By Nick Anstett and Kaitlyn Fowler
Elm Staff Writers
This week Nick and Kaityln are discussing that awkward time when you go home for break and see your old flame. How do you handle this situation? Do you talk to them and get caught back up in their madness or do you put your head down and act like they never existed? They unveil all in this week’s A Goose and A Gander. Next week, Nick and Kaitlyn will give you tips on how to get a Valentine for Feb. 14.
Nick says… Winter break is a strange time that briefly interrupts the usual routine of college for a month of relaxation, family, holidays…and complications with old flames. This was my third holiday back home while at Washington College and you would think that I would have learned my lesson about not falling for traps laid by nostalgia and convenience, but nope. As I packed my bags for a return trip to WC with another almost-winter fling behind me, I had to sit back and wonder, “What the hell am I doing?”
Being around hometown exes, crushes, and even friends is likely to stir up a wide variety of emotions that you would have hoped were gone or at the very least pushed to the back of your mind. However, in my experience, it’s very easy to find oneself slipping back. Whether it’s nostalgia, convenience, desperation, or maybe even something genuine, it’s easy to find yourself redeveloping feelings or have someone redeveloping feelings for you. While this may lead to a quick fling or a little bit of winter break fun, in the long term it’s likely to inspire little more than frustration and maybe even more hurt feelings than in the past.
I’m not saying this is always a bad idea, but it is important to keep in mind that there was likely a reason that this relationship did not work out in the first place. It’s also more than likely that you and your hometown lover (which sounds like the title to a depressingly bad country song) are on different paths of life and have grown quite a bit since stepping off to college. In short, walk with caution.
I think it’s easy after a tough semester whether it be academic troubles or romantic, to immerse yourself in home life and become lost in a world separate from that on campus. There’s nothing wrong with this and can certainly help one decompress, but keep in mind that winter break is only a six-week respite before you return.
Kaitlyn says… When we go home for the holidays we expect family, friends, and fun. What we don’t expect, or to be more honest, what we don’t look forward to, is running into old flames. We know that with (almost) every relationship we enter eventually it will end. Still we try anyway and often we find ourselves trying to deal with a bruised and battered heart when it’s all said and done. Even though we can get over that pain it still can be weird and uncomfortable to see them. It can be even harder when you come home from break and are waiting around to see them like when you wait for that eventual crack of thunder following the lightning in a storm. We build up so much into seeing this person, and stress ourselves out. Sometimes, we turn around at a party or an old high school event or in the middle of the grocery store and there they are. Now what?
If you are anything like me the first thing that happens is a long awkward silence. Maybe a wave, hopefully a smile. Then it often goes one of two ways: You either decide to actually talk to each other or avoid each other like one of you has Ebola. Which of these is better? Well it’s case by case, but I tend to lean towards actually talking to them (unless they actually do have Ebola, then you have my permission to steer clear). I believe you should talk to them for a pretty simple reason: What if? There is quite a large chance that if you don’t talk to them you are going to spend the rest of the break thinking “Well what if it was fine? What if we got along?” You will sit and spin the moment of contact out of proportion. Yes, there is a possibility that if you talk to them you could end up feeling embarrassed, angry, or hurt. That is a possibilit, but remember this to give you some confidence, there is at least one thing about that person which made you think they were awesome and worthy of you. So give them a chance. Talk to them. You may be surprised.
What if something grows from there and becomes a holiday fling? Well, for that, I just say tread with caution. Yes, the nostalgia of it all can wrap around you like a warm blanket, but just like you remembered there being something awesome about them remember there is a reason you broke up. Don’t run into this head or heart first. Enjoy it, but use a little caution. Remember some of the issues you previously had. This by no means makes me believe they should stand in your way, but don’t pretend the slate is blank and new. Figure out what you two are and try starting from there. Just remember to keep those holiday flames under control in your heart. The last thing you want is some wildfire burning everything out of control.
One last thing: Eventually all breaks must end. When you come back to school and are in the comfort of your dorm room, the most important thing, whether you saw them, is to try to have as little regret as possible. Yes, there is every chance you will get your heart hurt again. If you, and only you know the answer to this one, think that is worth it for a taste at love again, then don’t regret what you did. Hopefully your break gave you some wonderful new memories to treasure. If not, at least you have knocked a couple “what ifs” of your list.