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A Collegiette's Guide to Life
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    Picture this: You’re on a dinner date with your boyfriend at your favorite restaurant. You just sat down at the table, you’re discussing which fried Italian appetizer you’re going to split and you can’t help but notice that he’s glued to his phone.

    You try to shake it off and engage him in an exciting conversation about the game coming up or his Fantasy Football league. Still, despite your best efforts, he seems more preoccupied with what’s happening on his iPhone than he does with you. You can’t help but wonder who he’s talking to, or what he’s talking about.

    When dinner’s over, you head back to his place to watch Netflix.  He gets up to go to the bathroom, leaving his phone on the couch. You try to ignore it, but it keeps lighting up with Snapchat and text notifications. Now’s your chance to see who he’s been talking to all night.

    Do you check it?

    With so many social media networks, it can be tempting to want to know what your SO is up to at all times, who he/she is talking to, and if they’re being loyal to your relationship.

    For some girls, “snooping” is just an indirect way of keeping up with his day-to-day. Nicole, a junior at Temple University, feels that there should be no boundaries between two people in love and that checking up is totally fine.

    “I don't think it’s unhealthy to want to snoop on your boyfriend,” she says. “I have been in a relationship for three years and I still look in his inbox, not because I don't trust him - because I do. It’s just natural to want to know what they are up to and who they are talking to. I think I would snoop less if I was scared I was going to find something.”

    Sarah*, a sophomore at Temple University, learned the hard way that social media can have a negative impact on a relationship. She began noticing that her boyfriend was constantly Snapchatting other people but never responding to her own snaps. She later discovered that he was Snapchatting multiple girls from his past while she was dating him, after asking to see his phone. Still, Sarah believes that privacy in a relationship is important, but if you suspect something is up, it’s fine to ask your partner about it.

    “I’m not saying look at each other’s phones on the daily, because privacy is also a key factor in a relationship, but if something pops up that bothers you, it should be okay to ask questions and find out what is going on with your significant other or the person you’re worried about,” she says. Trust is key in any relationship.

    The facts

    In a study published by The Telegraph in 2013, it was discovered that guys are actually twice as likely to snoop than girls. The study also found that 31 percent of those surveyed said that if they discovered their partner snooping, they would end the relationship entirely.

    Is snooping worth jeopardizing the relationship?

    Mae, a junior at Temple University, feels that if there’s trust in the relationship, there’s no real reason to snoop.

    “In the past, I had my ex-boyfriend’s password for Facebook and I never needed to go on it until he decided to end things with me,” she says. A week later, he goes out with some other girl! I still had his password, and boom, I found out he'd been talking to her for a while. My recent ex always had his phone on hand, and wouldn't let me look at it or anything. One day this girl Snapchatted him in the morning, and he was sleeping and I knew his password too and decided to look."

    So, what do you do?

    According to relationship expert and college speaker Sheryl Kurland, snooping is not the answer. “Snooping is wrong, wrong, wrong,” she says. “You may not find evidence of what you’re suspicious of, but I guarantee you'll find something that raises a red flag. This creates more problems. Additionally, reading what someone wrote can be interpreted many different ways, all of which are probably inaccurate.”

    While snooping may give you reassurance, there are definitely some repercussions, especially if you find something you don’t like.

    Related: 5 Ways Social Media is Hurting Your Relationship

    Invasion of privacy

    When it comes to snooping, it may be best to practice the Golden Rule. Would you be comfortable with your boyfriend/girlfriend going through your phone? If yes, then you should be comfortable asking your SO about anything that’s on your mind, especially if you suspect that something may be going on. If they find out, they may have difficulties trusting you in the future and feel that they have to hide things from you even more, perpetuating the issue.

    “It all boils down to trust,” Kurland says. “If you can’t trust your significant other, you shouldn’t be in a relationship with him or her.”

    We're creatures of habit

    If you snoop once, you may want to continue snooping. Depending on what you find, you may feel like you can always get away with it without him/her realizing. In a way, it might be a bit thrilling. Chances are, if you start, it will be very difficult to stop, especially once you start knowing every little thing going on in their life.

    It may represent a larger issue

    If you really feel inclined to snoop, there may be something more serious going on with you two than just being on the phone too much. This can mean a number of things, ranging from your own insecurity or to having little faith in the relationship.

    *Name has been changed

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    You like to think your dating skills are pretty great or at least okay. But when you really think about it, maybe it's best that your friends don't listen to your dating advice. 

    1. Overall, you pretty much have no idea how to date or ask someone out.

    How do you differentiate between hanging out and *wink*wink* hanging out?

    2. Your idea of flirting is insulting someone to the point that they think you can't stand them. When you try to be romantic, you almost always fail.

    "Ugh, you're terrible" somehow means "You're so great—let's hang out, like, all the time."

    3. The last person you were interested in had absolutely no idea.

    You insulted him regularly and responded to his messages within 24 hours—how did he not know how much you liked him?

    4. You try to send the first message on Tinder sometimes, but the only opening line you can think of is some snarky comment about how boring the match's bio is.

    You try to be original by not saying “hey,” but you don’t want to come on too strong. So instead of flirting like normal, you’re like, “Wow, you love to travel?! Never heard that one before!”

    5. Dating lingo is beyond your comprehension. It's like everyone got a free copy of Modern Dating 101 except you.

    Your friend asks you if you and a guy are "talking," and you're like, "Um, yeah, we talk all the time?"

    6. You've been reading "10 Signs Your Crush Likes You" articles since age 12 and still can't identify the signs.

    Eye contact? Compliments? How are any of these things different from normal daily interactions? The “does he like me” quizzes failed you all throughout middle school and high school (and okay, maybe now sometimes, too), and you feel no shame.

    7. Your 14-year-old sister has been in more relationships than you have.

    You can still give good advice even if you don't have a ton of experience but… 

    8. You don't know how to make small talk, so your first dates are more like interrogations.

    Small talk is boring. When your date gives you boring answers, you just know the two of you could never date. Why even continue the date at this point?

    9. If you don't have anything obvious in common with the person you're on a date with, it becomes real awkward, real fast, and you don't know how to continue the conversation.

    How do people sit in a room with someone they don't know much about and find something to talk about? How?! And don't even try to start a game of 20 questions, buddy. 

    10. You're a strong advocate for being upfront about your feelings, but you've never really done such a thing.

    You giving advice: “Yeah, girl, just tell him that you like him.” You in real life talking to your crush: “Wow, you are such a great friend, bro."

    11. You try to play it so cool that you seem aloof or uninterested most of the time.

    You don’t want to be too obvious so when you see someone you’re interested in, instead of saying “hi” like a normal human being would, you book it in the opposite direction and avoid them.

    12. You're super skeptical when it comes to dating and love.

    This can be a good thing to an extent, but your negative attitude isn't always the most encouraging.

    13. You can’t pick up signals. Ever. Someone could directly say “Hey, I’m really into you” and you’d probably think they were joking.

    It’s not that you’re not confident, but why did this guy just say he likes spending time with you? What does it all mean? HE NEEDS TO SPELL IT OUT AND GIVE YOU ANSWERS. YOU DON’T PICK UP SIGNALS.

    14. You have to try your hardest not to look bored when people tell you about their love lives. 

    It's not that you don't care about your friends or their relationships, because you do. But sometimes, you're just bored by the whole "dating" thing. Your friends should know by now not to come to you for advice anyway.

    15. You’re secretly happy when your friends decide not to take your dating advice because based on personal experience, you feel like it probably wouldn’t go so well for them.

    But then again, if they had taken your bad advice, maybe you wouldn't be in this situation. Oh well. At the end of the day, you're happy for your friends, and you're happy to help them when they want advice. You're just not sure how helpful you'll be. 

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  • 11/11/17--11:00: 6 Dating Tips for Shy Girls
  • Hollywood makes it seem so effortless for people to find love. But, reality check: Dating isn’t always easy, especially for quiet women. Shy people can’t always walk up to someone and strike up a conversation. Oftentimes, our shyness gives off the vibe that we’re stuck up or full of ourselves. Many of us have to muddle our way through the ordeal of dates with overwhelming people that don’t give us time to open up, until we finally, *sigh*, just give up on love. But no longer! Shy women of the world, unite! Here are six dating tips that might just change the game.

    1. Watch TV and movies together

    A recent study showed that watching Netflix with bae is actually good for your relationship. The study concluded that when you watch TV and movies or read books, you think about what's going on in the story and form opinions, which allows you to have a great conversation (or maybe argument!) with whoever you’re with. These shared discussions help bring you closer. “When you like the same stories, shows and characters, you have a lot to talk about! It feels like an immediate connection,” says Nathalie, a senior at SUNY Old Westbury, “Plus if it's something both you and your crush love, the conversation could go on forever!” There’s no better way to show your crush the "real you" than by wearing sweats, getting heated about TV show conspiracy theories and ugly-crying during sappy romance movies.

    2. Just be yourself and emphasize your strengths

    It’s very hard for introverts to open up about themselves, but if you’re really into the person you’re going out with, then try to get out of your comfort zone a little bit. It’s easier said than done, but ultimately, if your crush is going to become your long-time SO, then both of you need to break out of your shells. “I’ve struggled a little bit with being open on dates, but I would say that it's helpful to just be yourself and play to your strengths,” says Rachel, a junior at Roosevelt University. “Shy girls are often great listeners and are good at empathizing, so it's easier to keep a conversation going.” People often see the weaknesses of women with quiet demeanors, but we encourage you to really play up your strengths, like your listening skills. Your date will see that and be grateful. Besides, if you both loved to talk, you would constantly be in competition to get a word in the conversation. Shy people are so necessary to society.

    3. Pick a first date that involves an activity

    Nothing is more nerve-wracking for shy women than a quiet dinner for two as a first date. Ditch the typical dates and suggest doing something that involves an activity. Fall is the perfect season for pumpkin and apple picking and going to haunted houses and other spooky things. Consider indoor rock climbing, cooking a meal together, volunteering together or visiting the local animal shelter. “Getting drinks or doing dinner and a movie prevent a lot of natural conversation,” says Jessica, a graduate of Rowan University. “If you go on more of an active date, there is a greater need for communication. Those activities require conversation to progress the date.” Once you start talking, you may begin to feel more comfortable around the other person. Plus, you’ll be able to see the kind of activities they enjoy doing, which can help find similarities and differences between the two of you.

    Related: 8 Date Ideas for Every Type of Campus Couple

    4. Talk about the weather (...seriously)

    Don’t knock small talk! Talking about trivial things in the beginning stages of a relationship is a building block in creating a strong foundation. “I would say that you can't go wrong with talking about the weather. It's weird, but it's true!” says Rachel. “Everyone likes talking about the weather because it's relatable.” Talk about your favorite part of the season or how frizzy rain makes your hair. Obviously, small talk is not limited to the weather. Though it can be tedious, asking your crush things like where they go to school, what their major is, if they play/watch sports and what their favorite kind of music is, is actually important. Finding out that your date is obsessed with hardcore rock when you’re a devout indie girl is more of a factor than you might think.

    5. Ask each other deep questions

    This can be the hardest thing to do, but after you’ve been dating someone for a bit, getting into deep conversations will keep you much more interested in the relationship than just having small talk all the time. Shailagh, a junior at Gustavus Adolphus College says, “Find a list of deep, insightful questions meant for couples and try it out sometime. I've done this before for fun and, as crazy as it sounds, my crush and I actually did fall in love. Even if you don't fall in love afterward, you'll learn enough about that person to see if you're compatible.” Getting to know your partner on a deeper level creates trust, accountability and love. Knowing complicated and sometimes not-so-pretty parts of your SO is integral in a relationship, sooner or later.

    6. Make observations about your surroundings

    If you’re at a place that’s buzzing with activity, pay attention to everything!

    Emily, a senior at Pace University says, “Start with what's around you, like things you can both comment on. For example, comment on the food you ordered if you’re at a restaurant, or maybe make a comment about a billboard you pass by for a movie.” Little comments like these create avenues for topics of conversation. Saying that your chicken is underdone may spark your date to talk about a time that he had a horrible food experience. Noticing a movie advertisement can start a conversation about the kinds of movies you both like. Just remember that while being observant is important, you do still have to pay attention to your date.

    Sometimes being shy is a struggle, but that’s who we are and we should embrace it. We’re not stuck-up, we’re just timid. And now, we can be ourselves and still make it in the dating world.

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    Dating is fun, and it’s natural to want to show your relationship to the world via social media. However, just like everything else in this world, too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. In recent years, social media has become the premier place to display your relationship status, and we have the perfect etiquette guide for posting while you’re dating someone.

    1. Fights

    Just the other day, I was going through my Instagram stories, and I came across one that displayed a girl with tears streaming down her face, the caption “he broke my heart” and a zoomed-in broken heart emoji placed on her chest. Even worse is when you’re scrolling through your Twitter timeline and see the details of a couple’s fight. “That's something that should be handled by the people involved, in person. Not online for the whole world to see,” says Alexandra, a senior at SUNY Buffalo State. “It causes the relationship to lose that privacy aspect. You never know who will see those tweets.” Sometimes your SO is just irritating you, and you don’t want to confront them for fear of conflict. Josh, a sophomore at Messiah College, says, "You shouldn't post vague subtweets complaining about something the other person did. It only serves to create tension and uncover the cracks beginning to form in the relationship." The best thing to do when you’re fighting with your SO? Turn off your phone, close your laptop and take a breather. Rationalize before you say anything to anyone, especially your SO. Your followers will thank you.

    2. Racy make out pictures

    We don’t want to feel like we need to take a shower and clean ourselves after we look at your Instagram photo. Physical intimacy is important in every relationship, but the definition of intimacy, “very private; closely personal,” means that it should be shared between only you and your SO. Olivia, a sophomore at Temple University, says, “If the photo is you and your SO sharing a sweet kiss in front of some beautiful scenery, I’ll shed a tear and ‘like’ it. But if it’s a grainy photo and you’re obviously making out, I’m grossed out. It’s all in your intentions. Making out is a private thing; your kissing habits should be left inside the relationship.” After all, how awkward is it trying to take a make out selfie? And what if the flash goes off? Busted.

