Awkward Eye Contact: When Hooking Up With A Stranger Isnít Funny Anymore


It happens to the best of us. We go out, have a little bit too much of a good time, and end up hooking up with that rando from the bar who, in the words of Chris Brown, “looks better with the lights off.” But they were a total stranger, so the odds of you seeing them again are slim, right? Wrong. According to recent studies, after physical contact with a stranger you are significantly more likely to see them more often. I decided to test this hypothesis, with the help of my lovable, single, party-loving friend. 


The plan: Go to a favorite campus bar and have her select a total stranger to hook up with. Over the course of a week, I’ll have her keep notes on whenever she sees him, and what exactly happens when they run into each other. Let the awkward eye contact begin.


The Bar Scenario: My friend is on her game tonight. So much so that she actually has a few options for the experiment. Should she select the mild-mannered, attractive, witty senior? Or the slightly hipster, rowdy, new-to-the-bar-scene junior? I demand she picks the latter, and off she goes, making memories that she will never remember. Not only is he a year behind my friend, but his major in Psychology could not be more different from my friend’s, History. The odds of them seeing each other after tonight don’t seem that great, but in the spirit of the study, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.


My Prediction: 3 sightings in one week. 


Day 1: We’re off to a great start! Not only was he spotted by my friend in NDB, they were so close together in line that she could practically taste his egg/bacon/cheese on everything. She is under the impression that he knew she was there, but awkwardly took the low road and decided to pretend otherwise. Let’s see if this changes once they see each other again. 


Day 2: No luck today. Perhaps the end of the weekend and the continuing of normal class schedules will keep these two lovebirds apart. I hope not. Cringingly awkward situations are so much more delightful to write about. 


Day 3: The eagle has landed! More specifically, crashed! My friend decided to make things a little more interesting by waving to the test subject as he was exiting the Galleria. So distracted by her unusual breach of the no-contact zone, he collided with the foldable outdoor Brew-Ha-Ha menu. In his haste to right the sign, he failed to return the wave. How wonderfully awkward.


Day 4: No sighting. Perhaps the test subject is remaining indoors after his truly embarrassing spectacle yesterday. With any luck he will be feeling more confident tomorrow. 


Day 5: Still no sighting. However, my friends reportedly saw his crew, the same one that accompanied him to the bar. Doesn’t count, but maybe by the end of this week he’ll return to society. 


Day 6: Finally, the classic awkward eye contact we have all been waiting for. Walking in opposite, head-on directions on the green, they spot each other from a distance. Preventative measures are taken. He pretends to be listening to music, she pretends to be texting. Then, they both get the same idea, “If I look up right this second? He/she probably won’t. It’s cool, I’ll just take one look.”  BAM! “Crap, they looked! Now I can’t stop looking! Why can’t I stop looking?” Both pick up their speed and get out of there as quickly as possible without breaking into a sprint. – That, ladies and gentlemen, is how awkward eye contact is done. 


Day 7: A last day encounter! With actual words exchanged! This is too good to be true. The test subject held the door for my friend while exiting Gore. Isn’t that nice? A small “thank you” and “you’re welcome” were exchanged, as were slightly lopsided and uncomfortable smirks. With the approach of this weekend, I only hope that things get even more interesting. 


My Prediction: 3 times in one week

Results: 4 times in one week


Conclusion: Maybe this study had something to it. It certainly makes sense that you would notice a person more often once you have had a significant interaction with them. However, I think 4 sightings in one week is decidedly impressive. So let this be a lesson to all of you stranger hunters at the bar. Don’t do the deed if you don’t like feeling just a little bit awkward. Because the odds that you will see your random hookup again are higher than you think. 


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