The world is split between two kinds of people: those who run toward an acquaintance at the grocery store, eager to say hello, and those who dart away and hide in the next aisle in an effort to avoid forced small talk. Which kind of person are you?
Do you fall into the same camp if the acquaintance is someone you previously dated? What if you recognize someone with whom you’ve previously changed messages, but you never met in person? What if the other person doesn’t recognize you? What’s the protocol here?
Relax, dear readers, I’ve got the rules below.
First, as a natural hider, let me say that avoidance is always an acceptable option. On days where I just don’t feel like talking to someone, or I’m in work-out clothes with post-gym hair, or whatever, I’ve been known to feign interest in the nutrition facts of Worchester sauce until the perceived social threat has passed. However, once you commit to the avoidance tactic, what would have been a 10-minute run to the store can easily turn into a tactical strategy of hard-core hide and seek. Be forewarned.
But once eye contact has been established with the acquaintance, things get a little trickier. Proceed as indicated below:
If you recognize someone who…
- Is on JDate and you might be interested: Smile and make eye contact
- Is on JDate and you are probably not interested: Avoid or smile weakly
- You recently exchanged messages with: Smile and make eye contact
- You exchanged messages over 6 months ago but never met: Avoid or smile, depending on whether you are still interested
- You went out with once or twice: Smile
- You went out with on the worst date of your life: Avoid — or, if you’re in a movie, make a loud scene resulting in the destruction of a pyramid of produce, causing innocent bystanders to start tripping over oranges
- You dated for a few months: Smile and wave politely, depending on how things ended
- You dated for a substantial amount of time: This really depends on the nature of your relationships, but given its length, you will know what feels most comfortable
- Is a random, cute stranger: Smile! And ask for a food recommendation – why not?
If you’re ever unsure whether to approach someone whose relationship isn’t listed above, come find me for consultation – I’ll be the one hiding behind giant sunglasses pretending to inspect the melons really closely.