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A Collegiette's Guide to Life
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    In many cases, signs of an unhealthy relationship are easy to recognize. However, some signs of a controlling relationship are brushed off as simple cases of jealousy or overprotectiveness. While small doses of jealousy are normal, consistent patterns of jealousy and over possessiveness should not play a part in the day-to-day of a relationship. Here are five possible signs you may encounter if you’re in a controlling relationship.

    1. Your SO guilts you when you go out

    Wanting to go out and enjoy the company of your friends is completely normal. Everyone deserves to relieve some stress after a long week of school and work. If your SO consistently makes you feel bad for wanting to go out with your friends, that demonstrates a lack of trust and an unhealthy amount of jealousy.

    Jamie Long, a sophomore at Coastal Carolina University, says her ex-boyfriend’s excessive guilt caused her to lose a lot of friends. “Even if I let him know who I was going with and where we would be, he would still become irate,” she says. “It came to a point where my friends didn’t ask me to come out with them anymore because they knew my boyfriend would essentially forbid me from going.”

    Trust is at the foundation of every healthy relationship. Although sacrifices have to be made on each end of a relationship, giving up your entire social life shouldn’t be one of the sacrifices you are forced to make.

    2. Your privacy is consistently being invaded  

    Being open and honest in a relationship is always beneficial, but you both deserve some degree of privacy. Your partner doesn’t need to know every text exchange between you and your bestie or why you texted another guy or girl asking for notes.

    Ximena Maldonado, a freshman at the University of Arizona, believes that it’s unnecessary to go through your SO’s belongings, especially if you haven’t given them a reason to not trust you. “At first it was little behaviors like looking over my shoulder when I was texting,” she says. “However, it progressed to him trying to convince me that he needed to have his thumbprint in my phone. He would always refer to how his ex-girlfriend hurt him, and he just wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again.” 

    You shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes of your SO’s exes or be made to feel guilty if you haven’t done anything wrong.

    Related: 5 Signs You're In An Unhealthy Relationship 

    3. Double standards are an issue

    Mistakes are bound to be made in a relationship. However, you may find your mistakes are amplified and zeroed in on between you and your SO if they’re controlling. If they were to make the same mistake you do, they are defensive and expect forgiveness.

    In addition, if you make a mistake, your SO may not give you a chance to speak or explain yourself. They will already presume you as guilty.

    “I was in a relationship where it was not problematic if his female friends texted him, but if I so much as received a Snapchat or text from one of my guy friends, it was WWIII,” Alana Rutherford, a senior at the University of Central Florida, says. “I would be accused of flirting with these guys, even if there was no proof to back up what he was saying.”

    If your SO cannot recognize their mistakes, but punishes your for what they think is a mistake, their ego and jealousy may be a toxic mixture to the relationship. 

    4. They want all of your attention

    It’s good to consider your SO your best friend. Depending on your circumstances, maybe you spend the majority of your free time with your SO. On the other hand, it’s definitely not a requirement. If you feel as if you want your space, that shouldn’t be up for debate.

    Abbey Williams, a sophomore at the University of Wyoming, recalls her best friend being parented by her boyfriend. “One of my good friends used to get ‘in trouble’ with her boyfriend if she was hanging out with anyone that wasn’t him,” she says. “Even it was her best friend she’s known for years. Everyone should have other friends, hobbies and just time to be with their girls.”

    You are entitled to work toward goals and involve yourself in activities that don’t involve your SO. Being the best version of you will only strengthen the relationship as a whole.

    5. Your SO belittles your beliefs

    Perhaps it’s politics, religion, school or a hobby that you hold close to your heart. A controlling partner may belittle how you feel about certain topics, especially when you have differing opinions on the topic. They want to retain power in the relationship and consistently be considered “right.”

    While it’s perfectly acceptable to have differences of opinion and have constructive conversations about these differences, it should never come to a point where your SO makes you feel dumb for believing a certain way.

