I Arranged To Casually Run Into My Crushes & It Never Worked — Until It Did

Courtesy of Iman Hariri-Kia

"What are you doing here?!" These five little words could make up the title of my memoir. I used to croon that sentence constantly at unsuspecting men who had no idea that I was accidentally-on-purpose running into them — or so I thought. As it turns out, when you're always coincidentally in the right place at the right time, the people around you may start to unearth the fact that it's no coincidence at all. In fact, if you plan to casually run into your crush when they're doing their laundry, on the phone with their mother, or about to take a calculus test, they might just begin to mark your activity as suspicious AF.

Now, I am in no way encouraging you to stalk to object of your affection. As always, I am a strong advocate for clear cut and direct communication. But even I must admit that sometimes, walking up to someone and simply stating, "I think you're hot and would like to make out with your face. Want to grab pierogi sometime?" just doesn't slip off the tongue. Flirting can be hard, you guys — especially when you lack the charisma and coordination to ask someone out on the fly. So, yes: I spent several years in college casually "bumping in" to the people I was interested in. I took note of their schedules, kept an ear out for parties I thought they might attend, and tried to orchestrate my very own meet-cute.

You know those adorable stories about couples spontaneously meeting on ski-lifts or rowboats or whatever? I bet all of those were secretly choreographed in advance. Whenever I've tried to totally, unexpectedly fall head-over-heels in love, I've found myself instead heading home early in an Uber Pool, narrating the story of my life to complete strangers. So I decided to put a little extra work in! And while it definitely took a minute, my constant efforts of faux-communication eventually paid off.

My freshman year of college, I began a part-time job at a bodega, and developed a harmless crush on a co-worker. Unfortunately, we didn't work any shifts together, and I only saw him at company events. Realizing that he only worked night shifts, I'd wait until 10:00 p.m., put on a full face of makeup and one of my trademark slogan-beanies (I have so many regrets). Then I'd convince a friend that I was having a late-night craving and that we needed to go grab a snack. It was great! We made charming small talk! We swapped music recommendations! Unfortunately, I did this so very often that the rest of our co-workers began to catch on. So come winter, when our office decided to do a Secret Santa swap, I wasn't that surprised when my gift consisted of a framed photo of him behind the cash register, naked, playing the guitar. Safe to say, my romantic intentions had been nipped in the bud.

My sophomore year, I developed another harmless crush. We had originally met in high school, but reunited through mutual friends. This time around, fate had done part of the work for me: We were placed in the same French class. While we began to flirt our way through our Moi's and Toi's, I decided to kick things up a notch and try to get a little more one-on-one time with him, sans the rest of the class. I noticed he liked to arrive early, so I began taking a quicker route to class. Unfortunately, he seemed to notice and switch up his antics. Not only did we not end up getting together, I also landed a solid "B" in French. Oh, mon dieu.

But guys, I'm grateful to report that the last person I had to "accidentally" run into has now become my current partner — going on three years! How did I manage this? Through so much practice. One particular run-in painfully sticks out in my memory.

It was a crisp October day, and my roommate was competing in a swim meet. A huge fan of both the backstroke and my roommate, I had promised her I would attend. But I also had the insider knowledge that at the exact same time, the guy I was casually seeing would be running in a 5K throughout campus. So what did I do? I nonchalantly convinced my other roommates to take the long route to the gymnasium (Important to note: I attended college on a literal hill. Taking the long way was basically code for mountain climbing.) so that I could casually run into him at the race. Little did I know that the 5K was Halloween-themed, and would be completed in costume! I had very trouble locating my crush among the crowd of men clad in onesies.

Finally, my eyes fell upon my future-partner just as he crossed the finish line — dressed in lederhosen and flip-flops. Ew. Anyways, he was all ,"What are you doing here?" And I was all, "You know, just on my way to the swim meet!" Then he was all, "Isn't that on the other side of campus?" And I was all, "Is it?" Anyways, It was cringe-worthy and embarrassing. But joke's on him: He later revealed to me that he had totally cheated in the race. Exhausted from running in flip-flops, he had taken a shortcut that had landed him in second place. So, I guess we all have our reasons for being where we shouldn't

In conclusion, I don't condone stalking of any kind. But if you are going to creep a bit on your crush, in the name of finding true love, I totally understand. Just be weary of the fact that sometimes, subtle coincidences may look one way in your head, but appear the complete opposite IRL. Love may be blind, but odds are, your potential partner is probably not. But if you believe in falling in love, maybe one day that meet-cute, picture-perfect moment will happen for you. Love really does find you when you least expect it: Whether it's on your way to class, or fake-running in lederhosen and flip-flops.