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A Collegiette's Guide to Life
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    You hear it time and time again: “Communication is key in relationships.” It’s a fact that almost everyone knows and thinks they understand, but what do we mean by communication? Couples might say that talking about feelings and ensuring each person is on the same page is the best way to know how your SO feels, but instead of listening to the relationship gossip, we decided to turn to science to find out the best ways to communicate.

    1. Stop texting (okay, not completely)

    We live in an age where the art of conversing is lost. Texting is just so much quicker, easier and, well, less awkward. You don’t have to worry about blurting out something stupid, and you can have endless conversations — seems great, right? Wrong.

    The awkwardness that we associate with in-person talking is a huge and extremely important part of communication, and all the texting you do might actually be why you feel so uncomfortable having conversations.

    In fact, a study conducted by University of North Carolina psychologists found that as texting increased, other forms of communication actually decreased. In the study they used a sample of 395 students, ranging from 15 to 19 that were primarily in long-distance relationships. They were asked to record all of the types of communication they used to talk, including Skype, texting, email and phone calls. They also asked each one to rank how happy they were in their relationship from 1 (strongly disagree) – 10 (strongly agree) based on corresponding statements about their relationship.

    What they found was pretty shocking. Based on the responses, they concluded that the people who used texting as a form of communication most often were actually the unhappiest with their relationship. Yes, you read that right. The form of communication that you use every single day of your life could actually be hurting your relationship.

    This isn’t the first study that has reached this conclusion. Many researchers have postulated the negative effects of texting for years. Using examples of other studies, the research report for this study says that, “The most consistent finding is that secure partners are more likely to use adaptive emotional communication, whereas insecure partners show dysfunctional communication patterns: whereas avoidant or dismissive partners tend to adopt detached emotional communication, anxious or preoccupied partners tend to express anger using destructive communication (e.g., Guerrero et al., 2009 and Kobak and Hazan, 1991). Basically, that means the strongest relationships are built on having real life conversations that include all the messy, awkward pauses we try so hard to avoid. Talking is good, so put down the phone and save something to talk about in person.

    Related: 8 Things Strong Couples Say to Each Other

    2. Sharing is caring

    When we hear the word “communication” we immediately think of talking, but there’s more to it than idle chitchat. Communication involves how couples interact with each other, not only verbally, but also physically. In fact, simply sharing time with your SO can improve how you communicate and interact with each other.

    In a study conducted by Erica J. Boothby, Margaret S. Clark, and John A. Bargh at Yale University, the question of whether sharing experiences with another person (without talking) would actually improve each individual’s experience was put to the test. Using chocolate, they studied whether a person would like it more by themselves while the other person was occupied or while eating it with them. They ended up discovering that the chocolate seemed better to those who ate it with a partner. So what does this prove? It proves that communication by talking isn’t always necessary with your SO. Simply sharing an experience can actually help to improve your relationship just because you are with that person. So, although we may feel that tons of talking, listening and compromising are important — and they are — they aren’t the entirety of a relationship. Sometimes you just need to let the action speak for itself. That on its own is an important aspect of communication that you shouldn’t overlook.

    3. Use your manners

    You’ve been told to say “please” and “thank you” ever since you could speak. As it turns out, that was some pretty good advice. In fact, in a study by Sara B. Algoe, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Shelly L. Gable, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Natalya C. Maisel, University of California, Los Angeles, explored what effects saying thank you has on relationships. Although they found that male responses to expressions of gratitude were more varied, they ultimately determined that showing gratitude towards your significant other promoted a positive relationship and acted as a sort of “booster shot for the relationship.” So don’t forget to say thank you to your SO. It’s a form of communication that you shouldn’t forget, no matter how comfortable you get. It always feels nice to be thanked, and that positivity will shine through in the relationship.

    4. “We” vs. “me”

    Okay, get ready to get really science-y, because we’re pulling out the big guns. This study tested how satisfied couples were in their marriages based on their use of personal pronouns (i.e. me, my, I) and “we-ness” words (like us and we). Before you get all crazy and say that you're not married, this is a study that is pretty applicable to relationships in general, so don’t write it off. The craziest part about it? They didn’t judge happiness based off response, but off cardiovascular arousal. Science. The researchers ended up finding that when couples used more “we” words, it was in relation to a positive event. So basically, participants inherently included the other person in their language because they had a positive memory of it.

    Don’t take this the wrong way; you don’t need to say “we” for every situation. No one loves the couple that uses “we” so much they become one person. Instead, make sure that you use “we” in all the right situations. It is a powerful word that can make you seem stronger and supportive of each other. If you’re comfortable using it, you’re comfortable in your relationship.

    It isn’t always easy to communicate with your SO. Talking can turn to arguing, and zero talking can cause both sides to bottle up emotions. The key is interpersonal interaction. Take a step back from the technology, meet each other in person and simply enjoy their company. Have the difficult conversations in person, but don’t feel pressured to make every event an opportunity to dish out concerns. Remember that in the end, they are a person who responds to kindness just like you would, so don’t forget the “thank yous.” By sharing in experiences and going through the (sometimes) awkward moments that accompany conversation, your ability to communicate will be stronger than ever.

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    You’re too observant for your own good — you always notice the little things. The lopsided smile on their face as they text that girl on their phone — the smile they used to give you. The strand of hair in their bed that’s blonde — not your brunette locks. Every day, each little sign begins to construct a seemingly infallible narrative in your head. Every minute, you can’t help but grow more irritated at your SO. And yet, although the suspicions grow in your head, you can’t bring yourself to do anything about it.

    Cheating is hard for both people involved. Guilt, suspicion and lack of trust can eat away at a relationship without proper confrontation and resolution. We’ve talked to experts and students on college campuses to give you five steps to follow when you suspect your SO is cheating. Whether your suspicions are true or not, your fear definitely needs to get resolved.

    1. Talk it out with your family and friends

    You don’t have to go through this alone. A third party can help you clear your thoughts and give you a fresh perspective. Talk to someone who knows both you and your SO as a couple, whether that’s a family member or a good friend. Let them know your suspicions and see how they respond. Their insight on your situation can help confirm or assuage your suspicions. Maybe they know that your SO has cheated in a relationship before, or maybe they feel that your SO would never hurt you like that. That information can give you an outside view on your relationship, which is definitely helpful for you to gather your thoughts.

    At the same time, don’t take the opinion of another person too strongly. Use it to guide your thoughts, but don’t take it too seriously. Even if your SO has cheated before, maybe they’ve changed and wouldn’t do that anymore. And even if your SO is kind-hearted, maybe that’s why they’re too afraid to reveal the truth. Keep that in mind as you talk with your family and friends — your intuition is what matters most. Along with that, make sure to talk only with people who you know won’t gossip. It’s not going to end well if your SO finds out about your suspicion through the grape vine rather than from you.

    Anna Trojanowska, a freshman at the College of Charleston, says that even if you feel uncomfortable talking with other people, you can still find other ways to express your concerns. “If you feel that you need help, talk with a trusting friend or family member,” she says. “If you don’t feel like socializing about this topic because you feel it is too sensitive or personal, I highly recommend writing your thoughts down in a journal or simply a piece of paper. Trust me, this really helps. You will feel a little weight of emotional relief once you get some of your thoughts and feelings out.” Keep that in mind if the topic is too personal for you to discuss.

    2. Make sure your suspicions have evidence

    The police can’t barge into a house without a search warrant, just like you can’t accuse your SO without proper evidence. Think carefully and determine what actions make you feel suspicious. Are they canceling plans more often? Do they hide their phone from you, text more often around you or talk about a specific girl quite a lot? Did they show more affection toward you before all this began? These are all good questions to ask yourself — along with others that apply to your personal situation. If you find yourself answering “yes” to a majority of your questions, you might have a cheater on your hands.

    However, it’s important that you don’t blindly accuse your SO with half-baked, imaginary evidence either. It’s easy to get caught up in delusions and manipulate events to fit your preconceptions — and that’s not fair to your SO. Believe it or not, it’s quite hurtful to be accused of infidelity when you’re actually not cheating at all — it’s a huge breach of trust. You might lose your SO if your accusation ends up wrong. That’s why you should invest time into backing your suspicions with solid evidence. Even write down your reasons if it helps organize your thoughts. It’s not something to take lightly. Be methodical, precise and, most importantly, logical. Don’t make an impulsive assumption and ruin something beautiful.

    3. Avoid stalking potential suspects on social media

    While your first instinct might be to comb through every potential suspect on your SO’s Facebook (and consider whether you’re more attractive than them), please don’t do that. By obsessing over the “other person,” you’re stooping down to their level. Your only concern in this conflict is your relationship with your SO. It doesn’t matter who they cheated on you with — what matters is that they cheated! That’s what you’re worried about, and whenever you begin to obsess, stop and remember that your focus should be on yourself.

    Along with adding more worries than you need, looking for a suspect will only further heighten your imagination. Whenever you see your SO talking to that person, even completely platonically, you’ll only grow more suspicious by the minute. That emotion-charged suspicion will most likely be unfounded. While it’s definitely important to catch patterns in your partner’s actions (like texting the same girl over and over again), don’t create patterns where they don’t exist.

    4. Identify your feelings and set your emotional boundaries

    In the end, however the relationship will turn out, your emotional state should come first. Never let someone get you depressed, really — it’s not worth it. Identify your personal feelings about your SO. Do you feel like you could have a future together? Or, could you see the two of you breaking up after a while? Especially in college, some relationships can’t last simply due to distance after graduation. If that’s the case, is it worth it to break down over some person whose name you’ll barely remember in 10 years? Definitely not.

    Keep those emotional boundaries in mind. It might sound harsh, but don’t care about them if you don’t have to. If they’ve been cheating, they’ve lost the guarantee that you’ll care about them anyway. By loving yourself and keeping that first in your mind, you can get through any heartbreak. On the other hand, if you really did love them and saw a future together with them, that’s definitely a tougher situation to handle. Still, remember that these same concepts of loving yourself and creating boundaries hold true for you as well.

    Rhonda Ricardo, romantic expert and the author of Cherries Over Quicksand, notes that when a relationship turns sour, it’s important to keep your personal goals in mind. “If an SO leaves a relationship there is going to be heartbreak and it’s not an easy time, so make sure you keep your goals in front of your eyes, to stay focused on the hopes and dreams you have for your life,” she says. “Keeping prominent photos or works about your life purpose/goals and physical exercise will help you focus on the positive and less on the broken heart.” You lived your life just fine before you met your SO, and you can live just fine without them as well.

    Anna reminds us that in the end, your life is in your hands alone. “In my opinion, no one deserves to be cheated on, so the relationship wasn’t meant to be,” she says. “Life has its ups and downs and it is in your power to think positive and take matters into your own hands. You are in control of your life and you have the choice to leave a relationship if you feel that it is threatening. Life is too short to stand in time and worry about the possibility of your partner cheating on you again in the future.” As you prepare to confront your SO, keep those words in mind. Either way, you will get through this — don’t ever doubt that.

    Related: Should You Forgive Your SO For Cheating?

    5. Confront your SO with logic, not emotion

    Now that you’ve gathered your evidence, talked with your support system and identified your personal feelings, you can confront your SO. Be upfront that it’s going to be a serious conversation. Call and let them know that you’d like to talk about your relationship, and set a place and time where you feel most comfortable — and where you can easily run to a friend afterward if things don’t go too well (remember, you are your #1 priority right now!).

    When the conversation starts and you let them know your suspicions, don’t let your emotions take hold of you. Instead, calmly explain all the evidence you’ve observed over the time you think they’ve been cheating. Most importantly, don’t get mad and immediately accuse them. Make sure you use qualifiers like, “You seem to be texting this girl a lot” and “I think there might be something going on between you and her.” That way, they know you’re giving them the benefit of the doubt — and will hopefully retain some trust in the relationship if they end up clean.

    Your SO is most likely going to vehemently deny the claims, whether they’ve been cheating or not. At this point, you need to keep pushing. Keep showing them your evidence and carefully notice their reactions. Do they seem nervous? Maybe a little guilty? Latch on to those attitudes and question them about it. Eventually, they might give in and confess. And if they don’t, and counter your evidence with real evidence of their own (text logs with the suspected girl, genuine reasons for missing dates, etc.), they may not have been cheating after all. It’s your choice if you choose to believe them or not. Just make sure you decide carefully.

    Bridget Higgins, a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, notes that the decision ultimately comes down to trust. “I’ve been in a relationship with cheating involved, although I didn’t find out about it until after we broke up,” she says. “Sadly, when it comes to cheating, there is no easy way to address the problem. You can confront your SO directly. But if lying is already involved, then there’s no way to know whether your SO is telling you the truth. I think it all comes down to trust. Cheating, as sucky as it is, is totally out of your control. If you trust your SO and what he/she is telling you, then you just have to let your fears go about cheating.”

    If you decide to trust your SO, it can be extremely hard to simply let go of your fears about such a heartbreaking issue. Ricardo gives us great advice on how to start. “Remember how we all appreciate those that give us the benefit of the doubt (usually without expecting an explanation because they know you are trustworthy) including an SO, friends and family,” she says. “Then extend that same benefit of the doubt to your SO even if you suspect they may be cheating, and give them a chance to explain away your fears.” Like Ricardo says, give your SO a chance to eradicate your fears. Let them love you – things might end up better than before.

    And if you genuinely trust your SO, then believe them and don’t worry about cheating anymore. Make compromises and construct a plan with your partner to establish trust again. Maybe ask them to text you more often and let you know where they are so that you don’t need to feel suspicious. If you still feel threatened after a while, then it might be time to end the relationship. Never stay with someone who doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. You are in control of your life and you can choose to leave a relationship if you are not happy. Never forget that and good luck, collegiettes!

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    Navigating whether or not a guy is into your texting style can be tricky. Not everyone likes emojis or four exclamation points. Here are some pointers so you don’t end up sending texts no guys want to receive.

    1. Good morning texts

    Most people enjoy little signs of positivity, especially in the morning, a “good morning” text being one of them. This text essentially means you thought of them first thing when you woke up. Yes, that’s right, before caffeine and teeth brushing. Guys may act like they think texts like these are stupid and cliché, but in my experience, when they’re accustomed to it, they start to miss them when they’re gone. If you want to mix it up a bit a "have a good text" can also have the same effect.

    2.“I had a really good time with you last night.”

    Ugh, can we all just agree that receiving this texts just makes you feel like the best damn person on the planet? In fact, you were solely responsible for making someone else have a “great” time and that’s just amazing. Props to you and everyone involved. 10/10.

    3. Memes

    Everyone likes to think they have the best and most unique sense of humor. Having your friends or loved ones send you memes means that someone thought something was funny and wanted you to laugh along, even if you’re miles apart. They thought you’d enjoy something so silly or ridiculous, or perhaps it reminded them of a funny time you embarrassed yourself. In this day and age, meme sharing is bonding and it’s 100 percent normal.

    4. Invitations

    Whether it’s a party or a romantic date, it is nice knowing that someone remembered to shoot you a text when some plans are approaching. They like your presence.

    5. Compliments

    Telling your man that you think he’s hot will give him a little confidence boost throughout the day, especially since he knows you’re thinking of it. This is definitely geared toward people already in relationships so it won't sound so out of the blue. A few examples could be "you looked cute in your Snapchat you sent me" or "how did I get so lucky?" Make sure you're sending texts not only he's comfortable with, but you're comfortable with as well. There's definitely a difference between "ay daddy *insert heart eyes*" and "wow you look good."

    6. “Come over.”

    This is a little more aggressive than a simple invitation to your Uncle Bob’s barbecue. It clearly has some sexual implications for all of the right reasons. Guys like a woman who knows what she wants, and he’ll appreciate the tone. It’s really up to you whether to add winky faces or not. Is it overkill? Yes. Will it get the point across? Most definitely.

    And if you simply wanted them to come over to hang out without the sex, maybe mention a few activities you'd rather do instead to clarify your intentions. He'll like to know what he's getting into.

    Related: 18 Responses to Receiving An Unsolicited Dick Pic

    7. Long stories

    If your guy loves you, he will appreciate your thoughts on how the universe is expanding and time is moving so fast. He will like the daily updates about which dogs you saw that day, and he’ll especially enjoy the childhood story of how you fell out of a tree in your grandma’s backyard. He will learn to appreciate your mood swings and the long, terrific tales that come with them of the rude girl in chemistry who would not stop kicking your chair. Whatever it is, they want to hear their significant other spill their heart out. They love you and your (bad) storytelling habits.