    Kristina*, a junior at Kennesaw State University, endured a relationship where her beliefs were constantly shunned. “I knew from the beginning we had differing political and religious opinions,” she says. “But over time, is became overbearing. He would always brag about having the more logical or smarter opinion and put me down for mine. This caused more problems than necessary, such as arguing instead of having educated conversations.”

    Whatever you believe, know that it’s not anyone’s place to judge you for your beliefs.

    If you find that many of these signs resonate with you, you may need to take a step back from the relationship. If you partner is unwilling to address these problems with you, that may be another reason to consider if the relationship is beneficial to all parties. You should not lose your sense of independence, nor be under constant fire and surveillance.

    *Name has been changed

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    Double dates are a great way to have fun with other couples, meet new people and set up a less intense playing field if you’re just getting interested in someone. Regardless, you know (and hopefully enjoy) someone in the group, so you’ll have their company to fall back on. If you’re going on a double date with someone you don’t know for a friend, it’s the perfect opportunity to play wingwoman. Having others around takes off some of the pressure, and you will probably have even more fun with a group!

    We’ve compiled a list of several go-to double date ideas that are tried and true, as well as some that are a little out there to spice things up! Read on for some great ideas for your next date.

    1. Brunch

    Everyone (especially millennials) loves brunch. You have the best of all possible worlds—breakfast/lunch food and even alcohol! It’s an energetic environment that forces everyone to act casual and get to know each other.

    "I recently went on a double date for brunch and we ended up staying at the restaurant for four hours!” says Autumn Dube, a senior at Emmanuel College. Brunch is easy because it doesn’t have to be that long, but if things are going well, it’s a great opportunity to extend the date, especially since it’s early in the day!

    “Our server loved us and we had the best time sharing stories and trying different tapas,” says Autumn. “We ended up staying so long that our server's shift was over and she took rounds of shots with us at the table after. It's definitely a memory I'm happy to have." See? Four is a party!

    Related: 7 Classy AF Dates That Won’t Break the Bank

    2. Amusement park or carnival

    There’s no way an amusement park date can be boring, even if the person you’re paired up with is. There are tons of activities, from rides to games to park food, so if you’re up for a full day, go for it!

    Everyone can let out their inner kid at an amusement park, and you’ll get to see if your date is an adrenaline junkie or on the calmer side. There’s a lot you can tell if a person picks the highest-climbing roller coaster there or the easygoing train ride.

    Make this double date-friendly by planning a scavenger hunt in the amusement park or carnival. Each couple has to take a piece of a character’s costume, get a picture with someone doing flame tricks, etc.

    3. Trivia and other bar games

    Bar games are the perfect activity for competitive bonding, and you’ll also get to see your date’s true nature come out when they’re trying to win!

    Set up a trivia night or a board game tournament at a local bar, movie theater or at someone’s house or apartment for easygoing fun. Some venues might even have themes—time to whip out that 70s outfit you’ve been putting together forever.

    “My best friend from home really wants to set up a double date to Dave & Busters after I turn 21!” says Amanda Goecke, a junior at Carthage College. “Both of our boyfriends are really into video games, and we thought it’d be fun for them to bond over games while we enjoyed drinks.”

    Teaming up for games like trivia, pool or other board games that a bar or restaurant might set up is a great test of your compatibility and chemistry with your date, and will give you a good idea of their interests and passions, too. Set up a competition against the other couple you’re out with to really make things interesting! May the best couple win.

    4. Picnic

    Picnics are adorable. It’s that simple. And no one ever goes on them anymore—you’ll get major originality points. This is a great summer idea, and there’s probably fun events going on at your local parks—cookouts, movie screenings, concerts and more await!

    You can also spread out some of the work among a larger group of people. Give everyone an item to bring (food, music, games) so that not one person has to do all the work or coordination.