    3. Posting about everything your SO does for you

    Doing nice things for your SO is a requirement in a relationship, meaning that it’s not necessary to post whenever bae brings you flowers when you’re feeling sick and tells you that you’re gorgeous no matter what. Yes, it’s a sweet gesture, but sorry to burst your bubble, it’s nothing special. Posting #wcw and #mcm pictures every once in awhile is nice; it shows that your SO cares enough about you to show you off to the world. However, this quickly turns sour when every Monday or Wednesday you’re posting selfies of them with emoji-saturated captions. Natalie, a freshman at Montgomery County Community College, says, “I think it's alright to post once in awhile about your SO, but if you're constantly needing validation from social media or need everyone to know about the special things done in a relationship, they aren't as special. You don't have to brag to everyone all the time.” It’s more authentic if you show your SO that you appreciate them without letting everyone else feel like they're a part of the relationship, too.

    Related: 7 Love Mistakes to Avoid This Year

    4. Pictures with another girl/guy

    Unless you have things settled with your SO that posting pictures with another girl/guy is okay, avoid it. A group photo with a bunch of friends? Go for it. But posting pictures, especially on Instagram, has become a method of flirtation. You don’t want to send the wrong message to the other person in the photo, nor do you want to upset your SO. Kylie, a sophomore at La Salle University, warns against this, especially at parties. “People should absolutely avoid posting pictures when under the influence,” she says. “There’s almost always a group of people that are at these parties and will try and sit on everybody’s lap for pictures.” If you are going to post a picture with another girl/guy, Jacqui, a sophomore at Temple University, advises, “Be careful how you pose with someone of the opposite gender [if you’re straight]. It can cross a line if you're doing ‘the couples pose’ with your guy best friend and people mistake that for you dating someone else.” Better to be safe than sorry, so we advise keeping those photos offline.

    5. Love letters as captions

    Whenever Valentine’s Day rolls around, you can expect a truckload of couple posts (and Single Awareness Day posts), complete with heart emojis and sappy captions. While most of these are admittedly pretty cute, there are always a few sickeningly sweet photos with romance novels for captions. “Avoid writing an incredibly long paragraph in the caption about your love; that should be kept more private,” says Jacqui. “Just write snippets of inspirational things about your relationship, but leave the 18-page theses to handwritten letters, not Instagram.” If you write entire love letters to your SO on social media, your relationship becomes a lot less special. While validation in the form of likes and comments feels good, the reaction when you hand your SO a sappy, cheesy, adorable handwritten letter is way better.

    6. Confidential/personal information

    If your SO shares a secret with you, like something about his or her past that’s deeply personal, don’t tell your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. "Don’t post nudes. Or secrets. Or confidential information about the other person, ever," says Jake, a sophomore at Messiah College. Posting personal information is not only an invasion of privacy, but it can also be dangerous. Almost anything and anyone is searchable on the internet nowadays, so think wisely about what’s appropriate. The same goes for photos. I’ve heard horror stories about people who send nudes, break up with their SO a few months later, and then those nudes get leaked everywhere. So be incredibly cautious when sending sensitive photos, and if you’re on the receiving end, just don’t show them to the world. It’s that simple. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t show or tell your grandma about it, don’t post it.

    It’s important to be proud and public about your relationship when you’re in love, but it’s also smart to be aware of what you’re posting on social media. Don’t let this guide be the final say in what you do and don’t post on social media. As long as you and your SO have your online etiquette figured out, go for it. Just be considerate of your followers and think twice before posting a steamy make out picture.

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    When one thinks of period sex, the most obvious and normal reaction is “ew.” Not because periods are gross, but because it sounds terribly messy. That and other reasons are why most women and men tend to stay away from doing the deed while it is that time of the month. Well, Her Campus is here to help tell you all the things you have to know about period sex, especially some things you may have thought were true that actually aren’t.

    1. It doesn't have to be messy

    For many, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about period sex is the idea of getting blood everywhere. It’s hard enough trying to wash blood out of your underwear when your tampon leaks, but a whole bed sheet? No thanks. The most obvious way to avoid this mess is simple: shower sex. This way there is no mess to clean up at all. If that's not something you are into, you can also just put a dark towel down and no one will ever know, so no need to be embarrassed. Melanie, a junior at Florida State University, say's that she absolutely loves period sex, but you do have to pay attention to your body. "Some months when my period is especially heavy, my partner and I stick to shower sex because otherwise there is just too much blood," she says. "But if it is a relatively light month, nothing really has to be different from our usual sex." Sounds good to us.

    2. It is possible to get pregnant during period sex

    One of the biggest myths about period sex is that you can’t get pregnant. According to Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an OB/GYN at Mount Kisco Medical Group, if you have irregular periods and are only spotting and not actually menstruating, “it still is possible to get pregnant,” so you always should be using a condom. The reason for this is that sperm can live inside you for actually up to five days. So you could have sex towards the end of your bleeding and think you are fine but then actually conceive four or five days later with your "early ovulation." So while the probability is low, it could happen. 

    Related: The Ultimate Sex Playlist for All Your Hookup Needs

    3. It won’t make your period heavier

    A common misconception about period sex is that if you do it, your period will be even heavier than it was before. Well luckily, that is false. Dr. Dweck says that while orgasming might push more blood out of your body because of the contractions, your period won’t actually be longer or heavier. Basically, you are the same woman after, just minus some blood.

    4. Orgasms can actually ease cramps and PMS symptoms

    Yup, you read that right. According to Clue, a woman-led startup focused on women’s menstrual health, the endorphins that you release by orgasming can actually relieve common PMS symptoms and cramps. So instead of rolling up with a heating pad and Netflix when it's your time of the month, maybe this time just try having sex—basically killing two birds with one stone, right?

    5. It can make sex more enjoyable

    Contrary to popular belief, having sex on your period is often times more enjoyable than regular sex, according to Dr. Dweck. Because of the hormones you release during your period, you are more prone to sexual arousal and may be more sensitive. So if you have a higher sex drive than your partner, one reason might be that your period is just beginning or about to begin.

    6. Menstrual blood is totally harmless

    Unless you suffer from a condition like hepatitis or any other type of blood-born STD like HIV or syphilis, the blood from your body is literally just normal blood. If someone else touches it, nothing bad is going to happen to them. Just wash it off and go on with your day. Joy, a senior at the University of Michigan, says that before her and her boyfriend had period sex for the first time, he was “totally terrified of the blood.” So terrified that, in fact, she “had to send him several scientific articles explaining why period blood was just normal blood.” But in the end, she said he was fine, of course.

    7. Last but not least, it's a natural lubricant

    This really doesn’t need to be said, but when you have sex on your period, there will be blood. And blood is a liquid. And a liquid is a lubricant. Lana, a sophomore at New York University, actually prefers period sex to regular sex because of how much easier the actual sex is. “Because of the blood, usually we don’t need any lube so it feels so much more natural and better for me and for my partner.” So yeah, feel free to save money not buying lube.

    So basically, period sex is no big thing but remember, the choice is always yours and it’s always a good idea to talk about it first with your partner.

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    A relationship isn’t all butterflies and rainbows. No matter how hard you may try to keep the peace, you and your partner are bound to clash at some point. Trust issues, miscommunication or lack of communication, jealousy, and insecurity are just a few issues which can take a toll on a relationship. Sometimes it’s easy to work through the problems you have, but other times these issues can take a major toll on your relationship. If you and your partner are willing to work together, not all hope is lost. You can still work toward bringing your relationship back to a place of happiness between you and your SO. If you commit to following these five tips, you can move past a rough patch in your relationship. 

    1. Communicate

    One of the biggest mistakes you can commit is not talking things through to avoid an argument. Your emotions cannot be swept under the rug. You need to verbalize what you feel in an attempt to fix what is broken. If you choose to ignore the problems you are facing, the built-up frustration could result in an even bigger argument, resentment, dissatisfaction, lack of trust or ultimately, a loss of interest in maintaining the relationship.

    Lauren*, a junior at James Madison University, personally knows how big of a key communication is. “My boyfriend and I just went through/are still kind of going through a rough patch,” she says. “It's really important to talk things out and let each other know what's bothering you.”

    Remember to stay calm, cool and collected when discussing emotional subjects. It's easy to let your emotions get the best of you, but don't make an already sticky situation more complex. Even if things are rocky between you two, still try to maintain the basic conversations you have every day, such as what they are doing and how their day has been.

    2. Take a timeout 

    While communication is key, it's also important to know that when you're not on the same page as your SO, constant communication can be a difficult task. So while you should talk through things to a certain extent, don't constantly dwell on the subject. Leave time for both of you guys to do your own thing and focus on your own goals.

    Chrissy Sanchez, a sophomore at Georgia State University, stresses that this is not the same thing as a break. 

    "When my boyfriend and I went through a period of constant arguing, I would just call for a few minutes in the morning and at night to check in on him," she says. "Other than that, I left him alone to do reflecting, and focus on important things like schoolwork, gym, and finances." 

    Depending on your current level of communication, you and your SO can decide on how much time you should leave each other to work on yourself. Don't let it be an overwhelming amount of time though. The longer you spend apart, the sooner one or both of you could become comfortable in living without the other. 

    3. Find common ground

    If it’s an issue where you are both affected, you need to reach an agreement. That agreement should be a compromise. You both need to be happy, even if that means you have to apologize or give in to their requests a little. Go into the conversation stating what your opinion of the situation is, but remind your SO that you want to understand their thought process and hear them out as well.

    Nicole Diaz, a sophomore at Chattahoochee Technical College, won’t leave an argument unsettled without reaching an agreement with her SO.

    “Finding some sort of common ground where we both entirely agree or come close to agreeing is the most important part,” she says. “If we can’t fix the problem at that exact moment, my boyfriend and I will promise to work towards fixing whatever it was. Once we find that common ground, we try to move on and not stay stuck on the argument.”

    Sometimes reaching that common ground may mean that you don’t always get what you want. Instead, think of it as reaching the solution that is most beneficial to the relationship.

    4. Remember why you're with your SO

    It’s easy to let the negativity cloud your mind. However, if you’re looking for hope and are having trouble finding it, think back to your best moments with your SO — how you met, the first date, the first time saying “I love you” and the best memories you’ve created together.

    Shelly Adams, a junior at Shenandoah University, believes that positivity is one of the major components of getting your relationship back on the right track.

    “When things are going really great in your relationship, you don't even think about how it could be bad,” she says. “But when they're bad, sometimes it's hard to remember when it was great! The point is that you need to be able to know that you still want to be with the other person at the end of the day. As long as you do, then just let the issue pass and you'll be back to normal in no time.”

    You need to ask yourself if the entire span of memories and future between you two is worth giving up over the conflict. In some cases, if the issue is that serious and pressing, those memories can be worth giving up. However, more often than not, your relationship is worth fighting for.

    5. Keep the spark alive 

    Sometimes, all you need is a break from the drama. If you and your SO have decided that you both still want to be together, plan an extra special date for you to go on.

    Patricia Maynor, a junior at Kennesaw State University, recommends finding a way to get away from all the drama and busyness of everyday life with your SO. 

    “After several days of fighting with my SO, I was ready to give up,” she says. “However, I felt like getting away on a mini vacation was the final test to see if we should stick things out. One weekend, we took a trip to the beach. That alone time helped me discover the reasons why were love each other. We have been great ever since.”

    Even if you're busy and can't plan anything too big, still try to plan something memorable that will span at least an entire day. Seeing the spark reignited will help you focus on the love in your relationship rather than the momentary negativity between you and your SO.

    It’s important to realize the difference between a toxic relationship and a rough patch. Constant disrespect, infidelity or abuse shouldn’t be brushed off as a “rough patch.” These actions cannot be moved past in some cases, but there are plenty of cases where the disagreements between you two can be worked out with patience. Don’t expect everything to be perfect overnight, but sticking to these rules should help get your relationship back on the right track.

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    I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve never had a boyfriend. I am a little ashamed to admit that it has been somewhat of a priority for me to get a boyfriend. You may label me as boy crazy, and you wouldn’t be the first to do so. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a boyfriend, but I have always been a little obsessed with boys. I like looking at them, talking about them and just generally thinking about them.

    A couple of weeks ago, however, I decided that this constant fixation needed to end. I realized that there are so many more important things to worry about and think about and just put my time and energy into than boys. Plus, when the time comes, I know I’ll happily be in a relationship. Until I meet the right person, though, I’m going to focus on more important things. Here are some things we can do instead of obsessing over boys.

    Instead of stalking that cute guy from your class on Facebook, leave some love in the comments of your friends’ posts.

    We’re all guilty of cyber-stalking cute boys—don’t even try to deny it. Next time you log onto Facebook or Instagram to stalk said cute boys, however, type in your bestie’s name instead. Take some time to look through her cute pics and posts and comment with some love on a couple of them. Your bestie has been there for you through thick and thin, and all this boy has done for you is given you something nice to look at for an hour three times a week.

    Instead of staring at that cute guy across the dining hall, pay attention to the conversation you’re actually a part of.

    We’ve all been there. You’re sitting with a group of your friends, immersed in conversation about classes or, of course, boys, when you see a cutie across the way. You suddenly stop paying attention to the conversation that’s happening right in front of you. Instead, you’re watching this guy, wondering what he’s like, waiting for the moment (that probably won’t come) when he catches your eye and comes over to talk to you.

    Instead of getting caught up in this la-la land, remain in the moment. Time with your friends is precious, especially with all of the work that comes with midterms, so make the most of it you can. Listen to your friend’s story about a random act of kindness she experienced or vent to your girls about that jerk of a professor you can’t stand.

    Instead of taking that route to class where you usually see that cute boy, take a new route with that friend you haven’t seen much and have a nice chat.

    As you get stuck in our daily routines of the semester, you’re bound to recognize some of the people you pass on the way to class, and chances are there are some cute boys. At this point in the semester, you’ve gotten used to seeing them on your walk to class. Maybe you even look forward to it because they’re just so darn cute to look at!

    But it’s that time of the semester when everyone gets busy with studying for midterms or writing papers, so chances are you haven’t been able to hang out with your friends as much recently. Reach out to the friend you haven’t seen much lately and try to figure out when both of your schedules allow you to walk to class together. Can’t find a time that matches up? Meet up for coffee or froyo instead!

    Instead of going to the coffee shop to study alone and ~happen~ to look at cute boys, ask someone you don’t know very well to coffee.

    Don’t deny that part of the reason you go to coffee shops to work is to check out cute hipster boys. While that’s all fine and dandy, coffee shops are also great places to have coffee with people you’d like to get to know! You’ve met so many people in your time on campus that you could stand to get to know better, whether they’d make a great friend or networking resource. Reach out to one of these people and ask to take them to coffee. They’ll be flattered you thought of them and reached out.

