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Sometimes I run into people at the Deece that I haven’t spoken to in a while, and I’m not sure how to react. How can I move past the awkward eye contact stage?
Quite frankly, this entirely depends upon why you stopped talking in the first place. If there was an incident involving you, a vodka cranberry and their favorite white shag rug, maybe just give them some space. You probably deserve the shame of awkward eye contact in that case, or in any case where you committed a moderate to severe foible. I trust you can recognize whether you should continue to engage with someone against whom you’ve sinned.
However, if you simply lost contact because of the stresses of the semester, that’s a different story altogether. Oftentimes, we chronically overbooked Vassar students fall out of communication with people; it’s a part of life around here. We all understand that. Most people won’t blame you for dropping off their radar because you’re busy or because you need a mental reprieve from socialization. And if they do blame you for that, that sucks, and you shouldn’t put effort into their friendship.
Relatedly, try to remember that all social interactions require constant maintenance. That’s one reason they can be so draining, especially when you’ve already got a lot on your plate. If you want to move past the awkward eye contact phase and stay there, you need to put in a bit of effort on the regular.
No matter what precipitated your gap in communication, I doubt you’ve irrevocably damaged all casual interaction with these people. As far as practical advice, I recommend you just put yourself out there in a small way first. Make eye contact and smile this time, maybe wave. Find your way over to their table and chat for a few minutes. If you did something that made a rift between you, you could apologize for it, and see if they’re willing to move past it. I know this seems kind of scary, but most valuable things are.
Finally, the Deece is literally designed as a communal space. It’s meant to be a hub of campus activity. That also means that it’s hard to avoid each other here. Thus is the double-edged sword of our humble dining hall. On the one hand, going up to someone and chatting for a few minutes is easy. On the other hand, people might just be trying to get a quick bite and move on with their day. Try to read your conversational partner’s body language and tone to decide which they’d prefer.
P.S. Sometimes people might be trying to subtly let you know they don’t really want a close friendship. Try to be aware of that, and avoid encroaching on their boundaries.