    Consider encouraging people to bring a meaningful dish (an old family recipe, their favorite prepared dish from a local deli) that will get the conversation going among the larger group. You can get a chance to see if your date is any good in the kitchen and demonstrate your skills, too!

    Related: Is Dating a Friend Worth the Risk?

    5. Mini golf or bowling

    These are first date classics. They’re low stakes (unless someone gets aggressively competitive) and shouldn’t be too expensive either. Pretty much anything where teaming up against another couple can happen (lasertag, paintball, etc.) is a good move!

    “Four people is enough for a good time, but not too much that it’s crowding the course,” says Jasmine Yadeta, a junior at the University of Victoria. “Also offers a lot of opportunity for flirting, getting a little competitive. Basically the perfect recipe for an amazing time.”

    If you’d rather stay in, consider testing your skills at a video game tournament between the two couples. Setting up is easy, just get snacks and your or your date’s favorite games and you’re set.

    6. Rollerblading

    We know, we know, this is old school (and hard!). But rollerblading, particularly if you or your date isn’t good at it, is a great opportunity for bonding. A plus is having one of those movie-esque moments where one of you holds the other from behind while showing them the correct technique! *wink wink*

    You can also set up a race—consider an obstacle course if you’re feeling adventurous—with the other couple on the date. Losers have to take the other couple out to dinner! It works perfectly.

    Rollerblading on a date inevitably gives you something to talk about, be it your lack of skill or your memories of the sport if it’s something you have experience with. You also have a built-in getaway plan if necessary—just blade away and leave the date behind.

    7. Restaurant or bar crawl

    Obviously going out to eat is standard fare (pun!) for couples’ outings, but adding another pair to the mix makes things more exciting. The conversation will be inevitably more interesting just because you’ll have more to talk about, and the group size will hopefully mitigate any potential awkwardness.

    This is another one that might require a little bit more of a time investment than a traditional date, so keep that in mind. That aside, picking out a whole slew of bars is a creative, original way to have a really fun time. Check out some new and fun spots in your local neighborhood, but don’t forget to work in some of your favorite classics.

    With this option, you also don’t have to worry about meeting everyone’s food and drink needs or preferences—you can knock them all out! Plus, everyone knows that food is another ultimate bonding tool.

    Even if it’s not the best time, don’t give up on the double date. After all, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ first romantic rendezvous was a double date—and they weren’t even set up with each other!

    Double dates are the perfect way to change things up if you’re in a steady relationship with someone or to give things a test run if your crush is still developing. They’ll also undoubtedly leave you with great stories and laughs to share. Share your double date ideas and stories with us in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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    Most people consider college the time to go outside of their comfort zones, try new things and say yes to new experiences. Subsequently, committing to a long-term relationship usually falls wayside while becoming friends with benefits or dating in general becomes most students' easy alternative. However, finding yourself a serious relationship might just be what you need.

    1. Your SO will always be there for you

    Indiana University senior Sarah Cherie McDaniel was one of those people who went into college “looking for fun” and ended up in a pretty serious relationship. “I started dating a guy freshman year and, after trying to keep it casual, it became something more serious,” she says. For Sarah, her serious relationship was her support system throughout college. “Many things changed during the last four years including majors, friend groups and career choices, so it was nice to have that one person that was a constant in my life.”

    Although Sarah credits the majority of her stability during college to her relationship, she also made it a point to have a balanced university experience. “For example, I studied abroad for a semester,” she says. Now that person Sarah didn’t want to get serious with is her fiancé.

    2. You’ll have the confidence to try new things

    Abby Givens, a junior at the University of South Carolina, agrees with Sarah. Abby’s long-distance relationship allows her to feel that same stability as Sarah, but in a different way. With the support of her boyfriend, she has been encouraged to branch out and join clubs on campus she might have otherwise shied away from. “Griffin is my best friend, so to me, even though we’re in a long-distance relationship, all of that time apart is worth it because at the end of the day, he’s the person I want to tell about my day, and who I want to hang out with,” she says. “Really, he’s who I want to do everything with. I’m so lucky that he supports all of my passions and encourages me to go after my long-term goals.”

