and alleviate the awkwardness by having planned what you're going to say, it'll be a happier chance meeting that may possibly have another! Heh.


posted by iamkimiam at 9:30 PM on May 8, 2008

Thirding Forktine. For all you know, she might have been going out & doing something similar every other night for years.

Which reminds me of a story from a female friend: a guy came up & said "Hey, how are you? What are you up to these days?"

"Sorry, do I know you?"

"Uh, we dated for six weeks a few years ago..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on May 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Definitely no email. Go over, say you heard she was working there (no need to mention Google) and that you wanted to say hi. Gauge reactions. Perhaps invite to coffee, but not drinks. Good luck!
posted by bassjump at 9:50 PM on May 8, 2008

"Accidentally" running into them: not creepy, probably should be done soon before you build this into a big thing in your head
Emailing and telling them you've been googling: creepy.

However, my workplace sends out regular emails telling us when they hire new staff. If you have something like that it gives an in to either email or go visit (I think face to face is better, YMMV).

Do not even slightly allude to the former bonking!

Really important! She does not want to start a new job thinking everyone knows her business and/or thinks she's a slut. So not only don't bring it up to her straight away, don't tell anyone else either.
posted by shelleycat at 10:06 PM on May 8, 2008

Any reason why you didn't reveal your gender? I think some of the answers here might have been different if people weren't making their own assumptions.

Anyhoo, I'm in the "bad idea" column. An ONS (which this barely was), is exactly that, a one-time thing. It's done, you move on, or risk going into "Fatal Attraction" mode. You used variations of the word "stalk" twice in your post, and you seem to realize that there's an element of obsession to this that may not bode well if the object of it also sees it that way.

However, if you must pursue it in order to at least be able to stop agonizing over "what might have been", I vote for e-mail. Seriously, you need to allow for the possibility that this woman may not want to be physically confronted with something she now either considers to be a mistake or a bit of the past that she has no need/desire to revisit. If there's no response to the e-mail, consider that your answer, either from her or from the fates.

Oh yeah, also:

go for it, but given your work situation do it slowly and respectfully
(put yourself in her shoes)

posted by fuse theorem at 10:21 PM on May 8, 2008

Do the accidental run-in, with a very good excuse (colleague/pal/guy friend in her office). Then drop by, like walking by the cubicles, as if looking for someone, glance at her, then move on, then make a slow back return as if trying to recall "where did i see you before..."..and then give a big smile and handshake and greet her with a warm "how are you?" "Are you new" "Is everything going well?"

If you want to, you can do a "strange, i was just thinking about you the other day and wondering where you've been and what do you know?" line.

If her reaction is a blank, then at least you can say both of you chatted once in the bar <>> (do not mention the specifics after that) and she particularly impressed you with ((Something she said)).

If her reaction is familiar, then followup with a "do you want to meet up for a coffee?" "Hey, i'm really glad to see you".
posted by prudie at 10:22 PM on May 8, 2008

Arrange to "accidentally" engage the other person in passing, but keep it 100% neutral. Allude not to any prior contact!

THEN follow up with an email along the lines of "OMG, I think you and I have met before..." blah blah and see what happens.

FYI, for what it's worth, this is exactly what I would do. I would also first try to find out from someone who might know more whether the person may be married/involved/celibate, whatever, so I'd have better knowledge of my chances.

(Of course, if all you want is another wild random night, it's probably a bad move to seek it at work, even with a person not in your immediate environment. Just saying. YMMV.)
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 5:13 AM on May 9, 2008

Please don't email, lots of companies monitior their employees email, and especially at a new job she may not want anything that references anything inappropriate. Give her a little time to get her feet under her and run into her. See how that goes. Good luck!
posted by 8dot3 at 6:27 AM on May 9, 2008

Stay away from the email, as aforementioned.

Also, I'd like to detract from most of the aforementioned and point out that an "accidental" bumping into her is bullshit, and the entire experience will be a lie at some level, on your part. Something that, should things develop, you're probably going to have to divulge to this person at some point, and that may or may not go smoothly.