    8. “I’m ordering food, what do you want?”

    Because pizza and wings tonight sound amazing and he will thank you with a heart eye emoji. Double the points if you know his order by heart.

    9. Chain texts

    Those dirty, emoji-filled chain texts that blow up everyone’s phones around the holidays make you feel like a kid again. They are lighthearted and fun, and you can never really tell your grandparents why you’re smirking at your phone around Thanksgiving.

    However, there are some people who don't enjoy these silly texts as much. If you or your man's humor  are more on the serious side, I'd opt out of texts of these sorts.

    10. “I got my period.”

    Hooray! This text mainly applies to guys you're sleeping with. No future baby in the next nine months may be good news if you're not planning a pregnancy.

    11. Nudes

    This one is pretty self-explanatory. Most people enjoy a nice booty pic every once in a while on Snapchat. If you're unsure of what to send, check out some safe rules for sexting.

    12. Goodnight texts

    Okay, the whole idea of dudes not liking feelings and emotions is pure bullshit. He likes knowing he was the first and last thing on your mind.

    13.“I love you.”

    Being loved rocks. Period.

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    Developing feelings for a friend can be awkward and confusing, especially if the two of you are best friends. Friendships that last don’t come easy, and making that move out of the friendzone can have its complications, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before taking the leap. Here are some things to consider when thinking about going from BFF to SO.

    1. If it ends, you may lose a valuable friendship

    This is one of the obvious risks of dating a good friend. If all goes well, the two of you can continue the friendship while also pursuing a romantic relationship together. However, if the relationship goes south, you may be down a partner and friend — double whammy. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if it is worth the risk. As Ashley Drayton from Georgia State University put it, “Losing a friend if the relationship doesn’t work is my personal fear, however, if the connection is mutual and you both feel like taking that step…the relationship could be amazing and could even turn into marriage.”

    2. He or she knows everything about you

    If the person you are developing feelings for is a close friend, they most likely know everything about you. While this can be a total pro, it can easily become a con as feelings grow stronger. If he or she knows about all of your past relationships, it can become a topic of jealousy. Relationships should not be about the past, but when dating a close friend, the past can often cause complications moving forward. If you do decide to take the leap, make sure you are focused on a new future together, not the past. Chelsea Hudlow, a University of Central Florida student, says, "By knowing each other well we're able to support each other better and anticipate each other's needs, but knowing everything can reduce privacy."

    Related: What Really Happens When You Hook Up With a Friend

    3. It can become weird for your mutual friends

    It’s always kind of weird when two people within a friend group start dating. In a way, it can definitely throw off the dynamic. However, if you’re convinced that one of your friends is the right person for you, it can sometimes be worth the risk. Even though it may be weird for them at first, they will quickly get used to it, and it may even encourage others to take the leap from BFF to SO as well.

    4. It won’t be the same as before, and never will be again

    Before deciding to date a friend, you have to accept the fact that the friendship will not be the same as it was and probably never will be again. When you involve yourself romantically with someone, a different type of friendship will evolve. It’s up to you to decide which you would prefer.

    5. You’ll have to replace that friend with someone else you can vent to

    You can’t vent to your SO about them, so you’ll have to find a new best friend. And as we all know, making best friends in college can be difficult; it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to new people. However, it’s extremely important to have someone to go to when you’re in need of advice.

    When contemplating whether or not to act on feelings for a friend, you must keep all the risks in mind. Although there are surely a lot of pros to dating a friend, there are also many cons. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide if that particular friend is worth losing, because you can never predict how relationships will be. That being said, many successful relationships do blossom from friendships. Just look at Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher!

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    It happens in pretty much every relationship — you’re on cloud nine and it feels like nothing could go wrong. Then out of nowhere, a disagreement arises. Soon it turns into your first full-blown fight and you guys have to pick up the pieces. You can’t even remember how it escalated, but it went from zero to 100 real quick. And the fights will probably keep coming back.

    Fighting is a normal and inevitable part of every relationship, and it can even be beneficial. But it is hard to do it well. That’s why we’re bringing you the tools to help you improve your fights and your relationship. There’s method to this madness (literally) and we’re going to show you exactly what it is.

    We’ve enlisted the expert help of Jay Hurtrelationship coach and author of The 9 Tenets of a Successful Relationship, as well as others who have their own words of wisdom from long-term relationships. And as someone who’s been in a relationship for three years, I feel I can share what I’ve learned with you as well.

    Why do couples fight?

    Fighting can seriously suck, but why does it continue to happen? “Generally [it’s] because of a lack of communication in one form or another,” Hurt says. “Most fights could be avoided if we as individuals made sure we were clear on our understanding of our partner and we took a moment to try to see things from their perspective.” You’ve probably heard it a million times, and we’ll say it again (sorry) but it really is true — communication is key.

    Is it bad to fight in a relationship?

    Does fighting frequently suggest incompatibility? Not necessarily. “Fighting frequently could be an example of two people who never learned how to communicate properly with each other,” Hurt says. “Fighting can also be an example of lashing out at your mate about something not related to your mate at all.” Sometimes maybe your SO has been bottling up their emotions, and you're the last straw on the camel's back. “It could be the only release they know,” he adds. “Fights/arguments are always symptoms, never the root cause of misbehavior problems in a relationship.” Fights can also help you grow and learn as a couple and be a form of expressing yourself. You might learn a lot about your partner through how they handle conflict and fights.

    “Fighting isn’t bad because you’re just talking about your feelings cause you have to,” Dora, a recent graduate from The University of British Columbia, says. “It’s good but can do damage if you don’t know how to do it sensitively and sensibly.” How about from a guy’s perspective? Alan*, a college sophomore, weighs in. “I think it’s healthy and okay. If you don’t fight you might be neglecting your own feelings. But if you fight in the wrong way, then you might be belittling the feelings of another person. So it’s important to fight properly.”

    A study found that fighting can be even good for your health; people who repressed their feelings of anger during fights had a shorter life span than those who allowed their emotions to manifest and discussed the issue.

    Remember those cute emotion characters in Inside Out? You have to acknowledge and accept your emotions, because repressing them will negatively impact your emotional well-being and happiness. So while fights themselves aren’t necessarily bad for your relationship, how you fight is what really counts. Plus, improving how you fight may help it happen less in the future!

    Related:4 Steps to Resolving a Fight With Your SO

    Ways to improve (and even prevent) fights with your SO

    1. Try to communicate effectively

    You’ve heard it time and time again, but it’s for good reason. Proper communication is truly one of the pillars of a healthy, lasting relationship — and it could be the key to fixing your fighting habits. “If we listen well, communicate effectively and make it a goal to be unselfish in relationships, we will minimize the fighting and make the fights we have minor in our relationships,” Hurt says. That sounds pretty good to us!

    Ways to improve communication:

    • Instead of putting on your fight mode as soon as your SO says something critical, pause and listen closely to what they are saying first. You might feel attacked, but chances are (hopefully) that’s not their intention.
    • Try to acknowledge what the other person says: This will help both of you understand how you each feel. It helps to communicate that you’re actually considering what they’re saying and valuing their feelings. You might have been listening, but if you don’t give any verbal affirmation, your partner may think you weren’t.
    • Don’t give the silent treatment — it’s immature and rude and it won’t accomplish anything.
    • Check your body language. Try not to have a closed off stance, like folding your arms, and look at them when they’re talking to you.
    • This should be pretty obvious, but don’t go on your phone or laptop when your partner is talking to you — this is also disrespectful and can add fuel to the fire.

    2. Listen carefully and try to understand their feelings

    Listening is half the battle in communicating effectively. After all, communication is a two-way street. There are always two sides to a story — so instead of trying to project or assume what they are feeling, take the time to actually listen and consider their perspective. “When you think of them first and consider their feelings first, you are less likely to have reason to become upset or frustrated,” Hurt says.

    Here’s some more food for thought from a college guy’s perspective. “The difficult thing about fighting is putting yourself in the shoes of the other person,” Alan says. “And that is the key to peacefully resolving and understanding why they are feeling what they’re feeling.” Once you understand why they are feeling or acting a certain way, you might have a completely different view on the situation.

    3. Don’t try to read their mind and make assumptions

    As cool as it would be if we were all like Professor X, it’s not possible. So stop trying to be like an X-Men and reading people’s minds. “Most fights could be avoided if we as individuals made sure we were clear on our understanding of our partner and we took a moment to try to see things from their perspective,” Hurt says.

    Also, never assume anything. It’s obvious, but not something people always put into practice: the best way to know what someone is thinking or feeling is to ask! “People can be so quick to assume, especially when you’re close to them,” Dora says. “Ask enough questions so you actually understand why they’re feeling the way they’re feeling and it’s actually coming from their mind not yours.” This isn’t a mystery for you to solve Sherlock style — just ask until you understand.

    4. Don’t name-call

    If you love this person, why would you ever want to put them down? “Never make it personal,” Hurt says. “Try to remember, you are upset, but you love this person. You want them to hear you, not for you to hurt them.”

    Plus, name-calling can build resentment and contempt — not feelings you want to foster in any relationship. This pretty much sums it up: when you’re fighting, don’t attack the person.

    5. Take a breather

    If you’re getting super fired up and it’s escalating from zero to 100 real quick, sometimes it’s best to take a step back and cool off — whatever that means for you, whether it’s breathing deeply for 20 seconds or returning to the issue a few hours later.

    “If it's just too heated and no one can ‘hear’ anyone at some point — take some time to walk away and come back and address with cooler heads later,” Hurt says. Be aware of when it’s getting out of hand and recognize when it’s time to take a step back so that you can discuss the issue at the best time.

    6. Discuss the mistakes in your past arguments

    Learn from your mistakes — it’s a cliché, but for good reason. If you take time to discuss with your partner what went wrong in your last fight, it might be your saving grace the next time things get heated.

    “Know your defense mechanisms and know how to navigate around them so that you don’t continue making the same mistakes,” recommends Amanda*, a senior at The University of British Columbia. If you’ve been fighting about the same thing over and over again with no progress being made, try to rethink how you are going about it. Talking after a fight and trying to understand what went wrong can help you improve your understanding of each other and your compassion.

    7. Have a game plan for fighting

    There are different fighting styles, so understand that your partner may not fight the same way as you do. And once you’re aware of their tendencies, you can be better prepared to handle a disagreement.

    After your fights, taking time to reflect isn’t enough — you need to apply what you learned to your future disagreements. Discussing when to compromise is also helpful.

    8. Don’t use absolutes

    Avoid saying “always” and “never.” “Never use absolutes because when you’re saying ‘you never listen to me’ or ‘you always mess up,’ it’s ignoring all the positive aspects and habits of the other person,” Alan says.

    When you tell your partner that they never listen to you, you might be undermining all the times they did listen to you. Unless it really is an issue where they “always” or “never” say or do something, take a cue from Justin Bieber and “never say never.”

    9. Try to show love and selflessness during fights

    When you’re in the middle of an argument, the last thing you probably want to do is be loving to your partner. But it could make all the difference.

    It also might help calm all the emotions you’re feeling. “Fights come from lack of the following — listening, understanding, caring, patience, compassion, empathy ... the list goes on and on,” Hurt says. “The best way to prevent fights is to try to put your partner first in all things — true unselfishness.” Sometimes just reaching out and letting them know you still love them can help bring your problems into perspective and help you see the bigger picture.

    10. Don’t try to win a fight

    Your relationship isn’t a game — there aren’t any winners in a fight. Trust me, coming from someone who’s super competitive, this isn’t the time to bring it. “It’s important not to a win a fight. What matters isn’t whether you win but how you fight,” Alan says. “So to understand someone else is to love them, not just try to force you upon them.”

    Dora agrees. “Arguing is not like a debate,” she says. “The only way to win in a relationship is if you’re both happy. If the other person isn’t happy, you’re not winning either.” Let’s channel that competitive energy into something else, shall we?

    Fights can be inevitable, but what you can control is how you fight. Everyone has different ways of dealing with fighting and remember what works for someone else might not necessarily work for you. So try these different ways of coping and stick with the ones that work best for you and your SO!

    *Name has been changed

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    You know the moment. Maybe they texted, sent a late-night Snap, slid into your DMs or liked a Facebook post that’s just a little too off the beaten path. That’s right. Your ex/former flame is back, and they’re looking to lure you back in. Don’t give in (at least not without some caution)!

    Those of us who have been dumped, ghosted on or just plain treated poorly by a former romantic interest know your pain, and we’re here to make sure you don’t fall back into this painful cycle. Read on for a variety of steps to take when your ex tries to strike something up again!

    1. Don’t engage

    It isn’t worth it. If they’ve decided to slither their way back into your life after hurting you, it’s likely their motivations aren’t good—they should be able to respect your space otherwise. You shouldn’t have to deal, especially if talking to them is going to bring up bad feelings and stress. If you take this route, simply delete whatever they’ve sent you and move on! Keep doing you.

    “One of my exes reached out to me on my birthday,” says Katie Sall, a junior at Illinois State University. “Even though it was kindhearted, I wish he knew that it sort of broke my heart all over again after not speaking for months and also sort of killed my birthday. My tip would be to hold your ground and remember why it didn't work out in the first place.”

    In the long run, you’ll be happy that you didn’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they still had a grip on you. “Not everybody deserves to hear how you're doing, and not everybody deserves your time,” Katie says. “It's okay to take a step back and realize that you don't owe them anything!” You have to put yourself first before you can think about welcoming anyone else, romantic or otherwise into your life.

    Related: What It’s Like to Run Into Your Ex

    2. Don’t stalk their social media

    It can be near impossible — especially for those of us who never want to hurt anyone’s feelings — to avoid checking in on a former romantic interest when they’re not still in your life, let alone if they start talking to you again. "Stalking your ex on social media only serves to hurt you," says Grace*. "They'll constantly be on your mind and you'll get no distance from what happened."

    If you have to, block them or delete their number. Their feelings aren’t relevant at this point, and you need to put yours first! It might very well be better for your mental health to have them completely out of sight, and that way they’ll start to fade into the background.

    They’ll stop popping up in your brain every other thought, and eventually it will get easier to deal with the pain or the unhappy memories. "Removing your ex from your social media is a good step in the process of getting over them," says Grace. If you have to justify blocking them another way, consider how you’ll make them wonder what’s going on if they can’t get in contact with you. Then they’ll be the one stressing! Nothing wrong with a little payback.

    Ideally, the happy memories will even start to outweigh the bad, and you can look back on the relationship (or whatever it was) and remember why it did make you happy and what it taught you.

    3. Have an honest conversation

    If you think you can do so and that it will be productive (that is, they will be honest too), then maybe it’s time you had a talk about what happened and why it isn’t cool that they’re trying to get in touch again.

    Maybe there’s potential here for growth and closure that won’t leave you wondering about what it was exactly that went wrong or what you could have done to change the way things ended. “My advice for exes coming back in your life would usually be ‘No, do not pass go, do not entertain them,’ but if the relationship is still genuine, you both understand what went wrong and mutually want to work on making things right, then go for it!” says Ashley Drayton, a 2015 graduate from Georgia State University.

    Confronting the person you used to be involved with can lead to a variety of conversations. “The last guy I was dating started reaching out to me shortly after we broke up and I was very confused,” says Annie*. “I'm happy I talked to him afterward because I called him out and told him that he treated me like garbage, and that wasn't okay at all.”

    There’s nothing wrong with expressing your feelings about the way things went and how what they did impacted you. “If someone treats you poorly, don't let them in right away with no questions asked. They're your ex for a reason,” Annie says. “I'm so glad I kept my guard up with him and told him off.” Hopefully they’ll take what you said seriously and not put someone else through the same thing — that’s about the best you can hope for from an ex!

    Related: 17 Things We Wish We Could Say to Our Exes

    4. Take note of your progress and remember why things ended

    Since they got out of your life, things have undoubtedly been better. Even if the relationship was good at the beginning, there’s a reason they’re gone — it wasn’t meant to be. Think of all the time you spent grieving and annoying your friends and going over every moment a million times. You don’t need to go through that again!

    Getting over them and the relationship took so much time and effort, and it may very well seem like things could be different now — try to think objectively. They didn’t treat you well and you weren’t good for each other, and it ended. If it’s meant to be, it will work itself out, but don’t give in just because they are making this power move! If they are being genuine, they’re going to have to work harder than that — and you’re worth working hard for.

