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A Collegiette's Guide to Life
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    Money is a notoriously sensitive subject. This is never more true than when you have to discuss it with your significant other. Whether it’s establishing who pays for what on dates or how the two of you can afford an apartment together, figuring out how to talk about money is a big part of having a successful relationship. So we’ve talked to some collegiettes and a relationship expert about how talk about money with your partner.

    Work through the awkward

    Bringing up money with an SO, particularly with a new one, can be uncomfortable. But it is a conversation worth having. This can be especially awkward, for example, when dealing with the first date. Who pays for the date? Tradition and chivalry say the guy, but feminism might suggest that both parties should pay for their own stuff. So who should pay for the date is totally up to you. But what if your SO is pushy about paying for the date and that makes you uncomfortable?

    Emily Jean Henry, a collegiette who is a sales associate at Guitar Center, says “If someone were uncomfortable [with their SO paying] and wanted to pay for themselves, they should say something. If [their SO] isn’t understanding, then that’s the sign of an unhealthy relationship…It may seem like a little thing, but someone who isn’t willing to work with you even on something like that isn’t worth your time.”

    We agree wholeheartedly. Discussing who pays for what on the first date (and any payment from there on out) is important, even if it is awkward. If you’re not really sure how to say you want the payment to be equal, Dr. Jordan, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician who is also a certified therapist by the Institute for Relationship Therapy, suggests saying, “I just feel more comfortable dating this way.” So power through it and have that conversation, if you so choose. According to Dr. Jordan, the way your SO responds will tell you a lot about him or her.

    Be honest

    The best way to go about having any conversation is to be honest, and that definitely applies to money. Emily Jean says, “Just be direct about it and matter-of-fact. If you expect him to pay or if you want to pay, it’s totally fine no matter what. Just be straightforward.”

    That kind of honesty will go a long way with your partner, and will be better for your relationship in the long run. Mariel Tishma, a junior at Columbia College Chicago, says she and her boyfriend have “never had a super explicit conversation about it, but whenever we plan dates, if one of us is worried about it being expensive, we’ll mention it and generally we both pay for our own thing. That just makes me feel better because then I don’t have to worry about putting a strain on him…we just try and be honest about how we’re doing financially at the moment and help each other out if we can.”

    It’s important to remember that your SO can’t read your mind, Dr. Jordan reminds us. So, you have to be open about how you feel, even if that can be totally scary sometimes. And having that open conversation will ultimately bring you closer because you’re addressing both of your needs. Dr. Jordan says, “There’s always a good way to get both people’s needs met.” In the end, you’ll be glad you said something because now your partner will know how you feel about who pays for what and when.

    Related: 7 New Year's Resolutions That Will Save You Money 

    Don’t overthink it

    Talking about money can be daunting, especially if you overthink it. Overthinking it can make you afraid to have the conversation at all, even though it’s important.

    “Don’t let fear hold you back,” Dr. Jordan says. With that, he says that if you’re afraid of pissing off your partner or him or her leaving because of this conversation, that’s a red flag. That fear might indicate that you two don’t have a healthy relationship where you feel free to communicate openly with each other.

    As well, Dr. Jordan says it can’t be a healthy relationship if you feel like you can’t establish boundaries with your partner. But overall, he says, “My guess is 99 out of 100 [times], nothing bad happens.” So don’t sweat it, but Dr. Jordan suggest that you do take the time to clearly figure out what you want and think it through so you can communicate it to your partner most effectively.

    Give it time

    As it turns out, bringing up money with your SO gets easier with time. For example, Shelby Carroll, a junior at Webster University, and her boyfriend are planning to move in together in the near future, which means planning how they will be able to afford everything that goes into that.

    “We’ve gotten a lot better at [talking about money],” she says. “And it’s just not as awkward anymore now that we are seriously considering moving in together. Since finances are a big part of living together, we’ve decided to just talk about it now so we won’t have issues when we are actually living together. It just causes less stress and strain in the relationship.”

    So part of broaching the money conversation may be that you and your SO need time to become comfortable enough to talk about it at length.

    Understand it’s not really about the money

    Even though you may be after a conversation about money with your partner, it usually goes much deeper. “It’s not about the money,” Dr. Jordan says. “It’s never about the money. It’s about communication…it’s about having your needs heard and respected.” He says talking about money can be sensitive for some because it brings up emotional baggage. If your partner grew up in a family that struggled financially, the money talk could bring up emotions from their childhood.

    “Money brings up a lot of issues and feelings for people,” Dr. Jordan adds, so it’s important to be attentive to how financial situations of their past might have affected them, and might still affect them. The best way to navigate talking about money with your partner, especially if you know they’ve had a difficult past financially, is to not be judgmental, he says. By really listening to your partner and making it clear that you support them and are not judging them, you let them know that they can come to you in the future. 

    Navigating how to talk to your SO about money can be tricky, but the truth is it’s a good and, at times, necessary conversation to have. As long as you are open and honest with your partner and make a genuine effort to hear him or her out, you’ll be just fine. 

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    If you’ve ever tried to Google “Valentine’s Day quotes” to find something heartfelt to write inside of a card, then you know that most of the cheesy lines a search engine spits at you about “true love” are gag-worthy. Here are a few sweet nothings you can scribble in a love letter to your valentine that won’t make him or her feel incredibly awkward.

    If you're "just talking"

    You’re not dating yet, so you don’t want to come on too strong—use one of these cheesy pick-up lines to make your valentine smile.

    1. “If you were a Transformer, you’d be Optimus FINE.”

    2. “On a scale of one to 10, I’d give you a nine—and I’m the one you need!”

    3. “Are you a banana? Because I find you a-peel-ing.”

    4. “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.”

    5. “Are you a kleptomaniac? Because you just stole my heart.”

    6. “Good thing I brought my library card, because I’m checkin’ you out.”

    7. “If you were on paper, you’d be what they call ‘fine print!’”

    8. “Do you have a Band-Aid? Because I skinned my knee when I fell for you.” 

    If you’re dating

    You're together, and you're not seeing other people. You’re having a great time together, and you care about each other a lot—but you haven’t said the “L” word yet. Stick to these lines to show him or her how you feel without saying more than you mean to.

    9. “You should be kissed, and often, by someone who knows how.” –Gone with the Wind

    10. “A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” –Ingrid Bergman (Put this on the front of a card, then on the inside write, “Writing anything in here would be superfluous.”)

    11. “You have bewitched me, body and soul.” –Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice

    12. “Your lips are like wine, and I want to get drunk.”  –William Shakespeare

    13. “ I carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)”  –E.E. Cummings

    14. “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.”  –Audrey Hepburn

    15. “Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen.”  –Sir Elton John

    16. “I belong with you and you belong with me—you’re my sweetheart.” –The Lumineers

    17. “Maybe I think you’re cute and funny. Maybe I wanna do what bunnies do with you, if you know what I mean.”  –Ingrid Michaelson

    18. “You are a work of art.” –Morrissey

    19. “You, just like heaven.” –The Cure

    If you're in love

    Your relationship is solid, and you’ve exchanged "I love you's." Here’s how to tell your sweetie just how in love with him or her you are!

    20. “Love me tender; love me sweet. Never let me go.”  –Elvis

    21. “I love you more than I could ever promise because you take me the way I am.” –Ingrid Michaelson

    22. “I never knew that I could love someone the way that I love you.” –Ben Rector

    23. “Your love is better than chocolate. Better than anything else that I’ve tried.” –Sarah McLachlan

    24. “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” –Pride and Prejudice

    25. “Home is wherever I’m with you.” –Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

    26. “There are not enough days in forever to allow me to fully express the depth of my love for you.” –Steve Maraboli

    27. “Love is a many-splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!” –Moulin Rouge

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    Let’s just take a second to appreciate all the less-than-perfect Valentine’s Days we’ve experienced (cue montage of pints of ice cream, cuddling with cats and anxiety over V-Day gifts) and then make a promise to ourselves that this year will be better. All it takes is a little planning, some creativity and a lot of heart to have a Valentine’s Day you’ll both remember – and deserve! Use some of these 13 ideas or get inspired by them to make Valentine’s Day seem straight out of a romantic comedy for you and your partner.

    1. Have breakfast in bed

    If you’re a foodie, make your partner breakfast!Waffles with fruit and whipped cream, chocolate-covered strawberries and blueberry pancakes are all great picks, and you can also make a gourmet cup of coffee with whipped cream and peppermint shavings. Making them food = guaranteed partner points.

    2. Attend a romantic poetry reading or acoustic show

    Bre, a collegiette from Mount Holyoke College, recommends that you “take them to see their favorite queer-lady spoken-word poet and/or acoustic singer.” Check out the local coffee shop scene and see if there are any spoken-word or acoustic shows around. Having intense conversations with your partner is always sexy, so a thought-provoking show will totally ramp up the romance.

    3. Personalize mugs and get your chocolate fix

    Decorate mugs with Sharpies, make cocoa and curl up with your favorite movie! You could even write down some of your favorite romantic memories from the past year on your mugs and make it a tradition so that in a couple of years you’ll have a full-blown mug collection. You could also write down all the things that you love about your partner on the mug and trade so that they’ll get a nice self-confidence boost throughout the year. Go all out on the Valentine’s Day theme for the mugs, and you’ll have a tangible way to remember how adorable you were on V-Day!

    4. Explore your city

    Make a scavenger hunt for them in your city and tag along. Don’t be afraid of going to places you haven’t before – sometimes the museums, parks or flea markets that you just see as part of your city’s landscape make the best date ideas. Make sure to keep a notepad full of the places that you think you would both like. It’ll make you see your city in another light and give you date ideas for the rest of the year, too!

    5. Visit an animal shelter

    Who doesn’t like puppy or kitten cuddles? Plus, it’s beyond fun to see your cutie hanging out with an adorable fuzzy friend! Just be careful you don’t get too attached to the fuzzy friends, or you could end up bringing back a very long-term Valentine’s Day gift (or, if you’re in a position to take care of the pet, why not have a new member of the family?).

    6. Learn how to massage

    Take a massage class together and use your newfound skills later that night. You could either find a studio that offers couple’s massage classes in your area or if you’re not near a city, you could take an online class. The start of spring semester is stressful enough, what with internship searching and acclimating to your new classes, so this will give you a chance to really relax around each other!

    7. See a sunset or sunrise

    If you’re on the East Coast, make it an early morning and have a Valentine’s Day breakfast while watching the sunrise. If you’re on the West Coast, have a picnic dinner while you watch the sunset. It’s a classic for a reason – it’ll be beautiful, and you’ll have lots of time to talk!

    8. Put it in writing

    Get a deck of cards and write something you love about your partner, potential date ideas or IOUs on each one. There will be a card for every week of the year, which they can put up around their dorm room. Extra points if you play a heated game of war with the cards!

    9. Take a weekend away

    Explore your region for the weekend! Book a train ticket to your nearest city and see the sights. Getting a change of scenery will definitely heighten the romance.

    10. Leave little love notes

    If you’re unable to spend the day with your partner, hide a bunch of conversation hearts, Polaroids or love notes where you know they’ll find them! You can write memories from throughout the year, date ideas for when you’re not apart or your favorite things about your relationship. You can also even write letters in envelopes for your partner to open in certain situations (like when they need to know you love them or when they’re having a bad day). Love notes remind your partner how much you care about them in a simple yet meaningful way.

    11. Choose some nighttime wear

    Go to a lingerie store and pick out something for the other to wear the night of Valentine’s Day. This can be funny, sexy or, ideally, a little of both. Remember to keep your partner’s body type in mind when you’re picking stuff out, though – you want to make them feel as sexy as possible!

    Lingerie doesn’t have to just be for women, though. If your partner identifies as non-binary, make sure to pick out lingerie options that aren’t strictly feminine.

    12. Frolic in the snow

    Have a snowball fight! Running around in the snow is an easy way to get some exercise in, and you know what they say: Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy and happy people just don’t have bad Valentine’s Days! Loser plans the next date.

    13. Build a fort

    Make a blanket fort with fuzzy blankets and your laptop inside and watch a movie! The lighting will be cozy, you’ll be cuddling and romance will be in the air.

    As fun as Valentine’s Day is, though, you don’t need an excuse to be romantic. Surprise your partner with some of these ideas throughout the year (not just on Valentine’s Day!), and love will be in the air all year long!

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    Ah, Valentine’s Day. A day that causes anxiety for many of us, especially those of us who have no idea what is happening in our love lives. Label-less and undefined relationships are possibly the hardest situations to deal with come Valentine’s Day because what do you do? We’re not a full-fledged couple, but we’re also not single. It can be very complicated, which is why we’re here to bring you some date ideas that aren’t too romantic or too casual but are just right.