    Related: What to Do When You See Last Semester's Crush for the First Time

    Instead of sitting on campus and telling yourself you’re doing homework while actually getting distracted by cute boys, read a book at your favorite campus spot.

    Studying outside can be distracting enough, but when you add cute boys to the equation? Impossible. You know you’re not going to get much done when you tell yourself that you’re going to your favorite campus spot to get some studying done.

    Instead, head to your favorite spot to read that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand untouched for weeks. Free reading is a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of college work. Not only is it relaxing, but it’s also a great way to keep yourself cultured.

    Instead of thinking about boys, think about yourself.

    In college, it’s easy to put a lot of things before yourself, whether it’s homework, clubs or spending time with a friend. That can also include looking at and thinking about cute boys. Why focus on stupid boys when your badass babe of a self needs some attention, too? Don’t forget to give yourself a little TLC—you work so hard and do so much, so be sure to take a little you time. You’re the most important person in your life! So take care of yourself every once in a while.

    It’s impossible to blind yourself to boys completely. Trust me, I’ve tried. But it is possible to take some of your attention off of them. There are so many more important things for you to worry about and put your time into than boys right now. Someday you’ll be in an amazing relationship if that’s what you want, but for now, it’s important to give yourself and the important people in your life some love and attention.

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    Ladies, it’s time for some real talk. Whether you’ve just gone through a painful AF breakup or your ex hasn’t talked to you since high school, there’s a strong-willed part of you that refuses to let go. You keep up with their life through social media stalking and mutual friends, and frankly, if given the opportunity to be friends with them (or even date them again), you would do it in a heartbeat.

    The struggle is that breakups are usually necessary and happen for good reason, but letting go of that person feels like someone close to you has died. Worse? Breakups build up resentment, and it’s likely that this ex you want to reconnect with doesn’t even speak to you anymore. They went from bae to radio silence, and you just can’t deal.

    Communication is the best way to rekindle contact with your ex, but it could also totally sabotage you. If your ex wants nothing to do with you, then trying to talk to them again may come off as irritating or even creepy. Our job is to help you start that relationship up again without letting you come off like a crazy person. Here are some totally chill tips for the women who want to reconnect with their ex again.

    1. Apologize

    It’s never too late to say sorry, and if you totally screwed up your relationship, then your ex will probably feel gratitude and closure hearing a whole-hearted apology. Keep it short, sweet and totally honest.

    Olivia Shaw, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shares a personal apology story. “One time I wanted to check in on my ex and see if he wanted to get breakfast or catch up, but I knew he’d never agree to that because I’d like traumatized him from being a difficult girlfriend,” she says. “Even though it killed my ego I sent him a long letter apologizing for the way I had been and told him that I wanted to make it up to him by being better a girlfriend. I know he was skeptical at first and didn’t trust me, but apologizing softened the situation.”

    Apologizing is a meaningful segue into more conversation. It lets your ex know you’re still emotionally concerned for them and that they can trust you to be better than before.  You want them to know that you’ve evolved to become a better person since your breakup however long ago. Remember to be gentle, but from here you can keep up phone contact or even spend time together in person.

    Related:A Letter to the Boy I Tried to Change

    2. Send a friendly text

    Sending a friendly text is the easiest, most non-threatening way to get your ex talking to you again. Btw, the key word here is “friend.” If you approach the situation as a friends, they’ll let their guard down instead of thinking you’re trying to seduce them back into a relationship—even if dating them is your end goal. All that messy talk about how life was when you dated should stay in the past 100 percent, and starting from scratch as friends is going to make both of you way happier. Make sure to emphasize that you understand why your relationships ended and how you respect the decision to breakup, but that you don’t want to cut off all contact completely because they’re still significant to you.

    Try saying something like, “Hey! I ran into our friend the other day and she said you’ve recently accomplished something cool. I’m happy you’re doing well, and maybe we can talk sometime and catch up?”

    If your ex doesn’t answer, avoid text spamming them at all costs. Women hold grudges and men are stubborn, so sometimes results take time. Desperation is such a turn-off, and just because your ex isn’t ready to answer right now doesn’t mean you’ll never talk to them. It’s all about mastering the art of chill.

    3. Meet for coffee

    Once you’ve sent that ~casual~ text and feel okay interacting like functioning humans, then ask your ex for some time in person. Coffee always works! But maintaining a level head during your conversation is extremely important to keep them coming back.

    When you hang out with your friends you’re probably not looking at them in tears, desperately trying to convince them how much you love them—you’re talking about what show you’re bingeing on Netflix and freaking out about the cute dog you saw the other day. If you want to reconnect with your ex, then it’s time to cut the drama and not speak to them like you’re in a soap opera.

    “Emotional distance is a beautiful thing,” says Taly Newton, a senior at Biola University. “In my experience guys never want you as a friend or girlfriend if you’re hysterical or can’t have a cool conversation without bringing up past mistakes you had or forcing a relationship again, and I’ve made that mistake obviously.”

    Moral of the story: If your ex actually agrees to meet you in person, don’t mess it up by going in with an ulterior motive. Treat it like any other coffee or dinner date and they’ll be sure to hang out with you again.

    4. Get help from your mutual friends

    Depending on how long ago you and your ex dated, the two of you might still be running in the same social circle. Mutual friends are going to be a huge advantage when it comes to repairing friendship or romance, so find time to talk to your bestie about setting up a group hangout and nonchalantly inviting your ex.

    Olivia has more successful advice to share about meeting up with exes. “Hanging out with your ex especially if your friends are there creates a non-threatening environment, because then the guy knows he’s not being trapped in an uncomfortable situation and can also make simple conversation with you without a lot of pressure or tension,” she says. “Honestly, that’s my favorite way of getting my exes to talk to me again is a night out with friends.”

    Your friends can also spread positive word of mouth about how happy you are and how you’ve totally move on from the breakup. Even better, they may be able to reassure your ex that it’s totally fine to spend time alone with you and work on rekindling friendship.

    Related: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Gossip About Your Ex

    5. Find a jumping off point

    If you’ve exhausted all your options, then you’re probably sitting there thinking “How am I supposed to get my ex to talk to me again when I acted like a crazy person and definitely scared him away?”

    Out-of-the-blue contact is weird no matter what, so don’t make up a strange reason to contact them unless you really have one. However, if you have a reasonable excuse to text them asking about a restaurant name you forgot or talking about something cool that happened to a mutual friend, then go for it! It’s a smart way to feel out how responsive your ex is going to be and whether you should keep trying to talk to them or not.

    No matter your situation, reconnecting with your ex is weird, and it’s way too easy to sabotage yourself and send them running for the hills. Think about how you would feel if the position were reversed and what would make you comfortable. Note to self: If you think your ex knocking on your door in the middle of the night is crazy, then you probably shouldn’t do that to them.

    If trying to reconnect with your ex doesn’t work, then boy, bye. It may take time to get over the rejection, but know that however nasty your breakup was, you’re absolutely capable of loving friendships and romantic relationships.

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    So, you’re into this new guy or girl. You get along great, you’re attracted to him/her, and you’re ready to put a label on it. But, then, this new love interest reveals that he or she has an STD. First, just relax. This doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be the end of things and a lot of the negative stereotypes about STDs (thanks to our nation’s lack of sex education programs in schools) are complete BS. However, this is understandably something you will need to think about and talk to your partner about before moving forward. Here’s some advice if you find yourself in this sticky situation. And rest assured you’re not alone; 1 in 4 college students has an STD.

    1. Don’t freak out  

    Hearing this information can be very shocking at first. Those overwhelming feelings are completely valid, but it’s best to try not to completely freak out when you hear your partner has an STD. Contracting an STD is no one’s “fault,” so you don’t want to belittle or humiliate your partner. The more calmly and maturely you approach this situation, the better the outcome will be. “My boyfriend told me he had an STD when we first started seriously talking and getting closer, and I reacted harshly and got really upset, which hurt him a lot,” says Colleen*, a third-year in college. “I think the better thing to do would have been to take some time to myself after hearing this and calm down and then talk to him.”

    2. Get informed

    It is absolutely essential for you and your partner to research and discuss having safe sex, regardless of having an STD. You need to know about the necessary preventative measures you need to take, and how your partner can/is treating his/her STD, or if the STD is contagious despite treatment. “If your partner shares with you that he or she has an STD, I would recommend making an appointment with Planned Parenthood, another women’s clinic or trusted doctor to discuss how and if you can still have safe sex. Online can be a great place to find out information on this, but there’s also a lot of false information online,” Sara*, a fourth-year in college whose significant other has an STD, recommends. Those are the steps she took after to protect herself after finding out.

    3. Consider when and how you found out

    Your partner should be honest with you about his or her sexual health status before you commit to a relationship or have sex. If he or she is honest with you before any of this, he or she did the right thing in a really tough situation, and you should be honest about your feelings.  However, if your partner admits this to you after you commit to a relationship or sex, that’s not having your best interests in mind, because that is behavior that possibly puts you at risk and did not give you the opportunity to consent knowing he/she had an STD. “If my boyfriend and I had sex before he told me about his STD, I would have been really mad and probably ended things,” Colleen says. “If someone does that, that means they don’t respect you, because you deserve to make an informed decision with this information.”

    4. Don’t let negative stereotypes affect your decisions

    So much negative stigma is attached to STDs, and most of the stigma is unfortunately based on myths, not facts. Try to not let negative stereotypes about STDs play into your decision about how to handle this situation and proceed in your relationship. Additionally, if friends or family try to push these stereotypes on you to sway you against staying with this person, stick to your own gut feeling. “Listen to what other people have to say and make up your own mind. Make your own conclusion. You can learn a lot from listening to other people or you can be negatively influenced, so if you start to hear people speaking from emotion and not logic, then you close the door on that conversation,” advises Patrick Wannis PhD, a human behavior and relationship expert and celebrity life coach. He also explained that the term sexually transmitted diseases is changing to sexually transmitted infections to discourage negative stereotypes and language around the infections.  

    5. You have a right to end or stay in the relationship

    No matter what the circumstances, you always have a right to end or stay in a relationship. You also always have the right to consent or not consent to having sex with another willing person. You are not a bad person if you choose to end the relationship over a partner having an STD – as long as you communicate with your partner about it in a mature and respectful way. “I think everyone has the choice and right to say I don’t want to date this person for whatever the reason is. I think everyone has a right to say I don’t want to go out with this person based on my own values and morality,” says Dr. Wannis.

    6. Always practice safe sex despite the circumstances

    Practicing safe sex is always important, especially during college, whether or not your partner(s) has an STD. If you do decide to stay in a relationship with someone who has an STD, practicing safe sex is essential. Safe sex also helps prevent pregnancy. However, it’s important to understand that any form of contraception besides condoms, including birth control pills and IUDs, do not prevent against STDs. Make sure to use condoms even if you use another form of birth control. It’s also always okay to ask someone about their sexual health status before engaging in any type of sexual activity, even if it’s just a hook-up.

    Planned Parenthood and the Center For Young Women’s Health are informative websites where you can learn more about STDs and safe sex methods.*

    *Names have been changed to protect anonymity 

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    Several of your life’s biggest moments have been your first time doing something – your first word, your first birthday, your first kiss, your first love, and of course, your first time having sex. There is such an emphasis on your first time having sex in society that it can be a nerve-wracking experience because of the anticipation. Overthinking can make an already stressful experience overwhelming. Whether it’s your first time having sex in life or your first time with someone new, here are four ways that you can feel less nervous when it comes to that climactic moment.

    1. Don’t go in with (high) expectations

    When you’re with someone for the first time, it’s impossible to foresee your sexual chemistry, what things you are comfortable doing and how to pleasure them. You may automatically connect with each other in the bedroom, but there’s also the possibility that you are not sexually compatible.

    To overcome the nerves you may feel because you’re unsure of the situation, don’t go in with high expectations. Don’t expect it to be a bad experience, but at the same time, don’t automatically think things are going to be as perfect and romantic as the movies.

    Kristy*, a senior at Georgia Institute of Technology, shares her advice. “You shouldn’t overthink how something will feel,” she says. “Don’t go in with the mindset that it will be uncomfortable, that it will hurt, or even that it will be the best experience on the planet. Sex won’t be great with everyone, but you very easily could have the greatest experience too.”

    Even if it’s a spur-of-the-moment decision or something you’ve been planning on doing for a while, keep your mind open to the possibilities of what’s to come.

    2. Openly communicate

    It’s critical that you let your partner know where your head is at, even if you feel it may “kill” the moment. It’s much better to let your partner know what’s up rather than sit in silence and suffer from what may be a lackluster or even painful experience.

    Just as much as you have the right to let your partner know you’re enjoying (or not) the experience, you have the right to say no as well. Saying no will feel freeing and let your partner know that you are in as in control of the experience as they are.

    Anna*, a junior at Kennesaw State University, thinks that you’re more prone to regretting an experience if you don’t openly communicate. “For example, being with a guy who is way too aggressive can turn something fun and enjoyable into a nightmare that you want to be over with already,” she says. “If you want your partner to take it easy, don’t beat around the bush. ‘Hey, can we take it easy now?’ is one of my go-to phrases.’”

    If you like something they’re doing, let them know. But also let it be known if you are not enjoying yourself, even for a millisecond. Conversations before, during and after sex can be just as important as the act itself.

    3. Be present in the moment

    Take a deep breath and focus on what is happening in the present. Don’t think about what you think you should do in the next couple of minutes. Listen to your body and do what naturally feels right to you.

    Don’t think of the end goal of an orgasm, but rather think of how important every moment leading up to it can be, too.

    Maria*, a junior at Northwestern University, believes that overthinking will just multiply the number of butterflies in your stomach. “I think that it’s important that you don't have sex with a time limit,” she says. “If you don't feel like you have to rush to finish something, you feel a lot less anxious. There's less pressure to make something great happen when there's no deadline.”

    While it’s great to be future-oriented, don’t think of what’s going to come next during sex. Appreciate every moment in between.

    4. Engage in foreplay

    You should not immediately jump from a kiss to penetration. To allow yourself to become comfortable and develop a rhythm with someone, you should engage in foreplay prior to the big moment.

    Foreplay could include kissing, caressing, oral sex, biting and more. Once you conquer those events, your nerves should begin to subside and you will actually want the next step.