    If you’re reading this and you’re thinking about reaching out to your ex yourself, consider whether you’re doing it for selfish reasons. “My ex-boyfriend contacted me about eight months after the relationship ended with an extremely long text message,” says Stephanie Huynh, a freshman at Lehigh University. “He basically told me his version of the breakup and how he still wanted to be friends after everything we had been through.”

    Unless there’s a legitimate reason for the contact, err on the side of leaving them alone. “If you ever want to get back in touch with your ex, do it with good intentions, not just to make yourself feel better,” Stephanie says. “There is another person on the line, and bringing up old, painful memories isn't worth it sometimes.” If it’s still painful or sad for you, the case is probably the same for them.

    5. Be the bigger person

    If you’re in a place where talking to them won’t screw up all the amazing progress you’ve made, there’s also nothing wrong with being nice and polite! It’s also a great way for you to maintain control in the situation.

    Former romantic interests always manage to show up at the worst times. “After I got into my first committed relationship with my now husband, I turned into a guy magnet,” says Emilie Trepanier, a senior at The University of Utah. “Former flames who ghosted on me or simply said ‘it's just not working’ suddenly appeared back in my life.”

    If they’re trying to get under your skin, they won’t be able to if you’re playing it cool and letting their dumb moves roll off your back. “I continued to be nice to them because I sort of saw it as one big joke because they knew they'd treated me poorly in the first place, [and] it felt kinda good to say that they missed their chance on me, not gonna lie,” Emilie says. Snaps to that.

    Hardest of all is making the decision to continue talking to them. Self-assess first, and determine whether this is something you can handle and whether or not it will be beneficial for you to keep them around. “I realized when you care about someone, when you have simple admiration for what it is, and you enjoy their presence in your life (even if that's just knowing you’re on good terms), I [would] personally rather be around to support them as a genuine friend, then as nothing at all,” says Danielle Pransky, a junior at Montclair State University.

    If you’re both mature and stable enough to handle it, maybe test out the friendly waters. “Feelings can definitely complicate things but if you like them as a person and they treat you well as a friend, I don't think it's a bridge that necessarily has to be burned, maybe you just don't have to talk as frequently,” Danielle says. “Creating that distance helps a little bit as well as meeting new people.” Maybe having them around can keep you more aware of what you’re looking for and what you know isn’t good for you!

    Whether or not exes have a radar for when you’re just starting to get your life back on track (let alone just getting involved in something new and good), we’ll leave for science to determine. For now, just follow these trusty tips, and you’ll keep moving on to bigger and better things! Don’t forget — there’s nothing wrong with falling in love with yourself first.

    *Name has been changed

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    In a serious relationship, it’s easy to slowly lose sight of yourself when you’re with your SO every minute of the day. Even past the “honeymoon stage,” many couples find themselves spending no time apart, which can be unhealthy for the relationship. However, requesting space can sometimes come off the wrong way, leading the other person to believe he or she is losing you.

    1. Define the type of space you need

    There are different types of space that you may be craving in your relationship. If you need physical space, request a day or two of the week when the two of you will spend time apart pursuing your own activities. If you want emotional space, politely ask him or her to not interrupt or distract you when you’re doing something you enjoy. One way to go about this would be to say something like, "I'm reading this book (or whatever you do) right now, I would like some peace and quiet if that's okay." This way, you aren't coming off a rude and making it clear that you enjoy this personal time doing something you like.

    2. Don’t use the word “space”

    “I need my space” is too blunt and demanding, so try to be a little more sympathetic to his or her feelings. This phrase often serves as a sign that the relationship is coming to an end, and you don’t want to worry your partner. Instead, you can say, “I think we need more alone time,” or “I think we should take time to ourselves sometimes.” This way, you aren’t giving the illusion that you don’t enjoy spending time with that person or that you are annoyed.

    Related: 5 Clingy Habits that are Ruining Your Love Life

    3. Mention the reasons why

    Most likely, your SO will probably be a little concerned no matter how you go about this. Therefore, it’s extremely important to immediately mention the reasoning behind your request. You should never just say you need time to yourself without explaining why, because that will only lead your SO to assume the worst. Be sure to mention what you will use that alone time for, such as exploring a hobby or catching up on school work. Chelsea Jackson, a junior at Iowa State University, says, “I would simply tell them that I need some time to relax by myself. I have had some issues with particularly clingy exes, where they have gotten upset that I wanted/needed some ‘me time.’ In situations like that, I typically just state that I'm busy and need to work on stuff, or I need some quality time with my roommates.” Anyone who truly cares about you will respect these types of requests.

    4. Mention the benefits

    There are many benefits to having alone time. For example, you could mention how the both of you could get your school work done faster without any distractions, or that alone time will make you cherish the time spent together even more. Most importantly, tell them you want space because you care about the relationship, not the opposite. Lindsey Allen, a sophomore at the University of New Haven, says, “Alone time is very healthy for a relationship because space/time away allows you to reflect and be your own person separate from your SO. If you spend too much time with your SO, it's harder to differentiate yourself from your relationship.” Having your own sense of self in a relationship is crucial for its success.

    5. Listen and be considerate

    Hopefully, your SO will understand your reasoning and respect your request. However, if your partner seems bothered or hurt by it, make sure you listen to them and come up with some type of compromise. You don’t want to negatively affect your relationship, and you shouldn’t demand something that will make your SO upset or uncomfortable. There is always a middle ground to be found.

    It’s okay to need and want space in a relationship, and you should never feel ashamed for asking. If you’re with the right person, he or she will be understanding. With these steps, you can get the alone time you need without damaging the relationship.

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    Intimacy is usually lumped together with sex, but they can easily be independent of each other. According to Merriam-Webster, intimacy is defined as “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.” Intimacy is such an important aspect of a relationship and it reaches so much farther than sex, because sometimes sex just isn’t right or even possible. So here are some ways to spice up your romance *outside* of the bedroom.

    1. Hold hands

    Holding hands with your SO is more important than it might seem. It makes you feel deeply connected to that person, even if you’re just walking down the street. “My SO and I have always been huge on holding hands,” says Amanda Goecke, a junior at Carthage College, “If we're walking somewhere unfamiliar he'll hold out his hand to me for protection and to keep me close. If we're just hanging out with each other, holding hands is a great way for us to show intimacy and indicate that we want attention.” There’s even science behind the power of holding hands. Oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone,” makes us feel happy and loved and is released when people hold hands. So next time you’re on a date or walking to class with your partner, take their hand. We’re almost 100 percent sure you’ll both smile.

    2. Have deep conversations

    A relationship that consists of shallow, meaningless conversations isn’t a healthy one. You should always be challenging your partner to grow intellectually, and they should be doing the same. Communication is key to this kind of growth. Discussing the things that you’re passionate about can help you discover things you didn’t know you had in common with your partner. “My boyfriend and I talk about our future together at random times,” says Kayleen Parra-Padron, a senior at Florida International University, “We'll just look at each other and list all the things we're excited for in the future; we talk about moving out and decorating our future appointment, the names of our future dogs and what after school activities our kids will be doing.” Need help thinking of good conversation starters? Psychologist Arthur Aron, along with a few partners, composed a study to see how becoming vulnerable with your SO can lead to a closer relationship. They came up with 36 questions to ask your partner, including “For what in your life do you feel most grateful?” and “What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?” Try asking a few of these questions next time you get tired of talking about your classes.

    3. Touch each other non-sexually

    The power of touch is amazing. It’s instinctual for humans to touch each other as a sign of protection and love. Hugging and massaging are underrated ways to show intimacy. Often we think of these things as touches that could possibly lead up to sex or at least a steamy make-out session. But even spending a few extra seconds hugging your SO can make you feel more connected. Giving your partner a back massage or touching their hair shows that you care and will create chemistry between the two of you.

    Related: 6 Ways to Show Your Significant Other You Love Them

    4. Try doing each other’s favorite activities

    Chances are, while you and your partner have similar interests, there are probably a few things you don’t have in common. Take a day and indulge in some activities that your SO is passionate about and then have them do the same. This way, you can both understand each other’s passions, enjoy spending the time together and make lasting memories. Bonding through shared experiences is a powerful form of intimacy.

    5. Get spiritual

    If you and your SO share a faith, use that to your advantage. Going to each other’s religious services together and reflecting on what you learned can build intellectual intimacy. Taking a few moments out of your day to pray for/think of your partner and their goals, struggles and triumphs will also strengthen your relationship, even if your SO doesn’t know about it. “My fiance and I believe it's important to talk about our faith and do devotions together,” says Rebecca Reis, a sophomore at Temple University. “That makes us grow so close as a couple, and it becomes the framework for our entire relationship.” If you don’t share a faith or don’t identify with a specific one, try exploring different options together. It can tell you a lot about your partner’s values and how you two can fit together spiritually. However, ultimately the goal of faith is for it to be a personal connection. So while you may be sharing spiritual experiences with your partner, it’s important that you have a personal connection to your faith and you don’t believe in it just because your partner does.

    6. Communicate “Dear John” style

    Writing letters will never lose its charm or its sentimentality. Seeing the scrawl of your loved one automatically brings about the butterflies you get when you’re watching “The Notebook” or “Dear John” (dang you, Nicholas Sparks), and there’s just something about having written proof that someone is, in fact, in love with you. Writing out your thoughts can make it so much more meaningful, because your partner will be able to see that you poured your heart out onto the page. This is especially important if you’re in a long-distance relationship. Phone calls and FaceTimes are nice, but a handwritten letter once in a while will show your SO just how much you love them. “My boyfriend are in a long distance relationship, and we write letters so we can give them to each other when we finally reconnect in person,” says Alexis Rogers, a sophomore at Temple University. “Being able to write letters to express my feelings is so special. We both treasure each other's letters, equally and if not more than other gifts we have given each other. Not only are they special to read in the presence of each other, but they help keep us connected when we are away from each other.” And how cute will it be when you read them all over to your kids when you’re married?

    7. Gaze longingly into each other’s eyes

    No…really. We all know how awkward eye contact can be, even with our SOs sometimes. But it shouldn’t be! Try dropping the distractions and staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes, then talk about what you thought. It seems like a long time, but it actually goes by quickly. “I did this with my boyfriend and we were both skeptical at first,” says Sarah Johnstone, a freshman at Montgomery County Community College. “It was sort of awkward in the beginning, but then it got serious and we actually felt much more connected as a couple afterwards. Everyone should try it.” Even the smallest things, like eye contact, are actually super important and can take the intimacy in your relationship to the next level.

    While sex plays a large role in many college women’s relationships, it doesn’t have to take precedence over every other aspect. Physical and emotional intimacy affect relationships deeply, and it’s important to build those connections through avenues besides sex. Even the little touches and words of encouragement to your partner can strengthen your relationship and create intimate moments.

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    It doesn’t matter if you’re a virgin or more experienced in the sheets—everyone has questions about doing the deed. While you’ll never be able to reenact the kind of steamy hookup scenes you see on Gossip Girl or Riverdale, you’ve probably had a few of these thoughts, and more, about getting down and dirty. 

    1. What’s with the positions having such weird names? 

    Reverse Cowgirl should be a restaurant that sells healthy cheese fries, not something you do to another human.

    2. How do people manage to do it while standing up?

    You’d rather be naughty in bed…where you can conveniently fall asleep right after.

    3. Is shower sex really as hot as people make it look on TV?

    You can barely shower alone without slipping.

    4. Is it normal to prefer staying in and masturbating, instead of going out and socializing?

    Of course it is. Sexing yourself saves money and doesn’t require you to put on pants. It’s a win-win.

    5. Why do people make sex on the first date such a big deal?

    If you can share your platter of shrimp tacos, you can share a night in together NBD.

    6. How do you muster up the energy and willpower to 69?

    The only way you can multi-task is by eating, tweeting and watching The Bachelor simultaneously. 

    7. Why is anal even a thing?

    Who decided that it’d be a fun idea to enter the back door that releases all the crap you eat on a daily basis?

    8. What are you supposed to do during oral?

    Giggle? Squirm? Spread your legs like a starfish?

    9. Who decided it was sexy to bite and twist nipples?

    Nothing against BDSM, but that is 50 shades of way too painful.

    10. If the bed doesn’t squeak, does that mean you aren’t thrusting hard enough?

    You’re not in good enough shape for this!

    11. Should you alternate between kissing and humping, or do it at the same time?

    This will get super sweaty instead of super sexy, real fast.

    12. What’s the normal volume for moaning?

    Last time you screamed so loud, your roommates thought you were waxing your bikini line.

    13. How are you supposed to easily transition into new positions?

    If you move too fast, you might end up farting or something.

    14. Are you supposed to clean yourself afterwards?

    You have boxes of tissues reserved to crying, and…well, you know.

    15. Is it normal to fantasize about sex during the most random, inappropriate times?

    Getting milk at the grocery store turns into imagining a rendezvous on top of a stack of Bounty towels.

    16. How do you manage a threesome?

    You can't even be bothered to share your food with people, much less your SO with someone else.

    17. What’s with the obsession over sexy lingerie, if you’re just going to end up naked?

    It’s getting hot in here! So keep off all your clothes! 

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    She may spend more time in her advisor's office than at your place, but that doesn't mean she loves her advisor more. If you're dating a girl with a double major, there are probably a few things you've already figured out about how to make it work. Trust us when we say there's a lot more to know about her. Here are 15 things you should be ready for if your girl has taken this on!

    1. Her schedule is literally insane

    College is busy enough with one major, but a second major completely changes the game. Some days, she will literally plan out every second of her day because that’s the only way to get everything done.

    2. She won’t always have time for you

    That busy schedule means making time for you and her friends is a challenge. She’s juggling a double course load, student organizations, sleep, family, friends and you. She won’t be able to spend as much time with you as she would like, but that doesn’t mean she cares for you any less.

    3. You won’t see her out at the bars every night

    You probably won’t see her out at the bars every weekend either. Juggling two majors means having to choose between getting her work done and going out with her friends—and if she’s ambitious enough to choose a second major, you know which option she’ll choose nine times out of 10.

    4. She’ll be stressed out a lot

    Chances are her course load is about as stressful as it gets. She won’t always be in the best mood, and the stress will get to her sometimes.

    5. She needs you to be her support system

    There’s nothing wrong with being your girlfriend’s biggest cheerleader. After a long day of classes and homework, all she wants is a shoulder to lean on or a pep talk to keep her going.

    6. She hates when people ask why she’s doing this to herself

    Honestly, she probably doesn’t have a good answer most days when she’s struggling to make it through the week. Another question she’d rather not answer is what she plans to do with her majors, especially if they don’t appear to coincide.

    7. Her bank account will take a hit

    A double major means a whole new set of classes to fit into four years, which means a higher tuition rate and more books and supplies to buy. She might have to work extra hours to make ends meet, or she may be extra frugal with her money and ask to stay in more.

    8. Her planner is literally her best friend

    With a schedule like hers, if there’s one thing she can’t live without, it’s her planner. Without it, she would forget half of her responsibilities. Don’t make fun if she literally takes it everywhere.

    9. She’s passionate about her majors

    Chances are she’s not double-majoring because she feels obligated to. She’s double-majoring because she’s super passionate about at least one of her majors. One may be a “safe” major but the other is likely what she loves most, or they both are.

    10. She may choose Netflix over you

    Or your date night will turn into a Netflix and pizza night. Some nights she might just be too tired to do anything but snuggle up in bed and watch Gossip Girl. But hey, you’ll definitely earn brownie points if you go see her anyway and keep her company.

    11. She’s lucky if she gets six hours of sleep a night

    Gone are the days of a cozy eight hours or more of sleep every night. Most nights, she gets around five hours of sleep. Beware—sleep deprivation may bring out the worst in her.

    12. She lives off of coffee

    She’s pretty much addicted to the stuff by this point. She’s used to staying up late to study or finish up homework and turns to coffee to keep her awake in her morning lectures. You’ll for sure bring a smile to her face if you surprise her with coffee just the way she likes it.

    13. She may not be able to graduate on time

    Some majors share requirements, but some are too different to rely on dual-credit to graduate on time. She may be on a five-year plan, which could affect both of your futures.

    14. Don’t ask her to pick a favorite major

    That’s basically like asking a mom to pick a favorite child.

    15. She’s a badass

    Anyone who decides to take on a second major and still manages to make time for everything else in her life is pretty badass. So give yourself a pat on the back—you’re dating a rock star.