    Gone shooting

    One of the best ways to avoid awkwardness when you’re in a label-less situation is to just keep things light-hearted. “I think a great date idea for label-less couples would be to go out and do a fun activity like going to a shooting range,” Alexandria Galli, a first year grad student at York University, says. “Something that will keep the day fun and light instead of driving a wedge of pressure that could knock you off your path.” Going on a date like this will allow you two to get as romantic as you choose without there being any pressure to get overly romantic, if you aren’t there yet or don’t want to do that.

    Get with a group

    If you’re worried about Valentine’s Day being too intense of a holiday for you and the person you’re seeing to fully celebrate, then suggest the two of you hanging out in a group setting, like Megan Mann, a graduate of Purdue University, did. “My boyfriend and I started dating just after Valentine's Day, so we hung out as part of a group scenario on that day,” she says. “It worked because we weren't fully there yet, but we still wanted to spend time together. So, we just went to a bar with a group of friends.” Along with going to bar, you could also try going dancing, bowling, going to a bar arcade or a board game restaurant.  

    Escape your comfort zone

    You could also combine the light-hearted date idea with a group date to have an adventurous day with your friends and the person you’re seeing. Alexandria mentioned that a fun activity to try would be going to an escape room. The live-action puzzles have all sorts of fun themes you can choose from, such as heist and detective themes. Not only do you get to crack the code with your friends, but you might also learn a thing or two about the person you’re seeing, like his or her ability to get the both of you out of a tight situation.  

    Related: 4 Completely Free Valentine's Day Date Ideas For Couples on a Budget

    Wine and dine

    Planning a Valentine’s Day date can be really overwhelming, especially if you’re not ready to go on that classic fancy dinner date. Take the intimidating classy dinner date and make it cozy by having it at home. “It makes it less formal, but gives you that intimacy to still be together without prying eyes,” Megan says. So crack open your favorite bottle of wine and get some candles and jazzy music ready.

    Do the deed

    This might be the most nerve-wrecking date on this list, but a good way to spend Valentine’s Day when you’re in an undefined relationship is to sit down with the person you’re seeing and DTR (define the relationship). “I would say that Valentine's Day isn't a good day to go on a date, but to finally define the relationship,” Morgan Mullings, a sophomore at St. John’s University says. “There is no 'good time' to define the relationship. Show love for the person you've been spending so much time with this Valentine's day by letting them know that you care for them enough to not let them wonder what the relationship is.” Alexandria recommends having this conversation over an at-home dinner. “Light some candles and watch a cute movie, perfect to set the scene for having a conversation about where you stand,” she says.

    Valentine’s Day is meant to be a holiday about love not stress and confusion. So take it slow this Valentine’s Day, and do whatever you feel comfortable doing. If that means defining the relationship, then go for it! But if that means hanging out with the person you’re seeing at a bar with some mutual friends, then hey that’s cool, too. But don’t feel obligated to do the big romantic thing on Valentine’s Day if that’s not where you feel your relationship is at just yet. All things with time.

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    Sometimes college guys get a bad rap. We hear stories all the time about players, guys who never respond to texts and those who only want to hook up.  To quote our girl Taylor Swift, aren’t there any guys out there who are more “Today Was a Fairytale” and less “I Knew You Were Trouble”?  But don’t worry, collegiettes; there are college guys out there who really appreciate the meaning of romance, and on the most amorous day of the year, they know how to pull out all the stops to give their girlfriends the romantic memories they deserve. Read on for the five cutest things college guys have done for their girlfriends on Valentine’s Day.

    1. The artsy beau

    “I had been dating a girl for a few months, but we agreed not to break the bank on each other. I still wanted to do something nice, so I let my creative side take over. Her favorite candy was Reese's, so I bought a big bag of the heart-shaped Reese's that come out around Valentine's Day and taped them (in their wrappers) to a piece of cardboard in the shape of a heart, then wrote a nice letter on the back of it for her. She loved it! I still got roses and took her to dinner, but I could've just done that on my low budget because she appreciated the thoughtfulness behind it so much.” - Patrick Bradley, Merrimack College

    2. So thoughtful

    “My ex-boyfriend and I go to different schools. Since he couldn't visit me on Valentine's Day last year, he surprised me with a package from Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. He sent me a stuffed animal customized by him with a tag that said ‘Happy Valentine's Day’ in Spanish as I am a Spanish major. Later in the day, I was emailed that I got another package. He sent me a tin of my favorite cookies. It was all very thoughtful!” - Liz Bacharach, Bucknell University

    3. The long-distance sweetheart

    “Last year, my boyfriend was studying abroad in Italy, but still managed to make Valentine's Day awesome. He got my friends and his friends together to send me on an elaborate scavenger hunt around campus, and I eventually ended back in my dorm room to find flowers, chocolates, a big stuffed dog and a really sweet letter from my boyfriend. It was adorable!” - Kristin Doherty, Drake University

    4. The videographer

    “This was Valentine's Day 2011. I made a video with pictures of me and my girlfriend, Jenn, interspersed with quotes about love and whatnot to the tune of ‘Don't Make Me Wait’ by This World's Fair. Then I posted the video a couple of weeks before Valentine's Day and told all of her friends and family and my friends and family about it and to go and leave comments on it. Then Valentine's Day, I took her out to dinner at Makoto's Japanese Steakhouse in Boone up at App State and then afterward gave her flowers and showed her the video. It was a huge success; she loved it.” - Matt Caulder, Appalachian State University

    5. The early-bird

    “The day before our very first Valentine’s Day together I was telling [my boyfriend], Brad, how it was kind of sad that it was on a school day where we both had labs/classes/meetings/etc. We usually studied together at night somewhere like the Union, his living room or the lobby of my dorm because that was the only time in our crazy schedules that we could be together, and that didn't sound too romantic. Well, the night before our first Valentine’s, I kept him well past midnight to try to spend more of the holiday together. He was a really good sport considering the sneaky plan he had up his sleeve. The next morning I expected to get a sweet text or even a phone call, but instead, I awoke to [my roommate] telling me there was something at the door and then passing it up to my bunk. Brad had woken up insanely early, somehow got into [my] dorm, and left the sweetest surprise gift basket for me to find at my door full of all my favorite chocolates, red ribbon for a Valentine’s Day bow, a hand-cut heart shape and sweet love letter as well as two (COLD!) Diet Cokes! He had thought of everything even down to the tiniest detail. While it made for a terribly unhealthy breakfast, it left me with the brightest smile all day knowing how lucky I was to be surprised so sweetly by my valentine (and now, years later, fiancé!).” - Alex Bradsher, UNC-Chapel Hill

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    This article has been syndicated from Eva Darling, an InfluenceHer Collective Member. Read the full post here. 

    Valentine’s Day has been coined as the most romantic day of the year for many (mostly by Hallmark). Jokingly called “Singles Awareness Day,” it also seems to be known for being a day for strictly couples to appreciate their love for each other. I think it’s high time we start utilizing Valentine’s Day as a day for self-love, too––but then again maybe I’m just a narcissist and that’s why I’m single. Who knows? After all, we’ll be happier and healthier for taking the time to love ourselves which could only make it easier to love another person as well.

    Single or not, I’ve compiled 10 dates you can take yourself on this Valentine’s Day to love yourself.

    1. Have a spa day

    Whether you only have time for a quick 15-minute facial or a full day of glam mani-pedi, massage, mud bath, pampering, there’s very few things that a spa day can’t make better.

    2. Go for a blowout

    Blowouts have to be one of the most extra things money can buy, but they can make even a normal day feel that much more special. Plus, they make your hair look AMAZING. Side note: I can’t hear the word “blowout” without thinking of the New Girl episode “Walk of Shame” in which Jess and Cece get fabulous blowout by a sassy hairdresser appropriately named Charisma. “Charisma made us promise not to waste these blowouts!” Jess exclaims.

    3. Take yourself to a nice meal

    Who says that just because you’re alone you can’t go to a nice restaurant and feel weird about getting a table for one? Part ways with that small cafe you like stopping by for takeaway on your way home from work and treat yourself to that nice Italian place you love so much. My favorite option in this scenario is to get takeaway from the nice Italian place, put on your pajamas, and turn on Netflix.

    4. Go ice skating

    Take a spin around the ice rink for a few hours then combine with date #3 listed above. Substituting ice skating for skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing also isn’t bad idea. There’s just something liberating about moving at high velocity in winter weather. You get the idea.

    5. Buy that something extra for yourself

    That adorable handbag you’ve been wanting? The perfect shade of lipstick to add to your collection? Don’t wait for someone else to read your mind and buy it for you, and purchase it for yourself! It doesn’t need to be expensive or extravagant, it could just be something small you always counted as an “extra” on your trip to Target. Toss in a bouquet of roses too, you deserve it.

    6. Host a Galentine’s Day

    Gather up your best girlfriends for a Valentine’s Day brunch, lunch or dinner! A perfect opportunity to catch up or just to spend a few hours laughing with the ones that are always there for you.

    Read the full post here.

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    It’s the most romantic day of the year… until you end up basically sitting in the lap of the couple next to you at a crazy expensive Valentine’s Day dinner, wondering if the gift you got your boyfriend was too much or not enough. We've all fallen prey to Valentine’s Day SNAFU (don’t even get us started on Valentine’s Day last year), from lingerie mishaps to dining disasters. This year, to keep you embracing candy hearts and Cupids, we've compiled 17 cute things you can do with or for your boyfriend on your ~special day~. What are the most unique and romantic ways to celebrate? What does your boyfriend really want? How can you spice up the day without stressing out? We have you covered.

    1. Be a snow bunny

    We know, we know—we’re all tired of freezing every time we step outside and slipping on ice when we walk to class. But few things are as romantic as playing in the snow with your boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. Channel your inner 10-year-old and head outside for a snowball fight and snow angels—we're sure your man will be happy to keep you warm.

    2. Dress the part

    The easiest way to spread Valentine’s cheer is to go elementary school and wear pink and red. Meet your boyfriend for a day date in skinny jeans and a pink top or sport a red mini dress for your night together. For after hours, try Victoria’s Secret's Valentines-themed lingerie.

    3. Give a gift that keeps giving

    As we searched for the perfect gift for our boyfriends last Valentine’s Day, we knew that guys love two things: beer and lots of beer. It was with this information that we stumbled upon Amazing Clubs. Amazing Clubs is a website that lets you send a 12-pack of gourmet beer to your boyfriend every month for as many months as you choose. If beer is too pricey, you can also order coffee, BBQ sauce or ice cream. 

    4. Go ice-skating 

    The HC team’s number one recommendation for a perfect Valentine’s date is ice-skating. If romantic comedies have taught us anything, it is that skating rinks breed romance. So go have yourself a Serendipity moment and spend the day ice-skating with your BF—don’t forget the cocoa!  

    5. Go skinny-dipping

    If ice-skating is too tame and your school is in a sunny place, many HCers recommend nighttime skinny-dipping. Seriously, few things are hotter than a steamy, late-night swim. Just be careful, please; getting caught trespassing might kill the mood. 

    6. Buy him tickets to a game

    If you want all of his friends to be saying, “You seriously have the best girlfriend ever,” tickets to his favorite sporting event are the way to go. Not only will you make his night and show that you’re into his interests, but you’ll also get to share something special to him together, and what’s better than that? StubHub is a great place to look for discounted tickets. 

    7. Do dinner in bed

    Going out for Valentine’s Day dinner is a tradition that needs to go. Unless you’re Posh and Becks, the service is bound to be terrible, the menu limited and the prices steep. Instead, try ordering in from a favorite restaurant and eating the meal in bed. Spend the night relaxing over good food and cozy company instead of cramped with strangers.

    8. Have an indoor picnic 

    Harvard collegiette Olivia Ford suggests taking the dinner in bed idea even further with an indoor picnic. To decorate your space, string white Christmas lights around the room, buy some picnic-y snacks, pop the champagne and set up a blanket and pillows for you and your boy to sit on. Oh, and don’t forget to ask your roommates for some alone time!

    9. Cook him a meal

    Strawberry bellinis, chicken parmesan, spaghetti and chocolate mousse—nothing will make your man swoon more quickly than a delicious Valentine’s meal. If you're feeling ambitious and extra sweet, cooking dinner for your boyfriend is the way to go. If you're an all-star in the kitchen, check out Food Network’s Valentine’s Day food and dessert recipes. However, if you’re like most of us and cooking a full gourmet meal is not a possibility, look at ifood’s simple recipes, like heart-shaped pizza. Also, if your boyfriend is up for it, cook dinner together—it will be surprisingly sexy to see your guy move around the kitchen.