    Stephanie*, a sophomore at the University of South Carolina, won’t have a clear mind until she develops a certain level of comfort and respect for her partner. “I usually get a little nervous and or self-conscious when I know sex is coming. But if I’m with someone who respects my wishes and desires and actively chooses to engage in things that pleasure me, it’s a complete relief.

    A big part of your experience will be who you choose to share it with. Based on of your interactions with foreplay, you should know whether or not this is a person who seeks to pleasure you or is only thinking about themselves.

    Remember, you should be the one actively choosing to share a very intimate moment with someone. You can say no at any time if the nerves become overbearing. If the thought of sex is making you physically ill or is mentally overbearing, know that you may not be ready. Remember there is no rush or deadline to meet. However, if you know that sex is something you want, your first time with anyone or with someone new can be an experience unlike anything you’ve been through before.

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    It’s amazing how much three little words can impact a relationship. If you and your SO have already shouted I love you from the rooftops or swapped the sentiment after a steamy night of “studying,” then give yourself a pat on the back because, let’s be real, that’s not an easy thing to do. As small as those words may seem, saying them can often feel as challenging as trying to sound out something like honorificabilitudinitatibus. (Let us know how that goes.) Want to know what’s not tricky? Making those words mean even more than they already do. You have your SO’s heart. Here’s how to really make it race.

    Related: 7 Signs You’re in Love  

    1. Explore the pictures and posts of your partner’s past

    What we capture on camera says a lot about who we are as people, and what we share on social media is a further extension of this idea. “Scrolling through your partner’s camera roll is one of the most fun things you can do on a random Saturday afternoon,” says Temple University senior Leah Wenhold.

    Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend starred in a hilarious Adventures of Huckleberry Finn parody for his or her high school English class. Maybe he or she had a brief obsession with tweeting nothing but knock, knock jokes. Regardless, there’s a decent chance that you’ve yet to discover everything there is to know about your SO. Seeing his or her old snapshots and videos and searching the depths of his or her Facebook timeline (or, for a crazy good kickback, Myspace profile) will make it clear to your partner that you’d like a better peek at his or her past. More knowledge = more love.

    2. Tackle something terrifying together

    Okay, so rock climbing isn’t for everyone. But there are many intimidating activities to explore, and they come in various shapes, sizes and situations. Have you and your SO been tossing around the idea of training for a Tough Mudder race or tasting calamari for the first time? Well, it’s time to stop debating and start doing! There’s a great deal of trust that comes into play when you decide to face your fears. Because deeper trust sets the stage for deeper love, sampling fried squid together could actually intensify your partner’s feelings for you.

    3. Serve up some sweet compliments

    You’ve probably heard that flattery can get you far in life. Therefore, it’s not surprising that a little kudos has the power to kick your SO’s passion into high gear.

    “It might sound silly, but people truly do appreciate compliments,” says Mikayla Trinkley, a recent graduate of Penn State University. Yes, it may sound silly—especially because flattery can sometimes read as phony. But your partner will love an honest, wholehearted compliment, and he or she will love you for noticing certain things about him or her. Leah uses style as an example. “If you really like your SO’s outfit or hairstyle on a particular day, don’t be afraid to let him or her know!” she says. Fashion and beauty risks can often go unnoticed, so calling positive attention to your partner may lead to an even sweeter sense of love.

    4. Get the inside scoop on his or her interests

    You may know nothing about drumming or Dungeons & Dragons or whatever it is that fills your SO’s free time when he or she isn’t cramming for midterms or hanging out with you. However, as Mikayla points out, there’s a ton of value in taking the opportunity to investigate his or her interests. “I think doing what you can to learn more about your SO’s hobbies and favorite things to do is super important because those interests probably mean so much to him or her,” she says. “Something as simple as asking your boyfriend or girlfriend to walk you through his or her hiking obsession will suggest that you want your relationship to have as much depth as possible.”

    Mikayla’s totally right. Just as pictures and posts help to build a better understanding of your partner’s past, discovering the details of his or her present interests will increase your understanding of who he or she is as a person. Who knows? Something as far from romantic as developing your own D&D character could cause your SO to go weak in the knees.

    5. Introduce him or her to your interests

    Inviting your partner into the wonderful world of your interests is equally important. He or she is probably as curious about what you like to do as you were about his or her favorite activities, so gaining a richer perspective might give your SO even more reasons to feel 100 percent in love with you. Hold nothing back, and you’ll be amazed by how much he or she enjoys trying to get a good grasp of your training routine or Scream Queens fan club.

    6. Stick around through life’s suckier moments

    Experiencing the high points of your SO’s life alongside him or her will definitely tighten the ties of your bond. However, being there through your SO’s not-so-fun low moments is what’s really going to rev his or her love engines.

    As Carole Lieberman, M.D., a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls: Why Men Love Them and How Good Girls Can Learn Their Secrets, puts it, deciding to support your partner is a key step toward making your relationship stronger. Dr. Lieberman says that “showing concern for the things that are stressing him or her out” could cause your SO to feel as though he or she would never want to lose your love. The honeymoon phase has its perks, but your partner’s bound to appreciate you even more if you’ve got what it takes to handle his or her hot messes.

    7. Spend less, snack more

    We’ve all heard again and again that the way to a person’s heart is through his or her stomach. Have you ever wondered whether or not Rice Krispie Treats actually lead to lasting love? Short answer: yes.

    “Sometimes, less is more,” says Dr. Lieberman. According to her, collegiettes tend to get caught up in trying to do “too much” for the sake of love. But powerful feelings are the products of pint-sized actions. “Even though it may be cliché to say, it's the small things,” says Saint Vincent College junior Juli Cehula. Dr. Lieberman agrees with this and adds that “bringing [your SO] a midnight snack when you know he or she’s pulling an all-nighter before a test” will leave him or her feeling incredibly grateful.

    In the currency of love, Doritos are more valuable than dollar signs. As Juli says, “Everyone is always so concerned about how much you spend.” The intention behind a snack or small gift is what leaves the most lasting mark on your partner.

    Though each of these things should supercharge your SO’s love for you, remember to keep this in mind: He or she fell in love with you because you’re you. Sure, a sweet compliment helps, and a scrumptious snack might win him or her over. But being yourself is hands down the best way to take I love you to the next level. 

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    Relationships can be kind of frightening. They’re like machines — you need to regularly assess and take care of them. In order to maintain a healthy relationship, both people need to be happy and aware of where their relationship is at.

    If you’re in a long-term relationship, this may be less of an issue. However, if you met your significant other recently — let’s say during New Student Week or in one of you new classes — it’s probably beneficial to sit down and formulate a relationship State of the Union of sorts. But what happens if you evaluate your relationship with someone and you realize that it’s going in a direction that you’re not here for – what if your relationship is moving too fast? Here’s what you should do to slow things down a bit.

    1. Evaluate your relationship

    First up on how to slow thing down is to actually figure out if you need to. Oftentimes, people aren’t super aware of the habits they adopt when in relationships. Unless you have a blunt best friend to point things out to you, it may be good to take some time to yourself to reflect on your relationship.

    Some important things to factor in when evaluating your relationship include: the amount of time you spend with your partner compared to the amount of time you spend with friends, if you and your partner have the same end-goal in mind, and how being in college may affect your relationship farther down the road.

    2. Communicate with your SO

    If you find that you do want to slow your relationship down, the biggest step you should take is to communicate with your partner. You can’t slow down a relationship if you’re the only person who knows that things are moving a bit too fast.

    “If it's a healthy relationship, you shouldn't feel any pressure at all to do anything you don't want to do,” says Hannah Harshe, a sophomore at the University of Michigan. “You should feel comfortable having a conversation about how far you want to go, and it shouldn't be a problem with either person.”

    If you feel like you and your SO are on different pages, sit them down and have a conversation with them about how you’re feeling. If they’re a good partner, they should listen to you and respect your opinion.

    3. Take time to figure out why you want to slow things down

    It’s totally reasonable to want to take things slowly. However, it’s also important to figure out why you feel that way! If you just prefer to take time in a relationship, then communicate with your partner. However, if that’s usually not the case, take time to figure out what may be making you hit the breaks.

    “My friend dated a guy last year, and he brought her to his apartment on the first date and just got really physical. When she asked him to slow things down, he would act respectful and say that he was fine with it, but he would continue to ask "do you want to do –– ?" and "I really think you would enjoy doing –– ,” says Harshe.

    If you’re in a similar predicament, it may be a problem with the actual relationship, rather than just the tempo of things. If you find that you are hesitant to tell your SO that you want to slow things down, or if they aren’t respectful of your wishes, it may be wise to find someone who understands where you’re coming from.

    Related: 5 Clingy Habits That Are Ruining Your Love Life 

    4. Take some time apart

    One of the best indicators of a relationship moving too fast is how much time you’ve been spending with your SO. It’s easy to get caught up in the future of a relationship and cut everyone else out if the only person you’re spending your free time with is your SO.

    When Elizabeth Beanland, a senior at University of Massachusetts Amherst, went through this with her relationship she found that taking a week apart from her partner helped re-do the pace of the relationship. “In our case, we needed to spend a good week apart to hit the ‘refresh’ button and slow things down. If couples are already finding themselves in fast-paced relationships, I advise them to just spend less time together. Three to four times a week is plenty, and definitely avoid sleeping over every night. Save it for the weekends!”

    Though this was helpful for Elizabeth, some people may dislike the idea of spending an entire week apart. For people with those reservations, an easier way to go about spending less time with your significant other is to just try and plan more friend time.

    “One of the most important things is to make sure that you are making time for your boyfriend/girlfriend but also balancing that time with hanging out with your friends and having you time as well” says Bailee Barnett, a senior at the University of California Santa Barbara. “I’d stress that making time for others, having that balance, and having a little separation from your partner will really help slow down your relationship if you feel it’s going too fast.”

    Whether it be a week or just weekday evenings, spending time apart will allow you to step outside of the relationship bubble.

    5. Monitor your progress

    Once you’ve had a conversation with your SO about taking things slower, stick to your guns. If things start to pick up pace again and you aren’t cool with it — let them know. That being said, if your relationship picks up pace again and both you and your partner are into it — then go for it. Be sure to regularly check in with yourself, and the person you’re in a relationship with.

    Relationships are fickle, and what matters most is that the people involved are both on the same page.

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  • 11/27/17--12:00: Cute Gifts to Give Your Bae
  • Want to get your SO a little something for the Holidays, but aren't sure what to get? No worries––we've got you covered.

    I Only Date Feminists Sticker from, $4
    Just a lil' reminder.

    Scratch Map from Uncommon Goods, $26
    Document all the amazing places you've traveled together!

    I'm So Happy I Swiped Right Mug at Etsy, $14.50
    A cheeky gift for the SO you met online.

    Hangit Photo Display from Dormify, $20
    Show off all your cutest moments.

    Ticket Stub Diary from Uncommon Goods, $12
    The perfect way to reminisce on your favorite concerts and movies.

    Homesick Candle, $35
    Stuck in a LDR? This candle will be a sweet reminder of your SO, wherever they are.

    Female Form Mug from Urban Outfitters, $14
    Wink wink. 

    French Love Poems from Anthropologie, $11.95
    C'est très sexy, non?

    Naughty or Nice Lingerie Set from Underclub, $39
    Gonna find out if you're naughty or nice ;)

    Personalized Photo Candle from Yankee Candle, $33
    Upload your favorite photo together and get it made into a candle.

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    We’ve all been there. Getting that unexpected text from your former significant other is always a rollercoaster of emotions. The worst part? It seems as though they always shoot the text right when you’re feeling your mightiest. If you’re anything like us, you want your ex to feel like you’re doing better off without them. Don’t know where to start? That’s what we are here for. If you’re not sure how to react from that surprise text, here are three ways you can handle the situation:

    1. Be mature

    Nothing says, “I’m over it” better than having a simple, civil conversation with your former lover. The best thing to do when speaking to an ex is to be the bigger person. However, be cautious about being too friendly, as it might come off as flirty to your former beau.

    Emmilyne Thomas, a freshman at the University of Texas, couldn't agree more. “The best thing to do when getting a text from an ex is to make it clear that nothing is going to start up again,” she says. “My ex would always try to invite me to parties when I knew he was dating someone else. I would always make things clear by constantly asking how she was doing in order to make it known that nothing was going to happen.” What a smart girl!

    Arguably the worst thing that you could do is to lash out. Replying in a sassy or salty manner may bring back bad memories or feelings that you may have had with this ex. Furthermore, that may be the exact reaction they were looking for. A bad reaction may give the idea that you still have deep emotions for them, which in turn could make them feel as if they have the upper hand.

    2. Keep it short and sweet

    Another great way to handle this difficult situation is to keep it simple. Responding with very surface level and friendly responses will definitely catch them off guard. It’s important to find the perfect balance of being friendly but also distant. You want to send the message (LOL, literally) that there are no hard feelings, but also be clear that there are no lingering romantic feelings. The best-case scenario would stay the two of you could become friends. If you have no intentions of getting back together, the best way is to make it clear that you have moved on. By speaking in a mature, normal way, you’ll be able to convince not only him but also you that this is nothing more than two friends talking. If they are looking for a little fun, they’ll soon get the message that this is not the place they’ll find it.

    Julia Le, a junior at the University of Texas at Dallas, says the best way to respond is to let the conversation die on its own. “I feel like no one really like small talk,” she says. “So when you are constantly just asking how a person is or what they’re up to, someone will get bored and the conversation will fade on its own.”

    This is the perfect way to let the situation solve itself. Sometimes there’s no need for a dramatic scene, people just start to “get the message”.

    3. Have a little fun

    Getting a text from an ex doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. If you’re completely over the situation, there’s no reason you can’t have a little fun­­ ­– especially if their intentions are anything other than just being civil. There are endless song lyrics, comebacks and simply witty comments that you could use to send replies to that dreaded text.

    Reese Hardin, a freshman from the University of Texas at Austin, shared some of her best experiences with this. “If I can tell that they’re just trying to mess with my emotions, I like to have a little fun with it,” she explains. “My favorite thing to do is to send song lyrics from a Justin Bieber song.” Now that’s funny. Sometimes adding some humor to the situation makes things better. It will make sure that you won’t get hurt and it’ll be clear to them that nothing serious could come from this situation.