Don't risk that. Pop by her office, ask her if she has a minute, introduce yourself (by name, not as "that person you randomly hooked up with that one crazy night"), and tell her the truth. Sounds scary, right? "Yeah I always thought it was a really great night and I think about you from time to time, and lo and behold I stumbled across you on the employee information portal. I just thought I'd say "hi and welcome to the company."

Guess what, she's human too, and if she's anything approaching normal, the conversation will develop smoothly from there.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:07 AM on May 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

Just speaking for myself, I'd be totally weirded out if some guy I'd had a hookup with remembered me years later and came up to talk to me. She may take your self-introduction as friendly, or she may see it as you over-eagerly looking to get more of the same - which since you work at the same place is awkward as hell.

The only way that this could fly for me is if the guy were really laid back and, when we talked, he made no moves whatsoever that could be interpreted as a sexual invitation - just let it be a casual conversation, you know? Maybe mentioning the drinks and the bars and NOT THE NOOKY. And make it a really quick meeting. Maybe give her your information - a business card would do, if it has your email on it (and it's not as "let's hook up" as a phone number scrawled on a napkin or something like that). Let her know you work in the next building over, so she doesn't feel terrified that she might run into you in the hallways at any moment.

Only if you'd kept it light and casual and short would I relax enough from the "OMG my past is haunting me" to decide whether to respond the next day via email or whatever.

But then I'm pretty shy and am not the type to have a random hookup a public space anyway. So she may react differently.
posted by GardenGal at 7:38 AM on May 9, 2008

fuse theorem points out that we don't know your gender, and that some people might have made assumptions in their answers.

It doesn't matter if you are male, female, intersex, transgendered, whatever, if you do speak with her you need to do it in a way where no one at work will think it remarkable or wonder what is going in between the two of you. In a professional contex, her (and yours) coworkers (especially on a new job!) shouldn't know about her sex life -- whatever the gender of the OP, whatever the OP's sexual orientation is, whatever sexual orientation this woman presents to the world these days.

I wouldn't email, as that can't be considered discrete with a work account (even if you know the employer doesn't check it, she might not, or she might have an assistant or coworker look at it). Also, she might be more likely to recognise you in person, not everyone is good with names.

I like allkindsoftime's idea (in addition to Forktine's -- I guess you'll have to pick the one that works for you), but mention some of the things you talked about that night and say something about what wonderful discussion you had, not about what a great hookup you had. If you were at all memorable this should jog her memory, and she will know that you remember all the rest and think that was wonderful too. If things go anywhere you can tell her about the rest later.
posted by yohko at 7:55 AM on May 9, 2008

It's probably a very bad idea to drop an email because those are monitored and could be used against you or her. Drop in on her in person and say hi and see if there is a spark and ask her out. Simple as that. Doing it any other way than in person could be seen as weird, I wouldn't even know how to introduce yourself in an email or phone call.
posted by JJ86 at 8:12 AM on May 9, 2008

Wait for the institutional party. Then it is truly random and you aren't just "dropping by."
posted by Ironmouth at 8:31 AM on May 9, 2008

If I were her I'd prefer a phone call- just "Hey, I was so stoked to hear you were working here now! I don't know if you remember me but I had a great time with you when we hooked up years ago and I'd love to talk. If you're up for coffee or anything, call me back!"

And then drop it. If she doesn't call, there's your answer.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:37 AM on May 9, 2008

Hm, the fact that you never saw each other again after a "wonderful night" makes me think she had a different view of it. Be prepared to not get a followup.
posted by herbaliser at 12:13 PM on May 9, 2008

I definitely agree that a faked accidental meeting is BS and starts the whole thing out as a lie. And lying is never easy to explain, keep going, or excuse. Plus, if you can't justify what you're doing to her, can you justify it at all?

I also definitely agree that you need to take a completely business-appropriate approach. Giving her your business card without a personal number appended to it, going over at 10:30 on a Tuesday morning not 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, that kind of thing will go far to ease her mind that you're not going to make her work life miserable. But if she responds well, you can soften that approach ... so that she's not confused and wondering what sort of mixed signals you might be giving.

In general, honest communication will go a long way.
posted by Capri at 3:57 AM on May 10, 2008

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