    10. Give him a classic card

    Whether you’ve been dating for a while and you want to tell him how you feel or you haven’t been dating long at all but want to show you care, a card goes a long way. Get out the construction paper, doilies and stamps, and get artsy. For amazing card ideas, check out Martha Stewart’s card projects. When it comes to writing, a cute poem or heartfelt message is always a hit. 

    11. Set a budget and make it fun

    Let’s face it: Valentine’s Day can get pricey. Instead of stressing about buying an expensive gift, set a budget with your guy and get creative. For 10 dollars, you could buy a cheesy, V-Day themed stuffed animal, bake cupcakes or, better yet, purchase massage oil to really make his night.

    12. Head to Victoria’s Secret

    To ensure a smile on his face this V-day, the HC team recommends wearing hot underwear that he has never seen before. Let’s be real, what makes him happier or you feel sexier than a new, lacy bra?

    13. Take him down memory lane

    Even though Valentine’s Day is about celebrating the moment, there’s no better day to reflect on what makes you so happy with your man in the first place. A great way to celebrate your relationship is to make a scrapbook—look through old pictures, find cute stickers and paper and then channel your inner Warhol. If making a full scrapbook is too time-consuming, make a collage card or mini scrapbook.

    14. Splurge on a hotel room

    If you are willing to splurge on a gift, why not get away from roommates and sharing twin beds (no matter how much you love sleeping right next to your boyfriend!). Sometimes, the best way to get in the mood is to invest in a change of space. Spend the night ordering room service, cuddling in a big bed and taking bubble baths…what could be better than that?

    15. Make a coupon book

    It’s true, coupon books are hardly a new concept, but what guy doesn’t want his Valentine’s gift to last all year? Make him a coupon book for things like fresh-baked cupcakes, a movie night or a massage—and feel free to spice it up!

    16. Whip up some cocktails

    While getting drunk on V-day is probably not the best idea, making Valentine’s Day-themed cocktails with your boyfriend is a fun and festive way to celebrate the day. Make each other drinks post-dinner; after all, ending Valentine’s Day with a homemade Be Mine Mojito doesn’t get much better. If you’re under 21, check out these awesome mocktail recipes

    17. Be appreciative

    We know we can all get a little carried away with a Valentine’s Day fantasy. But even if you spent the past three weeks dreaming of sailing on a yacht with your boyfriend or opening a Tiffany’s box, be appreciative if he gives you a teddy bear. We're not talking being understanding if he forgets the day altogether, but V-Day can be a little stressful for everyone, so make sure to acknowledge the effort he makes—you'll have more fun, and he’ll be thankful to have such an appreciative girlfriend!


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    Valentine’s Day is one of the holidays that never seems to go as well as you hoped. If you’re single, you are probably dreading pretending you are happy celebrating Galentine’s Day with your gal pals while being bombarded with social media posts of couples in love. Meanwhile, people in relationship are just as likely to be let down. While you might be excited at the prospect of a romantic night with your SO, chances are slim the night can live up to your expectations. But, if you opt out of the typical festivities of love, you could end up having a night much more fun and memorable. Being single doesn’t mean you need to spend the night alone and being in a relationship doesn’t mean you need to spend the night together.

    Here’s what you can do instead:

    Related: 6 Ways to Have Better Sex this Valentine’s Day

    Eat junk food

    There’s no need to pretend your idea of the perfect meal is oysters because it is on the set menu for the night. Erica Galluscio, a Hunter College student of the class of 2019 says, “If you wanna be low key this year, or if you’re going out with someone you’re not really DATING yet, then grab something cheap and fun like Crif Dogs or Atomic Wings.” Going to a drive-through instead of having a fine-dining experience will set a more relaxed tone for the night and really allow you to enjoy the company of your SO. Your date – and wallet – will also be thankful for the cheaper menu and casual dress-code, which will help alleviate any financial pressure from the night.

    Go stargazing

    While it may still be a tad cheesy, going stargazing is an often forgotten way to spend a romantic night. If you live in a big city, take a trip to the planetarium and learn about the lights in the sky. Or, if you live somewhere with dark and clear enough skies to see the stars laying out in the grass, find any nice and relaxing place. You can still get some information about stars regardless of where you are through stargazing apps, and in doing so will come to share with your SO the inevitable moment of realizing how small we are compared to the world. After hearing all about the vast spread of the universe, any issues in your night or relationship will start to seem a lot less important.

    Skip the date

    Even if you are in a relationship, you don’t need to spend the day with your SO. Not all relationships, especially those on the newer side, are ready for the pressure that Valentine’s entails. Amy Galland, founder of Plume and FlirtyQWERTY, explains that in a new or unofficial relationship, “the best idea is to celebrate yourself and spend the day alone or with friends, create your own rituals, and don’t put any unnecessary pressure on a relationship (new, committed, non-committed, or otherwise).” Watch your favorite rom coms, dress head to toe in red and pink or try out some Valentine’s themed Pinterest recipes; do anything fun and relaxing. Celebrate love without the concern of falling in love.

    Explore nature

    Taking a risk and exploring an exciting new area in your college town is a fun and adventurous way to make memories of Valentine’s Day you can cherish forever. Go to an outdoor skating rink and try to keep each other from falling or wander a new hiking path leading to a gorgeous waterfall. Instead of using Valentine’s to examine the state of your relationship, going on an outdoor journey will give you an exciting way to keep building its foundation and enjoying each other’s company.

    Get creative

    Being far away from your Valentine doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate if you want to. Galland notes, “When the person you care about is not nearby, it gives you the opportunity to be creative. Write them a poem, draw a picture, record a song, make a video and send it to them. I treasure the limericks, haiku, songs and drawings I received over the years so much more than the jewelry and fancy dinners.” Making something meaningful will make the day special regardless of where you spend it. Don’t worry if you aren’t an aspiring poet or painter; it’s the thought that counts and your SO will be able to see how much you care regardless of how it turns out.

    Regardless of how you choose to spend the day, make sure not stress over it too much. There’s nothing wrong with being a little cliché, but trying something unexpected will take away the belief that the night needs to go a certain way. Galland says, “Know that you are amazing and Valentine’s Day exists to sell products, not to confirm someone else’s feelings about you and in turn validate yourself. Because you are fantastic sitting on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a tub of ice cream.” If you relax and get original this Valentine’s, you can have a great night instead of being disappointed by expectations for the night that never really made sense anyway.

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    Valentine’s Day, Singles Awareness Day or, as Liz Lemon would call it, Anna Howard Shaw Day. Whether you anticipate, dread or attempt to ignore February 14th, one truth remains: no matter how sweet this holiday was intended to be, it has the stigma of being completely cheesy. It’s no wonder that everyone thinks of those same cheap, red chocolate boxes; candlelit dinners; Hallmark cards and tiny fuzzy bears wearing mini T-shirts that read, “I heart you.” But collegiettes, it’s a new year, and this year, February 14 is not going to be cheesy. Why? Because HC is here to help make it creative. Here are 10 creative things for you, your SO and all your friends to do on Valentine’s Day.

    1. Chocolate making

    We know we just put chocolate in the cheesy category, but making your own? That’s creative—not to mention cheap! How many times have you seen that golden Godiva box and just walked away because it was too pricey?  No more, collegiettes. You and your SO (or your girls!) can bond over tasting too much of the recipe before it’s finished or even adding your own ingredients to the mix. And hey, if the recipe goes awry, switch to Plan B: Head to your favorite bakery and pig out! Find a chocolate recipe here.

    2. Scavenger hunt

    Pick out your favorite spots on campus as a couple and bury your clues there for the ultimate scavenger hunt. Your first clue can start off with a modern-day twist on the Cinderella: Instead of a glass slipper, leave behind a cowboy boot or a five-inch heel, and set your prince or princess out to find you on campus. You can even have your friends pitch in to help your SO out with the clue process. Have your SO set up a scavenger hunt for you, too, so that he or she won’t have to do all the hunting. 

    3. Middle school dance

    Maybe it’s just our desire to relive the age where Britney Spears just wanted to hit it one more time and Ricky Martin was livin’ la vida loca, or maybe it’s just a well-known fact that the '90s were the best decade EVER, and we were too young to really appreciate it. So put a playlist together of the greatest hits, invite some friends over and rage like it’s 1999. You can slow dance and have all the cheesy games like Spin the Bottle or Seven Minutes in Heaven. You can have bowls of punch and tortilla chips and those metallic balloons that read “Be Mine.” If you really want to kick it up a notch, you and your guests can even dress up like your favorite pop stars of the decade. Because there ain’t no party like a Valentine’s Party.

    4. Paintball

    The paintball scene in 10 Things I Hate About You? Those weren’t paint streaks, guys, they were fireworks. And if it was good enough for Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, it’ll be amazing for you and your SO. An all-out paint war? And bragging rights if you win? Doesn’t get much better than that. Not to mention that when your single friends ask what you and your SO did on Valentine’s Day, this response won’t make them want to barf.

    5. Ice-skating or roller-blading

    Nothing says love like someone who’s there to catch you when you fall. Literally. Whether you’re both Olympic skating champs or only one of you could really work a job at Sonic, it doesn’t matter—it’s bound to be fun whizzing around the skating rink, holding hands. Or holding on to the railing, holding hands. And if your school has an ice hockey rink that’s open to students, say hello to free fun!

    6. Movie night drinking game

    Valentine's Day (maybe too obvious of a choice, but we’ll take it), Crazy, Stupid, Love. (Ryan Gosling’s abs? Happy Valentine’s Day to you!) and [insert any romantic comedy here]—it’s time for Valentine’s Day movie night with a twist. Add a bowl of popcorn and some champagne (if you’re 21+), and you’re good to go. The rules are up to you and your SO—for example, anytime someone casts a longing look or says, “She’s… I don’t know… different,” bottoms up. Just make sure you play this game responsibly (i.e., don’t drink every time Ryan Gosling looks hot).

    7. Hot air balloon

    If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks—and we do mean big bucks—soaring through the sky in a hot air balloon is the way to go. Sharing a beautiful bird's-eye view for two and pointing to a cloud you just passed— “Hey, I think that one’s cloud nine.”—makes for the best Valentine’s Day adventure EVER. 

    8. Picnic

    How was bad boy Jess from Gilmore Girls able to wiggle his way between Rory and Dean? That’s right, a picnic. So gather up all your favorite foods and a nice, comfy blanket and head to the big outdoors. And for extra fun, write each other love notes—or, even better, love haikus (always bound to be a great laugh). If the weather’s bad, take the picnic indoors!

    9. Planetarium

    From star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet to that scene in A Walk to Remember when Landon makes a telescope for Jamie, nothing says "romantic" like the stars. Not only will you learn a lot on Valentine’s Day, it’s practically like being in a space zen garden—the soothing music, the changing sky, the audience noise at an absolute minimum. So look up the planetarium near you to check the times and the cost, and get ready for some stargazing.  

    10. Camping indoors

    If The Parent Trap was your favorite movie growing up, then maybe you've decided camping is everything but romantic: mosquito bites, lizards in your hair, waking up to find that your mattress is floating in the middle of a lake. No thanks (although we’ll take Dennis Quaid)! If you take the camping indoors, however, that’s a whole other story. You can build your own fort in your dorm room—or really go wild and actually set up a tent in there—pull out the blankets, pillows, marshmallows and flashlights, and you’re ready for an imaginary camping adventure. You can tell scary stories, make shadow puppets, have pillow fights—whatever you want! And you can guarantee you won’t be covered in bug bites the next morning.

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    Pat Benatar had it right when she sang “Love is a Battlefield.” No one likes to see someone that they poured their heart and soul into falling in love with someone else. Jealousy is common but as much as the green monster can get the best of us, there are just some things that we should not do when our ex is dating someone new. These are a few of them.

    1. Stalk their social media

    We understand that the appeal is there. You may have wanted to be the bigger person and not unfollow your ex everywhere you could, which is great at the time, but when it comes to getting this new information, you may feel the urge to go find out every last detail about their new relationship as soon as possible. You will want to stalk your ex, their new bae, their friends, families and every last person you can think of. As much as information is power, it is also a demon. You don’t need to know everything.

    Instead: Take a break from social media or do a cleanse. Use the time to unfollow or unfriend those people who may not really be contributing to your happiness. If you know you will have the ultimate urge, maybe discontinuing your strictly social media ‘friendship’ is the next step you need toward complete closure. It doesn’t mean you can’t be civil if you see each other in person.

