Walk of Shame or Stride of Pride: How to Navigate the Morning After a Hookup

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Welcome to college, the land of trial and error. We don’t have parents telling us what we can and can’t do. We don’t have a curfew. You make the decisions that you make. You went out last night and you partied. You had a good time. You got drunk with your friends and they dared you to talk to that cute person at the bar. In the morning, you wake up in some random person’s bed. What a nice wake up call, right? In a sticky situation and not sure what to do?

Try some of these tips to help you navigate the morning after a hook-up if you feel nervous or unsure.

1. Ditch Immediately

Do you remember playing ding-dong ditch as a kid? Well, try that again but from inside (much more high stakes). Sometimes after a hook-up, you wake up embarrassed, knowing that you drunk you does not equal the real you. Or you wake up and… you really need to pee. You get up and you figure you might as well leave (#ditchthatdude). “I have tried waking up earlier than the other person,” University of California Los Angeles junior Lily Wells said. The morning after a hookup, more often than not, all the buzz from the night before faded away. “The night before, there are so many factors. You go out and drink and then the next day, you wake up and face the reality of what happened,” Wells said. Before you go, take a look in the mirror, fix your hair and then dash.

Leaving right away? Not a bad thing. You shouldn’t feel bad about sneaking away. A hook-up equals no strings attached, which means you can sever your ties quickly if needed. Most likely, you wouldn’t consider this person a significant other or someone special. So, if you engaged in a steamy make-out session or a hot hook-up the night before, you shouldn’t feel bad for leaving early in the morning. Honestly, sometimes you just want to get out of the way or because of bad morning breath.

2. Talk

There may have not been too much time for this last night but maybe you just want to talk. When you hook up the night before and wake up the next morning, sometimes you want to stick around and wait for that person to wake up. You weren’t creepily watching them sleep, were you? Or maybe you were contemplating what you might say when they wake up. “I’ve done that before where I stick around in the morning just to say goodbye and to tell them that I had a good time,” UC Berkeley senior Maya Hudson said, “I am sort of hoping that they will want to see me again.” A part of you wants to throw a line to see if they bite. You want to stay and talk to them and see if that spark still exists. Let’s face it, early morning sleepy voice conversations equal cute conversations.

3. Hook Up again

Another solution: hook up again. Maybe you didn’t get enough from the night before and you want hook up again. Your excuse goes something like this: you wanted to see if you two still connect. Who can blame you? “This is what college is about. Hooking up and partying is something that you have to do. It’s almost like a rite of passage,” UCLA sophomore Joe Williams said. You or people you know might agree and develop the stamina to go out every night and flirt with everyone they meet. That’s okay if that’s not how you do things. If you don’t, don’t try to be something that you’re not just to fit in.

4. Decompress

In order to get over the feelings of unsatisfying nights or surprisingly satisfying nights alike, take some time to clear your head. Go for a walk. Sit down and write about the experience and your feelings. Listen to music and let your mind drift.

5. Get Back To Your Routine

Do the things that you need to do to feel like yourself again. Get home, relax, shower and eat (the best part). Try to pull yourself back together and put yourself on level ground. Then, find some caffeine to help medicate that headache you’re still nursing. Take a shower and wash last night off of your skin.

6. Talk About It

You know you go to them for everything. Talk to your best friends or roommates. “Talk to friends—you have an impulse to react and tell your friends what happened,” Wells said. Friends listen and can be there to offer to support or just be there to hear all the dirty details. Whether the hook up was a good experience or not, friends can give you a different perspective and they can hopefully make you feel better.

Beyond your #squad, you might want to seek out professional opinions too. Whether an RA, a doctor, a therapist, or even a parent, talk to someone else who you trust. An outsider perspective from a professional or from someone who knows you or from someone who has been through college and felt the pressures can sympathize with you or even challenge you to realign your beliefs.

In college, some of us believe that if we got overlooked in high school, that college would be our place to shine, stand out, be wild. And for some of us, that happens. For others, it doesn’t. But if you have no hope, think about this: “From an RA point of view,”Ohio State alumna Alison Rae Sutton said. “Along the lines of students navigating the morning after, it’s been a general consensus of stories of students exploring, going to frat row, getting a little bit of liquid courage just to talk to that one person that you think is cute and cool. But honestly, the majority of relationships in college that I have heard about or know of have been because of a hook-up. Where it started out as a hook-up, but then they got to know each other and formed a bond.”

7. Internalize

Let the events of last night roll over in your mind. Take the good things and the bad. Remember or forget. It’s up to you. But one thing you have to do: “You have to internalize what you’ve done and what has happened. It is a part of your journey,” said Sutton.  “You’re 18 or 19 and you’re so vulnerable and influenced by so many things. You don’t know the outcome of something until you do it and that may make you reevaluate before moving forward.” It important to check in with yourself in order to make sure that you feel okay. If the hook-up culture doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, then maybe this kind of social interaction is not for you.

8. Do Some Soul Searching

When it comes down to it, we all want attention, care and love. “You need to know what you are looking for and to decide what qualities you want in a person that you really want to do this with,” Sutton said.

Getting intimate with someone, no matter how not big of a deal it seems in the college hookup culture, to you it could mean a lot. You may consider it a big deal. Some of you may feel that you want to save this part of you for someone really special that you really feel a connection with and that’s totally okay. “Truth is, there is a lot of insecurity in the hook-up culture,” Sutton said.

At the end of the day, do some soul searching. Sit down with yourself and ask yourself a few questions. Ask yourself, “Was this validating for me?” “Where do I see this headed?” and “What does this make me feel?”

The main thing to remember: Snow yourself, your boundaries and your needs. Know that no one can tell you what you can or can’t do. No one else can tell you who you are. That part remains entirely up to you.

Morgan is a senior English Major at UC Berkeley. She has stacks and stacks of writing that hopefully will be seen one day. She loves singing and is currently a thriving YouTube ukulele student.

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