We've all been there. You wake up, slightly disoriented, amid bed linen which feels unfamiliar. Strange sounds emanate from a mass not too far from you. As you open each eye slowly, cursing them for the amount of time they're taking to adjust to the light, you realise you've done it again - you're back at theirs, for the first time. It's the morning after the night before.
You may have no regrets at all at the dawn after a night of passion, and the person lying next to you may be the one you've been dreaming of, but even if it's a one-nighter, there's still plenty of opportunity for mortification. Behold a mere three things you'd really want to avoid the morning after.
As if waking up in a strange place wasn't bad enough, having to contend with your date's dubious household hygiene standards can take awkwardness to a whole new level. On the nightstand, a flat glass of Diet Coke, empty food wrappers of brands you didn't think they still made any more, and enough dust bunnies to make a life-sized model of the tornado from the Wizard of Oz.
You creep through to the bathroom only to find there must have been some industrial accident: a shower curtain in shades of green and orange never seen in nature; the remnants of what appears to have been a cat's Jacuzzi party in the bath plughole and a toilet bowl that, were it sentient, would bring its owners to trial as war criminals.
Tip: If you're having someone back, have a whizz round with a cloth and a bin bag. If you're the one confronted by the mess, make sure you're wearing rubber gloves if you plan on seeing them again.
Lack of a quick exit
If there's one thing you want after a one-nighter (or the first of many nights), it's the ability to beat a hasty retreat. Awkwardly dressing while they watch? Getting discovered creeping out? Opening the bedroom door to find a houseful of roommates eating breakfast and staring at you like you just fell from the sky. If you can (and are sober enough or not engrossed in 'the moment'), pay attention to the way you get into the place, as you're sure as hell going to want to be exiting as painlessly as possible, at twice the speed.
Tip: If confronted by stunned flatmates or, even worse, a rogue parent or sibling, pretend to be a workman who has been doing essential, erm, overnight repairs. This may mean you to have to dress in overalls for every date you go on, just in case.
We know that you're ultra desirable and no end of bright young things would be desperate to wake up with you, but sometimes, well, you can't guarantee that the guy at the next pillow is going to be glad to find you there.
Yes, coming face to face with someone who last night was all over you but this morning clearly preferred you with a few pints behind you. Or maybe he was caught up in the moment and now that moment has definitely come to an end.
You can usually tell if the night before won't be turning into a happily ever after. Talking in clipped sentences; no offer of a cuppa; getting up and walking out of the room, only to come back into it showered and dressed; saying how "tired" they are and telling you the best bus routes to take home. Like they care.
Styling it out can be difficult, but just shrug and get on with it. Pull on your socks, locate your shoes and breezily say your goodbyes as you open the bedroom door, no need for whys and wherefores and number-swapping. Oh, you've walked into a cupboard. Never mind. Try again. Another cupboard. Crap. What did I tell you about ensuring you had a clear exit? Don't look at him, just open the next door and walk forward. It has to be this one, right?
Tip: Hang your underwear (a sock will do - you're not a stripper) on the handle of the door that gets you out of the bedroom so you know where to look. Make sure you hang it on the inside, too - you don't want the rest of the household knowing your SHAME.
Coming soon: The Perils of 'Waking Up Second'.