    2. Find a rebound

    Hooking up with someone may distract you from whatever you are feeling now, but it probably won’t help in the long run. The same goes for jumping into a new relationship. Unless you genuinely care for the person and want to have fun or be with them, it won’t do you or them any justice to just mess around. And even if you do find someone that you want to be with, make sure you feel that you are ready for a new relationship and not to rush into things. Emily*, a senior at Framingham State University, says, "I was getting ready to finally enter a new relationship with someone I felt a true connection with. And once I realized that I had that new person and my ex had moved on, I felt that it was okay to officially move on myself."

    Instead: Spend time with the important people who are already in your life. Talk more with your family and reach out to friends. Have a girls’ night, start binging a new show or go to the spa. Go spend time with yourself and really take the time you need to ensure your own happiness.

    Related: 5 Ways to Let Go of a Relationship That Ended Before it Started

    3. Go on a rampage

    Seeing someone you cared for with someone new can be heartbreaking, and it is understandable to be angry or feel some sort of hatred. You may want to punch walls, rip your room to shreds, quit school or your job, and go on an isolation frenzy where you detach from anyone and everyone who dare enter your path. It is okay be feel whatever emotions make their way to your surface. Just don’t take it out on those who surround you. Domini Batista, a junior at Framingham State University, says, "I wanted to tell her how big of a shit he was, but after that I told him that I wish him the best of luck and now I'm friends with both of them."

    Instead: Find other ways to express yourself. Be creative by writing, painting or trying a new artistic form. Exercise your body by taking a class or watching some YouTube videos of easy workouts you can do from home. It doesn’t necessarily matter what you do, but the extra energy that you get from your emotions can be an amazing power source that you use otherwise.

    4. Spend too much time sulking

    When you devote time and effort to someone, it is okay to be sad when they move on and give to someone else want you possibly wanted. But instead of destroying everything around you, you may feel the need to cry alone in your room with a pint of your favorite ice cream. You can hide away if need be, but it is important to know that you will have to come out eventually. Chelsea Hathaway, a senior at Framingham State University, says, "You always hope you will be 'the one' that they always wish they could have back, and once you see they are moving on and dating someone new you realize that part of your life is over."

    Instead: Get out of the house or dorm every once in a while. Even just going for a walk or changing your scenery will help. Dedicate some time to make sure you are not alone. Even if it is a brief text just letting someone know you’re still alive and they don’t have to take care of the litter box for you can be good enough.

    Yes, you might start freaking out when you see your ex with someone new. You may want to do any and all of these things, but in the end, we all know that we can’t let our old feelings get the best of us. There is a reason you are no longer with that person. Now you are free from them and can go on to rule the world.

    *Name has been changed

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    Ah, Valentine’s day. Love is in the air. The birds are singing; the flowers are blooming, and you—well, you literally couldn’t care less. Here are 15 signs that you DGAF about Cupid’s holiday!

    1. The only thing you’re counting down are the days until all that chocolate goes on sale

    2. You get confused for a second when your friends start talking about the upcoming holiday

    They know Easter isn’t for a while, right?

    3. People complaining about needing a date annoy you

    4. You’re excited to binge watch Netflix roommate is gone for the night...

    5. ...Or you’re dreading the upcoming sexile

    But hey, you can always take your pajamas and laptop to the library!

    6. Valentine’s-related Twitter and Instagram hashtags are lost on you

    Pretty much the only trending tag that fully makes sense to you right now is #NationalPizzaDay

    7. You’re pretty sure you're more excited for President's Day

    8. You know a last-minute Tinder Valentine's Day date isn't something you want to try out

    A Valentine's date seems like a lot of pressure to put on a stranger. 

    9. Taking a page from Leslie Knope, your Galentine’s Day preparations are well underway

    10. With all the pressure already on you because of midterms, you’re glad you don’t have to go out and buy a gift or plan a date

    11. If you’re in a relationship, you and your S/O are glad to be chilling out super casually this weekend

    12. The overly pink and heart-themed designs are everywhere, from the mall to the drugstore, and it’s making you feel a little bit Scroogey about the holiday

    13. You’re still wishing Cupid’s arrow would land on someone... Like maybe the entire financial aid department at your school

    14. You don’t bother ordering flowers for yourself today. You treat yourself on the regular

    ...Buuut maybe it would be nice to splurge a little extra today!

    15. Pity party? More like pizza party

    Can everyone stop with this “Single Awareness Day (S.A.D.) nonsense already?!

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    Don’t you miss those grade school days, when every person in your class had to put a hand-addressed Valentine in your red-paper-pasted box? Now, only the smug coupled-up people among us are guaranteed some attention on Valentine’s Day, and even they complain it’s not enough ("They didn’t get me the right kind of flowers!"). So why bother with it? Well, because it’s kind of fun to get all dolled up and go somewhere romantic, imagining for weeks beforehand how it will be the best night of your life. What do you do if you haven’t got a date to look forward to yet? Make one. Here are 10 foolproof tips to make sure you’ve snagged a body to sit across from at the fancy restaurant of your choice.

    1. Mix some red into your daily ensembles

    This study (you really needn’t bother with reading the full thing) shows that when collegiettes wear red, college cuties pay more attention to us. Okay, maybe they didn’t use those exact terms, but that’s the gist of it. Wearing the color may entice boys to “sit closer” to us and ask us “more intimate questions.” One “intimate question” being, “Will you allow me to pick you up in my horse-drawn carriage on February the 14th?”

    2. Gab like a guy

    You may be thinking about the perfect candy-red shade of lipstick to wear on the big night, but no dude is. Engage your crush by bringing up any topic free of conversation hearts: how March Madness is impending or how your favorite sitcom is (finally) back from hiatus. He’ll notice you’re a cool chick, not one of these crazed, date-hungry psychos that seem to be walking around campus (not us, not us).

    3. Increase the intimacy

    If you have your sights set on a certain valentine, show him you’re open to more than just a weekend hookup or casual conversation in class. Former Real Live College Guy Joey admits, “I immediately have my interest piqued if a girl begins to touch me at all, even something like picking a crumb off my sweater or touching my arm when [I’m] talking. Become more open and available.” Joey also recommends asking your dude if he has plans for Valentine’s Day weekend WITHOUT mentioning Valentine’s Day. This shows you’re open to hanging out but takes away some of the pressure.

    4. Be alluring

    If you’re dead set on snagging someone you’ll want to up the ante when it comes to dressing for class and extra-curricular activities, like frat parties and basketball games. Boy Expert Cher, of the timeless classic Clueless, once said, “Sometimes you have to show a little skin. This reminds boys of being naked, and then they think of sex.” This may not be your exact end goal, but ditching a few of the bulky winter layers we’ve all been buried in lately couldn’t hurt.

    5. Get a group together

    The solo-date can be terrifying if you’re on it with someone you don’t know that well (seriously, any restaurant you go to will be full of people who ARE in love). If you’re not ready for it, Anna, from The College of William & Mary, recommends grabbing a group of girls and guys and heading to the latest horror flick. “It’s a good excuse to cozy up to your crush during the scary parts,” she says.

    Related: 7 Romantic Valentine's Day Ideas 

    6. Get set up

    It’s a huge risk, but ever-hopeful collegiette Sarah, from Colby College, says that it’s worth the reward. “Getting set up is romantic because it can be great or the most awkward experience ever. Valentine’s Day is miserable if you’re single, so take the chance!” Go ahead and ask your friends or sorority sisters if they know any eligible people who would like to meet up on a day that just so happens to be the 14th. It could be a story for the grandchildren! And if you don’t have anyone to set you up? Check out, which allows you to pick a fun guy AND a fun date idea . . . what could be better?

    7. Take advantage of the weekend before

    Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so use the weekend before to get out and mingle! Dating expert and publisher of, Joe Tracy, advises to simply “be out there.” He says that the best way to get asked out is to “be self-confident and always look your best. Smile at people and say ‘hello’ when you pass them on campus or off.” Hit up the spots where you know your crush will be hanging out, or better yet, make plans to meet up with them. If you take the initiative first, they may surprise you by asking you out for Saturday.

    8. Go for a friend

    Maybe you don’t see your best guy friend as a romantic option, but he could be a ton of fun. Collegiette Remy, from William & Mary, recalls, “Last year, my guy friend and I went to one of the only romantic restaurants near campus and just mocked, quietly of course, other couples. I’ve never had a better Valentine’s Day.”

    9. Guilt him into it

    When I asked my current boyfriend how I managed to get him to ask me out last V-Day (we weren’t officially dating then), he told me he felt like he basically had to because of all the hints I dropped. Really romantic, right?? We’re still dating, so I guess the “guilt trip” can work, although it doesn’t make for a great story.

    10. Just ask him out!

    If you want the date, Former RLCG Joey says, “Don't be afraid to ask him out. Guys admire initiative, especially if they're shy. This isn't the 16th Century . . . girls don't have to be courted.” If all else fails, make the romance happen yourself.

    Well, what are you waiting for? Go pick out your outfit, get a heart-design manicure and slap a picture of Cupid up on your dorm room door. You can officially get in the spirit, because you’ll have a date for the big day. And if you don’t? Joe Tracy advises spending the day racking up “good karma” by helping those less fortunate. Sounds like a plan to me!

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    If it’s almost February 14 and you’re still looking for a Valentine’s Day date, why not give Tinder a try? The stakes are pretty low because if it doesn't work out, it’s unlikely you’ll cross paths with this person again. Since it’s only the first date, you can relax, maybe enjoy a meal and appreciate the fact that you didn’t spend Valentine’s Day alone for once.

    However we know that going on a first date can be intimidating, especially with someone you’ve only met online. So, here’s how to have a totally perfect Valentine’s Day first date with your Tinder bae!

    1. Arrange a fun date plan

    Dinner or drinks is a popular go-to, but perhaps a fun adventure together can help break the ice. Some non-traditional first date ideas include going for a picnic, seeing a Valentine’s Day movie, visiting a museum or stopping by a street fair. Don't be afraid to get creative and do something different. It is Valentine's Day, after all! 

    2. Take the time you need to get ~flawless~

    For all you know, this might be your future SO, so it pays off to put a little extra time into getting ready. Plus, it’s the holiday of love, and you deserve to dress up tonight. Worst case scenario is that if the date turns out to be a dud, at least you’ll walk away feeling and looking hot AF.

    3. Calm your nerves

    While getting ready for your date, give yourself some time to calm your nerves, especially if you’re starting to get those anxious first-date jitters.

    “Before I go on a first date, some ways that help me calm my nerves and go in with an open mind are pampering myself with a face mask the night before, meditating to clear my mind, reassuring myself that the stakes are low, and more importantly, just being in the moment,” explains *Alexis, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It’s okay to be nervous, but remember to breathe. Above all this is meant to be fun and a chance to get to know someone new!

    Related: 7 Signs You Should Go For That Tinder Hookup

    4. Keep the flow of conversation natural

    OK, so you’re on the date! If you find that you’re struggling to keep the conversation flowing, anything that begins with “tell me about…” usually invites the other person to open up and share a story. Keep it fun and natural, and if the chemistry is right, the conversation will move along on its own.

    Although it’s tempting to reinvent yourself for your date, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, especially if it doesn’t hold true upon meeting… on both ends. At the end of the day, remember to be authentic and stay true to yourself. And remember, collegiettes, a date on Valentine’s Day shouldn’t define who you are. It’s totally fine if you don’t have a date or if the date didn’t go as expected. Be safe, and have an amazing night out with your Tinder bae!

    *Names have been changed

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    February 14 is approaching pretty quickly, and while the traditional celebration of Valentine’s Day might be nauseating to some of us—you don’t necessarily need to celebrate V-Day in the conventional sense.

    While some traditions are great, like showing your love and appreciation for your other half (even if that other half is yourself right now), but other V-Day traditions are kind of toxic. Like the whole commercialization of this “holiday,” or how Valentine’s Day tends to focus its celebration on heterosexuals.

    Not only does Valentine’s Day traditionally reinforce gender roles, but it also excludes a lot of us in the LGBTQIA+ community because it promotes heteronormativity. This means that the holiday fosters heterosexuality as a “normal” representation of a couple. In doing so, it inhibits the inclusion of queer relationships and non-binary people. Case in point: out of the hundreds of Valentine’s Day-themed movies, none feature gay, lesbian, polyamorous or asexual coupledoms or the fact that most V-Day cards feature only “him” or “her” pronouns.

    Instead of blindly celebrating these harmful, and often heteronormative, Valentine’s Day traditions, you can have a healthy, empowering and feminist V-Day.

    Related: What To Do When Your SO Is Your Only Friend

    1. Volunteer for a non-profit organization

    Valentine’s Day is a holiday that celebrates love. Stereotypically, the holiday only honors love between hetero relationships; you can use V-Day to show your affection for a revolutionary cause.

    After all, you have so much love to express, why should you commit to showing your affection to just one person? Express that love toward a beneficial charity or organization.

