As a four year veteran of sorority and fraternity formals, I’d like to think that I’ve learned to navigate the ups and downs of these wonderful but chaotic events. A formal can be one of the most fun nights you can have in college, but it can also haunt you for the rest of your college days if something goes wrong. So collegiettes™, Her Campus is here to ensure that your upcoming evening of beautiful dresses and dancing to Ke$ha is free from vomit, wardrobe malfunctions, and other blunders.
Problem: The guy I like is going to my formal with someone else.
Solution: This has happened to the best of us – you waited just an hour too long to ask that babe in your bio class, and suddenly some other girl has snagged him. In this case, you have two options: either bring a guy friend who you know that you will have a great time with, or just find an even hotter date. To make sure a guy friend knows he’s platonic, you can tell him that you want to introduce him to one of your friends who already has a date. Or, make it a group date! Heather, a sophomore at Washington University, didn’t know who she wanted to bring to her sorority formal, and neither did her best friend, Zoe. Solution: they asked two platonic guy friends from their freshman floor, and the four of them spent the entire evening together, avoiding any potential for unwanted advances. And as far as asking a hottie, you can either ask to be set up by a friend (see further down for suggestions on how to make this situation less awkward) or remember that guys think assertive girls are sexy: not only is it an ego boost for them to be asked, but it shows how confident and secure you are that you have the confidence to ask someone you don’t know that well.
Problem: A guy I don’t like romantically asked me to formal, what do I do?
Solution: Always a sticky situation – you don’t want to hurt your friendship, but you also don’t want to give him the wrong idea. First, remember you’re allowed to say no! Straight up honesty is admirable, whether it’s that you don’t think of him in that way or that you’re really just not into the whole formal thing. Be nice, but straightforward so there are no mixed signals. From an anonymous sophomore at Washington University (we’ll call her Sarah), this worked for her: “I’m really flattered, but just as friends right? You’re a good friend, and I don’t want to mess this up. If you’re looking for more of a date-type-date, you might want to ask someone else.” It may hurt his feelings, but in the long run, he’ll appreciate you not leading him on. If you think the truth might hurt too much, you can even make up a little white lie to make it less awkward (“I have a huge exam that Monday,” “I’m supposed to volunteer,” “My roommate’s going through a lot” all work, as well as the less subtle “Sorry, I actually have a date that night.”) These types of lies mean that you might have to skip formal, so evaluate if you really dislike this guy enough to skip your formal. If you do want to go, but just as friends, you can emphasize how happy you are to be going with such a good friend, and that you’re glad you don’t have to worry about trying to impress him. You can also try and introduce him to another one of your friends at the formal – someone he might hit it off with. By telling him about this friend and saying how cute/funny/awesome she is, he should get the hint that you’re not interested. The most important thing, whether you decide to go just as friends or not at all, is to tell him right away: it’s bad form to leave someone hanging until the day before their formal.
Problem: I said yes to a formal date, but now I’m regretting it. How can I fix this?
Solution: Unfortunately in this situation, there isn’t much you can do. If the reason you’re regretting it is because you’ve gotten a better offer, it’d be really terrible to leave your current date hanging (but that doesn’t mean you can’t have coffee with Mr. Perfect Smile the next day). Do the honorable thing and stick with your current date. If you really don’t like this guy, you can fall back on the old classic of simply playing sick. However, make sure you play your cards right in this situation: my friend Liz at NYU lied about having a cold and her date ended up coming over to take care of her. Needless to say it led to an awkward night of fake coughs and a suspicious lack of runny nose.
Problem: I’m getting set up for formal – how do I make it less awkward?
Solution: The answer to this question is not alcohol. From what I’ve seen at most formals, this is what many do to deal with a setup, and it always ends in vomit and embarrassing photos. The best way to diffuse awkwardness is by meeting up for lunch beforehand – meeting in the day time with lots of people around will force you guys to talk and get to know each other before a night full of dim lights and dirty dancing. Ask the person who is setting you up if you can meet them before, and that way you’ll have something to talk about on the trip there and in your non-dancing downtime. A simple Facebook message is good, but if you can get his phone number to text him, that’s even better (some guys will go without checking Facebook for days at a time). Another way to make a setup not awkward? Ask the person setting you up to choose someone who knows other people in your organization. That way, they won’t be relying on you for their entertainment all night, and you can just focus on having a good time on the dance floor.