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    I am the product of a divorce.

    Those were the words that haunted me for years. The words that seeped into my skin every time I allowed someone close enough to touch mine. The words that hung in my rearview mirror every time I left home. And most recently the words that my newlywed friends remind me of every time I offer love advice.

    I believe in love. I believe in true love. I believe in marriage. I believe having the over-the-top big white wedding doesn’t discount the power of someone’s marriage. And I believe two people who gather in secrecy and intimacy and commit themselves to each other for life are equally as extravagant and spectacular as the latter.

    I am the product of a divorce, and yet I’ve had amazing relationships. Some of which have lasted two months, others a few months and one for three years.

    I met my ex-boyfriend when I was a senior in college. I truly was not looking to date or even do the whole, “Hey, you awake? I’m bored,” text, until someone fell asleep or gave in and lugged themselves across campus. But my ex-boyfriend walked through the front door of my dorm room one night, wearing the ugliest shirt I had ever seen, and he made me laugh.

    We began dating a few months later.

    When our relationship began, it was good. He was a musician who traveled … a lot, and I was a recent college graduate trying to figure out what the hell I was doing with my life. We were each other’s best friends and I genuinely loved his mom. We had a few small fights, which usually revolved around what we were eating for dinner. I always wanted Thai and he lived off a diet of chicken tenders and fries, so we usually compromised with pizza and beer.

    Related: What to Do When Your Ex Gets Back in Touch with You

    We learned a lot about each other during our time together. We learned a lot about ourselves. We learned that we both love documentaries, and going to baseball games and $3 movies. We learned that we both hated waking up early, saying goodbyes and cats. But I learned those small things, those things that everyone tells you are the be all, end all of relationships don’t sustain you when your guy chooses playing a gig over coming to your college graduation ceremony. Or when your grandmother dies and all you want to do is call him crying, but you’re worried he’ll be uncomfortable and not know what to say, so instead you just crawl into bed and fall asleep, and tell him the next morning.

    Our relationship was good, but it survived three years. I say survived because that’s what it felt like at times. Like trying to mend a broken arm with a band-aid and Neosporin, when what you really needed was a professional to step in, take over and let you sit in the waiting room until the pain went away. But when we skip the pain, we skip the lesson. So, I did my best to sit with the pain, but I often found myself looking for him in that hospital room, only to find more pain from his absence. And in his absence, I slowly began to fill his void with lessons, and those lessons became my practice and that practice became my strength, and that strength is what let me leave that hospital room.

    But, truth be told, that hospital room saved me. In that room I learned the greatest gift a relationship can ever give us, is the ability to be our worst self with someone. We’re allowed as women and men to not be shiny. We’re allowed to be real and ugly. We’re allowed to call our partner when our grandmother dies and cry. We’re allowed to scream and laugh and tell them how amazing she was and how you wish you could have said goodbye in person, and cooked dinner with her one more time.

    I learned that a healthy relationship can dissolve shame. I learned that shame is worse than pain. Shame is the sugar-coated topping we place on top of our pain to remind us every day of why we should be hurting, and a healthy relationship gives us the strength to break off that coating. I learned that I was allowed to show up to our relationship with my shame and not a sugar-coated excuse for why I had it.

    On my last day in that hospital room, I reminded myself that my boyfriend of three years was an extraordinary person. He was kind, genuine, authentic and someone who deserves to be loved fiercely. But, I learned that relationships are hard and they require work, and I learned by showing up to that hospital room every single day, I was working harder. So, when I felt strong enough to leave that hospital room, I did.

    Our three-year relationship ended with one of the longest conversations the two of us had ever had. We acknowledged the good and the bad. We acknowledged that we worked well together, but that we work well with everyone, so maybe that is why we held on for so long.  We also acknowledged that we loved each other the way we came, and in that love we received the joy of watching each other transform into our best possible selves, and there is no failure in that, only a raging success. Even if our success stories paint a different picture.

    I entered my three-year relationship as the product of a divorce, but I left it realizing that I am also the product of a 20-year long marriage that my parents shared. I learned that sometimes it’s healthier to break something than expend all your resources mending what can’t be put back together. I learned that I can put up with a lot and not complain, but I also learned I’m allowed to complain. I’m allowed to speak up when I’m not happy. We’re all allowed to speak up when we’re not happy. I learned that eye contact is the sexiest thing a man can give. I learned that I need someone who values their health on the same level as I do. I learned I feel everything deeply. I learned that I need someone who is cool with that. I learned that being a strong woman isn’t defined by the load I carry, but by the way I carry my load.

    My three-year relationship that ended, re-introduced me to myself and you better believe I’m going to take care of her.

    Follow Lauryn Higgins on Twitter or Instagram @laurynhiggins

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    Whether you’ve been dating for years or have only been exclusive for a few months, there may come a point when you start questioning your relationship with your SO. The act of questioning your love for a particular person can be the first sign that you are considering ending it. This can be heartbreaking, yes, but sometimes it’s necessary. We understand ending a relationship is never easy, which may prolong your decision to do so, but it’s important to learn to be honest with yourself and the person you’re with.

    Here are some questions to think about if your relationship isn’t turning out the way you had hoped.

    1. What does my future look like with my partner?

    It can be intimidating to think about the future, but usually if you’re with the right person, it’s a topic you’re both eager to discuss. College is a time for personal growth, trying new things and exploring the endless possibilities that await you in the real world. It only makes sense that people change as they get older or dedicate themselves to new paths. Healthy relationships involve individuals that are able to grow together. They support one another and encourage them to enjoy themselves, knowing at the end of the day their love is strong enough to last through it all. You shouldn’t feel like your partner is holding you back in any way.

    Lindsey Allen, a senior at the University of New Haven, expresses the importance of discussing the future of your relationship. “If one of you wants to travel the world and the other would like to stay in his/her hometown forever, that's a serious conflict,” she says. “Determining whether you and your SO have the same goals in mind is a big step in figuring out whether or not the relationship will actually last.” It’s scary to admit you might be in a dead-end relationship, but thinking about the future is the first step to determining how to make your dreams a reality. You shouldn’t be with someone who makes you feel limited — end of story.

    2. Are my needs being met?

    This is a question that’s necessary at any point in a relationship. Dedicating your time and love to another person is a big commitment, so you should make sure you’re getting treated the way you deserve to be. This doesn’t mean your partner should change who they are for you — that’s never a good solution. It’s simply important to revisit how you and your SO are treating one another as the relationship grows. Are you still speaking kindly to each other? Do you feel supported and loved? Are you proud of the relationship you’re in?

    People have different expectations when it comes to their relationships but desiring respect, trust and happiness should resonate with everyone. Hailey*, a senior at Emmanuel College, explains her experience when she realized the person she was with wasn’t enough for her. “It took me awhile to gain self-confidence,” she says. “But once I did, I realized my worth and realized I could be with someone who was actually what I wanted.” If you don’t feel appreciated in your relationship, then it’s not worth your time anymore. Being single is better than being with someone who doesn’t treat you right, no matter how many years you have been with them.

    Related: What Really Happens When You Hook Up With a Friend

    3. Am I still in love with my partner or just the idea of them?

    Many couples seem to fall into a routine the longer they’ve been together. If being with someone feels more like a comforting habit than being in love, it’s time to reconsider. More importantly, if the only reason you’re still with someone is because the act of breaking up with them is too daunting, then you shouldn’t be with them. It’s not fair to yourself or your partner to stay in a relationship because you’re scared of being alone. Therefore, so many women express the importance of being happily single before you enter a relationship. The person you’re with should add to your already secure life — they shouldn’t feel like a crutch.

    Megan Lambert, a junior at Emmanuel College, shares some insight into her recent breakup. “The decision was not at all easy. But I realized what I would miss out of the relationship wasn’t his personality but rather the idea of being in a relationship — and that wasn’t okay or fair to either of us.” It can be difficult to reflect on the current state of your relationship, especially after years of being with someone, but it’s how you know you’re truly where you want to be.

    4. Why am I in this relationship?

    This seems like an easy enough question to answer, right? It’s usually good to ask yourself this once the “honeymoon phase” is over. Love is blinding; this is true. But when it really comes down to it, you need to be able to answer this question honestly. Are you head over heels in love? Wonderful! Does your partner bring out the best in you? Even better.

    Being honest with yourself can be extremely difficult because you might not always like the answer. Be sure to take a step back from your relationship and evaluate it. Hopefully this will leave you feeling even more appreciative for the person you’re with. On the contrary, if asking yourself this question reveals more heartache than you expected, talk it through with your partner. Being in a relationship means being able to confide in one another — about anything. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, then you should rethink where your relationship is headed.

    5. Will I be happier without this person?

    Happiness seems to be the ultimate goal in life. Who wouldn’t want to live blissfully every day? Many people find themselves seeking happiness through relationships. However, it’s important to remember the most vital relationship is the one you have with yourself. Chances are you’re with your SO because they make you happy. Ask yourself, is this still true? If you can see yourself living a happier life without your partner, then it’s time to end it.

    Rachel Petty, a senior at James Madison University, agrees this question is a must-ask. “If the answer is yes [you’d be happier alone], it's clear that it's time to end the relationship. There's no reason to hold onto something if it's for comfort,” she says. “You have to do what's right for you and you only!” We couldn’t agree more. If you’re not with someone who adds positivity to your life, then why waste your time with them? All relationships go through ups and downs, but if the downs become a constant, you need to take action for the sake of your own happiness.

    6. What does this relationship bring out in me?

    Your partner should help to bring out the best in you. This can come from their love and support, which encourages you to be your ultimate self. They should make you happy, which helps you maintain a positive outlook and take on challenges knowing you have someone cheering you on. Your partner should make you feel comfortable with who you are and you should be excited to do the same for them.

    Lindsey expresses the importance of being with someone who makes you feel good about yourself. “Does being with this person bring out the best in you or the worst? How do you feel when you're with them? If they make you feel stressed or unfulfilled, that's a key sign that things should end.” You shouldn’t have to consistently worry about what your partner will think of you. All relationships require compromise, yes, but you should never have to hide who you are to fulfill someone else’s expectations or ease their insecurities when it comes to trust. Be your true self, and the right person will love even your most difficult qualities.

    7. Am I treated with respect/do I respect my partner?

    Finally, one of the most important aspects of a relationship: respect. Being with someone you respect and admire is key to being in a healthy relationship. You should be proud of the person you’re with and the way you two interact. If you’re making excuses for who they are or hiding parts of your relationship from your friends, that’s not okay. You deserve to be respected, and you deserve to be with someone who you can respect too.

    Knowing your self-worth is one of the greatest ways to ensure you’re being treated properly. If you have low expectations for yourself and don’t treat yourself with respect, chances are you won’t recognize when your partner is in the wrong. Be confident in what you desire, love who you are, and set an example of how you should be treated by treating yourself the same way. If you can’t respect yourself in the relationship you’re in, that’s also a sign it’s time to end it. And if you can’t treat your SO properly because you don’t respect who they are, a goodbye is definitely in your future.

    Every relationship is unique in its own way. That’s what makes love such a beautiful thing. However, all healthy relationships tend to have the same qualities. You should be able to trust the person you’re with and show them off proudly. You should feel confident with who you are in your relationship and be able to recognize when you aren’t getting what you deserve. Be honest with yourself about what you need, what you want, and where your future is headed. Your answers will ultimately tell you what to do. Cheers!

    *Name has been changed

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    Telling someone you’re into them is possibly one of the most awkward things to do, especially if you’re questioning whether they like you back. To avoid some of this awkwardness, we naturally turn toward our friends and our crush’s friends to see if they know. But involving your crush’s friends can be dangerous. If you’re in this position right now and aren’t sure if you should get your crush’s friends involved, here are a few reasons why you really shouldn’t.

    1. It can make things weird for everybody

    Bringing your crush’s friends in might sound like a good idea, but trust us, it’s probably not. It can just make things weird for everybody, especially if  you two share a friend group. Take it from Chelsea* who had a bad experience with this after connecting one of her friends from high school, Kaitlyn*, with her college best friend, Michael*. “I really wish I hadn't, because their relationship has been bad for my friendship with both of them,” she says. “I think relationships should happen more naturally. If someone isn't in your group, don't add them in just to set them up with someone. Let things happen as they happen. SOs don't need to be integrated into the friend group.” Chelsea’s right. Sometimes getting your and/or your crush’s friends involved can just make things that much more complicated for not just you and your crush, but for your friends, too.

    2. It can cause a rift between you and your crush

    Sometimes going around your crush to their friends can come off as sketchy. Think about it like this: if your crush was talking to your friends about you, and you didn’t entirely know what they talked about, how would you feel? Of course, if you have good friends, they’ll tell you what’s up, but it would still seem kind of weird, like why didn’t they come to me? It’s possible that going to your crush’s friends could make them feel that way. “I made the mistake of getting my boyfriend's friend involved, and it lead to my boyfriend asking for a break because it only made things worse,” Megan Mann, a graduate from Purdue University, says. “I was worried about something, said something to his friend and then it got muddled and the next thing I knew, it was break time. It makes things REALLY convoluted and shouldn't be a thing.” Listen to Megan and just be straightforward with your crush; let them know what you’re thinking and feeling. It might be kind of uncomfortable, but it will be what’s best for both of you at the end of the day.

    Related: 12 Things to Do If You're Sick of the Single Life

    3. It can feel unnatural

    One of the quickest ways to kill a forming relationship is to force it. Even if it’s awkward not knowing where your crush stands, it’s definitely better to let things play out than to make things play out. “You want a relationship, or budding relationship, to form naturally,” Chloe Powers, a senior at Johnson & Wales University, says. “Getting your crush’s friends involved seems like the relationship is being forced to start. I’d want my relationship to start because he and I want it to, not because he’s being pressured by his friends!” Chloe has a point. Even if your crush doesn’t feel the same way about you as you do about them, it’s okay. Going to your crush’s friends just makes this even more awkward if your crush truly isn’t ready for a relationship. It’s like they say, all things with time. This would be one of those things.

    4. It can mean they will tell your crush about your feelings

    Not to be a downer, but here’s the tea: if you get your crush’s friends involved, they are ultimately going to be on their side more than yours. Telling your crush’s friends how you feel and trying to get them involved could result in them telling your crush about your feelings in a time or way you don’t like. By involving their friends, you give them the opportunity to control your situation. Sometimes this can end well, but generally it seems like it can only be bad news, especially because it might make your crush wonder why you didn’t just go to him or her in the first place. Your confidence to go to them directly and honesty to tell them how you genuinely feel will say a lot about you to the person you’re crushing on.

    We know it can be tempting to want to go to your crush’s friends to get the inside scoop on how they feel, have them connect you or just gain some advice for how to talk to your crush, but don’t do it! It will be best for you and everyone else if you just go talk to your crush about everything. No matter how the conversation goes, you’re going to be okay. It’s better to air out your feelings than to avoid telling the one person to whom these feelings will matter the most. Normally we wouldn’t consult Shrek for advice, but his better-out-than-in theory is really the best way to deal here. Just don’t psych yourself out. You got this. Now go get ‘em!

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    If you’ve ever googled “first time sex tips” or “how to tell if he likes me,” then you’ve likely ended up on an article from Cosmopolitan or read something produced under the direction of Joanna Coles, chief content officer at Hearst Magazines and highkey dating guru.  

    As one of publishing’s biggest stars and someone who’s regularly center stage in women’s media, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that Joanna is chock full of all the essential, everyday sex and dating advice that college women crave, picked up from her years of experience serving at the helm of Cosmo as editor-in-chief. Now, access to the mass reserve of Joanna’s relationship advice just got easier with the release of her book, Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World (which you can pick up on Amazon here).

    Described as “a diet book for romantic relationships,” Love Rules compares resisting junk food with avoiding partners and dating habits that are bad for you. Joanna talked to Her Campus about how college women can utilize her love rules when navigating everything from swiping right to closing the door on an old love.

    This interview has been edited for length.

    Her Campus: What was the most significant thing you discovered while writing Love Rules?

    Joanna Coles: One of the things that most alarmed me was that people are finding dating – which should be really fun – fraught and confusing. Also, that we have in society stopped prioritizing real relationships as an important part of our psychological nutrition. Instead, we spend a lot of time trying to build up audiences of fans and followers and Facebook friends, and behave as if they have the same value as a real relationship – which we know they don’t. An online partner is not the same as an actual partner, and online communication, even if it’s funny and flirty and fabulous, is not as valuable as a real conversation.