    4. Don’t respond

    In the end, the best thing to do may be to not respond. If there are some feelings that aren’t completely resolved yet, it’s never a good idea to keep in contact with someone that is not good for you. The best way to get over someone is to cut him or her out of your life completely. A senior from Florida International University, Kayleen Parra-Padron, has a great tactic for this. “I’ve never gotten a text from an ex mainly because I block them from all forms of media after the break up,” she says. “There’s no use in having them contact you when they’re out of your life! And even if you don’t block them, ignoring them is a close second.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

    The most effective way to handle a text from an ex is to not even give them the satisfaction of a response. Ever heard of read receipts? We’re pretty sure that they only reason they exist is to let your ex know that they’ve lost… and a couple other things. A text from an ex may lead to them trying to convince you for a second chance  and honey, you don’t want to get into that mess!

    Related Article: 7 Reasons You’re Not Over Your Ex

    Nothing good could really ever come from a text from a former bae especially if the breakup was recent and bad. However, sometimes we can’t seem to help ourselves from wanting to send some sort of message to the heartbreaker. In the end, it’s always best to have a positive mindset in mind before doing anything too rash. Make it known to yourself that you’re better off without them, once you have that confidence in place, the world is at your fingertips, literally.

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    You can’t help but end a date feeling like words were left unsaid. You can’t help but wonder if you’re being too clingy or putting too much effort into the relationship. Even though you know you shouldn’t, you wonder if there is something wrong with you that is making the relationship go sideways. Oftentimes these thoughts swirl around in the heads of those whose significant others are not good enough for them.

    There are often small signs that make you think that a girlfriend or boyfriend isn’t the right one for you. If they engage in activities that you don’t approve of, if they don’t like Disney movies or chocolate (major red flag), or if they are constantly asking for you to pay for dinner and movie tickets, then you might be feeling like your relationship is a bit unbalanced. You don’t want to add up all these minor signs when you’re knee deep in a long-term relationship. Before you fall head over heels, be alert for signs that your partner truly isn’t good enough for you. 

    1. You're constantly doubting yourself

    Oftentimes, people make others feel bad about themselves because of their own insecurities, according to an article from Psychology Today. If your SO truly is not good enough for you, they may feel threatened and feel the need to make you dull your shine in order to make themselves feel better in comparison. Take this as a sure sign to GTFO. Additionally, according to a study by Bentley University, if a significant other causes you to constantly question your thoughts, feelings and decisions and makes you feel guilty for expressing your opinions, you may be in a harmful relationship. Your partner should encourage you to speak your mind, not penalize you for doing so.

    Carole Lieberman, M.D., Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author of Bad Girls and Bad Boys says, "If your partner loves you unconditionally, they will support and appreciate you. This isn’t to say that they need to pretend you are perfect or that they shouldn’t mention things that you might want to do differently, but they shouldn’t make you doubt yourself all the time. This will erode your self-esteem."

    2. They only come around for the *good* stuff 

    In most cases, the good stuff refers to that good, good loving. According to Psychology Today, if your partner implies that they only value you for one thing, “whether it be sex, your looks or your ability to earn money” this may be a warning sign of an unhealthy relationship.

    Dr. Lieberman adds, "A partner who only comes around for the good stuff is only thinking of themselves and is not to be trusted. They are not really into you, just into what you can provide for them, such as sex or money or a distraction from their loneliness." 

    Dr. Patrick Wanis, celebrity life coach and expert in human behavior, prefers to describe feeling "too good" for your partner as "deserving better" or that you "deserve better than this relationship." He also emphasizes the distinction between one's conscious and subconscious feelings about the relationship. In other words, feeling unsatisfied or uncomfortable in the relationship never has to do with the person you are with, it is all about yourself and why you—consciously and subconsciously—are with that person, according to Wanis. Dr. Wanis cites an example of a woman whose boyfriend calls her fat and says that she should consider herself lucky to be with him. In response to this, he says, "She consciously knows this is wrong, yet she can't break away from him. One: Is it security? Two: Is it fear of being alone? Or three: Is it because subconsciously that she believes that she doesn't deserve to be treated better even though consciously she says I deserve better?"

    In response to why a person would remain in a relationship where the other party is only interested in the physical aspects of a relationship, Dr. Wanis says that it could be a couple of things: Is it about this particular girl not being able to ask for what she wants? Is she afraid of being alone? Is she afraid to speak up for herself, to explain that she wants more from the relationship? Is she afraid of rejection? Is she afriad of conflict? Dr. Wanis advises, "Ask yourself what are you afraid of and why I am I choosing to stay in it?"

    Related: 7 Things You Should Never Have to Settle For

    3. They're not giving as much as you do

    According to a study, Marital Equality: Gender and Power in Couples Therapy by the Marriage and Family Institute, equal relationships have less stress, more intimacy and are overall more stable. In addition, the study notes that equality “involves the perception of mutual give and take over the long-term rather than just an immediate comparison of specific outcomes." If he or she does the dishes one night, that does not mean they should be sexually compensated or praised for contributing to the relationship. Over time, if you feel that you are more devoted to making the relationship work than your partner is, it may be a sign that you are too good for them.

    On this topic, Dr. Lieberman says, "After a while, it becomes easy to spot a partner who is not giving as much as you do to the relationship. They may be afraid of giving too much, for fear of it not being reciprocated. Or they may simply be selfish. Either way, it’s a big red flag. They are likely to just keep taking from you as long as you let them."

    4. They don't support you or constantly make you feel like you're wrong 

    There is nothing worse than being with someone who doesn’t value you and your goals in life. My biggest pet peeve is being talked down to, and I was stuck in a relationship where my SO constantly talked like he was smarter than me (when in reality, it was the opposite). According to Psychology Today, if a partner distinguishes themselves as the “smart one” or discourages you from doing things because “you wouldn’t understand,” this may be a sign of a toxic relationship.

    Additionally, Dr. Wanis emphasizes the importance of knowing what a healthy relationship is, in order to assess one's own situation. One should ask themselves, Is this a healthy relationship? Do I deserve to be treated better? Why do I allow myself to stay in it? What is it giving me? If a partner constantly puts you down, step-back and ask yourself, "What is a healthy relationship? And is this relationship healthy for me?"

    Rhonda Ricardo, author of Cherries Over Quicksand, says, "One of the biggest warning signs that you are too good for your SO is bullying. If he or she brings up one of the skills you are still working on, like baseball, public speaking, cooking or especially anything super personal, and then makes fun of your struggles in front of other people to either, put you in weak light, make themselves feel/look superior or shock you into getting their way, run away fast!" She goes on to say, "If body shaming is your SO's MO for getting their way, don't hesitate, GO quickly in the other direction."

    Dr. Lieberman also adds, "If your partner is constantly criticizing you, it may be because they are secretly afraid that you are too good for them. So, they want to keep you off balance and make you feel lucky that they are giving you the time of day." When in reality, they know that they are lucky that you are giving them the time of day. 

    Related: An Open Letter to the Passive Significant Other

    5. They aren't planning for the future 

    We don’t mean marriage and babies, but ambitions of their own that you can support them in and motivate them to achieve.  The study by the Marriage and Family Institute defines equal relationships as those in which “both parties have and express desires, are active and empowered.” While you may be ready to take over the world, if your SO plans to major in Netflix, you can take it as a sign that he or she is not up to your standards.

    On this subject, Dr. Lieberman says, "Some partners are afraid to plan for the future because they have seen their parents’ marriage end in divorce, and this has made them afraid of intimacy. Other partners aren’t planning for the future because they really don’t see a future with you. They are just biding their time until ‘something better’ comes along."

    In this situation, Dr. Wanis says, "It all comes down to what do you want from the relationship." In answering this question for yourself, he suggests that you remember "a satisfying relationship contains three elements: passion, intimacy, commitment." When considering these elements, he advises, "Get clear about what you want from the relationship ... If you don't know what you want, you're just going to accept whatever is given to you, and people are just going to take from you what they want, such as the guy who comes over and just wants sex." 

    Ricardo adds, "Do you already find yourselves the mirror image of an elderly couple, sick of hearing the same old story from across the table? If you do, know that boredom breeds arguments for the sake of excitement. Boring is not hot, especially in college. One or both of you might need to either step up your accomplishments and life goals or move on. Unless you plan on dancing on the table with your SO after dinner, you’re too young to settle for a great playlist and headphones you can wear while you eat to block out each other’s constant story reruns."

    Consider Ricardo's words when considering whether or not to end a relationship based on an unequal give-and-take: "College is about growing, sometimes a couple’s bond grows stronger but if you both do not have time for each other that’s natural too, you’re young and growing in the direction of your dreams and goals and so is your SO. If you are already attending medical conferences while you go for your degree and he/she is at home playing video games, either you have a great stay at home parent candidate, the next video game inventor bazillionaire or a lazy donkey-choo that will eat all your cereal then leave sticky bowls in the sink for you to scrub for the rest of your college days. Only you can make the call to stay or send their video race kart down the road. Beep, beep!"

    Being disappointed in your partner doesn't mean that you are being unrealistic or that you need to set your standards lower. If there is one thing that should be high, it should be your standards…and your heels. Be proud of who you are and don’t settle for someone who doesn't deserve you. Be conscious of your self-worth and if you feel that you're being taken advantage of, know the signs that you're better than that and move on!

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    Cuddle weather has fallen upon us, and there you are – shacking it up with your new potential SO. The beginning of a relationship is full of excitement, rushes of adrenaline and inevitably overthinking. Before getting ready for that date or sending a text, we think of that dreaded question – “Am I doing too much?”

    As soon as you think you’re doing too much, you may find that you resort to “playing it cool,” otherwise known as downplaying your emotions to not come off as too strong.

    There is a fine line between “playing it cool” and coming off uninterested. By playing it cool, you end up limiting yourself. As much as you are a queen that anyone would be lucky to have, any potential SOs won’t be able to recognize your worth behind the wall you’re putting up. Here are the six excuses you might find yourself making to justify playing it cool, and why you should avoid them.

    1. “They’ll think I’m annoying.”

    One of the most common patterns among women who prefer to not come off strong or show as much interest is the fear of being annoying.

    Even the most kind-hearted people find themselves in a bind when it comes to a budding relationship. Being your authentic, affectionate self can be inhibited by the fear of being annoying. *Amber, a junior at Kennesaw State University, has trouble finding the balance.

    “Naturally, I am a really loving person, but the last thing I want to feel like is a nuisance to someone,” Amber says. “So I try to dial back the lovingness sometimes because I’m not sure every guy I’m interested can handle it.”

    In the eyes of a mature man or woman looking for a relationship, there is no correlation between showing interest and being annoying. If your almost-SO deems you as a pest for texting them first or taking initiative when it comes to hanging out, then chances are they are doing you a favor by showing you a red flag.

    2. “I won’t talk to him/her for several days so they can miss me.”

    Do you want them to miss you…or forget you?

    Space can enhance a relationship if there are already deep, established feelings. You often hear couple’s taking a little break from each other in order to get back on track to a healthy, happy relationship after recovering from a rough patch. However, if the relationship is fresh, acting  like you aren't bothered can steer your new lover into another direction entirely.

    Jorge Lupita, a junior at Georgia Gwinnett College, admits to losing interest if there doesn't’t seem to be an interest on the girl’s behalf. “The whole girls not reaching out first thing never made sense to me,” Jorge says. “If you want to talk to someone, just do it. If I don’t hear from you for a long time, I’m going to think she’s not interested.”  

    Communication doesn’t have to be 24-hours a day, seven days a week. However, there should be a balance on both ends. 

    3. “I don’t want to be labeled as ‘that crazy girl,’ especially if they talk to their friends about me.”

    Let’s get one thing straight. Taking initiative, being open and being straight up are not the behaviors of someone crazy. If someone you’re talking to goes behind your back and refers to you as crazy for doing so, laugh in their face. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in a relationship is playing it cool about things that bother you instead of openly speaking up.

    *Marsha, a sophomore at Coastal Carolina University, found herself in a situation where she let a guy walk all over her, all in the name of “playing it cool.”

    “My biggest regret is that I didn’t put him in his place,” she says. "I should’ve shown him that I can’t be bossed around. I should have told him how I felt instead of waiting for him to take the reigns. I should have demanded more respect.”

    Wouldn't’t you rather you be open with someone and immediately know from their reaction if they are worthy of your time or not? Although you shouldn't’t profess your love to an unsuspecting someone a week after you meet them, if something is weighing on your heart in a relationship – speak it.

    4. “The man should be the man.”

    The idea that men should do everything in the relationship has been spoon-fed to us by society for years, and it’s assumed that women should just be on the receiving end. However, since we’re all for gender equality these days, should we really still be participating in this behavior?

    Hannah Harshe, a sophomore at University of Michigan, believes it is up to us to confidently keep knocking down the gender role stereotypes that hold women to certain behaviors in a relationship.

    “Boys will never know what to do with us ­– but the good ones will stand in awe of us, while the bad ones will try to squash us down with gender stereotypes and patriarchal constructs,” Hannah says.

    Acting on feelings shouldn’t be limited exclusively to men. If you want to do something, do it. Make no excuses on behalf on your gender.

    Related: How to Deal When Your Boyfriend's Not a Feminist 

    5. “I don’t want to get hurt.”

    In the end, a lot of repressing feelings boils down to not wanting to get hurt. You hide your feelings in the hopes that if the relationship ends up failing before it even begins, you won’t be disappointed.

    However, no matter how much you mask your feelings to the world, you will still end up disappointed if the relationship ends. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to ask yourself, “What could I have done differently?” Be authentically you and know that better opportunities are on the way if you were 100 percent yourself and things still didn't work

    It’s time to take back our power, ladies. No patriarchal social construct should restrict how you interact with a potential lover. Feel free to openly express yourself, make mistakes, meet the wrong people and date even wrong-er ones…all to meet the right person. 

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    As single women, all year long we’re bombarded by messages that we need to be in a relationship. We see friends’ photos with their SOs, rom-coms that always end in a big romantic gesture, and even articles on websites on how to land that perfect guy. But during the holidays, the feelings of wanting to be in a relationship intensify: you watch Hallmark holiday movies about love, you see couple-y activities like ice skating and cookie baking, you even just the desire to cuddle with someone while drinking hot cocoa in front of a roaring fire. These are the things we single girls yearn for during the holiday season. Don’t pretend you don’t. It’s just that time of year. That’s right: It’s cuffing season.