    Giving back to your community is an exemplary way to show your love for multiple individuals (and for a movement that you’re passionate about—so in a way you’re also showing yourself some love when you volunteer on V-Day). Plus, it breaks the norm that you should showcase your love for only a single person on this day.

    2. Ask your beau on a V-Day date (and plan the date yourself)

    Break those hackneyed Valentine’s Day gender roles by asking your SO, situationship or fling on a date.

    Even if you’re the laziest girl ever, you can still ask your boo on a date with minimal effort.

    After your SO (hopefully) says yes, you can start planning your V-Day escapades. Don’t worry; you don’t have to plan a detailed itinerary for your date. You can keep it simple and take your other half to dinner—better yet, you both could help cook dinner.

    3. Love yourself

    Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to admire the love of your life: you. And if you don’t love yourself, take this V-Day to change that.

    Micki Wagner, a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia, explains, “I think celebrating Valentine's Day by yourself is not only empowering, but also feminist because, despite what some might tell you, you don't even need a date to celebrate this day dedicated to love."

    The best way to show yourself how much you care is obviously to practice some essential self-care. If your self-soothing remedy is reading, spend part of the day at a local bookstore and find a new novel to read. Nevertheless, focus on doing things that make you happy this Valentine’s Day.

    4. Don’t focus on the day, focus on the person(s) you’re with

    Many people get enveloped in celebrating Valentine’s Day for the day—but it’s so much more than just buying heart-shaped sweets and roses.

    Instead of using this “holiday” as an excuse to waste hundreds of dollars on romantic gestures—which TBH are more exhausting than they are passionate—use this day to celebrate your favorite parts about your special person.

    Though V-Day is stereotypically revolved around spending a plethora of time and money cards, chocolates and elaborate day-cations, you don’t need to spend money to show your SO that you care.

    Instead of spending your paycheck on a gift (or two), celebrate Valentine’s Day by doing leisurely activities with your SO. If you aren’t sure what kind of kickback things your bae or situationship enjoys, then take the coming days to celebrate V-Day early—by listening to your SO.

    Focusing on things your SO likes to do, rather than traditional Valentine’s Day events, will also show your SO that you love them without blatantly stating it.

    5. Show your love for the special people in your life, other than your SO

    Whether you’re single or in a committed FWB situation, you don’t need to spend your Valentine’s Day celebrating the romantic definition of love—you can use this holiday to observe platonic love (or instead).

    Micki elaborates that she likes to use Valentine’s Day to cherish the important friends and family in her life. “In my 22 years so far, I have yet to have a date for Valentine's Day, so I normally use Valentine's Day as a time to celebrate my friends and the people I love in my life, including myself,” Micki explains. “I find that to be not only empowering, but also a nice way to check in with myself and remind myself how grateful I am for the amazing people in my life.” Why shouldn’t you celebrate your love for your friends, roomies and family on Valentine’s Day? After all, it is the day of love.

    Regardless of your relationship status, or lack thereof, you don’t need to honor the commercialized parts of Valentine’s Day. Aside from Galentine’s Day, you can celebrate love this February in a feminist-friendly way.

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    For the past 21 years of my life, I’ve been single on Valentine’s Day. Because of that, I’ve always referred to February 14 as National Single Awareness Day or Galentine’s Day. I'm not going to lie–spending Valentine’s Day single hasn’t been easy, but I’ve also accepted the fact that it’s just an ordinary day, and I don’t need a significant other to spoil me or contribute to my self-worth. Getting into that mindset took time though, and I definitely experienced my share of struggles along the way.

    When it seems as though everyone around me is in a relationship, not having a romantic Valentine’s date planned can feel like torment.

    One year it got to me so much, I started questioning what could be wrong with me–and then I started changing things such as my physical appearance, personality and my friend group in hopes that someone would love me romantically. I tried to spontaneously change up my hairstyles and my wardrobe to incorporate designer brands and sexier attires. Suddenly, I became an idealized version of myself and tried so hard to be someone who I am not, all in pursuit of finally having an SO. 

    My friends around me would comfort me by saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” or “You’re such a beautiful and friendly person, anyone would want to be with you.” Those words went in one ear and out the other.

    Now, I'm realizing that I can’t let my relationship status define who I am, nor will I let it take over my life.

    I was raised to be an independent woman, and as an only child, I’ve been brought up to feel secure in myself and by myself. So, I’m not going to sit here and cry over not having someone to spoil me on an arbitrary day, a day that society has decided we should use to show our affection. I’m not going to let myself be jealous of boyfriends surprising their girlfriends with flowers, human-size teddy bears, chocolates or jewelry. In fact, I think that you should treat your partner every day how you would on Valentine’s Day when you’re in a relationship. 

    Though I've spent 21 Valentine’s Days single, I really am OK.

    I’m living my life to the fullest, I’m pursuing my dreams and embarking on new adventures and challenges each day. Plus, I’m grateful that I haven’t yet experienced any of the heartbreaks and relationship problems that my friends have, to the point where it takes a toll on their academics and daily life because of the emotional damage done.

    So ladies, I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you, and it’s 110 percent OK to be single every Valentine’s Day. I’ve survived it! If a date comes, that's great. If they don’t, it’s still great, because you’re strong and you are enough for yourself. We will not let our relationship statuses define who we are as individuals, and Valentine's Day is no different.

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    Valentine's Day is all candy hearts, Cupid and PDA — at least, if you ask taken people (and really, aren't they the worst kind?). Let's get real: Valentine's Day is WAY more than nomming on chocolates and asking yourself how you got so lucky to be in love. Want the real story? Ask a single girl. These are the true stages of Valentine's Day, as told by single ladies (the ones who really get what's going on here).

    1. Spring semester starts off so well — you're finally back on campus with the girls, single and *~~loving it~~*

    2. Seriously, there's never been a better time to be single in the history of ever.You don't even realize you're being lulled into a false sense of security!

    3. And then suddenly you start seeing pink and red hearts in CVS, and the Internet is blowing up about #ValentinesDay.

    Are we really going to do this now?

    4. You're really good at hiding your thoughts on the matter.

    JK, you couldn't keep quiet if your life depended on it.

    5. At first, your confidence pumps into overdrive. Who needs love anyway? You've got your friends, Nutella and most importantly, Netflix.

    6. …But then you realize everyone is making plans for the big day. Best of all? They won't stop talking about it.

    7. When they do finally take a breath, they ask you how you're feeling.

    And you're like, I'm sorry, I didn't realize I was coming down with a serious case of Single-itis. Thanks for checking on me every five minutes, guys! Super helpful!

    8. You start to question everything.Will you be single forever? Is it a bad sign that you love looking at cat pictures? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

    9. Why does this holiday even exist?!

    10. You decide it's time to take action. It's Friday night, and time is running out— the hunt for your Valentine is on.

    11. There are like 50 bajillion PDA couples in your way all night.

    Don't they know this bar is for singles only?!

    12. FINALLY you spot some gorgeous beauty across the room. Now that's the V-Day candy you were looking for!

    13. …But then they speak.

    Oh, right — that's why you wanted to be single in the first place, duh.

    14. The big day arrives. Valentine's Day is here!

    Singles Awareness Day has never been so real.

    15. But wait it's not too late to celebrate Galentine's Day! Okay so that was supposed to be yesterday, but you were busy hunting valentines, obviously.

    16. What's so wrong with friends, Nutella and Netflix anyway? TBH that sounds WAY better than romance, candlelight and uncomfortably tight date dresses.

    17. You and your fellow single besties proceed to watch chick flick after chick flick.

    Why didn't you think of this before?!

    18. You're also defying all stereotypes by not eating Ben & Jerry's, so you're definitely in the clear… LOL JK you've eaten a whole pint #sorrynotsorry.

    19. You remember that tomorrow is just another day a day when you can look at cat pictures again without feeling an impending sense of doom. And they're so freaking cute!


    20. And then the realization hits: It'll be another year before happy couples can show off again. Tomorrow, your single lady reign begins again!

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    Having a crush sucks. It sucks even more when you don’t know how to tell them how you feel. If there are serious friendships at risk, mutual friends who you don’t want to involve, or any weird ex situations, telling someone you like them can put the weight of the world on your shoulders. But it shouldn’t have to. Telling a crush how you feel, dealing with possible rejection, or getting out of the friendzone can be tricky for everyone involved but it’s best to take a minute to strip the situation of any unnecessary dramatics and handle it properly for the best case scenario. Whether you end up with a date or an unsoiled friendship, addressing a crush can actually be painless.

    Skip the lines

    Nobody likes getting the dreaded “We need to talk” text, so don’t send one. You won’t enjoy writing it, and they won’t enjoy receiving it. The same goes for in-person conversation starters. Having a crush is not that serious, and the conversation will be way more relaxed and easy if you don’t exaggerate. Bringing up the subject can be as simple as “Is it weird that I kinda want to ask you out on a date?” or “I’ve been thinking about asking you out, as more than friends.” It sounds scary, but it’s way more comfortable than unexpectedly pouring out your feelings and they’ll appreciate the casualness. Whether you opt for a quick text or an IRL moment, simplicity is key.

    Related: What It's Like to Text Your Crush

    Ask them out instead of dancing around it

    Sitting someone down and laying your heart out in front of them will probably come off a little too intimidating than how you’d like. Instead of planning any sort of dramatic conversation with a big emotional reveal at the end, just ask them to come out with you. If you’re already friends with this person, why not make plans as per usual and simply suggest that you treat it like a regular date? If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. When my girlfriend asked me out for the first time, I barely knew her and she was already deep in her feelings. I accepted her offer and, oops! Now I’m in a committed relationship. Just shoot your shot; the worst they can say is “No.”

    Don’t get anyone else involved

    It’s likely that you two have some mutual friends or maybe some sticky ex situations. We know you’re dying to talk to someone about how you feel and ask for advice from as many people as possible, but, on the off-chance that things get a bit awkward, you really don’t want too many people involved. You’re free to confide in anyone if you want to, but this is your business and it’s best to keep the rumor mill at bay. Read some think-pieces (kind of like this one!), do some reflection, maybe confer with your closest confidant, but don’t blow the situation out of proportion. The whole thing will go much more smoothly.

    Related: 17 Reasons Why Having a Crush is Absolute Torture

    Prepare yourself

    We’re sure you’ve spent many nights imagining the excitement and romance of the best case scenario, but it’s also smart to stay humble and prepare for what’ll come next if your person of interest is… not interested. If you two have already got a working friendship, remind yourself of how much you value that friendship and prioritize that over anything. Let them know that your platonic relationship means more to you than your crush and that staying friends (if they don’t share your feelings) is more important than endless awkwardness. Remember that rejection is not the end of the world and that you’ll encounter many, many great loves in your lifetime. Don’t sweat it. And, if they do reciprocate your feelings, pour yourself a tall drink and celebrate.

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    My girlfriend and I have been together for just over seven years now (we started dating in January 2009), and we haven't once celebrated Valentine's Day. We accidentally went out to eat on the 14th a couple years ago because our college roommates were out of town and we just wanted sushi, but it wasn't intentional. We started laughing the moment we saw that the restaurant was filled with couples and there were red roses on every table.

    We usually spend our Valentine's Day doing absolutely nothing. We have our anniversary in January and our first kiss anniversary in February, and then in March, we celebrate my birthday. February 14 never had any special meaning to us, so we didn't celebrate. It seemed like a commercial holiday that other couples were over-hyping.

    This year, we decided to celebrate Valentine's Day with all the stops and find out how we felt about it.

    The Experiment

    When I first proposed the idea, I was half certain I'd be shot down. Typically, our February 14 is spent mocking all the cheesy parts of romance that we don't like, and we're both very sarcastic people. To my surprise, my girlfriend loved the idea and thought it was sweet of me to want to try something new. To avoid any rom-com-esque drama, I let her know immediately that I'd be writing about our experience. As much as I love watching it on screen, I didn't want to have to chase her through an airport with a flash mob and a thousand yellow daisies and any other combination of getting-you-back ploys that happen at the end of a social experiment rom-com where the partner discovers the truth. 

    I warned her that if we were going to do this, we had to really do it. The day would be spent on a cheesy date where we were not allowed to mock Valentine's Day in any way, and we had to give each other the kinds of traditional gifts couples often do, like flowers, chocolates and stuffed animals. 

    Related: Why We Shouldn't Base Our Lives Off Rom Coms

    The Planning

    Right away, we were faced with all sorts of questions. This year, Valentine's Day was on a Sunday. We had no idea if couples normally went out to dinner on the Saturday before, or still celebrated on Sunday despite early restaurant closings. So we consulted several of our friends who are in relationships, and they all confirmed: people celebrate on the Sunday. 