    Related: My 3-Year Relationship Ended, But It Was Still a Success

    3. It’s nice to have someone with the same interests as you

    Amanda Goecke, a junior at Carthage College, met her current boyfriend of one year through the track and cross country team at school. “I’ve never been in a serious relationship before him, but I am extremely happy,” she says. Amanda realizes being in a serious, committed relationship isn’t for everyone though: “I think it all depends on what you want to get out of the dating experience in college.”

    4. You’ll always have a date to formals and semis

    There’s literally nothing worse than trying to find a date last minute to your sorority or club formal. You could always bring a friend, but somehow that always turns out badly, ya know? As a senior at the University of New Haven, Lindsey Allen, has had to find a date to quite a few formals. In fact, one of her favorite things about being in a serious relationship is just that. “It really helps when my college offers events like formals because I always know I'll have someone to go with.” Wouldn’t that be nice?

    Although it seems like college is stressful enough itself and you’ll never find the time to devote to a relationship, it’s definitely worth it in the long run. Stephanie Huynh, a freshman at Lehigh University, can attest to that. “Coming into college I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do, but now I'm so happy I continually have a support system and someone I really trust. It's possible and I wouldn't give up hope!”

    5. You will learn more about what you value in life

    Although it can be hard to find the perfect person, finding someone who gets you can help you realize what’s important to you. Pennsylvania State University junior Becca Smart didn’t know what was most important to her until she met her boyfriend. “You’re better able to understand the values you want to emulate in life and look for in a partner,” she says. “Plus, having someone to share great memories with that will later shape both of you is really special.” It sounds like having a serious SO just helps you become the best you that you can be.

    If you’re someone who thinks being in a serious relationship isn’t for you, maybe it might be time to settle down. After all, you never know when you’ll meet your future fiancé.

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    How many romantic comedies have you watched during a Girls-Night-In about a girl falling in love with the perfect person at the time they least expected it or that exact moment they needed it? Well, in real life, there isn’t really a right time to start a relationship.

    As college students, finding the right time for anything – especially developing and defining a new relationship – is nearly impossible. That’s why if you find someone you like, you should just go for it, even if the timing is a little less than ideal. Not sold on the idea yet? Here’s why some women did, and advice they have if you decide to too.

    All of the reasons to start a new relationship:

    It’s worth it

    For some, the threat of a looming ending or new beginning might send them running for the hills. That doesn’t have to be you, though. “If you really care about someone, then you’ll want them by your side for the future and what’s to come,” says University of South Carolina senior, Abby Givens. “It’s worth trying to be together.” The key word here, is trying. The future isn’t guaranteed, and there’s no way to know what will work out or where you’ll be a year or two from now. If you have feelings for someone, that uncertainty doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Why not see where your relationship could go instead?

    The future is impossible to plan

    If your Erin Condren planner is always by your side, the mere thought of not planning anything is probably terrifying. When it comes to relationships, there’s no way to painstakingly plan out everyday or the important milestones. “You never know when you’re going to meet someone you really like,” says Morgan Wilkinson, a senior at the University of South Carolina. It’s that thrill that makes dating so fun, so next time you can’t stop thinking about the guy you just met, let yourself explore a possible future; even if the timing might not be absolutely perfect.

    To try something new

    Not everyone is willing to jump right into a relationship. Plus, in addition to the complications of the end of the school year, starting a new relationship might seem completely out of the question. However, if you’re in this situation, it might be worthwhile to step out of your comfort zone and go for it. You can always learn something from experiencing something different.