    According to Urban Dictionary, cuffing season is defined as follows:

    “During the Fall and Winter months, people who would normally rather be single or promiscuous find themselves along with the rest of the world desiring to be ‘Cuffed’ or tied down by a serious relationship. The cold weather and prolonged indoor activity cause singles to become lonely and desperate to be cuffed.”

    Though you aren’t in that relationship you may want, you can still totally enjoy the holidays as a single gal. Here’s how to deal with cuffing season as a strong, independent woman.

    Still do all of those couple-y things

    Just because you aren’t part of a couple doesn’t mean you can’t still do “couple-y” things. You can totally still go ice skating with your friends or bake Christmas cookies with your mom or have a snowball fight with your siblings. These are all things you used to enjoy doing as a kid without an SO, so why do you need one to do them now?

    Cristina Lup, a senior at Marist College, says that “during the holidays is the worst time to be flying solo. Especially if you were in a relationship this time last year, going to holiday parties and avoiding the relationship topic with relatives can be a real bummer.”

    Don’t be afraid to do things on your own, including the couple-y things we mentioned before. The holiday season is such a social time full of family gatherings and parties and other get-togethers, so it’s important to take some time for yourself. Who doesn’t love a little alone time every once in a while? Have a movie night on your own—hot chocolate necessary, fireplace optional.


    The holidays are a time to be thankful and celebrate giving. Sure, it’s fun to receive presents and eat big, fancy meals and do all of these winter things. But the real importance of the holidays is being thankful for what you have and giving, both to family and friends and to those who are less fortunate than yourself.

    Look at you! You’re in college getting an amazing education among other brilliant minds, and you’re surrounded by people who care about you. Others aren’t so lucky. Take some time this holiday season to give back to your community and to help those who won’t have as great of a holiday season as you.

    Whether you serve meals at a shelter or donate toys and clothes to a drive for children, take some time to be thankful and give back.

    Spend time with your family

    Love and family: Isn’t that what the holidays are truly about? When the time comes, you’ll be in a wonderful relationship for the holidays. But once that happens, you won’t be able to focus completely on your time with your family. Right now is the time to do that.

    Being away at school, you realize just how much you love and miss and need your family in your life. Holiday break is a time when you can go home and catch up with Mom and Dad and your siblings. You can have game nights like you used to when you were young. You can watch your favorite holiday movies and specials together. You can decorate the tree and have snowball fights and go ice skating together.

    Lupo says, “My advice would be to remember that the holidays are about family. Focus on being home with your loved ones, and the people who are there with you, rather than thinking about the ones who are not.”

    Now is the time to enjoy the holiday season with your family. You don’t have many years left of month-long breaks at home, so make the most of that time you have now.

    Related: 16 Things Only Girls Who Don't Know Why They're Single Understand

    Spend your time the way you want to

    As single ladies, we all know we have a kind of freedom girls in relationships don’t have. We’re free to use our time however we want to. There’s no need to worry about texting your guy back or going out on date night or even just sitting together and doing homework. Nope, you’re free to choose how you spend your time.

    Do you want to read or sleep or watch TV or bake (and eat whatever you make, obviously) this November and December away? By all means, do it, GF! If you don’t want to do all of those couple-y things we mentioned before, you don’t need to feel obligated to do so.

    So this holiday season, spend your time how you want. If you want to spend your Thanksgiving and winter breaks binge-watching One Tree Hill for the fifth time, go for it!

    Enjoy your holidays as a single girl…they probably won’t last forever

    Just enjoy the time you have left as a single person this holiday season. It most likely won’t last forever. You may be longing for a relationship now, but someday you might look back and appreciate the Thanksgiving and Christmases and Hanukkahs and Kwanzas you spent as a single gal.

    And look at all of the positives of being single this holiday season! You don’t have to spend money on a gift for your SO. You get to spend all of your holidays with your family; no alternating holidays or splitting time for you just yet. Being single really is a blessing, so embrace it while it lasts.

    What even is cuffing season? It’s this made-up notion that we have to be in a relationship, especially around the holidays. Single girls are portrayed as sad and lonely and desperate in all of the Hallmark holiday movies. But we’re not! We’re strong and independent and perfectly happy spending the holidays without a plus one.

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    Living as a woman with anxiety is a struggle––dating as a woman with anxiety is impossible AF. You’re already tense because any little thing could send you into a full on apocalyptic meltdown. How are you supposed to bring another person into that?  From second-guessing that awesome sex you just had to tearing up at everything to wondering if they’ll ever be able to understand you, saying that your romantic relationships are “complicated” would be the understatement of the century.

    You’ll totally relate to all these struggles that women with anxiety have while dating, but we also have some practical advice to help you get through them. Don’t worry girl, we gotchu.

    1. It’s hard to find someone who understands you

    Anxiety is the most common mental illness around, but that’s no guarantee that your partner can understand and empathize with you. At the start of a relationship, your new SO probably tries to relate to you and give you advice on how to get through your anxiety attacks, which just. doesn’t. help. As things get more serious your anxiety may even lead to resentment between you because they just can’t grasp the deep, complicated aspects of your personality, while you’re hurt that they can’t understand.

    Carly, a senior at the University of Michigan, has dealt with this before. “I’m a stressed-out mess, and I know that my emotional spectrum is a heavy burden to take on,” she says. “In my one serious relationship my boyfriend eventually learned the best ways to interact with me when my anxiety was at its worst, but that’s not the same for casual relationships that might not go anywhere. Sometimes boys probably think I’m crazy, which hurts, and it also makes me a more bitter person towards dating in general.”

    You’re no stranger to the difficulties that come with dating you, but you should also know that any issue with your anxiety is made up by how hard you love. People with anxiety are dedicated, and if you can handle it, they’re some of the most loving people to spend your time with. You get anxious about everything because your partner and certain aspects of your life mean that much to you. The next time it feels like your SO just doesn’t get what you’re going through or you feel bad about yourself, take time to notice all the good you do in your relationship and how much you care. If the person you’re dating doesn’t try to see that, then it’s time to move on to someone who does.

    Related: 11 Things Only Girls Who Have Been Disappointed By Guys Understand

    2. You second guess your relationship

    While the rational side of you knows that everything is chill and your SO loves you like crazy, the anxious part of your brain is telling you that you’ll never be able to keep your partner’s interest and they’ll be gone soon enough. Fun stuff, isn’t it?

    “A very significant source of anxiety in your relationship may be you wondering if your partner is going to leave you,” says Dr. Kelly, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine. “Your interactions will cause peak anxiety if your critical inner voice is telling you things like ‘you’re not good enough, you can’t trust him, you’re not going to keep his interest.’ When this happens, you get snared fixating on what you’ve fictionalized or problems that are completely hypothetical, so that you get distracted from the reality of your relationship.”

    Dr. Kelly totally gets what it’s like to constantly second guess your relationship. What’s important is to catch yourself when you overthink and worry about problems that aren’t problems at all. Taking deep breaths, distracting yourself for a while and revisiting the problem later when you’re not overcome by anxiety will help you work through it and train yourself out of that harmful behavior. Bae loves you, just recognize it!  

    3. You punish your partner

    Your anxiety doesn’t just come out as stress and overthinking. Sometimes it manifests as anger, frustration and depression. All of us know that hands down one of the biggest struggles of dating is when you unintentionally punish your partner for your anxiety disorder. Something they do may set you off and make you yell at them or be cold AF, which you know wouldn’t happen if you hadn’t been under an attack. You might find yourself trying to set rules limiting what they can and can’t do because you can’t control your own anxiety. When this happens, take a hella deep breath and think about whether you’re acting rationally to something your partner did or whether you’re acting out because of something that’s happening internally with you.

    Dr. Kelly tactfully explains just what’s happening inside us when anxiety turns us from Jekyll to Hyde. “When anxiety flares up, it surges the body with cortisol and adrenaline to get the body ready to run for its life or fight for it,” she says. “This is the fight or flight response and it’s in everyone. It’s just that in some people with anxiety, the ‘go’ button for fight is a bit more sensitive.”

    When you find yourself with smoke coming out of your ears and carrying a blazing sword of vengeance against your partner, that’s a great time to pause and not panic or act out. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air, smell some lavender soap and let yourself calm down and think through things before you act. Once the anxiety attack pass, rethink whether your partner has done something to make you upset.  Just because you have anxiety doesn’t give you the right to bully or control them. Keep yourself grounded in the reality of your situation, and your unprovoked anger will become less of a struggle.

    4. You’re always suspicious

    In the middle of an anxiety attack, nothing makes sense. For some reason, you think your partner is lying about where they were. You think they’re hiding a bad habit or texting their ex-girlfriend. It will feel like your world is falling apart, even if nothing has happened and your anxiety has tricked you into being suspicious without reason.

    “Anxiety affects my trust a lot,” says Isabella, a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “It’s like even if I know nothing bad has happened, I’m still convinced my boyfriend is lying to me about something. Whether it’s where he is or who he’s with, I convince myself he’s not telling the truth. I think it also comes from my having low self-esteem, but anxiety coupled with that just leaves me with trust issues.”

    People with anxiety have overprotective brains that are trying to realize the worst before it happens, and dating only amps this a whole new level. It’s crucial to realize that your suspicion about what your partner is doing is unwarranted, otherwise, you could easily sabotage your relationship. It’s not fun (or healthy) to date a person who constantly distrusts you. Your partner has their work cut out trying to reassure you, and you should meet them halfway by trying your best to approach sensitive or troublesome situations with a clear mind.

    Related: 5 Signs of Emotional Abuse You Should Watch Out For

    5. You can cling like crazy

    Having anxiety can make you clingy unintentionally––but clingy nonetheless. When your brain is simultaneously telling you that your partner is pissed at you for that thing you said about his haircut, is cheating on you and is also going to die in a horrible fiery accident, how are you supposed to react? By being as close as physically possible of course. It’s very probable that your anxiety could leave you as that clingy girl you don’t want to be, just so you can make sure your partner is okay and is still into you. But isn’t it such a struggle when you realize how overwhelming you’re definitely being? Nobody likes to be smothered, and desperation is not attractive, but us ladies with anxiety just can’t help it.

    Aside from being the world’s clingiest girlfriend, having anxiety also puts you at risk for becoming dependent on your partner to help you through things that make you anxious. It starts out with a simple situation where your boyfriend calls and orders takeout because he knows how much you ~hate~ talking on the phone. It’s a slippery slope of dependency where you could potentially end up useless without their help to get you through a stressful situation instead of a powerful, independent woman who can deal with her own anxiety disorder.

    When you start to feel as though you’re losing your independence or can’t stand on your own, remember how strong you are. Your entire life your anxiety has constantly put you in circumstances that challenge you, and that just shows the strength of your courage.

    So, we get it, dating with anxiety feels impossible and improbable, but it’s so worth it. We know that every small thing feels like the end of the world, and that increases by 100 percent when you bring bae into the mix. But if you have a supportive partner and always love yourself through your anxiety, these struggles that seem so big will become less.

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    Pop culture has given us so much, from the iconic movie lines of Mean Girls to the timeless wisdom of Clueless. How could we ever go on without Blair Waldorf’s #GirlPower mantras and Chuck Bass’s...well, Chuck Bass.

    Whether we like it or not, pop culture has had a major impact on the way we grew up, and taught us some very important lessons about life, love and friendship. However, when it comes to sex ed...not so much.

    Our favorite TV shows and movies have told us many lies about sex, and certainly didn’t prepare us for the jungle that is today’s hookup culture.

    1. That every woman wears all times

    Very rarely does a female star in a movie or TV show bare it all in a steamy scene in mismatched bras and panties. I don’t know about you, but the average female is most likely never coordinating her bra to her underwear, unless it’s a special occasion...or a special guy/girl.

    2. That you will get pregnant immediately

    Raise your hand if you feel personally victimized by The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Poor, innocent little Amy Juergens, gets pregnant at just 15 years old after having sex one time in a supply closet with everyone’s favorite Bandcamp heartthrob, Ricky. That’s some traumatizing material right there.

    3. That sex is perfect every single time you do it

    Sex is a sweaty, hot mess...literally. It can be smelly, and not nearly as picturesque as pop culture makes it out to be. Chances are, sex will not look like it did in The Notebook or Titanic, however, if you have sex in a car there will be steam.

    4. That every person you have sex with will fall in love with you

    Sex can be a magical, intimate experience when it’s with someone you really care about. But, it can still be magical (and fun) even if you don’t end up in a relationship with your partner. Just because you’re having sex with someone unfortunately doesn’t mean that their heart is in it for the long haul.

    5. That using protection isn’t “cool”

    When have you ever seen a movie where the guy meticulously puts on a condom before they do it? Probably never. Using protection is super important, to not only protect against unwanted pregnancy but also against sexually transmitted infections. Remember kids, wrap it before you tap it, even if they don’t show that part in the movies.

    Related: 4 Reasons Why You're Not Having Satisfying Sex

    6. That your life will dramatically change after losing your virginity

    American Pie is probably not the best guide on how to lose your virginity. As if there wasn’t already enough pressure to have sex, pop culture movies take it to the next level. For example, in Easy A Olive Pendergast (Emma Stone) spends the whole film pretending to sleep with tons of guys so that they will no longer be *gasp* virgins. Your sex life is your business and doesn’t determine who you are.

    8. That foreplay is an urban legend

    You wouldn’t take a test without studying, right? Well, maybe you would under certain circumstances but in a perfect world, you’d make sure you were 100 percent prepared to ace the exam. Having sex is a lot like running a 5k — you need to warm up, stretch, and prepare before jumping in and running with all your might.

    9. That your hair and makeup will look just as good after sex as it did before sex

    This just simply isn’t true. If you begin sex with winged eyeliner, you can count on it being at least halfway down your face by the end. Movies give us that extremely unattainable standard that our hair will remain perfectly straight (or perfectly curled) post-sex and I am here to tell you that it simply isn’t possible.

    10. That you can have sex anywhere, like in a library, without being caught

    Anyone else remember that scene in Gone Girl where they have sex in a rather busy library, in broad daylight, without being caught? That is, while a fantasy for a lot of people, highly risky and most likely impossible...and also, illegal.

    While we will definitely be borrowing lines from our favorite movies for Instagram captions, pop culture can keep their ridiculous standards for sex. 