    Planning our adorable date didn't go as smoothly as we'd hoped. We were all set to take the over-two-hour trip to Connecticut to go to Mystic Aquarium and Red Lobster, but when sub-zero temperatures were announced for New England, this changed our date idea. Mystic has a few outdoor displays, and with my poor blood circulation, we didn't want our date to end at the hospital. This also meant that taking the train anywhere was out of the question, which is a difficult task if you live next to Boston.

    Driving became our best bet, so we opted for the Museum of Science and dinner at Outback Steakhouse, because we knew they had lobster tails and filet mignon, which is almost as good as a full-on lobster restaurant. 

    The Gifts

    Because we'd decided to exchange gifts in addition to going out, I had more pre-planning for February than I normally do. My girlfriend and I usually stick to three gift-giving occasions a year: the Christmas/holiday season, our individual birthdays, and one made-up "summer gift" that we give each other just because. I wasn't used to shopping alongside all the other sappy couples, which made it weird.

    For weeks, I scoured the Valentine's Day displays at every store. I was still determined to make this cheesy holiday perfect for us, so I immediately bought my girlfriend a new Moleskine notebook. She keeps one in her purse at all times to jot down writing ideas, which is something we were taught in our early days of journalism and creative writing. Her old one was almost out of room, so I figured this gift really said, "I know you."

    I couldn't do it without chocolate, so I made two separate trips to Godiva to spoil her with two heart-shaped containers and a selection of handpicked favorites from the chocolate counter. Godiva is our go-to destination at the mall, so it was pretty easy to make a pit stop there while we were shopping.

    I also felt it wasn't truly Valentine's Day unless I was scrambling to find a few add-on gifts last minute, so I got her a stuffed fox just days before the main event and bought her a dozen white roses just the evening before February 14.

    It wasn't easy hiding all this from her in our small apartment, but luckily, I also have a car, so I just threw a bunch of it in my trunk and said, "Don't go in there."

    The Execution

    The day finally arrived, and it was colder outside than I could've imagined. I layered up in five pairs of thermal leggings and kept fur-lined Ugg gloves with me all day. 

    We decided to do gifts and notes before we went out, because our plans were a daylong event. Unfortunately, my bouquet wasn't much of a surprise because I needed to put the flowers in water ASAP, but they still made my girlfriend smile.

    She surprised me with plenty of my favorite Godiva chocolates, a Hermione Funko Pop bobblehead I've been dying to have, a stuffed cat from Kiki's Delivery Service and a cheesy-but-lovely Valentine's Day card with a letter written inside. 

    After we exchanged gifts, we headed out to the Museum of Science. We weren't the only older people in attendance, but there were so many kids that we spent a lot of the date laughing about how old we felt, which always makes for a great time together. We already are always talking about how simultaneously old and yet not-at-all-adult we feel and it was a great way to bond.

    We couldn't get tickets to the butterfly garden because they were sold out, but we were given stamps on our admission tickets so that we can reuse them and come back for free one time in the next six months. We also sprang for tickets to a Michael Jackson laser show in the planetarium, because why not.

    After several hours of learning (and reminiscing about our childhoods and why we hate math so much), we headed out for part two of our evening: dinner and drinks. Like the classy people we are, we went to Outback Steakhouse. Our logic? We actually get sushi so often that it has become not special anymore, so she got filet mignon and lobster and I got ahi tuna and lobster.  

    We ended the night back at our apartment with drinks and television watching. While we've been seriously binge-watching How to Get Away with Murder for a few weeks, but it didn't feel romantic to us, so we decided to watch some classic '90s cartoons like The Magic School Bus to continue our nostalgic theme. There is nothing millennials like more than talking about how everything was better circa 1990 to 2005, so it brought us closer together and we ended our night laughing.

    The Posting

    Like all couples do, I needed to document my day extensively via social media. This meant using Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook for more romantic bragging than I'm usually comfortable with. I tend to save my sappy posts for one or two times a year when really necessary.

    I didn't mind telling the world what we were doing through the use of photos, because I actually really love Instagram. But I did feel a little weird posting my obligatory photo of all my gifts. It reminded me that there are probably couples out there who wish they could give their significant other a nice gift, but simply can't afford to. And that's not what love is about, or what Valentine's Day is about. It's about spending time with the people you love.

    The Results

    I wasn't sure what to expect from forced romance, because I've always had it in my head that Valentine's Day is a commercial holiday meant to encourage people to buy things. By that logic, though, the same can be said for most holidays, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up my eternal love for Halloween.

    My girlfriend also pointed out that Valentine's Day actually does have romantic history behind it, and I remember celebrating the holiday with my mom when I was growing up. Bonus points for the nostalgia factor, especially because I grew up when kids exchanged cards with their entire homeroom class on February 14. I'd be lying if I said I didn't at least once give my elementary school crush a super cheesy Valentine in the hopes of blossoming romance. 

    We learned a few things about Valentine's Day. We learned that just because other couples do something doesn't make it a bad idea. (It's never stopped us from wanting to plan a grand wedding, has it?) We also learned that even an over-hyped, cheesy holiday can be a personal event if you plan it in a way that'll make you happy. As one of our close friends recently said, "Valentine's Day is about the two people involved." So we made it our day. We hung out at a museum and ate lobster and watched old cartoons. February 14 wasn't inherently special to us, but it gave us a reason to make it special, when we normally would have spent it like just another Sunday, grocery shopping and obsessively binge-watching the dramatic lives of law school students.

    Related: The Best & Worst Valentine's Day Dates College Girls Have Had

    Because we forced ourselves to look at Feb. 14 like a special day, it became one. We didn't "hold out" for a special occasion, and instead of ordering sushi yet again, we had lobster tails and a nostalgic date. I don't think there's anything wrong with turning a regular day into an occasion. Living with your significant other has its perks—Netflix and chill really returns to its literal meaning, there are many nights of eating raw cookie dough, and there's always someone to come home and complain to—but we never want it to get boring. We made a commitment to have our life together be a permanent adventure, and sometimes that means trying things you're completely unsure about. 

    To be honest, I'm not sure if we'll celebrate Valentine's Day again next year. It didn't go horribly and there were very few moments where I wanted to laugh at us for being sappy. It was actually kind of nice. 

    The one thing I do know for sure is that if we do, we're totally making the trip to Mystic next time. I really want to pet a stingray.

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    You’re probably like “whaaaaat?!” Internalized sexism is so not affecting my dating life. My spirit is half Beyoncé, half Tavi Gevinson, and I only date feminists or else. Well, even the best woman warriors find it hard to get through the day when your Netflix shows, classmates, guys at the gym and even parents are unknowingly reinforcing sexist ideals all around you.

    Internalized sexism is involuntary and occurs on an individual level. It means you’ve been exposed to messages that tell you women are inferior, and you’re now a byproduct of a society that shames and devalues you and others who share your gender. It’s infectious, invisible as air and lets you reinforce oppression without even choosing to.

    Maybe you’ve developed body image issues because you don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Maybe you’ve spent too long trying to be the “cool girl” who fits in with men. Internalized sexism manifests in various ways for different people. From something as subtle as believing women are fussy and emotional, to outright thinking of yourself as nothing more than a sexual object, it happens. Internalized sexism can arise from multiple influences (ie. the mother f**king patriarchy andprivilege). You could have picked it up from watching your mom stay at home and be the primary caregiver, or just not seeing enough women as actresses and news anchors on TV. The commercial side of America is terrible for reinforcing gender stereotypes, and when we’re exposed to it every day, it can be hard to get back in to a Betty Friedman mindset and slay the patriarchy.

    Obviously internalized sexism is dangerous for yourself, other women and society as whole, but you may not have considered how significantly sexist oppression plays a role in your dating life. The basis of our male/female relationships is backed by sexist, heteronormative gender roles, and because of that, misogyny manifests in these three sneaky ways.

    1. You’re hyper focused on your femininity

    Raise your hand if you loathe shaving your pubes but do it anyway because you think it makes you more beautiful. SAME. That’s internalized sexism for you! We aren’t born with the instinct to shave our body hair, but body policing make us fear that our man will mouth-vomit and call us nasty if he sees some hair down there. If you’re hyper-focused on fitting the mold of an ideal feminine woman, and feel like nobody will be sexually attracted to you if you aren’t physically perfect, then a problem is happening.

    We’re talking dieting, going to the gym in full makeup and thinking of all the ways to be bae’s perfect arm candy instead of focusing on the fact that you’re smart enough to work at NASA. There is no shame in valuing the sexy, feminine parts of yourself. But if you and your partner place no value on your intellect, personality or skills, then you’re perpetuating sexism. Sexism says that a woman must be pretty, quiet and nothing else. Operating outside of sexism means you see value in yourself beyond your looks, and want your partner to see that too.

    Brown University alumna, Suzannah Weiss, is a well-known writer that covers relationships and gender issues, and holds a degree in cognitive neuroscience and gender and sexuality studies. When it comes to internalized sexism and femininity, she has a lot to say. “Women strive toward feminine qualities at the expense of their wellbeing,” she says. “For example, being small is considered feminine. When we take pride in ourselves for being thin, we're conforming to the ideal of women as unimposing and ascetic and conventionally beautiful, not because that's how our body just is. We are perpetuating a standard of beauty that harms us.”

    Fun fact: You don’t have to fit a societal ideal to be desirable. That’s a toxic message which will inevitably lead to low self-esteem because beauty standards are not attainable or realistic. Primping isn’t in itself internalized misogyny, but if you feel anxious not doing it then it’s problematic. If your face and body are the basis of your romantic relationships, you should do some revaluating. Love yourself more than that, and find a partner who does too.

    Related:10 Things You Do For Yourself, Not Guys 

    2. You always feel guilty

    Do you find yourself apologizing often for the way you are? AKA feeling embarrassed when you share a controversial opinion, interrupt someone or, god forbid, eat a large meal. Shaming yourself and feeling guilty for totally reasonable behavior shows that you’ve definitely internalized sexism, and you’re not being fully authentic or free in your relationship.

    Carly, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, shares her own struggle and realization at the way sexism has made her feel guilty in her relationship. “I’ve had countless men and women tell me not to speak up,” she says. “From being little in class and raising my hand, to being in college and trying to share thoughts I think are valuable, I live in a society that wants me to be quiet. For years, I internalized this and didn’t realize it. In my first serious relationship, I found I had trouble speaking up in bed or talking to my boyfriend if he did something that hurt me.”

    Carly continues, “Eventually I had a breakdown and spilled the beans that I felt being honest about my feelings and speaking openly would make him mad at me. He was really sweet about it, and basically told me that being a good girlfriend doesn’t mean being a quiet girlfriend. I only realized that a lot of times female guilt is internalized sexism last semester when it was directly addressed in my gender studies class, so now it’s something I’m actively thinking about and trying to reshape.” 

    You should never exert pressure on yourself to act a certain way while dating, because that is the world telling you your natural self isn’t good enough. You are not inadequate because you are a real live woman with feelings and needs. Doesn’t the “sorry, not sorry” mantra of your sisters mean anything to you?

    Related:5 Feminist Dating Dilemmas (& How to Deal)

    3. You unreasonably elevate your partner above yourself

    When you’re battered with sexism on the daily, it’s hard not to see your male partner as supreme. This could come out as sacrificing your plans for his, being submissive to his wants, letting him win the fights and generally seeing your opinions as less valuable than his. If you're graduating soon and planning to move to be with him instead of the other way around, something is wrong sister. Relationships built on inequality can leave lasting emotional damage. We’re here to tell you that you should never minimize your own value or let a gender bias convince you that you’re worth less than someone with a penis.

    Whether you’re in love or just really vibing your bae, it’s difficult to notice when sexism is creeping into your interactions, and it likely falls under your radar. It takes perception to notice when you let your partner be in control of you.

    Weiss, our gender and relationships guru, has more to share. “The balance of power in your relationship becomes sexist if what you want is constantly pushed on the back burner,” she says. “If it’s subtle then it’s usually him not being invested in you and you’re making more sacrifices than he is. But if it’s harsh then it could be as severe as him not asking for your consent and belittling aspects of your gender. If the sexism in your relationship isn’t ever addressed, his power grows and yours diminishes. That’s really dehumanizing for women.” 

    Freeing yourself from internalized sexism takes a lot of personal strength. Not medication, a detoxifying juice cleanse or mass amounts of chocolate can cure it. What you can do is recognize cultural practices that lead to internalized sexism, and re-channel thoughts that harm or set limits on yourself.  You can engage in dialogue with your partner about your suffering, hold them accountable to treating you as an equal and in turn, have them hold you accountable to empowering yourself. Addressing sexism in your relationship is a cause very worth your time, and it can only lead to your value, happiness and being surrounded by better people. You should also absolutely collaborate with and support other women. They’ll be the readiest to talk about male privilege and fight dominance with you. Good women sharpen each other, and we believe you can have a romantic life where you are in control of your choices and feel how truly worthwhile you are.