    Advice on how to make your new relationship work:

    Set aside time to talk

    This might seem easy. It might even be something you already do, but if you end up moving away from each other for a job or other opportunity, finding that time could become tricky. “Set aside time to talk to stay up to date with each others lives, even if that means facetiming for twenty minutes or more a night,” says Abby. Communication is vital to the success of any relationship, so if you start one at a tricky time, like the end of the semester or school year, it’s important to stay in touch despite distance.

    Don’t let the relationship define you

    Starting a relationship at a breaking point, like the end of the school year, makes it easy to spend all of your time making sure the relationship succeeds-- especially if you’re long distance. That’s why Morgan’s advice is to “make sure your relationship is only a part of your life instead of your whole life.” New relationships are enveloping, but ones that begin during a complicated time of your life can sometimes become even more overwhelming. To avoid becoming too invested, set aside time for friends and family and remember to find a hobby or project you’re excited about that you can work on for yourself.

    Plan visits

    If you do decide to try it, keeping up with a relationship at a crossroad isn’t always easy. It’s hard to find time to visit or talk when schedules conflict and distance doesn’t make that any easier. “It’s really important to make sure you visit often,” said Morgan. “It helps if you have an idea of when you can be together again, so you’re able to look forward to a date night or just being together.” Whether it’s just once or five times, finding a way to visit makes a relationship stronger.

    Starting a new relationship is scary in general. Starting one at the end of the semester or end of anything makes that leap even harder. Take it from these women, it’s worth the risk!

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    Sexual lubricants can be a fantastic addition to the bedroom. However, there’s a stigma surrounding the use of lube, especially among young adults. One common misconception is that if you need to use lube during sex, then you’re not doing it right, or you’re just not aroused enough. Some young women may even feel embarrassed or ashamed to use lube in their sexual encounters for these reasons. We spoke to a few collegiettes about three reasons why using lube is important and sometimes necessary for your sexual health, because no one should feel ashamed to have safer, more comfortable and more enjoyable sex!

    1. It makes sex safer

    Typically, condoms and birth control are among the very first things that come to mind when thinking about safe sex. However, if you’re skipping out on lube, you might want to rethink that the next time around. Sexual lubricants are a huge part of safe sex and birth control, as they reduce friction and decrease the likelihood of a condom breaking.

    Sure, most condoms do come with a little bit of lube on the outside, but it’s not enough to help in certain cases, such as vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness can occur for a number of reasons in collegiettes, birth control pills being one of them. The latex from the condoms can also be a huge culprit. Anna*, a sophomore at Carthage College, says that she can’t rely on the lubrication from a condom alone.

    “I’ve found that ever since I’ve started taking birth control pills, I just can’t produce a lot of natural lubrication, no matter how aroused I am,” Anna explains. “Before I started using lube, having sex with condoms could get quite uncomfortable. There was even a time when the condom began to slip off during withdrawal because I was so dry (yikes!). Now I always use lube, even if I’m very aroused.”

    Some collegiettes may feel embarrassed or ashamed to use lube in these cases because they think they’re not aroused enough and they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. However, whether vaginal dryness is something you’re dealing with or not, it’s always worth it to have that extra safety during sex, especially if you rely on condoms. “Adding lubricant helps reduce friction and gives me peace of mind that there shouldn’t be any issues with the condom,” Anna adds. Just make sure that you’re using the correct type of lube, as not all lubricants are condom friendly!

    Related: Everything You Need to Know About Condoms (But Were Scared to Ask)

    2. It makes sex less painful

    As mentioned before, lube helps reduce friction and dryness during sex, two big factors that can lead to painful sex. Sometimes, sex can be painful because it’s your first time, or the foreplay didn’t last long enough. Maybe your partner is, ahem, well-endowed, and it’s a bit painful on your end, or you’re looking to try sex from a different end (if you catch our drift). Sex shouldn’t be painful, however, and there’s no shame in using lube during sex, whether it’s your first time or far from it. Lube helps everything move a lot smoother (literally), and when everything is groovy down there, you can spend more time focusing on you and your partner instead of worrying about the pain.

