3 Rules of "the Leave Behind" I Learned This One Time I Accidentally Became a Semi-Stalker

by Gena Kaufman

Getty ImagesGetty ImagesIn a recent discussion with a friend about why I didn't want to follow up with a guy I had a great first date with but hadn't heard from again (sigh), I was reminded of the rare dating story I haven't yet told you guys about. Of course, it sums up a time when I had no choice but to get in touch with a guy post-sort-of-date and how it went terribly, terribly wrong…

It was early 2009. I was just about to turn 27, and I'd recently been dumped by my long-term boyfriend for the first time (we would later repeat this process in 2011, as you all know). So on a cold winter Monday night, after meeting a group of cute boys at the BYOB sushi restaurant I was dining at with some girlfriends, I went home and made out with one of the guys in a misguided attempt to get over my breakup. (Please note: This never really works.) I wasn't ready to date or to get too physical, but a PG-13 sleepover sounded like just the ticket to Distractionville I needed. I went home the next morning feeling a little disoriented but glad that I at least didn't spend another night moping.

See more: 13 Sneaky Habits That Can Cause Acne

When I got reoriented, I realized I'd accidentally done the thing guys always dread girls will do on purpose: the Leave Behind. You know, when you leave something of yours at the other person's house so you have an excuse to go back, get it, and see him again? Only I really had done it by accident, and worse, it wasn't like I'd left a cheap scarf or even a favorite pair of earrings. I'd left behind a folder of documents, including affidavits that had been signed and notarized and which I needed to get admitted to the New York State Bar. I realize that sounds completely weird--and it so is--but I'd come straight to dinner from work, not expecting the night to go as it did! Anyway, long story short, they weren't easily replaceable, and the guy lived only about two blocks from me, so I was determined to get them back from him.

I had his number, so the next day I sent him a quick, casual text asking if I had left a folder there and asking him to please not throw it away since it was important. He responded, luckily, but then spent the next two weeks acting as if I were a stage-five clinger trying to pin him down for marriage by sneakily seducing him with my manilla folder of affidavits. Despite my repeated efforts, he wouldn't arrange a time for me to meet him to pick up the folder. He wouldn't figure out a way to mail it to me or let me pick it up from his mailbox or one of his roommates or any other solution I suggested. He just kept blowing me off like he needed to make it really clear we weren't going to reunite over some paperwork and then ride off into the sunset happily ever after. As if that's what I thought. Groan. At the end of the panic-inducing ordeal, I was furiously raging to all my friends, "WHY DOES THIS GUY THINK I LIKE HIM? I HATE HIM! I NEVER WANT TO SEE HIM AGAIN, I JUST WANT MY FREAKIN' STUFF BACK!!"

See more: 10 Trends to Try in 2014

I did eventually get my stuff back from that guy (and I did eventually get admitted to the Bar, which as it turns out, is now completely useless to my career), but the experience bugged me for months and probably prevented me from ever forgetting something at a guy's house ever again. But in case it ever happens to you, here are some guidelines for how you should handle it:

1. If you don't need it back and you don't want to see the guy again, just let it go and chalk it up to the cost of dating.

2. If you do want to see him again, but it's not a particularly valuable belonging, then don't bring it up until you've already got plans to see him another time for a non "Give me back my stuff" reason.

3. If it's something you really need back, you're gonna have to go after it. If he tries to shame you into feeling like a psycho for that, he's the worst.

Have you ever done the Leave Behind? On accident or on purpose? Has a guy ever done it to you? What happened?

More from Glamour:
The Best Celeb Haircut for Your Texture
11 Dating Don'ts You Should Stop Doing Now
25 Celebrity Hairstyles That Will Make You Want Bangs
10 Wardrobe Essentials Every Woman Should Own