My dearest Auntie.
I'm in a bit of a pickle. I'll keep it short: Yesternight was prom and after the dance my prom group decided to go swimming. I was sitting in the hot tub when my friend's date asked me if I wanted to go "jump on the trampoline," basically trying to get me alone.
You probably know what's coming but I need to get it off my chest. We made out. In minimal clothing. And we weren't even each other's dates.
Am I a terrible person Auntie? How do I deal with this when people find out? WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!
Um, had the best night of your high school life? CONGRATULATIONS.
And as for the rest of it: unless there’s something you’re not telling me (which we’ll get to in a second), then good news: your karma remains just as golden and unsullied as it was before you made out with your friend’s prom date on a trampoline. Because date-swapping hookups—along with midnight diner cheese fries and loopy games of Truth or Dare that go on well into the wee hours of the morning—are what post-prom parties are for. Stealing a friend’s date, even a non-romantic date, during the event itself, is a big, fat no-no; you always stick with the guy (or girl) you came in with unless all parties affected agree to making a switch. But once the prom is over?
Pfffffft. All bets are off, yo.
Or okay, they’re mostly off. Obviously, there are certain circumstances under which prom date loyalties should extend beyond the dance—namely, ones in which your friend was planning to hook up with her date herself. If she was crushing on this guy and hoping to make something happen, and if you knew that, then running off into the night with him was deeply uncool—since, among other things, you would have deprived her of a prime move-making moment that was rightfully hers. And if your own date was crushing on you, then... yeah, you probably crushed him pretty hard by disappearing to make out with somebody else. (Although you’d probably have crushed him pretty hard by letting him down gently, too, so whatever. Rejection sucks.)
And of course, if your friend and her date were not just dates but also dating, i.e. attending prom as a couple, then you’re a total jerk and so is he.
And if any of the above applies, then there’s no way out: you’re gonna have to suck it up, apologize where necessary, and generally deal with the repercussions of having acted like a grade-A toolbox.
But since your letter doesn’t say anything about that—and since, had you made out with your friend’s boyfriend/crush/planned prom night hookup and become a social pariah, I assume you would have said something—then what you’re really asking me is if it was okay to have a schmexy late-night bikini-clad hookup with a somewhat random guy...
...and YES. Yes, it is.
And as for what you do when people find out... um. I’m not sure why they would? You can always kiss and not tell, you know. But if word gets around about your post-prom tryst, then you should deal with it the way you’d deal with any private thing that becomes public knowledge: give ‘em your best Sphinx-like smile, shrug, and say, “Whatever you’ve heard, I’m sure it’s all totally true.”
Did any date-swapping occur at your prom? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.