    3. It makes sex more enjoyable

    Who doesn’t want more enjoyable sex? Sara*, a sophomore at Illinois State University, sees no shame in adding lube during sex for some extra fun. “There’s nothing wrong with stopping to apply some lubricant,” says Sara. “It makes sex enjoyable for both parties, which is the whole point of sex, anyway.” Using lube during foreplay and right before sex can lead to bigger and better moments and steamier sessions because you both can finally enjoy safer, painless sex—you can even add stimulating and flavored lubes to help spice up both oral and penetrative sex.

    “I think there's a stigma surrounding them like 'real' women shouldn't need lubricants, but it's impossible to stay lubricated enough the entire time you're having sex, especially if you tend to go at it for a while,” says Sara.

    While there are still some misconceptions out there about the use of lube, there are so many benefits and added perks to incorporating sexual lubricants into your sex life that you may be missing out on! At the end of the day, ensuring that the sex you have is more safe, comfortable and enjoyable hopefully outweighs any embarrassment that you might feel about using lube. Have fun and be safe!

    *Name has been changed

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    You sit on your bed alone on a Saturday night, endlessly bored and way too single. Just a few weeks ago, your best friend and you were spending the weekend binging your latest Netflix hang-up. Now, she’s hopelessly obsessed with her SO—and to make it worse, you can’t stand the sight of him or her.

    It can be really difficult when your best friend gets into a relationship that you don’t approve of. In the end, you know it’s their decision, but you can’t help that nagging feeling in the back of your head that he or she isn’t right for them. Thankfully, we’ve collaborated with experts on romance and etiquette to give you the run-down on what to do in this situation—read on to find out.

    1. Identify why you dislike their SO

    Before you can come to terms with your BFF’s relationship, first you have to identify why their SO bothers you so much. Even if you think you know why, spell it out so you don’t have any misconceptions—where does your dislike come from?

    Jasbina Ahluwalia, a relationship expert, matchmaker and the founder of Intersections Match by Jasbina, gave us a few common reasons. “There are numerous reasons, which fall into three categories, and possibly a combination of the three,” she says. Her categories are listed below.

    1. You may dislike their SO’s behavior towards you.

    • You may feel slighted by what you perceive to be rude or disrespectful behavior towards you by their SO.

    2. You may disapprove of the relationship itself for some reason.

    • He/she isn’t who you would pick for your best friend.
    • You feel that he/she is not good enough for your best friend.
    • You feel that he/she mistreats your best friend.
    • Your best friend might complain about him/her to you.

    3. You may feel left out or envious.

    • You might not have an SO yourself, and wish you did.
    • You feel like your friend no longer has time for you due to the relationship.

    By understanding why you don’t like your best friend’s SO, you can learn to tackle the problem head-on. It will help you determine whether your dislike is warranted. For example, if you are genuinely concerned for your best friend’s well-being in a potentially abusive relationship, that’s a different matter entirely. You should always look out for your best friend. Pull her aside sometime and talk to her about the situation—if she admits that she’s being abused, encourage her to leave the relationship and seek out help from the appropriate authorities if necessary.

    Additionally, maybe you simply feel jealous. It’s easy to feel left out when your best friend, who usually spends her weekends with you, is now fawning over her new boyfriend–  especially when you don’t have an SO of your own. Focus on yourself if that’s the case, and maybe even head out on a date or two. Who knows, you might be double-dating with your BFF soon enough! Follow the steps below to start moving past your dislike of your friend’s SO.

    2. Get to know your best friend’s SO

    Even if you can’t stand the sight of him or her, get past your initial hatred and try to get to know them. They might be a nice person inside—and that’s what your best friend fell in love with. Plan some time to hang out with them either alone or with a group of friends. If you only see them when they’re with your best friend, you may dislike them purely because of feeling like a 'third wheel.'

