No matter where you live — small town or big city — it’s only a matter of time until you run into that guy you had a one-night stand with. If you’re anything like me, you consistently seem to run into the (many) men with whom you’ve shared a singular encounter.
But there’s one place in particular where I seem to run into every single guy I’ve boned, and that’s the gym. My gym seems to be the place where all single gay men in Bed Stuy congregate.
Two days ago I had the pleasure of running into a man I’d had sex with a couple weeks earlier. No, I didn’t remember his name, and I doubt he remembered mine. But we were both sober when we met, and we had a nice little evening together. So I made eye contact, smiled and started walking over to say hello. He quickly broke eye contact and darted away from me.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me. You pretend not to see someone you’ve had a sexual encounter with because, frankly, there’s not much to say unless you’re seeking a repeat. I get that, sure. But we also made eye contact. After you’ve clearly acknowledged each other’s presence, it’s sort of a social obligation to speak to one another.
So in case you need this — and it seems like a lot of gay guys out there do — here is proper etiquette for running into your one-night stand at the gym.
1. It’s easier to say something than to ignore.
You two are less than eight feet away from each other. Awkwardly looking away or trying to avoid his gaze is a lot more work than having a friendly 30-second conversation. He was literally inside of you (or vice versa). If you can handle that, you can handle a brief, slightly awkward exchange.
2. He doesn’t expect you to remember his name, so don’t fret.
If you met on a gay app, there’s a chance you didn’t even catch each others’ names. So don’t let that worry you. This is where words like “honey” and “handsome” come into play. “Hi, handsome! How have you been?”
3. If you don’t want to talk, at least smile and wave.
Let’s say you’re at the gym. You’re focused on working out and don’t really want to chat with this guy you had mediocre sex with during last month’s one-night stand. Alright, that’s fair. You don’t have to walk over and spark a conversation. But that doesn’t mean you can’t smile and wave from afar. It behooves the gay community to be polite to other gay men we’ve been sexually intimate with. It’s also not that hard.
4. Text him something after if you have his number and want a repeat.
When you run into him, have a little chat. If he seems interested, why not text him again? Sure, maybe he was being friendly and wasn’t actually interested in round two, but most likely he was being honest. It’s not hard to tell if someone is faking politeness as opposed to true interest.
5. Have some dignity.
There have been times when I thought the sex was great and we were totally bonding. I send a text the day after, hoping to meet up again, and I receive radio silence. It hurts. It makes me question my sexual prowess and wonder how much he was faking. Nevertheless, have some pride. Go up and talk to him. You’ll feel like a real grown-ass man for doing so. While talking to him, don’t suggest hanging out again, but also don’t make him feel guilty for not responding to your text. The goal of this social interaction is to showcase dignity — and to prove (to yourself) you’re not embarrassed seeing someone who rejected you.
Zachary Zane is a Brooklyn-based writer, speaker and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships and culture. He’s written for a number of publications, including the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Slate and more. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @
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