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    It’s cuffing season, so put your hands up single ladies because this article is for you! Some of us who belong to the single population get sick and tired of being on our own. But who says it has to be this way? Through a few simple steps you can learn to either thrive as a single person or put yourself out there in new ways that will have you well on your way to changing your Facebook relationship status.

    1.Ask yourself why you’re single

    To understand why you’re on a single streak, it’s best to identify why so you can take steps to move into a relationship if that’s what you want. Being single isn’t a bad thing, and this question isn’t to tear yourself down but rather to analyze where you are in your life and where you see yourself going.

    Maybe you spend a lot of time by yourself or need some tips on how to let people knowyou’re into them. So whether you’ve just been working on yourself for the past few months, focusing on school or taking a break from guys, think about what the best steps are for moving into a relationship.

    2. Don’t lower your standards

    No matter how much you want to be in a relationship, make sure you never lower your standards. Now these shouldn’t be ridiculous like your future SO just has to have blue eyes and dark hair, though that’s great if it works out that way. Say it’s important that your future SO has goals and aspirations. Don’t settle for someone who has no idea what they plan on doing and aren’t even trying. Find out what’s important to you and don’t compromise.

    3. Understand that it’s okay to be single

    The longer you’re single, the more time you have to develop yourself to be an amazing person when you are in a relationship. And if you’re sad about being single, that’s okay too. Acknowledge and accept your feelings for what they are, but remember to look on the bright side when you’re ready.

    4. Make yourself (more) awesome

    Being single can be an opportunity to improve the current you. Take the time you might be spending in a relationship and devote it to making a cooler version of yourself. Go kayaking, learn to cook an amazing dish (for yourself) or volunteer at the local shelter. Find something that will help you reach your goals in the future and make you a more interesting person.

    5. Immerse yourself in learning

    Finding ways to engage in self-learning encourages you to enjoy developing yourself and loving who you are. Join a book club or learn how to teach Pilates all on your own. The confidence you’ll gain in having this new knowledge will attract others who will be relationship material.

    6. Work on your other relationships

    Investing in non-romantic relationships is essential to your mental health. Plan a girls’ night in with your squad or have a long phone call with one of your siblings. Reconnect with a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. Whether it’s growing in your faith or strengthening your friendships, recognizing that an SO is not the only source for human intimacy and closeness will help you be a mature individual and a better SO to someone else in the future.

    Related: 5 Little Ways to Show You're Into Him

    7. Go do things by yourself

    One of the best things you can do as a single person is learn to be happy independently. Visit your favorite book or record store just to browse. Head to a coffee shop with only your own company. Try and find ways to relish being on your own doing what you love. If it’s the right moment, a fellow record collector might just get your number.

    8. Force yourself to be social

    This may be counterintuitive to the above suggestion. But having the ability to be comfortable both on your own and in social settings will help in starting a relationship. If you’re typically the grandma or awkward turtle of your friend group, ask one of your fun-loving, social friends if you can shadow them for a night out. If going out isn’t your thing, join a group or club to meet new people. The more people you engage with, the more likely you are to create a network that contains someone you’re compatible with.

    9. Ask around

    Ask your girl or guy friends if they know any people who are looking to date. They just might be willing to help you out. It could be that your friends have no idea you’re trying for a relationship and you just have to let them know. Your future SO could be a mutual friend away.

    10. Step up your flirting skills

    Still not sure how to flirt? Maybe the guy you like just doesn’t know you’re into him. It might be time to brush up and get some professional tips to get you past level zero in flirting.

    11. Get online

    Many girls are just not into online dating. And while it can have disastrous results, it can also be a new way to find your future SO. You may even find your true love.

    12. Make the first move

    I am a firm believer that at least once in every woman’s life, she should make the first move. If you see someone in class you think is just too cute to ignore, ask them to study and maybe text them later to see if they want to go out for coffee. Guys are often just waiting until a girl shows interest before they start pursuing a relationship.

    In the end, you need to know that the right person will often come at the time you least expect it. All you can do is try not to freak out in between and be the most amazing single person possible.

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    If you’re a hesitant, nervous person, the thought of having to undress and be sexy in front of another person can be downright terrifying. The pressure is most definitely on. Not only is there pressure to pleasure someone else, but the pressure of looking good and being good can be daunting as hell. Whether you’re nervous about looking silly in bed, or you’re afraid of rejection, we hear you. If you relate to these stages below, continue reading to learn how to overcome these insecurities, and gain control of your sex life.

    1. The initiation

    While things seem to be heating up, you can’t help but be nervous in wondering if your partner wants to take things to the next level. Should you make the first move? Should they? Or are they not ready? Are you even ready? Your hesitancy could also be taken as a sign that you don’t want to have sex, or you’re unsure of being with that person at all. In these moments, you wish you could just know what you want and take action, and we’re sure your partner would too.

    “It’s so hard to tell whether someone wants you to make the first move or not,” says Sarah*, a freshman at Lehigh University. You don’t want them to judge you for whether or not you’re ready.”

    The first step to overcoming this shyness is to be with someone you are comfortable with. If someone is pressuring you into doing something you do not want to do, then this is not the right person to be sleeping with. This person should also be willing to hear your concerns about your sex life so that you can both move on without the nervousness.

    Try to remind yourself that there is a reason you have made it this far with this person. If you are in the position of deciding whether or not you want to sleep with someone, your partner is making that same decision as well. It’s scary for both parties! If you do need some reassurance, however, verbally ask them if they want to have sex! It’s not as scary as it seems and if your partner is as into you as you are to them; they will be happy you spoke up.

    Related: 6 Things Everyone is Insecure About When It Comes to Sex

    2. The pressure to pleasure/be pleasured

    Eventually, your body language says what you truly want. However, you can’t help those intrusive thoughts. Your nerves are on edge. Are they enjoying themselves? Are you enjoying yourself? Are you allowed to ask to mix things up and change positions? You’re too nervous for their response, and as a result, you rarely speak up. You may even be afraid to express yourself, and as a result, you’re focused more on your insecurities than the naked person in front of you. Marty Klein, a sex therapist and author of Sexual Intelligence, says, “Sex isn’t about what bodies do – it’s about how people feel. So do sexual things that will make you feel the way you want to feel – close, graceful, naughty or safe – not what you think 'real sex' or 'normal sex' or 'cool sex' involves."

    Communication does not need to stop once the sex begins. Meaning, you’re allowed to speak up and ask for something in bed. Sex is a two-person activity that should result in both parties giving and receiving. You are not a selfish or bad person for wanting to feel good. Do not be shamed by your sexuality. Pro tip: You can definitely tell what kind of person your partner is by their response to your sexual requests.

    And if you’re unsure of what you want in bed, tell your partner this as well. It’s okay to take things slow to ultimately understand what feels good and what doesn’t. You and your partner can explore together. Sometimes because of someone’s cultural background or societal expectations, they feel ashamed to talk about sex openly. Understand that sex does not come easily for everyone, and that is perfectly normal. The bedroom should be and remain a judgment free zone.

    3. The Awkward Pillow Talk

    If you haven’t slept with this person before, you could be nervous for the awkward encounters after the actual act. Whether or not this is a first-time hookup or a start of a relationship, shy people are always nervous of what is expected after sexy time. If this is just a hookup, you’re wondering if you/they can spend the night. All the logistics of the time you’ve spent together begin settling into your mind. “What did that hookup mean to them?” You start wondering if the sex was as good for them as it was for you. If anything, the aftermath of the intimate time can be the most challenging for shy girls who are not sure of where they stand with the other person.

    Jessica*, a freshman at Lehigh University, says, “This part of hookups is my least favorite in college because it means something different depending on the guy. It’s hard to tell whether a guy genuinely likes you or just your body. Worrying definitely takes away from the experience.”

    As far as enjoying your sexy time goes, a rule of thumb is to feel more and worry less. The more you limit intrusive thoughts and consider your sensations, the more you’ll enjoy yourself. Whether that means it’s an intimate act, a fun pleasurable time, or both, that is entirely up to you and your partner. The only way to definitely know what your partner is thinking is to — brace yourself — ask your partner. Without verbal communication, your guess is as good as mine as to what your sexy time means. After all, sex is what you make it. Good luck!

    *Name has been changed

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    Being in a relationship can be an amazing experience. But being in a relationship can also feel like a real burden when one or both of you feel like you might be holding each other back. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you are, plus it can be a difficult conversation to have. More than that, though, sometimes you care about your SO so much that you don’t want to believe that he or she might keep you from pursuing bigger things. No matter how you might be experiencing it, it’s a tough topic, so we’ve spoken to some collegiettes about how you can tell if your relationship is holding you back.

    Your relationship is holding you back if…

    1. You’re so focused on your SO that you can’t focus on yourself

    It’s totally normal to focus on your partner in a relationship, but when it gets to a point where you can’t focus on yourself anymore, there is a problem. “I was in a relationship for three years, and the main reason it ended was because we both felt we were holding each other back,” *Jordan* says. “I was super invested in his world that I never focused on myself. After it ended I realized I had no clue what I was doing with my life.” Jordan says that after she and her SO split, she was able to discover so much about herself that she wasn’t able to do with him. Of course, when you’re dating someone you should be invested in their world, but you shouldn’t lose yourself in it. If you find you can’t focus on yourself and your goals in your relationship, then you should consider spending some time apart.

    2. You’re losing yourself

    Going along with that, losing yourself in a relationship can be a big red flag alerting you that your relationship might be holding you back. “If you’re at a point in your relationship where you’re sacrificing things you enjoy, it’s time to move on,” Rachel Petty, a recent graduate of James Madison University, says. “I was dating a guy who didn’t like to go out as much as I did. He’d beg me to stay in, and I’d miss out on nights with my friends. If the person you’re with is causing you to be less like yourself, they’re holding you back.” It’s important to strike a balance between doing things your SO likes to do and things you like to do, but if you feel like you’re starting to change yourself and what you like to do to fit your SO, then like Rachel said, it might be time to move on.

    3. You and your SO have two very different life paths

    It can be incredibly difficult when you realize that you and your SO have two different life paths, primarily because you are pursuing two different careers. “I've been in a relationship for five years with a guy since sophomore year of high school, and I'm coming to realize our career paths (and life paths) are going to be so different,” *Laura* says. “Pre-med and business don’t really seem to have the same life path.” When one of you is staying in school for another four years (or longer) and the other wants to start their career in a different place, you might end up holding each other back because you’re now in two different places in life, which means it might be best for you to focus on yourself for a little bit.

    Related: 3 Little Things You Should Stop Doing For a Healthier Relationship

    Your relationship is not holding you back if…

    1. You can communicate successfully about what you both need

    You’ve heard it before: communication is key. And it truly is, especially when it comes to determining if your relationship is holding you back. “Ultimately it comes down to: do you want to be together and make it work?” Jackie* says “If you do, you have to work through it like (my SO and I) did. We said, ‘Okay, this is what I need to do in order to get to where I need to be and if it means we don't see each other for a few days or speak heavily, that's what it needs to be.’” Jackie says it’s definitely not an easy conversation to have, but if you genuinely see a future with your SO, then it’s a conversation worth having, especially so you two don’t end up holding each other back.

    2. Your SO is your biggest cheerleader

    If your SO is your biggest supporter, always encouraging you to go for your dream, and you do the same for him or her, then you guys are probably not holding each other back. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it does mean it will be worth it in the long haul. Emily Veith, a recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, says her boyfriend is a big supporter of hers. “He supports me doing the things I love, and is there cheering me on when I walk into interviews for legislative offices (I want to work in legislature.)” she says. “Also, he gives me time to focus on me. For example, when I was trying to complete my senior project before I graduated in June, he stepped aside and said I needed to focus on my project so I could accomplish my goal.” Her bottom line: “When your SO stands by your side and supports you and your dreams and helps you to accomplish those dreams, that’s when you know they are a keeper.” We couldn’t agree more.

    Of course, what works for everyone in his or her own relationships is completely individualistic. But it is important to look within yourself to figure out if you can accomplish what you want in life while also being with your SO. Whatever the answer might be, it’s okay. What’s important is that you’re doing what’s best for you right now, and sometimes that’s not what other people want. At the end of the day, though, you have to take the best care of you and your dreams as you can, even if that means you’re riding solo for a little while. Your dreams are worth it.