    Jasbina Ahluwalia gives you a great idea to approach a mutual understanding. “Try a counter-intuitive gesture of kindness towards him or her, and see if your feelings start to take a turn in a positive direction,” she says. “Why would that happen? Your kind gesture creates cognitive dissonance—which your mind might try to resolve by finding reasons to like him. Also, ask your friend to share with you all the good things about her boyfriend—there may be a side of him that you’re not seeing.”

    If your best friend’s SO is a private person, they might come off as unlikeable from the outset. Take time to get to know him or her so you don’t come to any conclusions too fast. They might actually be a great person for your best friend. On the other hand, if her SO is outright rude to you, something’s up. Talk to your best friend about the situation and let her know you’re not comfortable around him. This is a case-by-case scenario, so work out a plan with your BFF that’ll lighten the relationship between you and her SO.

    Related: Is Dating a Friend Worth the Risk?

    3. Remember that your friend’s happiness is most important

    Even if you still don’t see why your best friend is dating him or her, you should let your concerns go if you see that your friend is truly happy. In the end, that’s what matters more than anything. Maybe her eyes sparkle when she sees a text from her SO, or you see her light up when her SO comes into view. While it’s great to look out for your friend, there’s a point when you need to realize that ultimately, her happiness is your happiness.

    If your best friend’s SO still bothers you immensely, give your friend some space. Respect that her SO makes her happy, and be happy for her in turn–  just take a break and hang out with some other friends in the meantime. You don’t have to force yourself to spend time with them. After a while, the honeymoon period of their relationship will cool down, and by then you’ll probably feel comfortable with hanging out more often again.

    However, it’s a different situation entirely if you know that your friend’s SO hasn’t been treating her right. Maybe you’ve heard some gossip that she doesn’t know about, or you’ve seen a few suspicious text messages on his or her phone. If you have reason to think that the SO might eventually hurt your best friend, don’t stand by. Find out more, and if you have reasonable cause, let your best friend know that something’s up. It might save her a lot of heartbreak in the future.

    4. Preserve your friendship

    All too often, friendships crumble amid the whirlwind of a new relationship–  especially when dislike of an SO comes into play. While you want to give your friend some space, be careful not to let your friendship fizzle out.

    Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, gives you tips on how to maintain contact during this tricky situation. “First, give her some space especially at the beginning of the relationship,” she says. “Once the newness normalizes, schedule some girl-time. Second, never make her feel like she needs to choose between you and her SO. Make sure she knows that even though you are not spending as much time together, you are always there for her.”

    It can be hard to make a friendship work when a new SO comes into the mix, but make an effort to reach out to your friend and things will be all right. Everyone needs time away from their SO, even your seemingly-obsessed best friend. Good luck, collegiettes!

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    It’s a fact of life: almost everyone gets nervous when it comes to dating—even guys! Opening up and sharing some raw, powerful emotions can turn even the most confident guys into a shrinking violet. And, in addition to sharing their feelings, many guys get self-conscious about putting their best foot forward and making a good first impression. This shyness can be endearing; I mean, it’s flattering to have a guy care about impressing you so much that he gets a little flustered. But, on the flipside, it can be frustrating when it impacts how the relationship progresses. 

    We all know how hard it can be to read shy guys. Their reticence and introspectiveness can sometimes come across as a lack of interest when in reality, they are crazy about you. So, how exactly do you get a shy guy to open up? More importantly, how can you tell if a shy guy is in to you? And, when you finally do score a date, how do you make it memorable and not awkward?

    Well, rest easy ladies; here is everything you need to know about getting a shy guy to come out of his shell. 

    So…does he like me, or not? 

    Flirting, as fun as it is, can be confusing as heck. And if you are anything like me, nine times out of ten, you leave the situation having no idea that a guy was flirting with you. This dilemma becomes even more confusing when you are talking to a shy guy. 