    HC: In Love Rules, you emphasize continuously that dating apps are convenient, but just not comparable for meeting someone in person. Can you speak more to this?

    JC: They’re not. The thing is that they are incredibly useful for connecting people, but they are connecting tools, they are not an end in itself. The amount of time that I have seen young women and men, and older women and older men, wasting on these fancy relationships online, especially when you’re texting back and forth – and the person may be a very entertaining texter – but it’s not going anywhere if you don’t speak on the phone or you don’t meet in person.

    HC: What do think is one of the more important aspects of building an online dating profile to get those connections later in real life?

    JC: I’m not saying the physical photo of somebody is not important, but what you want to look for is how they are expressing their values, and how you are expressing your values. In the end, that’s the connective tissue that will allow you to create an important relationship... You’re looking for people that have got similar interests, people who are active, people who seem to be in an appropriate place in their life and that speak to you in words that you would use.

    HC: Out of the 15 love rules, what is the one rule you feel women should be prioritizing the most?

    JC: I do think “clearing out your cupboards” and not sleeping with an ex are really important. It’s this idea that you can somehow simmer people on the back burner... and then re-engage with an ex when you feel like it over a weekend if you’re feeling lonely. These are not good habits to get into, and they stop you from moving forward.

    It’s already very hard to close the door on the relationship, and it’s impossible to stop staying connected with someone because we’re all connected online. It’s easy to follow what someone is doing, and it’s easy on a low moment to text them or to start following them on one of their social media channels, and actually, that makes it even harder to get over someone.

    HC: How should women who want to go about building real, authentic relationships approach hook-up culture during college?

    JC: This is my comparison to fast food: I really do think the hook-up culture is like french fries; that it’s delicious in the moment, but it leaves you with an aftertaste... and it’s essentially emotional calories. You have to go into a hook-up very clear of what you want out of it. If you’re the kind of person that could go into a hook-up and be absolutely fine knowing that you may never see this person again... then that’s okay. But it’s hard for hook-up sex to be good... because you don’t know each other’s bodies so you don’t know what turns each other on.

    Over the long haul, sex usually gets better when you have a degree of trust with someone because you can build up the communication tools to tell someone what you like. Hook-up sex might be energetic sex... but it’s unlikely to be very satisfying because you don’t know each other, and this is a bit of a risk...

    You also need to be really honest about why you’re having the hook-up, and if it’s just to have a bit of physical fun, that’s fine. But if what you actually want is a bigger connection, then it’s unlikely you’re going to get it from a hook-up—especially with a random stranger.

    HC: For rule 14, you talk about pinpointing a relationship role model. In your personal life, who has been your relationship role model?

    JC: I think it’s changed over time. I’m still figuring out who my relationship role models are. My parents are still married and have been married 54 years. I don’t necessarily want their marriage, but I’m impressed by how they’ve pulled it off... So probably my parents, and my grandparents who were very happily married.

    As you get older you appreciate the longevity of relationships more. I have a few friends that I’m sort of impressed with the way they’ve held it all together. But I think throughout your life it changes, as you go into different stages and if you have children, you realize that you want different things out of different people.

    Order your copy of Love Rules now, and follow Joanna on Instagram to keep up with her latest adventures. 

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    It’s happened to all of us – you’re talking to a love interest or going on a first date or even just chatting with your partner when they start calling their ex ‘crazy’ for things that took place while they were together. It might seem normal at first; we all have some wild stories from our past relationships or exes who maybe weren’t the best for us. But maybe the word ‘crazy’ is coming up a bit too often when they bring her up or maybe the things that made her ‘crazy’ seem… pretty normal? Maybe the situations your partner describe seem like they were actually more their fault than hers? What does all of this mean, and is it a red flag for you? If you’re dating someone who calls their exes ‘crazy,’ put yourself in her shoes before you jump to conclusions.

    Word choice is key

    ‘Crazy,’ ‘psycho,’ ‘trash,’ ‘slutty,’ ‘childish,’ ‘annoying,’ ‘shrill,’ ‘bitchy…’ Look closely at the words your partner is using to describe their ex-girlfriend. Are these words you like to be called? Is this how you’d want them to describe you if you broke up? We’re all flawed, and people break up for a reason, but impulsively calling your ex every derogatory or sexist word in the book instead of talking honestly about your relationship? That’s not a good look.

    “Once I was talking to this guy and he kept telling me about how his ex is ‘trash,’” says an anonymous junior. “Now he has a new girlfriend, and when I found that out, the FIRST thing I thought about is how he probably told her that I'm ‘trash.’” If your partner is quick to use sexist words, generalizing slurs, or empty attacks to describe someone they spent meaningful time dating, take a few steps back and think about who’s more unhinged here.

    Don’t think of the ex as competition

    Calling an ex ‘crazy’ in front of a new partner may be deeper than average new relationship chit-chat. If your date starts immediately calling their exes every name under the sun, it may feel as if they’re trying to flatter you.Our anonymous HC collegiette recalls, “At first I (stupidly) was like 'Wow, he's implying that I'm not trash, that's so sweet!' However, this may actually be a subtle way to manipulate your loyalty and trust. If your date is eager to trash talk their exes with you, consider that they may be baiting you to trash talk a girl you’ve never met, or vow to be better for them than she ever was. “It's tempting to want to talk crap about his ex with him (it's only natural to see her as ‘the competition’) but we girls have to stick together!” Their ex is not your competition and you should not have to prove to anyone that you’re better than another woman. If your partner thinks that bad-mouthing other women is a way to compliment you or expects you to bad-mouth other women to prove yourself, run for the hills.

    Question their honesty

    All couples fight, and you can totally talk about your past relationship roadblocks with new partners, but this kind of discussion is not healthy when entire fights, arguments, and disagreements are chocked up to an ex being “crazy.” This kind of rationalization does not take into account one’s own responsibility in the disagreement and instead places all blame on the other partner’s personhood, and not even their opinion. Consider the stories that they’re telling you — is the ex “crazy” for speaking her mind, asking for respect, or disagreeing with your partner? Is your partner avoiding telling the full story at all, simply calling her a “bitch” as an end-all? Do you find yourself taking her side in the stories being told? Our anonymous collegiate knows these feelings all too well. “As time went on and I realized that he wasn't the greatest guy, I really started to feel for his ex. I wanted to reach out to her and say ‘Dang, this guy is really a jerk — I'm starting to take your side in all those stories he told me about the fights you had.’" These are all definitely red flags which show that they never really respected her opinion in the first place, and they might not be ready to respect yours in the long run.

    Remember — ladies first

    Exes should never, ever feel like your competition. No partner should ever make you feel like you have to be better than another woman. You should never feel like you have to put down another woman for a partner’s interest. In a world where women are called “crazy,” “shrill,” “crabby,” “naggy,” “bitchy,” and “bossy” just for speaking up for themselves, you should definitely air on the side of caution when you hear these words used to describe other ladies. Think of how often women are expected to perform extraneous emotional labor for their partners in fear of being called “needy,” “clingy,” or “desperate.” Think of how often women are expected to thanklessly take care of their fully-grown partners in fear of being called “cold,” “selfish,” or “vain.” Think of how often you’ve been called this things for just being a woman in the world.

    Ladies — be careful out there, hold each others’ hands, and put yourself in her shoes before you take your partner’s side.

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    Sexting—the bow chicka wow wow of texting. The electronic hickey. The one time it’s appropriate to use an eggplant emoji.

    For our millennial generation, sexting is pretty common what with our high definition iPhone cameras and the sheer existence of Tinder. By now, it falls into the standard order of operations of texting back and forth with some cutie only to end up sending a picture of your digital boobs through thin air.

    In all seriousness, while sexting is a great way to practice a safe form of sex, there are a lot of things about it that aren’t safe at all. Since casual sexting is about as common as the casual hook-up, it means that you won’t always be sexting with someone who you know that well. You quickly give your physical privacy and security into the hands of someone else, and that being said, there are some definite dos and don’ts in order to sext the right way—and the safe way. 


    Take your time

    Just like foreplay, sexting is all about the buildup. The longer it takes, the better. The prolonged anticipation will keep both you and your partner wanting more, and the two of you can keep going at it until you’re satisfied (wink wink).

    Taking your time sending messages also gives you a time buffer in which you can begin to trust your partner more. Like we’ve said, sexting is a vulnerable position to be in, and as you draw out the sexual buildup, you can also decipher the limits of just how far you feel comfortable going with the person.

    “When I sext someone for the first time, especially if I don’t know them well, I always play it pretty safe at first just because I don’t know if they’re screenshotting everything I say,” says Hunter, a senior at the University of Louisville. “The more the conversation continues, I get a feel for if our sexual interests align and what kind of person they are. If they seem to check out, I immediately start to turn up the heat on my messages.”

    Overall, your privacy is of the most utmost importance here, and you shouldn’t sext someone who would put that at risk. Take your time working up to a messaging climax so that you’re secure enough to let go and show your wild side in the messages.

    Keep messages short and sweet

    Try to find that sweet spot between a single sentence and a full paragraph. Writing “Ohhhhh” doesn’t really add anything to the conversation, but your partner having to endlessly scroll through your messages about all the dirty things you want to do to them is overwhelming. When sexts are too long, the details get lost and that might even be a turn off.

    “I had this one girl text me what probably translated to a full page,” says Lorenzo, a junior at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It was mildly terrifying. I felt like I was reading a romance novel she had secretly been harboring in her soul but never got to write until she sexted me. Ladies! I encourage you to live your fantasy, but maybe just say it in two sentences.”

    Remember that sexting should be a dialogue between two people. The perfect formula would be to acknowledge what your partner last said and also add something new to that each time by building on top of the idea or action that was offered to you.

    Related: HC’s Guide to Safe Sexting

    Be polite

    We don’t mean saying please and thank you, but keep in mind that you’re still talking to a real person with feelings. Sexting is definitely not a situation where you should ever mock someone or make them feel insecure about what they’re saying.

    Department Chair of Psychology at Cal Poly and licensed psychologist Jasna Jovanovic studies the socialization of gender, and has found that males tend be just as insecure about sexual response as women are. “Nobody wants to feel bad about their self, but oftentimes males are cast as initiators and take the brunt of sexual criticism. In the case of sexual messaging, it’s easier for a female to be turned off and be vocal about the sexual fantasy the male has initiated as compared to a real life situation where she might be polite because of the in-person circumstance.”  

    Be respectful of their boundaries even if it’s not real sex. As the old saying goes, treat others the way you would like to be treated. Starting with kindness will lead to a more pleasurable experience for both of you.

    Cover your tracks

    No matter how badly you want to save last night’s kinky conversations, just trust us and delete those messages right away, girlfriend. We all have those snoopy friends (or moms) who occasionally scroll through our phones and invade our privacy, and it’s better to be safe rather than have your friend (or mom) take a peek at your recent texts only to find some sub-par porn. There’s also a kick-butt app available called Couple, which is a password protected messaging service that lets you send photos and won’t sync to clouds. It’s all about keeping your moments private, and is a fantastic alternative to deleting your late night sexts!

    “I had a bunch of saved sexts between my boyfriend and I that I never deleted,” says Morgan, a junior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “Long story short, my phone synced to my friend’s cloud and she still tells everyone about what hilarious and racy things we were saying. Now I always delete my messages the next morning to save myself from further embarrassment.”

    As we’ve seen from celebrity photo scandals and private messaging hacks, the digital world is a really dangerous place where your private life can be exposed before you even know what’s happening. Take precaution and always cover your tracks before your sexy time messages are on display for all to see.

    Sext soberly

    Alcoholic sexting lubricant might not be such a great idea when you wake up in the morning and find out that you’ve been texting your partner like E.L. James all night. We already know the dangers of sending the drunk text, but imagine drunk sexting?! That’s a literal nightmare situation.

    “I view drunk sexting the way I view having sex drunk,” says Leah, a junior at the University of Washington. “Alcohol increases your chance of making a mistake. When you’re drunk you would give consent to having sex with someone at a party without really meaning it, and the same goes for sexting. You’re not always in control enough to do what honors you.”

    Psychologist Jasno Jovanovic heartily agrees. “A female under the influence is just as likely to be taken advantage of digitally as she may be in a physical social circumstance," she says. "The same rules of safety and consent should still apply to sexting.”

    The danger of sexting drunk is that you lack complete control of yourself and aren’t present in the situation. In doing this, you risk sending something that you wouldn’t normally, which might risk your digital safety while also being completely embarrassing.

    Related: How to Spice Up Your Sex Life in a Long-Term Relationship


    Show your face if you send any photos

    THIS IS SO IMPORTANT—WE CAN’T EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. Don’t do it, period. Ever. Unless you’re just begging to be blackmailed.

    “Exchanging nude pictures is something I really enjoy doing in my relationships, especially if my boyfriend and I have to spend time apart,” says Naba, a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “It hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m always terrified that one day I’ll see nude photos of my body on the internet or being passed around my group of friends. I never take pictures with my face in them specifically for that reason.”

    While we generally want you to be able to trust people in this world, there are a few bad apples out there. By including your face in photos with your naked body, you give your sexting partner a dangerous power to potentially hold those photos over you. Women’s Health has great advice on what to do if you partner leaks your photos on the internet.

    There’s also the risk that other people may be able to get into your partner’s phone, and the last thing you want a random stranger to find is a picture of your smiling face accompanied by your breasts. You want to be completely unidentifiable. Let this be rule number one of safe sexting.


    This goes hand in hand with not including your face in any nude photos you send. Sexually FaceTiming your partner gives them the power to take screenshots without you being aware of the situation. This is a great time to stick with good old fashioned sexting and stay away from our advanced iPhone technology.

    “My boyfriend and I were doing long distance, so we would FaceTime each other fairly often as opposed to sexting, just because then we could still see each other and it felt more real,” says Marley, a sophomore at New York University. “I had been with him for nearly two years so I completely trusted him, and it never even occurred to me that he would screenshot anything I was doing. One time he came to visit I was looking at the pictures on his phone and saw a bunch of graphic ones of me. I didn’t get mad because I had never explicitly not asked him to not take pictures, but I still felt like the privacy of my body had been violated. It was definitely an awakening to just how scary that situation can be, especially if don’t know your sexual partner very well—or at least can’t get your hands on their phone to delete pictures of you.”

    We trust that you are all smart women who have a strong sense of self-preservation and are capable of making intelligent decisions, so just remember that nakedly FaceTiming bae is not a decision you should ever make.

    Use emojis or weird anatomical language

    This just isn’t tasteful. Nobody wants to see an eggplant with water droplets coming out of it. Enough said.

    Also, calling certain body parts by their scientifically correct names makes them sound like a disease. Saying labia over pussy is completely fine–it’s whatever works for you. However, there is a fine line where maybe you should use slang terms, or consider not saying the anatomically correct name at all. If your partner starts to sound like a medical textbook and insists on using the words “fallopian tube,” please rethink your life choices.

    Related: 9 College Women Share Their Tinder Nightmares

    Sext if you haven’t had sex

    This is not the time or place to discover what sex is or how it happens. Some people say that the general rule of thumb should be not sext anything you haven’t done in real life. This may be limiting, especially if you wanted to explore something kinkier to sext about. So, let’s change the general rule to don’t talk about anything unless you’ve covered the sexual basics (penetrative sex, oral, etc.).

    “There was this one time in my first year of college where I was trying to sext with some older guy and come off as really cool,” says Gabrielle, a senior at Northeastern University. “Jokes on me though because I was still a virgin, and so my sexting was a terrible mixture of being really vanilla, completely absurd or just flat out wrong.”

    You have more of a chance to turn your partner off rather than on by making up a sexual fantasy if you haven’t had sex in real life. You have no idea what your partner is actually into or even what you’re into. Try not to skip the important first step of intercourse here.

    “Digital sex is more often a method of sexual exploration for women than it is for sexual pleasure,” says psychologist Jasna Jovanovic. “This is a contained experience where you can openly entertain your fantasy, but it should not be used to explore what it would be like to have sex for the first time. In my opinion, it will take away from the authenticity of losing your virginity, and just like porn build up false expectations of what sex actually is.”

    Oh, sexting. Our ancestors would be so appalled if they knew what we were using our advanced technology for. Regardless, sexting is a regularity now, and we hope that our official dos and don’ts can help you out the next time you want to engage in some textual flirtation. 