    *Names have been changed.

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    Spring Break is a time of relaxation, throwing back a few frozen drinks and getting a nice tan, and while there are plenty of citiesin the nation that are extremely LGBTQ+-friendly, we can’t exactly soak up the sun in New York City this March. Instead, grab those sunglasses, some sunscreen and your partner and hit up one of these spring break destinations that are both warm and queer-friendly.

    1. Houston, Texas

    Home to numerous bars, hotels and restaurants, Houston is one of the top LGBTQ+ tourist destinations in the country year round. Texas is known for its young crowd and bar life, but Houston is where it’s at to have the perfect date night with your partner. Walking the streets of Houston, you’ll see that rainbow flag painted onto the sides of bars like Barbarella and Blur Bar, not to mention hanging out of businesses’ windows, too!

    2. San Francisco, California

    Any local of San Francisco can vouch for the city’s love of the LGBTQ+ community. Spending a week here might not be the wild party you would find yourself at in, say, Cancun, but the bar-hopping possibilities and scenic views make it the perfect getaway for two. Inns like the The Parker Guest House make their guests feel at home, with a judgment-free vibe and ideal location. Looking for some adventure? Go skydiving or go on the Golden Gate Bridge Walk!

    Related: The Ultimate Spring Break To-Do List

    3. Key West, Florida

    As every collegiette knows, Florida is practically the definition of spring break. From Miami to Orlando, young people flock to these sandy beaches from all over the country. But where should you and your partner go to enjoy yourselves, completely stress-free? Alexander's Guest House is a great resort that is exclusively for the LGBTQ+ community! All around there are hotels, bars and restaurants that are 100 percent accepting of all couples so everyone can enjoy their vacations in peace.

    If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, try a romantic sail around the shores of Key West! Or if you’re one of those couples that likes to be adventurous and active together, take the walk up the 88 steps of the Key West Lighthouse! 

    4. Curaçao

    Even though the flight can be measured in many Netflix episodes (read: it’s long), Curaçao is absolutely the best place for the LGBTQ+ community to go to this spring break! With its “live and let live” motto, Curaçaois one of the most encouraging and supportive vacation spots around. It wanted to show its support so much, many hotels and resorts are now proud members of the IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association). With so many activities to do in the Caribbean (like snorkeling, parasailing, scuba diving, etc.) and the happenin’ nightlife, anyone who doesn’t vacation here is missing out.

    Maelous Molendijik, hotel ambassador for the Floris Suite Hotel, says, “We feel it is all about inclusion, like our Rainbow Lounge happy hour. Gay and straight getting along in harmony. The guests are very diverse and open-minded. One cannot necessarily pinpoint who is what. And that is just fine. It is all about inclusion and acceptance.” Sounds like a great time!

    5. Panama City Beach, Florida

    Panama City Beach is quite literally the Spring Break capital, so if you’re looking for that all-out rager with your partner, this is the place for you. Checking out the Tiki Bar at the Sandpiper Beacon and Coyote Ugly bar should top your list of things to do while spending your week there, but the list only continues! Between the numerous amusement parks and restaurants to choose from, you honestly couldn’t get bored. The Splash Bar, among many others, is known for its LGBTQ+-friendly service and feel-good, Spring Break vibe!

    No matter where you decide to go, and whether you and your partner go with your friends or just go together, make your spring break memorable. Go the romantic getaway route or the Girls Gone Wild way – the choice is yours!

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    Relationships are hard at any age, but for many young people, college is when you enter your first grown-up relationship. Say good-bye to the good ol’ days of group dates at high school football games, and hello to handling real-world issues. You might be having mature conversations about intimacy and the future of your relationship. And as your relationship moves forward, you are exposed to new aspects of your SO’s life, which likely means you will be interacting with your SO’s parents more and more frequently.

    If you are lucky, while you may not be best friends, you will have a healthy and pleasant relationship with your SO’s parents. But, that’s not always the case. Even though you are amazing, it can be easy to get off on the wrong foot. Maybe you didn’t make the best first impression, or maybe you all just have very different views on major moral issues. Either way, disagreeing with your partner’s parents can add a new level of stress to a relationship.

    And while it can seem like not getting along with your SO’s family could kill any future your relationship may have, relationship experts agree, that disagreements don’t have to be the end of the relationship. Your relationship can be salvaged, and become even stronger, if you and your SO work together to mediate the conflict.

    1. Don’t tackle the problem alone

    Experts across the board agree that if you are having a problem with your SO’s parents, you and your SO need to tackle the problem together. Jasbina Ahluwalia, a relationship expert and matchmaker, and the founder of Intersections Match by Jasbina, encourages couples to pursue open communication to best tackle any problem.

    “Open communication is extremely important in a mutually fulfilling relationship. That said, ‘open’ is not a license for insensitive. Balance openly expressing yourself, while maintaining sensitivity for your SO’s bond with their parents,” Ahluwalia says.

    It can be tricky to tell your SO, that you’re not really meshing with their parents. But when the time comes, take a deep breath and try to explain your feelings, avoiding emotionally charged language. If you know you want to work through this problem, make it clear to your SO that you are open to looking for a solution.

    2. Identify the specific problem

    It can be easy to make a sweeping statement that you ‘just can’t stand your SO’s parents.’ But if you are looking to make this relationship last, it is worthwhile to try to identify what is causing your negative feelings.

    Ahluwalia suggests using a team-oriented approach to find the problem. “A good start is identifying the precise behavior which affects you instead of registering a dislike for [your SO’s] parents.”

    It can be difficult to dig into your emotions and past actions to discover the root of the problem. But discovering the nature of your feelings can help you develop an action plan. If you realize the dislike stems from a bad first impression, you can remedy that through future interactions. If you know that these feelings originate from disagreements about social issues, you can simply avoid discussing them.

    Related: How To Tell If It’s Just An Argument or the End Of Your Relationship

    3. Decide if it’s worth broaching the subject with your SO’s parents

    You may want to just pretend like everything is okay, but it can be tempting to address the issue with your SO’s parents. But, Dr. Jenn Mann, author of The Relationship Fix, cautions that it’s not always beneficial to bring up the problem.

    “If morally and philosophically you don’t see eye to eye, it won’t benefit you to bring up the problem,” Dr. Mann says. “But, if it is communication style that is the problem, it could be productive to address it.”

    If you can bring to the table, a specific problem, such as, “I don’t like it when you address me with that tone,” you can have a concrete issue to resolve. But if you can only speak in vague generalities like, “I just don’t like talking to you,” you can do your relationship more harm than good.

    4. Know if the problem is a deal breaker

    As much as you don’t want to think about it, there may come a time when you need to end your relationship. And while you may hope that the honeymoon phase will last forever, in the end, you have to be honest with yourself about what your deal breakers are.

    “Most people have good instincts about what their deal breakers are,” Dr. Mann says. “You have to look at whether you are on the same page morally and philosophically. If the two of you are too far apart, it’s a deal breaker.”

    Ahluwalia believes that it is essential to know that you have support from your partner in a difficult situation. And not having support can make a struggling relationship falter further.

    “Resentment can kill relationships,” says Ahluwalia. “I think that any issue which is super important to one partner cannot be dismissed by the other partner without compromising the relationship.”

    So, if your SO is unwilling to listen to your feelings, or if you know that you will never be able to have a polite conversation with their mother, it may be time to part ways.

    Related: What To Do Once The Honeymoon Phase Is Over

    5. Have a strategy to cope if you are going to stick it out

    If you decide that a disagreement with your SO’s parents isn’t a deal breaker, it can be wise to have a plan on how to handle future interactions. Megan Mann, a graduate of Purdue University, hasn’t directly experienced this problem, but her boyfriend has.

    “[My boyfriend]’s never really seen eye-to-eye with my mom or my sister and even after four years, he tends to keep his distance,” Megan says. “He deals with it by picking and choosing when to be around them. He limits what he’s willing to talk to them about, as he doesn’t agree with the way they treat me. It’s all about picking and choosing when to be around them.”

    Going into family situations with a game plan can make life easier for everyone. So, if you know your dad and your SO don’t get along, consider having them socialize in different groups or sit in separate areas. If you know a certain topic sparks disagreement, steer conversation in a different direction. It can be challenging at first but will pay off when everyone’s happy.

    While it can be immensely difficult to handle a problem with your SO’s parents, approaching the problem with your SO in a healthy and productive manner can only make your relationship stronger. In the end, remember that you all do have some common ground: both you and your SO’s parents love your SO. And that’s all that matters.

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    The quest to find prince charming on a dating app, namely Tinder, has proven to be a daunting task. College-aged guys on Tinder range from the serial right-swipers to the guys so analytical about the types of pictures and bio you post. If you haven’t given up hope on finding a connection on Tinder, we asked seven college guys what makes them automatically swipe right on a girl. Their answers may (or may not) surprise you.

    1. A clever bio

    It’s hard to determine how much or how little information we want to reveal about ourselves on Tinder. However, for guys who claim that they are looking for more than just a hookup, they like to know who you are beyond a face.

    Michael Grayhand, a junior at Georgia Southern University, wants to know the basics about the girls he swipes right for—age and/or school, favorite quote or witty statement and their passions. 

    “While I don’t expect a girl to lay out her whole life story, I want to know something about her to see if there is something we connect over right off the bat,” he says. “So please don’t leave it blank! Or be basic and say ‘I love kittens.’ And? So does everyone else.”

    So if you’re comfortable, let the dating pool know what makes you unique.

    2. Being passionate about something

    Attraction is a big part of what initially draws someone to you, but according to guys, seeing a woman who is driven makes her ten times more appealing.

    Parker Lanza, a sophomore at the University of Georgia, met his current girlfriend on Tinder and was immediately drawn to her passion for dancing.

    “My girlfriend is a professional salsa dancer, and I remember seeing pictures of her dancing on her Tinder,” he says. “Not only did she look beautiful dancing, it was so attractive that she was showing off her working hard.”

    So whether it be a sport, your job or volunteering that you’re passionate about, a worthy guy will take interest in what makes you tick.

    3. Seeing you alone in pictures 

    It’s safe to conclude that guys don’t want to have to think too hard about swiping. They want to get a definite feel of what you look like easily, which is why they will left swipe on a girl with too many group pictures.

    According to Rashad King, a senior at Kentucky State University, even if you are potentially the girl of a guy’s dreams, guys won’t think twice about swiping left if they can’t tell which girl you are in the picture.

    “I don’t want to have to investigate who the girl is in the picture,” he says. “One group picture is cool, but I’m looking to hang out with you, not your four best friends. So why are they included?”

    P.S. Guys could definitely benefit from this tip too!

    4. Having a variety of pictures

    The hardest part of creating a Tinder profile is picking what pictures to post. Guys want to see you in a variety of different settings.

    Chris Colfer, a sophomore at Kennesaw State University, likes to see potential Tinder matches in many lights – dressed up, chilling out and maybe a selfie or two thrown in.

    “It’s weird to me if a girl only has selfies in her bathroom,” he says. “So if you’ve traveled abroad or are always at this certain coffee shop, it’s cool to see.”

    So even if your best pictures are from your birthday, don’t post all of them at once.

    5. Sports gear

    As typical as it may seem, guys like when a girl is into sports (surprise, surprise). Xavi LaCosta, a sophomore at the University of Central Florida, gives brownie points to any woman supporting a sports team.

    “Even if you’re just representing your school, seeing a lady in a jersey does something to my heart,” he says.

    However, if you aren’t into sports, don’t go out and buy a jersey just for a guy. It’s not worth it!

    From guys strictly NOT looking for relationships…

    6. Pictures of you partying

    Some women refrain from posting pictures of us partying in fear of looking “trashy,” but some guys on Tinder actually want to see that. Gio Ramos, a junior at Kennesaw State University, likes seeing girls at bars, fraternity houses and generally having a good time.

    “If I see a girl that likes to go out, I’ll swipe right,” he says. “Maybe that turns some guys off, but I’m looking for someone to go out and have a good time with me.”

    So if you’re looking for a drinking buddy, don’t worry about having to tone down how you look on Tinder. There's no shame in going out and having a good time, so if you're the type of girl that likes to live it up, don't be ashamed. 

    7. Full body pictures

    This screams degrading, but guys admitted to swiping right on girls with full body pictures, and those who show off their body.

    Austin*, a junior at the University of Georgia, views Tinder as strictly a hookup app. “If a girl is cute, has a nice body of course I’m going to swipe right,” he says.

    Let’s not pretend we’re surprised, though.

    While keeping these suggestions in mind, remember to just be you. Never pretend to be someone you aren’t to impress a guy. Tinder is an experience full of lows and highs, so happy swiping!

    *Name has been changed