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    Have you ever felt that weird pang in your stomach when a girl is talking to your SO? It's hard to brush these feelings off as just an overreaction when you're worried that your SO might be developing feelings for her. It's probably not a good idea to accuse your SO of something when you don't know what role your girlfriend or boyfriend is playing in the situation. While it's important to protect your relationship and the one you love specifically, sometimes they can turn a harmless situation into a harmful one for you. And, of course, if your SO is developing feelings for someone else--it's THEIR fault, not the other girl's. It can be really hard to not get mad at the third party, but don't forget who truly is breaking a commitment to you! 

    Here are six ways that you can tell the difference, so you can know if you should be worried about "that" other girl.

    1. They go to her before they go to you

    Ultimately, your SO should be your best friend, right? Whether you think they should have girl best friends or not, being a huge part of someone's life means knowing almost everything that goes on with it. That means that there are some things they tell friends and some things they only should tell you, or at least tell you first.

    If he or she goes to another girl first, chances are the two of them might have a closer relationship than your actual relationship! It's important to make sure that your SO feels comfortable telling you anything, so make sure someone on the outside of your relationship doesn't look more inviting than you do as a girlfriend. 

    2. She knows a little too much about the relationship

    Your relationship is about the two of you and that's it. Information about the arguments you have, your sex life or your plans to get married one day should never be shared without your consent! Just like Michael Jackson said, "Ain't nobody's business but mine and my baby." You and your lover share things that no one else could understand the way you two do. Your SO shouldn't be telling other girls (or really anyone, for that matter) what you guys do in private. Have you ever been talking to a girl and she mentions something about your bae that you didn't even know? Yeah, you should probably get to know her a little better – and by that I mean figure out what your SO has been saying.

    University of Pittsburgh sophomore Harmonie Christian had the terrible experience of watching herex start dating his "girl best friend.""[The girl] was his friend first, but as time went on I came to consider her a best friend. [She] and I’s original bond was contingent upon the boy being in my life, but when he and I broke up I remained her friend," she says. In this type of situation, who knows what this girl could have been telling her boyfriend what they discuss as friends? It can really get confusing when everyone is this close, so it's important to set boundaries and try to find out everyone's intentions.

    3. She's around when she doesn't need to be

    It's one thing for her to hang around in a friendly way, but there's a limit. If you and your SO are having lunch and she stops by to say hi, and then sits down and joins in... red flag. Now, it's important to give everyone the benefit of the doubt; not everyone is after your boo (even though you think they're the cutest ever)! But when she lingers really often during your times together, your SO should speak up against that, for your sake. The worst part might be that she seems really friendly! Talk to your SO about how much friendliness you're comfortable with so that you don't step on any toes.

    4. She ignores you when she's talking to you and your SO

    Now this is just plain rude. She looks into your bae's loving eyes, and only talks to them the whole time! Are you even there? She may even go as far as to ignore you when you talk. It's important to pay attention to your SO's behavior: do they include you when this other girl is around? Do they make it clear that you are their top priority when she is in the room? Former St. John's University student Deanna London says that they might do this because they know you're there. "I always pick up on the girls who will start being extra nice to guys when they find out they're dating someone," she says. You might want to worry a bit about her if this is happening. If you don't feel comfortable asserting yourself in those situations, have a talk with the one you love. Let them know you're not to be messed with. 

    5. Your SO can't give full details on what they're doing or talking about

    Maybe you're even brave enough to let them hang out alone. You go girl! But problems can arise when you feel like you're out of the loop on what they do, so you get a little suspicious. In Harmonie's situation, secrets revealed themselves over time, and she wishes she knew beforehand. "[She] swore nothing would ever happen because that was her, 'brother,' who she would never be sexually or romantically attracted to," she says. "Deep in my spirit, I knew that was also a lie. The clues were hidden in the way they bantered like a married couple, she would get jealous when he hung out with his flavor of the week and not her, the way her mom would insist they were meant for each other, and how he would purposely sabotage her efforts of being with other people." These kinds of relationships, although publicly friendly, are privately much deeper than that. If you think your SO is hiding something like this from you, it's time to investigate.

    6. She's flat-out flirting

    Hopefully, you never have to see this happen. Some people, unfortunately, just don't care that you actually love this person. It's almost hard to ignore when a girl is openly flirting and trying really hard to get someone's attention. Like Deanna said, some girls try to up their game when they know a guy is taken. "They'll do things like brush up against their body, or wear more revealing clothes ONLY when the guy is around," she adds. It's not okay, and should be called out if your SO doesn't immediately do something about it. If you notice that your SO is neglecting you and paying attention to this kind of behavior, they need to be put in check. Harmonie says in hindsight she knew it was happening all along and sadly ignored the signs. "I felt the energy. I saw the signs and the red flags...The only thing I can hope is that when you see the signs and truly feel that something isn’t right, you run faster than I did.”

    As with any relationship, it is important to have trust in your partner. However, if you have a bad feeling about a certain girl in your SO's life, it might be a good idea to communicate your concerns before the situation gets out of hand. 

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    You know the signs of a relationship that’s dead in the water. They stop responding to your texts with the same excitement (or they stop completely), it becomes impossible to make plans or life just gets in the way. There are so many reasons a relationship can end before it even begins, and none of them make the mini-heartbreak any easier to get over.

    Thankfully, the heartbreak doesn’t have to be permanent by any means. Plus, others have gone through this before you, and they’re here to help! Read on for ways to get over a relationship that never quite got started and for some collegiette advice for getting through the disappointment.

    1. Take all the time you need

    It’s easy to feel invalidated by a casual or brand new relationship. We all want to keep our cool in the early stages of a romance, and that often involves playing down our feelings. It’s also pretty much impossible not to think about where the potential significant other lands in your larger plans for life. “No matter how casual a relationship is, it's hard not to think about a future with that person,” says Cristina, a senior at Marist College.

    This doesn’t mean, though, that everything we feel isn’t legitimate. That said, it might take you a while to feel like your usual self after a brand new or getting-there relationship ends. There’s no one acceptable grieving period for every type of relationship or every length of relationship. Work through your emotions, take time for self care and do what you have to do on your own terms. After all, you are the one going through it!

    Related: How to Get Closure After a Breakup

    2. Don’t blame yourself

    In any breakup scenario, it’s easy to develop a sort of complex about the “it’s not you, it’s me” reasoning. It has to be you, doesn’t it? Don’t let yourself get caught up in this kind of thinking. This reasoning isn’t always accurate, and it certainly isn’t good for your personal wellbeing in the wake of a breakup.

    Blaming yourself for the ending of this kind of romance won’t get you anywhere. “There comes a point where you have tried everything you can and it still doesn't work,” says Lauren*, a recent grad from Marymount University. “You have to know that things that happen like this are out of your control.”

    Life happens, and you have to put yourself first when it does. “I am still holding on but it has come to the point where you need to do what is best for yourself and let go of something that no longer serves you,” Lauren says. There’s no reason to endure the pain of a relationship that isn’t working, and you also don’t need to have an excuse that makes sense to other people in order to justify its end.

    3. Try to look at things objectively

    There are plenty of circumstances that can lead to the early demise of a relationship. Rather than get caught up in the back and forth and the emotions of it all, it can be helpful to take a step back. Consider the realities that made it impossible for the relationship to go on. Maybe you had bad timing, like a casual summer hook-up that started to get serious, but you both had to return to school. Maybe one of you was fresh out of another relationship, and there was just no way you could get into something serious again.

    You might also have been flat out incompatible in fundamental ways that didn’t make themselves evident at first. “I was in an amazing relationship with a guy who was my opposite in every way…we were so good together, but in the back of both of our minds, I think we knew it wouldn't last,” says Cristina. “We couldn't see a future where we were together…I just had to keep reminding myself that we wanted different things in life.” Sometimes it’s really that simple.

    Related: Should You Break Up? A He Said, She Said Guide

    4. Avoid being sucked back in

    Suddenly not having a person to go to for physical or emotional comfort is really jarring, and going cold turkey on this kind of intimacy and support won’t be easy. It will be for your benefit, though. If this means you have to block their number or be irrationally angry for a little while, that’s fine! “I'm taking it day by day and I'm focusing on myself, my friends, and my work,” says Catherine Lowe, a senior at Winthrop University. Whatever it takes to keep your head above water is what you have to do.

    The reasons for the romance’s end are legitimate reasons, so you have to be kind of hard on yourself to make sure that you don’t let the other person get ahold of you. You also want to make sure it’s not you that ends up going back to them or trying to start things up again. "There's probably a clear reason or collection of reasons as to why things ended, so reminding yourself of that will also remind you that the relationship's not worth starting again," says Megan Sawey, a senior at Temple University. Keep yourself busy and focus on what’s ahead of you.

    It's difficult to not lapse right back into something that was comfortable (even if not without its problems). “We got together several times after we broke up, which ended up being a mistake because in trying to end things civilly, we couldn't stop having the same problems we always did,” says Cristina. It's for your own good to keep the person out of your life, and it will make dealing with your emotions that much easier.

    5. Remember this isn’t the only romance you’ll ever have

    This can be the hardest part, but the old saying holds true—there are plenty of other fish in the sea! Wallowing has its merits and is a necessary part of the mourning of the end of a romance, but don’t let it turn you bitter. This was not the only romance you’ll ever experience in your life. It taught you about yourself and about what you’re looking for, which makes it a good thing, even if the feelings involved might be horrible.

    If you’re the type of person who would benefit from a rebound, put on your best outfit and your biggest smile, get out there and get some! If you’re not, stick to your support circle of friends and family, and just don’t let yourself be alone and sad (at least not for too much time).

    Don’t let what might have been kept you from enjoying the rest of your life, especially when it comes to romance. Endings are sad, painful and may even seem utterly pointless. You just have to do your best to remember that, in time, everything truly will be all right. For some immediate recovery, make yourself laugh, binge your favorite easygoing TV and talk things out with people who can give you support.

    To give another cliché its due, your relationship with yourself is the most important one you can be in! Self-love is essential before, during and after a relationship. “We have to know our worth is greater than anyone's uncertainty about us,” says Lauren. Remember that your happiness, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s in reach now, comes first!

    *Name has been changed

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    If you know me, you know I’m single. It’s just part of who I am. In fact, the other day at my cousin’s wedding, one of my relatives asked if there’s “anyone special” in my life. Before I could even answer, another relative chimed in and said, “Oh, you know Hannah. She’s dating her books.”

    I couldn’t even bring myself to be offended by that because it’s so incredibly true. I realized, maybe I should put myself out there a little bit. Try dating, just to see if anything happens. So, naturally, I turned to my 15-year-old brother for advice.

    Now, if you know me, you know my brother’s the last person to whom I would usually turn for dating advice. Actually, if you know me, this is the point where you’re probably saying, “Wait, she has a brother?” Yes, I have a brother. His name is Sam and he’s a sophomore in high school and you haven’t heard of him because he’s always either working out for soccer or doing recreational math, so he doesn’t have much time for me. Rumor has it he’s pretty suave with the ladies, though. (Okay, I 100% made that up.) Regardless, he was thrilled to be my love doctor, as is evidenced by this text message:

    Step 1: Meeting someone

    In order to fall in love with someone, you have to find someone to fall in love with. I go to a school with almost 50,000 students. It should be easy enough to find someone, right?

    Sam’s suggestion: “Comment on Michigan’s page on ESPN that you’re looking for a date.”

    I was not thrilled about this idea, because ESPN requires you to use your Facebook when commenting, meaning everyone who checked the page would see not only my comment, but also my first name, last name, and profile picture. But, what can I say, I guess I’m a fool for love.

    Sam told me to add some personal characteristics, so I replied to my comment, “I’m a mediocre height, usually wear my hair in a bun, vegan.” Unfortunately, even this didn’t do the trick. Nobody replied to my comment to ask me out. Nobody even liked it. And we ended up losing to Penn State. Absolute heartbreaker, all around.

    Step 2: Learn to play 2K

    Obviously, the second step in every relationship (after meeting the boy) is playing 2K with them. If you didn’t know that, then that’s probably the cause of all your relationship problems. Sam made it clear: “Learn how to play 2K and FIFA and throw around a few names and act like you know what you’re talking about. Never call it NBA 2K. That’s weird. It’s just 2K.”

    I took this deep advice to heart, and decided to call upon my closest friends for help. “I need someone to teach me how to play 2K for an article,” I said in our Snapchat group chat. I should have known better. The trash talking ensued immediately. Who’s the best at 2K? Who’s the most worthy of teaching me?

    The trash talking continued for what felt like days, and nobody ever did teach me how to play 2K. Thanks, boys. You’re the reason I’m single.

    Step 3: Go on a date

    Because of the failure of the first two steps, when Sam gave me advice for an actual date, I didn’t have anyone who I could actually treat to a date night. Luckily, though, I have four wonderful roommates. So, naturally, I texted my roomie group message and I asked if anyone wanted to eat a romantic candlelight dinner with me. Lili hit me with the “I think you’re a nice girl but I’m really not looking for anything right now.” Allison just said, “Please don’t light all the candles because with the number of candles we have, that will look more like a cult ritual than a romantic dinner.” But Isabella and Shannon were in. I had my dates. I quickly had Sam text me all the details of what I needed for an A+ date night.

    Food: On my way home Monday night (date night!), I stopped to pick up our food. Unfortunately, upon looking at my bank account balance, I realized that pizza would not be an option (note to self: can I even afford a relationship??). I did, however, like his suggestion of chips and guac. I even made a stop at Chipotle to pick them up.

    The reactions to the chips and guac were okay:

    Isabella: I really like these appetizers.
    Me: Those aren’t appetizers. Those are the meal.
    Shannon: Hannah, you need to remember that you’re trying to wow two girls who just got out of very serious relationships.
    Isabella: And, honestly, it’s working.

    Sam also said to put some fruit on the table, but we didn’t have any fruit, so I poured them some mango fruit punch. This was an absolute hit until they realized it wasn’t white wine (at which point they asked, “Wait, we’re drinking chasers?”).

    Music: I stuck with Justin Bieber’s Christmas music. This was definitely a solid choice, and I really impressed them with my ability to rap every line of the Busta Rhymes part from “Drummer Boy.” 10/10 will remember to do that next time I’m on a date (IF and ONLY IF I’m okay with the guy falling in love with me on the spot).

    Conversation: Sam gave me a list of questions to ask so that I would seem cool but also get to learn a lot about who my dates are as people.