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    My sister, who is three years my junior, has had sex. I, however, have not. When this happened and she told me, I wasn’t all that surprised. She was always the one with a boyfriend, the one with more experience and the one who my extended family liked to interrogate about her dating life (after attempting to interrogate me with poor results, I think they realized her romantic life was more exciting). This rarely bothered me. I knew my time would come and I knew that I would have my fair share of romantic endeavors. That was until I realized that, among my group of friends from high school, college and beyond, I had become the last fish in the barrel. That is to say, I am the only one who has yet to have sex.

    All of a sudden, knowing my younger sister had passed this supposed “milestone” became too much for me to handle. I was no longer the cool, collected, secure-in-herself older sister I had always been. I was constantly thinking about my “virginity,” to the point where I felt like I was wearing it like a red flag. It gave me anxiety to feel like the last one, to feel like all of my friends had lapped me in the proverbial race that represented how I saw romance.

    So much of our society is predicated on the prowess of coming in first (no pun intended). We are constantly compared to, ranked among and analyzed alongside one another. It seems totally logical, because it’s the way we have been brought up to see the world, but if we take a step back, we can see that it doesn’t really make that much sense. After all, how are we expected to enjoy or reflect on any of what we’ve done if all that matters is how it looks in comparison to someone else and the things they’ve done? If it’s about coming in first (or at least not coming in last), time is of the essence. Everything is timed, and we’re all pitted against each other.

    If we’re looking for love in our romantic endeavors, this certainly doesn’t seem like a way to it. And even if we’re not, it still doesn’t really make sense that we’re viewing this as a competition. We reduce romance to this arbitrary end result, and lose any ability to enjoy our experiences in the process. Even if sex and dating aren’t about finding “the one,” even if it’s about satisfying desires or just having fun, what’s the point in doing any of that if it’s just for the sake of ranking yourself?

    Related: How Often Are College Women REALLY Having Sex?

    As I started to settle into the knowledge that I was the last “virgin,” I came to realize that that wasn’t a way of seeing sex or romance or passion or courtship that I was comfortable with. I came to realize that whether or not I had had sex meant nothing.

    So, this article that I’m writing is about a lot of things. It’s about how I think that “virginity” isn’t a great way to conceptualize your first time. It’s about how “first time” isn’t something we should be racing toward in an effort to out-compete one another, but it’s also about how you shouldn’t feel obligated to wait if your first time having sex is something you want to do. It’s about how I came to realize that it really didn’t mean anything that I was the last “virgin” among the people I knew, unless I wanted it to.

    It’s about how, in an effort to live your life without regrets, you should make these experiences ones you’re proud of. It’s about how that means different things for different people. You can absolutely be proud of something that your friend might find completely embarrassing or regrettable. You can be proud of something I might seem to denounce in this piece. My ultimate message, though, and what I hope you take away from reading this, is that it’s about you.

    While looking for pictures to accompany this article, when I searched “virginity,” the most common result was some varying image of a single flower. An orchid, a rose and other singular flowers I am not capable of identifying with my limited botanical experience came up. They all had this one thing in common—they are pictured alone.

    This struck me as slightly ominous at first, and perhaps if I had a different understanding of virginity, that meaning would have resonated with me most. Maybe these pictures have some relation to the notion of “deflowering,” another highly problematic term that requires another article in its entirety for me to grapple with. So, at first, I was perplexed. But then I realized that this was the exact point I was trying to make.

    Regardless of how you conceptualize your first kiss, your first time or any of your romantic endeavors, what I believe is important is the notion of you and “your.” At the end of the day, you are the one with the memories and the power to feel good (or bad) about them. You are the one to whom your experiences belong, and you can’t let anyone take that away from you. Not younger sisters, friends nor society at large.

    I know that this topic may seem tired. I know I might sound like an inexperienced weirdo shouting into the void, like I’m sitting here petulant and whiny about how no one has had sex with me. I certainly know I’m not the first person to have written about this topic, but, given the amount of time I still spend thinking about how my sister had sex for the first time before I did, I feel like a reminder might be necessary. And this isn’t just a reminder that terms like “deflowering,” “v-card swiping” and “cherry,” to name a few, are completely arbitrary.

    This is a reminder that, in the world of romance, in my experience anyway, we often forget to put ourselves first. We forget that, like Cristina Yang says, we are the sun. We let other people’s standards get mixed up with how we feel about ourselves, and end up not feeling too good about ourselves! This means that it’s necessary to rethink how we feel. We have to set our individual standards straight so that, when the time comes to have sex or to evaluate how we feel about having sex, we are comfortable with the terms, with ourselves and with how we feel. Only then can we be remotely comfortable with whoever else is involved.  

    When I first sat down to write this, I wanted to effectively preach my position about how virginity is meaningless. And I still believe that—virginity is a concept that was made up to make women feel bad about themselves. To slut shame, in effect.

    But my opinions are meaningless if they’re that one-dimensional or one-sided. After giving this more thought, I understand that there are religious, personal and other reasons why people want their “first time” to be special. Hopefully this piece has made clear that I don’t want anyone to feel bad about making that a reality. I hope your first time is special if you want it to be! I know people at all positions on the spectrum. Friends who thought they didn’t care if their first time wasn’t “special,” friends who thought they didn’t care but then realized they did after the fact and friends who did have sex for the first time with people they loved.

    All of these experiences are relative, and I’ve told all of these friends the same thing. I’ve told them that, no matter how they choose to deal with the events, I’ll support them, and that no one else has any dictation over how they classify these experiences. Just them. If they feel good, that is all that matters.

    So have sex with all of the people you want, or wait for Mr. or Ms. Right. Be in between, have sex with a handful of people you do or don’t like, love or don’t love. Just remember that the power is in your hands, and that, though the power that societal standards possess may seem immutable, no one has the right or the ability to decide how you feel except for you.

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    Back in your parents’ dating prime, it all seemed simple. If they saw someone they were interested in, they would just ask them out on a date in-person. They would actually use the word “date,” not “hang out” or “chill.” There was no risk of going 115 weeks deep on Instagram and accidentally liking a photo or trying to determine if that girl in their profile picture is a sister or an ex.

    Now, the dating water is murky. Relationships begin anywhere from dating apps to Instagram DMs and there’s something almost old-fashioned about hearing a couple who began dating by overtly asking someone out. 

    In the digital age, it’s easy to communicate with people, but it’s getting harder and harder to figure out what people are actually trying to say. All too often, you end up on group hangouts or one-on-one outings and you’re texting your BFF or roommate trying to decode what certain sentences or actions mean. Is it a date or not?

    That’s why we called in reinforcements to get advice directly from a professional. Carole Lieberman  is an M.D., psychiatrist and author from Beverly Hills who is an expert on all things dating related. Together, we have the inside scoop to decoding your modern dating woes.

    1. Signs a one-on-one hangout is a date, even if neither person has used that word to describe it

    To know whether or not you’re going on a date with that someone you want to be a *special someone,* it’s important to think about how this hangout originated. If the person went out of their way to ask you to hang out alone, then there’s a good chance they are interested and it’s a date. But, if you usually hang out in a group and the other group members just ditched, the intention might not have been romantic in nature, but it certainly could get there!

    Hanging out is also a great way for the other person to determine if they’re comfortable with you and want to take you on an official date, because it’s less awkward and nerve-wracking. People shy away from using the word date, especially if they’re already friends, because if it doesn’t go well, it’s hard to go back from dates to hang outs.

    “You shouldn't assume that a one-on-one hangout is a date. It is often someone just testing you out to see if they then want to date you or if just hookup with you,” Dr. Lieberman says. “It’s different if a hangout comes naturally, such as, you both happen to run into each other studying in the library and they invite you to hang out for coffee afterwards. That’s okay, and may be construed as more likely to lead to a date later on.”

    2. Decode their texting language and body language

    Text language is also key when it comes to figuring out what your potential SO wants. You text differently if it’s your nana versus that cutie in your psychology class, so expect that your potential date does too! If they text anybody else in your friend group, ask your friends how they usually text. If it’s totally platonic, or a visible difference from how they text you, then they might be interested. Extra emojis or flirting that goes on between you two and nobody else is a good indicator of where their interests are. Even better, if they don’t solo text any of your other friends in the group chat, then it’s clear that there might be a special interest in you.

    3. Protect your heart if you’re interested, but it's unclear how they feel

    Even if all signs are pointing to the hangout being a date, it’s important to always keep in mind that you might be wrong or they’re not in the same spot as you yet. It’s also easier to calm down and be yourself if you aren’t constantly reminding yourself that it’s a date.

    After the date/hangout, if they don’t call or text immediately, don’t fret. Even though it’s so easy to get in touch, people still have it in their heads that they can’t text for a few hours or days so as not to seem desperate. Or, draft the text yourself and get the conversation going again. If you say, “I had so much fun on our date,” then you’re putting it all out there, but by saying, “I had fun, we should do this again,” it’s a good way to stay a little guarded if you’re still unsure if it was a date, but it also shows them that you had a good time and would be interested in trying it again.  

    4. Take Note of Body Language

    People always talk about how important body language is in showing that you’re interested. Some of us avoid eye contact like the plague, but it allows you to really connect with someone and show that your attention is on them. When you’re looking into someone’s eyes, you can show them that you’re really focusing on what they’re saying, and you can also tell if they’re as engaged in the conversation as you are. If they avoid your gaze and subsequently blush, then that’s a good sign that they’re interested and you make them nervous. If they’re somewhat tense, then that also shows some nerves, but if they’re sitting with their arms crossed, yawn, or are constantly looking around to see what else is going on, then they might not be interested. If you’ve hung out in group settings before, also note if they are acting any differently than they do in the group. This can also be a sign of nerves, or that they’re just uncomfortable.

    Phone usage is a modern way to tell if the other person is interested in you. If they are only looking at their phone during awkward gaps in the conversation, then it’s probably a defense mechanism. If they’re picking up their phone when you’re in the middle of a story or when you’re telling them something about who you are, then they are not giving you the undivided attention that you deserve.

    “Body language must be read in context. The same body posture can mean two different things. For example, if someone has relaxed body posture with good eye contact, they may be interested in you. But, they may also be comfortable because they are putting you in the friend zone. Similarly, if someone seems uptight, with arms crossed, they are warding you off. But this may be because they’re so hot for you and feel so inadequate, that you scare them.” Dr. Lieberman says.

    Bonus: A little help from our friends

    Abby Piper is a senior at the University of Notre Dame. For her, knowing the person is paying is a hint that they’re on a date.  

    “I went to dinner with someone after a high school event we were both at once. Keep in mind, that we went to Bread Co. (Panera). Not fancy--not even a sit down. But then he paid for my meal and I was like ‘shit.’ I tried to pay for it myself, but he insisted. Later that week someone told me they heard that I went on a date with so-and-so and I was like, ‘Great so he did think it was a date.’ There's a chance a good guy friend or nice person might pay for you, but I think that if the guy does pay, it might be a sign that you're on a date.” 

    Situations like Abby's are awkward-you don't want to make the other person feel weird by insisting on paying for your own food, but you also don't want them to misinterpret what you thought was a hangout as a date. Paying is a subtle clue-in that you are on a date, since it's in every Rom-Com and TV show that we watched when we were younger--paying used to equate to a date. But, splitting the check has become more common and modern because of ~equality~, so if the other person doesn't pay for you, it doesn't mean that you're necessarily just on a hangout. 

    So the next time you’re unsure of what your one-on-one hangout is, or how you can turn it into something more, just remember that you have the control (and the tools!) to figure it out.

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    When you first meet a potential partner, texting back and forth is one way to find out if you’re a good fit. Of course you’ll also want to hang out in person, but the way a guy texts can say a lot about his intentions. Is he flirtatious? Does he make jokes? Knowing the difference between friendly conversation and playful banter can sometimes be tricky. Luckily, we talked to college guys and girls to get the scoop on what it all means. Here are six kinds of texts guys send when they’re interested in you.

    1. He asks you questions

    If a guy is interested in getting to know you better, he’ll want to engage you in conversation—even if it’s just over text. Mitchell, a recent Emerson College graduate, says that he’ll talk to a girl about her interests and what she does for fun. “I’ll ask random questions that get the conversation rolling,” he says. “I just try to get to know the person as I’m talking to them.” While he may not be thinking about dating you yet, if he asks you genuine questions over text, he’s definitely trying to get closer to you. The same goes for his responses.

    “The fact that he actually cares enough to write meaningful responses back to you means a lot,” says Shereen Jeyakumar, a sophomore at Florida Atlantic University. “Maybe you tell him about a book you read, and he messages back about how interesting it sounds or recommends books back to you. The effort he puts into responding is quite telling, even though at first glance it might seem platonic. He definitely knows you're someone worth pursuing and since that's based on your intelligence and your interesting conversation, he's most likely a keeper!” We agree with this 100 percent.

    2. He brings up something you like

    If he’s always mentioning things that you like, he probably sees you as more than just a friend. Maybe he wants to watch your favorite TV show with you, or he suggests you two go on a hike together because that’s more your thing. Tyler, a senior at Emerson College, says that when he is interested in someone he’ll try to talk more about them than anything else. “I try to find out what kind of music, movies and TV you like," he says. "Get you talking about what you’re passionate about.” If a guy wants to talk about you more than him, that’s definitely a good sign.

    “Other guys I text send one word answers or they wouldn't type out the whole word but [this specific] guy was interested in what I had to say, he asked me questions and it was really nice to see him interested in me and actually listening,” says Irina Alejandro, a junior at the University of Houston. “A particular text he sent was, ‘Oh sweet! What's one of your favorite novels?’ It doesn't sound like a lot but I'm a big reader and it meant a lot.” Even a seemingly small question like that shows that he’s listening!

    3. He remembers an important event

    Another telling sign that he’s interested is that he pays attention to what you say and remembers things you tell him. If he brings up an important event that you mentioned earlier, he may be trying to connect. Maybe he’ll ask you how a job interview went, or tell you to wish your best friend a happy birthday from him.

    “One text I got from a guy that let me know he was interested was when he texted me after I flew home for Thanksgiving and asked how my flight was,” says Haley Miller, a sophomore at Miami University. “It showed that he cared that I landed safely and that he wanted to talk even though we weren’t at school together.” If a guy goes above and beyond over text, he’ll probably do the same in a relationship.

    Related: 13 Texts All Guys Want to Receive

    4. He tries to impress you

    When a guy likes a girl, he’s going to want to impress her. Texts that allow him to show off a little could mean he wants to get your attention. Maybe he mentions that he’s been stepping it up at the gym, or that he just got his work published online. Whatever it is he’s bragging about, he’s probably doing it for you.

    “One text I remember distinctly that made me realize that my current boyfriend was interested was a text that would really ‘wow’ a potential partner,” says Katia Davis, a junior at the University of Kentucky. “Before we met up he told me that he could take me to the top of the second tallest building in our city. I knew he was interested in something between us because he could potentially get in trouble for taking random people into his workplace. I don't think someone would go to such lengths to impress someone for nothing!” We’re in agreement here. If he takes a risk for you, he clearly thinks you’re worth the possibility of getting in trouble!

    5. He’s sweet

    When he shows that he cares about you and your well-being, that’s a sure sign that he’s into you. “I’ll wish good morning, and ask how the day is going,” says Tyler. “Basically I try to be a good friend.” What starts off as being a good friend, however, can definitely turn into something more!

    “Guys may even text you about something they saw on your social media, because a simple like wasn't enough,” says Courtney Martere, a senior at Marist College. “Of course the genuine ‘How's your day going?’, ‘How'd that test go?’ or ‘How was your night?’ questions are a sure sign a guy is into you. No man is going to wonder about your day-to-day life unless he's feeling it, and maybe wants to be a part of it.” If you reciprocate these sweet texts, he’ll be sure to notice.

    6. He’s straightforward

    Finally, if a guy is into you, he’ll say it! He might not blatantly write, “I like you” via iMessage. Over text, though, he might show it through emojis, fast replies or flirty messages. “I find that guys will be super quick to respond when they are interested,” says Ella Purtill, a third year at Western University. Of course, that’s not the only way to tell he wants to be more than friends.

    “If he ends up being bae and we're a lot more comfortable, I'll get: ‘Come spend the night,’ ‘I wanna see you/I miss you,’ ‘You're in the wrong bed,’” says Ashley Drayton, a recent graduate of Georgia State University. Like we said, sometimes guys actually do say what they mean.

    Whether it’s a new texting buddy or a guy you’ve been talking to for a while, it can be difficult to know if he thinks of you as more than a friend. These six signs are all good indicators that he’s interested. And if all else fails, you can always just ask!

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    In today’s day and age, a simple conversation over text can be the end-all-be-all of a relationship. How crazy is that? Whether you like texting or not, it’s undeniable that it’s a main form of communication. So what happens when the guy you like won’t text back? We’ve talked to collegiettes with experience to let you in on some texting tricks that will have him typing back in no time.

    1. Play hard to get

    It’s a classic relationship rule: If you make yourself too attainable, the chase isn’t as fun. According to Courtney Martere, a senior at Marist College, playing hard to get has gotten her the most texts back. “Okay, maybe it's not super fun to do this, but I guess it's how the modern dating scene works,” she says. “Wait a little while to answer when he texts you…You may even try ignoring him as a test to see if he'd send that double text through, but it depends how hard you want to play the ‘hard to get’ game.” How long are you willing to wait before you text back? This game may not be for everyone, but if he plays it, so should you.

    2. Send pictures/memes/emojis

    A classic “what’s up?” text may not be enough nowadays. Ashley Drayton, a graduate of Georgia State University, suggests sending pictures or memes to keep him on his toes. “I would say my experience with this would be if you're having an interesting or funny conversation and he's intrigued, you send him cute/random pictures (of yourself too) or memes, and flirting with him always works,” she says.

    Chelsea Jackson, a junior at Iowa State University, has similar advice. “I usually text using GIFs or memes, which tends to get guys to text back. And if they can't hold a full conversation using only meme, then they aren't worth my time.” Amen, sister!

    Matt Milich, a senior at the University of Rhode Island, says emojis get him texting back. “If she sends emojis or like smiley faces, it usually means she’s into you.” Send him a GIF from a show you know he likes, a selfie of you at the pool or the heart eyes emoji. It’s hard not to respond to that.

    Related: 11 Reasons Texting With Guys is the Worst

    3. Ask questions

    Conversations tend to die down when there’s nothing left to talk about (naturally). To avoid that, Courtney suggests to “leave the conversation open with questions or ask him for advice, so if he doesn't respond it's just plain rude.” We love this advice.

    Dajin Kim, a sophomore of the University of Texas at Austin, agrees: “I usually ask questions to make sure they know I'm interested in what they're saying! Also, he's just rude if he leaves you hanging on a question, right? If it seems like he's answering very dryly to those then I would stop, but if he seems to be asking questions back and elaborating that's always a good sign.” Ask him what his plans are for the night or what he thinks of something going on—hopefully he’ll start firing questions back at you.

    4. Play a game

    It may bring you back to your sixth grade days, but playing a game over text can actually be a great way to get him responding and learn more about him. “Playing a game like 20 questions is the perfect way to make sure he texts back,” says Shelby*, a senior at Iona College. “It allows you to learn more about each other and heat things up a little bit, too.” If you hit a lull in the conversation, say something like, “Wanna play 20 questions? Ask me anything.” This will get his mind turning. You’ll definitely lose track of how many you’ve asked, but asking things like, “What’s your favorite sex position?” will have him going crazy.

    5. Double text

    Sometimes, guys need you to make it extremely obvious that you’re interested in them. And sometimes, people just forget to text back! If it’s been a while and your guy hasn’t responded, text him again. “If you have to go to drastic measures the ‘send multiple texts’ tactic works,” Ashley says. When he sees your name pop up again, you’ll be fresh in his mind.

    “If they double text I'll feel bad, so I'll hit her back,” says Drew Dembek, a senior at James Madison University. Just don’t go overboard by sending back-to-back-to-back texts if he doesn’t reply.

    Ah, the wonderful world of texting. If you’re finding that your texts aren’t getting replies, try some of these tips. Just remember not to take texting too seriously. Some people just don’t like or “aren’t good at it!” Best of luck, collegiettes!

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    Sex can be an important part of any romantic relationship. It’s a way to foster a deeper connection with your partner that you don’t have with anyone else. So, it can be frustrating when you and the person you are dating don’t seem to click in bed. When your partner is acting selfish in bed it can leave you feeling unsatisfied and disconnected, which might lead to bigger problems in your relationship later down the line. But don’t worry— it’s not the end of the world. We talked to Carole Lieberman, M.D., Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author and Patrick Wanis, Ph.D., human behavior and relationship expert, do get some advice on the best way to approach this tricky subject. Here’s how to approach the situation

    Try giving them cues in bed 

    As humans it’s sometimes natural to put our wants ahead of the person we are with, and this may be happening to your partner in the heat of the moment. “It’s best to first try using non-verbal communication,” says Dr. Lieberman, “such as by gently placing their hand or mouth on the spot you want, or by moving your body into your preferred intercourse position.” Respond positively when they do something you like, and shift if they do something that doesn’t feel good.

    Bring it up casually and see what happens 

    If your partner doesn’t take the hint while you’re in bed, then later you could casually bring up making some changes to your sexual relationship. Start small and with specifics: I liked when you did this particular thing or I felt uncomfortable when you did this particular thing. Dr. Wanis says to “practice feeling comfortable and asking for what you need as well as what you want.” Be honest, but don’t be too serious or heavy, and make sure you feel comfortable and confident enough in your relationship. These small hints along with cues you may have given your partner while in bed may help them see the bigger picture. 

    If there's no change, have a more in-depth conversation

    Here’s where things get tricky. Most people don’t like hearing that they are doing something wrong or that they need to change, but if your partner still isn’t getting it then it’s time to bring it up in a more direct way, and there are things you can do to help soften the blow. First, pick the right time and place. “You’re not going to have this conversation in bed during the act of sex, it’s not the right time to do it,” says Dr. Wanis. “It’s better to do it in a neutral setting where the person doesn’t feel threatened.” Obviously you’re going to want to have this conversation in private, and doing it at home will ensure that your partner feels safe and secure.

    Related: 6 Things Everyone Is Insecure About When It Comes To Sex

    Watch your language 

    Choosing the right words when bringing this up is SO important. Steer clear from the words “unsatisfied” or “selfish” even if that’s how you’re feeling, because that is just going to make your partner feel like they are being attacked. “If you’re approaching a conversation or challenge from the perspective of ‘I’m unsatisfied’ you’re already starting to criticize the other person,” says Dr. Wanis. Frame it in a positive manner: I want to talk to you about our sexual relationship and how we can make it better. This lowers the chance that he takes it as criticism, which will hopefully make him more receptive to the suggestions you offer. And make sure you have those suggestions! If you go in without a plan, the conversation won’t get you anywhere. Think about what you are going to say in advance, and it may be a good idea to practice beforehand. 

    Be specific

    Once you’ve framed the conversation, give some specific suggestions about ways you can improve the sex. “Ask them if they would like to know what really turns you on,” says Dr. Lieberman. “And then suggest that you try it.” If there’s a particular position they’ve been initiating that you don’t like, or if they’re being too aggressive or assertive, then don’t hesitate to say something about it. “Get clear, and be specific. It’s so much easier to respond to specific. What is it about the way this person is having sex with you that you want to adjust?” They’ll feel more confident in bed if they know exactly what it is that makes you feel good, resulting in a better experience for everyone.

    Find out what they want in bed

    Relationships are a two-way street, especially in regards to sex. Make sure that you take the time to find out what’s been working for them, and what hasn’t. “If you say ‘I want to get more out of a person in bed,’ then you’re thinking about you, you’re not thinking about them,” says Dr. Wanis. “Come from the approach of here’s what I want, now what do you need? Here’s what will excite me more, what would excite you more?” Maybe your partner has been feeling similar to how you are. Regardless, sex will go better if you are both on the same page about what you want and what feels good.

    Ask why there hasn't been a change

    It’s okay to be a little blunt, especially if you feel like you’ve been very clear and your partner has been ignoring you. “If you have talked about your sexual relationship and you have suggested ways that your partner can make it more pleasurable for you, and he keeps ignoring your needs, and isn’t willing to try things you suggest, then you can ask him why,” says Dr. Lieberman. You need to determine if your partner really hasn’t noticed what you’ve been saying or doing, and if they have and have ignored it, if that’s really the kind of relationship you want. There may a specific reason they’ve been doing things a certain way, and that’s okay. “Instead of getting upset, I decided to ask him and get into his head about why he wouldn’t [give oral sex],” says Marisa, a sophomore at Arizona State University. “He opened up about his fears and some past bad experiences that led him to not wanting to and I was so happy I didn’t get mad at him because I had no idea!” According Dr. Wanis, sex often reflects deeper parts of your relationship, and if your partner isn’t willing to make changes to make you happy you may not be in the right relationship.

    Sex can complicate relationships fairly quickly, so don’t get discouraged if you find a shift within your relationship after making changes in your sex life. Talking to a professional relationship counselor can only help you get more on the same page. Take the steps necessary to fight for a relationship you believe in, and don't be afraid to walk away from a partnership that feels one-sided or unhealthy. 

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    Sure, sex is only one aspect of a relationship—but it’s a pretty huge aspect. If you like or love your partner, but the sex is falling short, we really feel for you. While it doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal-breaker in a relationship, it very well can be.

    So, how do you distinguish between sex that is fixable and sex that might be a sign of incompatibility? Before you consider walking away from your relationship, read on. We spoke with sex and relationship expert Annabelle Knight and creator of the Sexual Pro Series Webinar videos Dr. Jessica O'Reilly, as well as current collegiettes to find out the truth about mediocre sex with someone you like.

    1. It might not be about the sex

    You might find yourself struggling with a new partner once that initial attraction starts to fade, or even struggling with your long-term SO. As a relationship ages and you and your partner get to know more about each other, you could find that you aren’t as compatible as you once thought. Any lukewarm feelings toward your partner can easily transfer over into the bedroom, and sometimes, you might not even realize what’s happening.

    Brianna*, a student at Georgia State University, thought she had feelings for one of her guy friends until he told her he was sexually attracted to her, which threw her off completely. What’s her advice for unexpectedly bad sex with someone you thought you were interested in? “If your woman intuition is telling you something, listen to it,” she says. “Be honest with yourself and your feelings.”

    Dr. O'Reilly says that it all comes down to how much each of you care about the relationship at hand. "If you value the relationship and you're both willing to put some effort into your sex life, it's worth trying to fix," she says. "If, however, one of you refuses to talk about it or make changes, you may not be compatible. Compatibility is rooted in each partner being willing to put in a similar amount of effort."

    So, how do you put in this effort if you believe the compatibility is there?

    2. Find out if your partner is unhappy too

    This is so important. If both you and your partner are unhappy, you may be able to work with each other to improve things. However, if you’re unhappy and your partner thinks everything is fine (or vice versa), there could be a bigger issue at play.

    Knight recommends you discuss what’s going on right away. “The longer you put off speaking about your concerns, the more likely the ramifications will be more serious when you eventually do speak about them,” she says. “The best thing to do is just be honest. Conversations like these should be seen as a chance to learn, not just about what your partner wants in bed, but other equally important relationship skills such as joint problem solving, active listening, and mature conflict resolutions.” By speaking up, you increase intimacy levels with your partner, and that fact alone can improve your sexual performance.

    Approach the situation in a non-judgmental way, but be straight up about how you feel. After all, everyone deserves the sex (and relationship) they’ve always dreamed of.

    3. Communicate about what you like (and don’t like)

    If you find that you are both unhappy, don’t be upset—this could actually be a good thing. It allows you the space to learn about each other sexually. It is a common misconception that sex should be effortless with the person you love.

    "Research shows that good sex requires work," Dr. O'Reilly says. "Those who believe in sexual destiny are worse off than those who believe in sexual growth. That is, if you believe that a relationship takes work, you’re more likely to have a satisfying relationship — and you’re better able to face challenges when they arise. If you believe fate determines the outcome of a relationship (or sex life), then you’re less likely to be satisfied." This is a great (and rational) way to think about things. 

    Knight reiterates this point. “Even those in long-term relationships may find that over time their sexual appetite changes,” she says. “They discover new things they prefer and cast old sexual habits aside in favor of something else.” It’s normal for your sexual needs to grow as you grow.

    And this is a great thing, according to Knight. “The wonderful thing about sex is that you can have a different experience every time, even with the same person,” she adds. “This means that, in effect, sex is never effortless. In order to have a happy and healthy sex life, you need to put in the effort.”

    Think about it this way: If you plan to be with your partner long-term, you’re going to be having sex with them for a very long time. So, you need to be able to communicate openly, whether this means sharing your desires, trying new things or compromising. Dr. O'Reilly agrees, and provides three tips of her own for how to communicate with your partner: first, start with the positive; second, ask if there is anything they'd like to try or change; and third, ask for what you want more or less of.

    On the other hand, if the not-so-great sex is happening with a new love interest, you can still try to communicate with him or her about your desires, but it might not always work.

    For Courtney, a senior at Marist College, her expectations fell short with someone she met (and liked) studying abroad. “Maybe he was nervous? Maybe I was nervous? Mediocre sex regardless, I still liked him,” she says. “We vibe effortlessly to this day, even if the serious relationship I once hoped we would have never came about.”

    “I tried telling him things that I like (why am I the only one giving oral sex?), but nothing changed," Courtney adds. "I don’t know ladies, if the spark isn’t there, maybe it’s just not meant to be.” Make the effort, ladies, because you’ll never know unless you try.

    4. Take control in the bedroom

    When the sex is mediocre, you have to be able to ask yourself if you’re part of the issue too. This doesn’t mean getting down on yourself. Instead, ask yourself if you’re willing to change some things in order to work on improving your sexual relationship with your partner.

    “If [your sex life] is substandard, it’s up to you to do something about it,” Knight says. “If you’ve tried talking and it’s not had the desired effect, then now is the time to take action. Start by telling your partner exactly what you want––lots of partners find it extremely sexy when their other half takes control, and for many women, being in the driving seat can be extremely liberating.”

    Keep in mind that your sex life is your sex life, and the only one who can really make a change when it comes down to it is you. Sometimes, it might be necessary to stop talking and start acting. If still nothing changes, then you need to take an honest look at your relationship. You don’t want to (or deserve to) hang onto an unfulfilling relationship that may have ran its course.

    Related: 5 Signs You & Your SO Just Aren’t Meant to Be

    5. Understand that no one is bad at sex

    The first few times you have sex with a new partner, it might be a little uncomfortable—and understandably so. After all, you each have your previous experiences, which have influenced your desires in the bedroom. Don’t jump ship right away.

    “Bad sex is the result of both parties involved, and the blame shouldn’t be laid entirely at one person’s door,” Knight says. “Substandard sex is born from a range of factors, inexperience and a lack of communication being the primary culprits.”

    If this blossoming romance is strong in every other element besides the sex, try to improve things before you throw in the towel.

    6. Bring effort back into your relationship

    If you’ve been in a committed relationship with your partner for a long time, this one’s for you. You might be at the point in your relationship where it seems like you and your partner have lost some spark––and it’s simply because sex is not some concrete thing. It requires effort to keep things fresh, even with someone you very much love.

    According to Knight, you and your partner have probably gotten a little too comfortable with one another. “Comfort is a wonderful thing and is a strong building block for any committed relationship,” she says. “However, too much comfort can mean that you no longer make the effort you once did.”

    Dr. O'Reilly agrees that losing that initial spark is totally normal. "Passionate love inevitably fades after six to 18 months," she says. "It's a chemical change (from dopamine and adrenaline boosts to oxytocin and vasopressin boosts)." 

    Take the time to prioritize your relationship again. “When it comes to long-term sex, it’s important to keep things fresh, which is why many couples look to lingerie, sex toys, and role-play to save the day,” Knight says. These things enable you to spice things up and expand your horizons.

    When it comes to mediocre sex with your long-term partner, don’t stress. Talk it out, take some space if you need it, and work on finding your flow again.

    Related: What To Do When You Feel Self-Conscious During Sex

    Relax, ladies, bad sex is fixable—especially when it’s with someone you really like, as long as you’re both honest and on the same page. Bear in mind, though, that sex is a crucial part of any relationship. It doesn’t have to be the deal-breaker of your relationship, but it can be. The choice is yours.

    *Name has been changed

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    Something is thought to be taboo when it’s not considered a societal norm. However, a lot of taboos are actually tied to sexual guilt because people feel like what they’re doing sexually is wrong. Newsflash: Nobody can tell you that what you’re doing in bed is wrong or gross as long as everything is consensual, and you shouldn’t be telling anyone that either. We’re hitting on topics people specifically get judgy about in the college atmosphere. It’s 2018, and we as a group of powerful AF babes should support each other and start a conversation to normalize these common sexual experiences.