    Me: Who’s gonna make it to the NBA finals?
    Shannon: Wait...that’s basketball, right?
    Me: Yes.
    Shannon: Okay, just wanted to make sure it wasn’t baseball. What’s baseball again? PGA?
    Me: No, PGA’s golf. Baseball is the MLB.
    Isabella: Modern Languages Building?
    Shannon: No, baseball.
    Isabella: Oh, well, anyway, the winner at basketball is gonna be LeBron James.

    Clearly this conversation starter wasn’t the smartest move on Sam’s part. But then again, if I were dating a guy, maybe it would have worked out a little better. Maybe he had assumed I wasn’t going to be dating my roomies.

    Me: Is Jordan the GOAT?
    Isabella: Jordan who?
    Shannon: Yeah, is he that quarterback you told me about?
    Me: No, Michael Jordan.
    Shannon: Oh. No, Michael Jordan’s not the GOAT. Michael Phelps is.

    0 for 2 on the questions, Sam. Luckily, third time’s the charm.

    “Is Drake better than Kanye?” I asked. This one stirred some real conversation. Shannon said that you have to respect Kanye because he’s built such an empire, but Isabella argued that Drake is more talented. The conversation continued for some time. Make a note of that one. Drake versus Kanye is a solid conversation starter.

    Overall, here is my summary of taking dating advice from my brother: I am still single and I still don’t know how to play 2K. To any of my ladies out there who are looking for that ~special someone~ I highly recommend that you do not consult your 15-year-older brother. Might I suggest Bumble? You’ll thank me later.

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    Arguments are tricky business, especially in relationships. When you argue with a SO, it can sometimes be easily resolved and you can feel good about what you two gained from the argument. However, some arguments make you question the person you’re with and how they reacted to you or a situation. This is when you might start to consider if this was just another argument or if this is indicative of a larger problem, a problem that is inevitably a deal-breaker. Luckily, we’ve consulted with a couple collegiettes and Kim Olver, a licensed professional counselor, board certified coach, and author of the book Secrets of Happy Couples and upcoming book Choosing Me Now, on how to tell whether it’s a normal argument or something to be more concerned about.

    “In every relationship, you always have at least three choices – you can change it, accept it or leave it,” Olver says. “When you are in a committed relationship, I recommend saving leaving for your last resort unless you are experiencing physical abuse, in which case your safety is of paramount importance. If not, try changing and accepting first.” With that in mind, here are some ways to tell if it’s just an argument or if it’s the end of your relationship.

    It’s just an argument if…

    1. You guys are making little things into big things

    Check yourself and your SO to make sure you guys aren’t making something out of nothing.

    “If it's an argument about little things that can be fixed or aren't really a big issue, then I think maybe fix the argument and try changing the little annoying things first before calling it quits,” Gabriella Catano-Salinas, a senior at Florida International University, says.

    2. You’re SO’s intentions aren’t to hurt you

    Between talking to Olver and some collegiettes, it seems that there is a shared sentiment that an argument shouldn’t end your relationship, unless it’s absolutely necessary. One of the keys to figuring out if it’s really just an argument is determining your SO’s intention.

    3. You’re trying to change your SO

    “When you are in a relationship, it is important to remember that your partner is doing whatever he (or she) is doing to get his (or her) needs met,” Olver says. “It isn't likely (your partner’s) end goal is to hurt you or piss you off. If you can accept that everyone, including you, is supposed to meet their own needs, then you can be more accepting of what people choose to do to meet yours.”

    Sometimes we end up in arguments with our SO because there is something that bothers us about them that we want to change, but Olver recommends trying to change yourself before trying to change your partner.

    “With changing it, often our go-to behavior is trying to change the other person to match the picture of what we really want or what we know this person is capable of becoming, Olver says. “The problem with that approach is that you are holding someone responsible to meeting your expectations instead of accepting who they actually are… Adjusting yourself is not easy but it's infinitely easier than trying to change your partner. This works well as long as you are not compromising your values and principles.”

    So then, how do you know if an argument spells the end for you and your SO?

    Related: 5 Ways to Overcome a Rough Patch in Your Relationship

    It could be the end of your relationship if…

    1. You’ve had this argument before

    Few things are as frustrating as having the same argument with someone over and over. And. Over. Especially when that someone is your SO, it’s easy to feel dismissed or like they don’t hear you. If you find yourself in this predicament, it might be time to consider moving on.

    “I think if it is an argument that has repeatedly happened and no change has been made, then it may be the end of the relationship,” Gabriella says. “There are only so many chances one can give.” When you and your SO are having the same argument over and over, Olver says that what you’re actually doing is trying to change them, which is an unhealthy habit to be in.

    “Ask yourself if your partner never changes, would you still want to be in relationship with him or her,” Olver says. “If the answer is yes, then let it go, stop arguing and accept your partner for who they are. If the answer is no, I agree, it’s time for a breakup.”

    2. You’re seeing qualities in your SO that are deal-breakers

    An argument can tell you a lot about your SO. It can reveal qualities in that person that you hadn’t seen before or now realize you don’t like.

    “To me, an argument is only the end of your relationship if you allow it to be, or if the argument is solved but it reveals qualities in your partner that you can't deal with anymore,” Morgan Mullings, a sophomore at St. John’s University, says. “If it does reveal things in your SO, like qualities that are a deal-breaker for you, it's honestly okay to break up. And then you can be thankful that you had that argument, or you would've never known!” If you genuinely are concerned about how you were treated during the argument or the way your SO acted while you were arguing, that in and of itself can be a deal-breaker. It might be time to call it quits then.

    3. You’re changing for your SO in an unhealthy way

    Change can be a good thing. But if you’re changing because your partner wants you to, you need to reevaluate.

    “If the only reason she is trying to change is to please her partner, this is a mistake and she should either stop or walk away,” Olver says. So if you like you, but your partner is insistent that you change for some reason that you don’t agree with, this is a red flag.

    At the end of the day, you’ll know when you need to move on. So trust yourself and your instinct that you know what’s best for you both in and out of your relationship. And if you’ve had an argument with your SO that you feel uneasy about, talk to them first. Olver says if you’re in a healthy, serious relationship, leaving should be your last option. But if your SO wants you to change in a way you are uncomfortable with, you see qualities in them you can’t get past or you guys keep having the same argument, then it is probably time to consider going your separate ways.

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    All couples experience struggles in their relationship from time to time. It doesn’t matter if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, got married young, believe in abstinence until marriage, or have a “picture perfect” relationship, you can understand that all relationships need to be filled with love and respect in order to last.

    Even though it’s 2016 and people have made significant steps toward accepting relationships of all kinds, interracial couples still experience struggles that outsiders can’t relate to. We’ve talked to an expert and college students who've been in interracial relationships to explain a few of these struggles as well as ways to deal with them.

    1. Not understanding each other’s culture

    Many American millennials tend to have an understanding, or at least an awareness, about different cultures. After all, we are the “melting pot” of the world. When it comes to dating someone from a different background, this can be difficult in terms of not understanding certain cultural traditions.

    Matthew Powers, a senior at Emmanuel College, puts a positive spin on explaining why this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. “Interracial relationships are a lot more special than regular relationships because they give you the opportunity to be exposed to a culture that you may be entirely unfamiliar with,” he says. “In dating my girlfriend I was exposed to foods I might’ve been too nervous to try otherwise as well as a new type of family style eating.”

    Food is one factor that can arise when dating someone with a different cultural background, but it goes way beyond that too. Matthew further explains, “We didn’t always understand each other’s backgrounds, for instance, her family was Buddhist and mine was Catholic. The first time she came to my house and saw crucifixes hanging from the walls, she was very confused.” He continues, “Similarly there were times when I went to her house and there would be food set out on tables as gifts for her ancestors, and I was shocked to learn that this was a ritual of her religion.”

    From religion to food preferences, there’s a lot you can learn in an interracial relationship. Just be sure to keep an open mind, especially if it’s for someone you love.

    Related: How I Balance My Sexuality and Religion

    2. Dealing with negative public perception

    This particular struggle really pulls at the heartstrings.

    Jeffrey Smith Jr., the Director of Multicultural Programs at Emmanuel College, shares his professional insight on how interracial couples are perceived by others. “Despite the fact that multiracial and multiethnic relationships and families are becoming more common, many people still refuse to support people entering relationships with someone outside of their race,” he says. “Many couples choose not to respond to negative comments while other couples choose to confront aggressive language and behavior from people who disapprove. In an America where racist, sexist and homophobic language appears to be surging, many couples grapple with the decision to ignore the hate or confront it.”

    Every couple deserves to feel safe in their environment. Our country would not be nearly as beautiful if we were all the same. We must all do our part to spread love while educating those with hate in their hearts on the importance of diversity.

    3. Dealing with unaccepting families

    Fitting in with a new family can definitely be a difficult task. This can be even more stressful if your SO’s family isn’t fully comfortable with your relationship.

    Michelle*, a senior at Bishop’s University, shares insight from her interracial relationship. “Both of us come from backgrounds that are not as accepting of different races as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ material,” she explains. “I have personally decided to keep my relationship private from my family. Like anything you struggle with personally, a family divide because of differences in opinion can have a big impact, so I've decided when I'm ready to tell them I will.”

    Families tend to have a great influence over relationships. Smith shares more advice on what to do in these situations. “I believe it’s important for people to seek support and understanding from their family,” he says. “It’s important to challenge disapproving family members about their bias. If they absolutely refuse to accept your relationship, as painful as it can be to disconnect from family, consider maintaining some distance if you think your relationship is worth fighting for.”

    As much as your family is important to you, be sure to put your personal values first once you are confident in what they are.

    4. Feeling out of your comfort zone

    Negative public perceptions and even family remarks can cause relationships to waiver depending on each partner’s personal comfort zone. This could mean one partner is more comfortable being affection in public while the other may not feel safe to act this way.

    Michelle elaborates further on her relationship’s comfort zone. “We are both extremely open about being together in places we are both comfortable, like on campus, but when traveling to a new place where we aren't sure how we will be perceived can be hard,” she shares. “As we see how people react to us simply holding hands, we can soon tell if we will be welcomed as a couple or not.”

    She concludes with advice that should be considered by everyone, in any type of relationship. “We both understand that people have their own views but as long as we are happy and comfortable in our relationship that's all that matters." We couldn’t agree more.

    You should never have to feel ashamed of who you are or who you love. People may not always understand each other, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be accepting. With everything going on in our country right now, the last thing we need is to fuel the fire with hate. Hate doesn’t solve anything. Be kind to others, embrace their differences, and never be afraid to live authentically.

    *Name has been changed

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    Some people call sex “making love,” but sometimes – a lot of the time – you don’t love the person you’re hooking up with, you might even hate them. That’s where hate sex, or sex with someone you’re not exactly fond of, comes in. In an ideal world, maybe we’d all have sex exclusively with people we like, but the world is a big place, and sometimes there are just people we don’t like. But liking someone’s personality and sexual attraction don’t always go hand-in-hand, and sometimes a girls gotta just give in, but does giving in have repercussions, emotionally and physically speaking? After all, sex is sex, right? Right?


    The big-O

    It’s not like orgasms always hinge on your feelings for the person. Emotions are an important part of sexual experiences, but sex itself is also physical act, and not everyone has to feel all warm and fuzzy about someone in order to feel good having sex, i.e. orgasms.

    A potential new SO

    You never know what you’ll learn when you have sex. First impressions say a lot about a person, but snap judgments can also be wrong. There’s a chance you choose to sleep with someone you think is a total d-bag, but then somewhere along the line you realize you may have made a mistake.

    “I once had hate sex with this douchey guy I had a class with because I think I wanted to prove that he wasn’t as hot as he thought he was but then his whole attitude changed,” Marisa Pieper, Arizona State University ’20, says. “He started being super nice to me, wanting to take me out on dates and we ended up being together for about a year! I definitely wouldn’t recommend using hate-sex as a flirting technique but it was pretty funny that that’s how it ended up.”

    Not saying you should be that girl that tries to change bad guys into good ones, but sometimes once you get to know someone you might realize they’re not as bad as you initially thought. And sex is definitely one way to get to know someone.


    As long as you’re okay with casual sex, hooking up with someone all seen rom-coms where a huge argument leads to *steamy* sex, and if hate sex is half as good as they make it look in the movies, giving it a try might not be so bad. Honestly, it’s probably more likely hate sex pans out than trying to make our love life like a Nicholas Sparks movie.

    “There's something about releasing your anger when your having sex with someone you hate. It's passionate and just hotter,” senior Christina* says. “Then you can go away afterward with no feelings.”


    Long term benefit might be less likely

    Some people do not mind having totally casual sex, no strings attached. Others enjoy sex because of the physical and emotional connection and the potential that it will make you closer with said person. "I’m not really at the point yet where I can sleep with someone without hoping something comes of it. Anyone I have sex with I am genuinely interested in to some degree," Wren*, a senior from the University of Notre Dame says. "I don’t think I’d really get anything out of it if I f***ed someone just because I thought they were hot, especially if they were someone whose intentions are to just hit it and quit it." 

    Related: 8 Signs They’re Not Looking for a Relationship

    Pleasing the person you hate

    Even if you enjoy the sex and are totally down for it, this person you don’t like also probably enjoyed the sex. It might be petty to not want them to enjoy it, but hey, no one’s perfect. Also, if whomever you’re sleeping with genuinely isn’t a good person, why should they get the satisfaction of sex with you?

    “I hooked up with an ex who treated me like s***,” Kristen* from Mizzou says. “Looking back, that was dumb.”

    Just something to think about. 

    The chance that you’re not going to be satisfied

    If the person you’re sleeping with doesn’t like you either, they might not even care if you leave the experience together thoroughly pleased. Sometimes it’s hard for girls to have an orgasm, so if they couldn’t care less about your needs (maybe justifiably since you don’t like them either) they might just call it quits when they’ve gotten what they came for.

    Emotional carnage

    Depending on who you’re sleeping with and who your as a person, the fact that you dislike them might make you feel a little empty at the end of the experience. Even Christina*, who said she’s had good hate sex, admitted she doesn’t always feel great afterwards. “There have been a couple of times where I cried to be honest because I was kind of mad at myself for giving the guy what he wanted,” she says.

    Should every girl try out hate sex? Probably not. But if you’re emotionally prepared, wanting to try something new in your sex life, and really and truly okay with it, give it a go.