    1. Anal

    Why is this even considered taboo anymore? For some reason we’re still complaining about it. Sure, you may not want something in your butt, but if other women (or men) do, then just let them. The problems college students have with anal sex arise because we really don’t understand it. We either think it hurts, it’s dirty, it’s slutty or that it’s all our partners want and we shouldn’t give it to them. Sure, it’s definitely not everybody’s cup of tea, and if you don’t do it carefully you’ll definitely have a very bad first experience with anal. However, for both men and women, it can produce a lot of pleasure.

    Jordan, a senior at San Francisco State University, pretty much says it all. “Guess what everyone! I love anal sex! Get over it!” she says. “Me and my friend group are very vocal about our sex lives, and even then I know sometimes I’m being looked at funny if I talk about my positive experiences with anal.”

    In 2010, The Journal of Sexual Medicine released a study that found that more than 40 percent of women in their early twenties had tried anal sex. If that many young women are doing it, why are we still acting squeamish about it? Men and women both confess that it’s deeply pleasurable if you have a good experience, and it also grows intimacy. Butt play is pretty common practice, but by not talking about it we’re making it taboo and shameful.

    If anal is something you want to try and you explore it in a safe and healthy way, do it! And don’t be afraid to talk about it either. Sharing your best butt tips with your friends during your late-night Sex and the City-esque gossip is going to be spreading a positive anal environment.

    2. Period sex

    If you’re ashamed of your period or think you’re gross because of it, you need to conquer that way of thinking. Our patriarchal system taught you that, but we here at Her Campus are here to tell you that your period is normal and nothing to be sheepish about. If your partner thinks your period is gross too, you need to sit them down for a real talk conversation. Your uterus is going to shed once a month for most of your life, so it’s time accept that. More importantly we need to learn that period sex is okay. Not everyone goes faint at the sight of blood, and if you’re feeling horny, then being on your period doesn’t have to be a sexual barrier.

    Avery, a senior at Purdue University, shares her take on the taboo of period sex. “I’ve had sex a few times on my period and I honestly think it feels better,” she says. “I usually want sex way more when I’m on my period. Also, if you’re not into period sex, then no pressure, but don’t turn your nose up at people who do it.”

    If you’re in the mood to spice up that time of the month with some pleasure, enjoy yourself! Tbh, we have a lot more to worry about in college than freaking out about period sex.

    Related: What Every Woman Should Know About Period Sex

    3. Body hair

    We’ve shaved body hair out of our lives because apparently “sexy” in our society means looking like a hairless cat. However, as body positive college women, can we please end this? Whether the hair is in your pubic area or in your armpits, by the time you get to college, body hair is something you need to get comfortable with, especially in terms of sex.

    When you’re trying to study for finals, work, feed yourself and fit in an hour each day to watch Gossip Girl, shaving gets rightly pushed to the back of the priority list. While we totally back up our girls who feel sexier clean-shaven, know that feeling pressure to be constantly as smooth as a Barbie doll should be considered more taboo than having stubble like a normal person. Shaving is a behavior ingrained in us, but it doesn’t have to be the rule for everyone.

    Michael, a sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, weighs in on how guys really feel about hair. “Believe me, guys talk about it, and from what I know and my experience, most of us don’t care. If hair comes off in your mouth it can be kind of weird, but hair doesn’t make a difference for actually having sex. It’s confusing why there’s so much scandal around being hairy.”

    Did you know you actually have hair down there for a reason?It’s more hygienic to have pubic hair because it protects your parts from friction and infection. The bush around the house isn’t something you should be feeling insecure about because it’s literally there to keep you safe. It’s society that says you should be hairless, and to overcome that taboo we need to reject sexual shame related to body hair. Women should have the choice to make body hair sexually empowering.

    4. Not having an orgasm

    If you’re not having an orgasm during sex, join the club. A lot of things can feel great that won’t make you come. It’s not anyone’s fault, and it shouldn’t be a secret you have to keep. By now, sex researchers have pretty much figured out that having an orgasm from penetrative sex alone is slim, so let’s bring this topic out of the shadows.

    Be confident, and vocalize what works and doesn’t work about sex to your partner. Both of you are going to feel anxious about it, so using gentle vocabulary like "I know it feels different to talk about orgasms, but I’m excited to explore this with you," or "I learned I like this from masturbation, want me to show you how to do it?" are great ways to start. If your partner is dismissive of your concerns, reconsider hooking up with them, because they’re probably not worth your time or going to treat your right sexually.

    There’s a negative stigma associated with women who don’t swoon and orgasm as soon as their partner is inside them. Now, we feel embarrassed to discuss it (especially in college when we’re already insecure about ourselves enough), but it needs to be talked about, or how else can the situation be improved?

    Related: How to Have the Most Pleasurable, Not-Awkward, Safest Oral Sex Ever

    5. Having multiple partners

    Sex between two people exclusively may be the only acceptable option for you, but it isn’t for everyone. Unless you’re in a committed relationship in college, it’s realistic that you could be having sex with different people in the same month or even the same week.

    In college, it’s easy to let someone’s sex life characterize them. If a girl hooks up with a person one night and a new person the next night, it doesn’t mean she’s “loose” or that her sexual experience is any less meaningful. With our current college hookup culture, we should be the first to accept having multiple partners as not being taboo. If you’re two (or more) consenting adults, then do whatever you want.

    None of these things we really talked about above are as uncommon as you think, they’re just in the dark because we’ve put them there. That can change by being open-minded and accepting. Expanding your experiences past what you’re used to helps your understanding of the world, and on that journey, you might find that you like something taboo you weren’t expecting to.

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    Self-esteem is something that everyone struggles with at one point or another. It’s never an easy thing to see yourself as the amazing person that everyone else sees you as. However, sometimes these feelings of self doubt may get in the way of new things we try to pursue. Relationships are not only hard to pursue but also hard to keep if you’re constantly having feelings of self doubt. If your problems with self-esteem are ruining your chances at love, here are some things to keep in mind:

    Don’t compare yourself to others

    Although this may seem cliché, it’s important to remember not to compare yourself to others. In the case of love, try not to compare yourself to the exes or previous crushes that your new potential partner may have mentioned. One of the best ways to avoid comparing yourself to others is to remember that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and no one starts at the same point. Everyone is different and it doesn’t make sense for you to compare yourself to other people. This is something to always keep in mind when you find yourself sinking into deep thought about how you aren’t good enough.

    Sabrina Lau, a junior at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, gives some insight into what could happen. “I used to always talk myself out of even trying to start a relationship because I assumed they wouldn’t feel the same way,” she says. “Once I looked at their exes and how they were I convinced myself that they weren’t going to be interested when they were,” Often times our low self-esteem can not only distort the way we see ourselves, but also change the way we think people see us. Don’t let this happen no matter how hard it may be. 

    Don’t overthink things

    We know, it’s a lot easier said than done. It’s true, when we are alone, we tend to overthink every single little thing. One slight change in tone from a potential new beau or significant other or may give us the impression that they have lost interest in us. However, remember that this is just your low self-esteem talking. Unless there are clear signs that they are losing interest, don’t automatically think the worst.

    Megan Le, a sophomore at the Southern Methodist University, says this is something she struggled with all the time. “I’ve always had the tendency to overthink and jump to conclusions,” she explains. “I always thought that if my boyfriend wasn’t answering all day that he just lost interest in me because he found someone better. However, once I began to think rationally there was always a reasonable excuse.” Most of the time, it’s better to wait for an explanation before overthinking things. If you automatically think it’s because of the fact that you’re not good enough, it’s most likely just your low self-esteem taking over.

    Find someone who encourages you

    One of the most important things to remember is that a relationship is a two-way street. Even though self-esteem is an internal problem, it’s not something that you have to deal with on your own and it is definitely not dependent on solely your own thoughts. Finding someone that builds you up is an important thing to have in order to conquer self-esteem. However, this doesn’t mean that you need someone who is constantly showering you with compliments, but rather someone who shows you how amazing you are by their actions. Although every partner should do this, it’s especially important to make sure that if you have low self-esteem that you do not have someone who constantly makes you wonder if you’re good enough.

    Heather Peart, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, says that she didn’t realize she was in a toxic relationship for a while. “A toxic relationship doesn’t always mean that they’re abusive or insanely jealous,” she explains. “I realized that my relationship was toxic because I was constantly worrying about how they felt about me because they didn’t treat me as a priority. It drove me crazy and it definitely was not good for my self esteem.”  Having someone who knows your true worth is one way to make sure that your self-esteem is not an issue.


    One of the key things in a relationship is communication. Not only does it remove conflict in any relationship, but it also helps if you’re struggling with self-esteem. One of the hardest things about having self esteem issues in a relationship or a potential relationship is the constant question of reciprocated feelings. However, being straightforward about your feelings toward one another is one of the best ways to eliminate this issue.

    Keele Johnson, a sophomore at Collin County Community College, says that this really helped her relationship. “I think one of the hardest things about having low self esteem is that I would always question how he felt about me,” she admits. “Once we started to be open with each other, I found myself trusting him a lot more. This helped because my self-esteem wouldn’t get in the way anymore because there was always a clear cut answer.” Communication is by far a great thing to have in any kind of relationship.

    Love yourself first

    Here it is, the biggest cliché of all time. However, it’s an important one. Before you start any relationship, it’s important to make sure that you know your worth. Everyone is going to have a bit of low self-esteem every once in a while; however it’s important to have a strong foundation of knowledge on your worth before you let anyone else tell you. Being grounded and knowing who you really are to yourself is vital in saving yourself from heartache.

    Caroline Stevens, a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, says that this is important. “I used to try to get into a relationship in order to raise my self esteem,” she says. “However I realized that this was not a healthy thing to do. You can’t depend on someone else to tell you your worth because people are constantly changing. You’re the only one who really knows you.” We couldn’t agree more.

    Related Article: What to Do When You Hate Your Partner’s Parents

    At the end of the day, having low self-esteem may stop you from a lot of things. It can tell you that you’re not good enough, that you can’t do something, and that you’re different than anyone else. However, it’s important to use these things to grow. Instead of letting these things stop you from doing something, remember that you can be good enough, that you’re going to do it anyway, and that being different is what makes you great.

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    If you or your friend has ever gone through a breakup, you know the drill. Cue up the Taylor Swift Spotify playlist, stock up on cartons of Ben and Jerry’s, choose a movie from the “vengeful, cheesy romantic comedies” queue on Netflix (our personal favorites are John Tucker Must Die and The Other Woman) and have at least three boxes of tissues ready. If you’ve never had this horrible coming-of-age experience, we can assure you it’s not fun. Helping a friend deal with or get over a breakup can be difficult, especially if you can’t relate to the random bouts of crying, dozens of drafted text messages or loud rant sessions. You may attempt to comfort her, but there are a list of things you shouldn’t say to avoid making her feel worse.

    1. “Who did the breaking up?”

    Why does it matter? The mental and physical separation from a significant other is a stressful situation for both the dumper and the dumpee. Whether your friend suddenly got broken up with via text (what a jerk!) or felt the need to end the relationship, she faced a range of negative emotions. Autumn Dube, a senior at Emmanuel College, says, “‘Who broke up with who’ is never a great question to ask. It doesn’t matter who made the final decision to end the relationship because chances are both partners are feeling the hurt. Yes, one maybe more so than the other, but that doesn’t mean either partner wants to divulge the whole ending to their side of the story. Ending a relationship can be an overwhelming decision and outsiders need to respect that.” Besides a probable lack of sleep and appetite, she also probably doesn’t want to be reminded of the exact moment of the breakup.

    2. “I thought you guys would get married.”

    She might have had the same thought. You witnessed the two of them eskimo kiss in public, discuss the first names of their future children and bicker about stupid things only to make up two minutes later. Maybe they were high school sweethearts and tried the long-distance relationship in college or met in college and were inseparable from then on out. Everyone thought they would make it work, but it’s not your job to remind her of what could’ve been. “When all your friends think the relationship is going to last forever, it’s hard to hear them say the same thing in the past tense,” says Sneha Singh, a freshman at the University of California, Davis. It’s important to help her focus on the present or future instead of the past.

    3. “There are plenty of other ones out there.”

    Yes, that is true. There are 7.5 billion other people in the world, but your friend can’t focus on anyone else. While there is the chance of a rebound and realization of regret, many times she won’t want to think about the possibility of seeing another person. If she was dumped, she will mostly likely still care for her significant other. It may take her months to start singing Adele’s famous mantra, “Never mind, I’ll find someone like you.” You can have a backup Tinder account ready, but don’t expect her to be ready to mingle right off the bat. “Yes there are plenty of other people to fall in love with,” says Courtney Martere, a senior at Marist College, “and chances are you will find another love of your life one day. But a person who is going through a breakup wants that one person, so stating the obvious about all the people in the world really isn’t going to do anything for their broken heart.” She may swear off significant others for a while and take advantage of the single life. She’ll step out of her comfort zone when she’s ready.

    4. “I never liked them anyway.”

    It’s not hard to look back at a broken relationship and spot all of the red flags. It’s even easier to judge the glazed over mistakes as an outsider, but it’s not your place criticize your friend’s ex-significant other. Even if she “takes a Louisville Slugger to both headlights” Carrie Underwood style or throws darts at a blown-up photograph of them together, it’s still better to stay neutral unless she insist you try your hand at at a bullseye. As a friend, your job is to simply be there for her and offer support.  According to Dr. Christie Hartman, author, scientist and dating expert, “Badmouthing a friend's ex is tricky.  You do it to be supportive or to help, but what can happen is that you insult someone she once liked/loved. To some extent, that's insulting her for her choices or taste in men [or women]. Even if [he or she] a jerk, most everyone dates a jerk (or many) before learning to choose better men [or women]. Also, there's always the chance they'll get back together. Overall, it's better to criticize specific behaviors rather than badmouth him [or her].” There’s the possibility she may become defensive of her ex if you start calling him or her names.

    5. “You’ll get over them eventually.”

    Somewhere down the road, your friend will be able to speak about her ex without a detectable negative emotion in her voice. In the midst of a recent breakup, however, it’s crucial to let your friend feel how she wants to feel. Elise Most, a freshman at Stanford University, says, “I think it’s important not to say anything that diminishes or invalidates the emotions, or lack of emotions, that someone going through a breakup might be experiencing. Don’t tell her that she did something wrong or that the breakup was her fault. Your support as a friend will make a huge difference in her recovery.” And she’s absolutely right. Everyone reacts differently to situations and you wouldn’t want someone to downplay your emotions, would you?

    Related: 7 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Ending a Relationship

    6. “Why didn’t you guys try to work it out?”

    There’s a reason the relationship burned out, but you can’t make the assumption that your friend didn’t try to make it work. There’s also the possibility that she didn’t want it to work out. Perhaps the relationship lost its spark or she suspected her partner of cheating. Gianna Lescas, a first-year student at the United States Air Force Academy, agrees: “It’s pretty aggravating when a person judges you for wanting to end a relationship. If you aren’t content with the significant other, then the right decision is to break up because relationships take commitment and without full devotion, the relationship will just fall apart.” It’s easier and better in the long run to be straightforward if you think a future together isn’t foreseeable.  

    7. “Being single is way more fun.”

    Because some of us didn’t date in high school, we can attest to the plentiful freedoms that come being partner-less. You have the chance to fall in love with yourself, find a unique identity and eat an entire pizza by yourself without a care in the world. “Even though it’s true that being single is way more fun, no one coming out of a relationship really wants to hear that right then and there, especially if they were the one who got broken up with. I think the best thing you can do is just be there for them and let them transition to being single on their own terms,” says Micki Wagner, a junior at the University of Missouri, Columbia. The transitional phase of a breakup is difficult to endure because the security of the relationship is now gone. Your job as a friend is to try to fill that void and provide comfort and security, not remind her of her new Facebook status.

    Going through a breakup is a natural part of growing up, a part that sucks but has to happen. Whether you're the person dealing with the breakup or knows someone going through one, it's a tough situation. For those of you in the friend role, saying whatever comes to mind isn't going to help her get over the relationship faster. Tiptoeing around the uncomfortableness of the ordeal and holding the tissue box out with grabber tool won't work either. Our advice: Be physically and emotionally available when she needs you.