    Fear not, there are some cues that shy guys will give that could indicate that they are interested in you. 

    Jasbina Ahluwalia, a relationship expert and matchmaker, and the founder of Intersections Match by Jasbina, says that shy guys typically offer physical cues when they are interested in a woman.

    “You might catch him looking at you,” Ahluwalia says. “[He might be] preening, perhaps running his hands through his hair, or attempting to decrease the physical distance between the two of you.”

    If you are picking up on these signs, it might be up to you to make the first move. In this situation, you want to strike the right balance between being yourself, but also making sure the guy you are talking to is comfortable. Ahluwalia recommends being approachable, but also making an attempt to engage the guy you are interested in. 

    “Give a sincere compliment, smile warmly, then ask for help: in a store, you can say, ‘Great tie—I like your style. I’m buying a tie for my brother’s graduation. Which of these two do you think works better?’” says Ahluwalia. 

    Initiating a conversation in a casual way is a fantastic way to get a guy talking with you!

    Related: How To Tell Someone You Like Them In A Non-Awkward Way

    Choosing the right date

    Once you’ve established your mutual interest, the next hurdle to jump is the date itself. A classic, traditional dinner date can seem intimidating (lots of conversation can be a little much for shy folks), so what are your options? 

    Ahluwalia suggests finding an active date that incorporates something you and the guy are interested in. 

    “[Choose] any place where he is in his element and can shine! An activity date can take the pressure off face-to-face conversation and let him shine as the two of you interact.” 

    Examples of these activity dates could include going to a wine-tasting, taking in a musical event, going to a farmer’s market, or attending an art opening. 

    Megan Mann, a Purdue graduate, had success matching her guy’s interests.

    “My ex-boyfriend was really shy,” Megan says. “What I found to work out was finding out what his interests were and catering to them until he opened up. Once he was comfortable, it was much easier.” 

    If you aren’t looking for something super active, try a twist on a classic date idea. Typically, movie dates get knocked for not giving couples enough time to talk, especially when the goal of a date is to get to know the other person! But, a movie date can be perfect for a shy guy. You all can chat before the movie starts, and then just sit back and relax as the movie plays. Afterwards, you all can grab coffee or a quick bite to eat, and instead of scrambling to find conversation topics, you can just discuss the movie! You can talk about what you all loved, or debate things you felt differently about. And, learning about their taste in movies (among other things) can spark further conversation, and hopefully, even more date nights! 

    What do you do on the date? 

    Once you have selected your date night activity, you actually have to go on the date! And even when you’re tasting wine or critiquing art, there are some small things you can do to keep conversation flowing and your guy at ease. 

    “Compliment him genuinely, share enthusiastically about yourself and actively listen when he does talk,” says Ahluwalia. 

    She also recommends asking open-ended questions that could help him open up more. 

    Daniela Reyes, a senior at the University of Illinois, has had this work for her. 

    “I usually try to drive the conversation to get it rolling since it usually does not seem like they would start it or continue it,” Daniela says. “Then, I try to find something that they like so they can get comfortable with talking. Even asking about what they are wearing, a class, work, the weather, or something can get the conversation going.” 

    How can you tell if the evening is making your guy uncomfortable? The answer is once again in his body language! 

    “[If] he increases the personal space between the two of you, closes his arms, frowns or averts eye contact,” Ahluwalia says these could all be signs that he might not be enjoying the evening. 

    But what if you’re also shy? 

    Birds of a feather flock together, so it’s no surprise that shy girls might be attracted to shy guys. However, this mutual shyness can result in two people (who are really into each other) sitting in awkward silence for an hour and a half. So, how do you cross this divide of timidity? 

    “Someone has to get outside [their] comfort zone, and initiate the conversation—let it be you,” says Ahluwalia. “If you’re a bit nervous or shy, feel free to be vulnerable and share that—it could be a point of connection. Guys appreciate heartfelt vulnerability.” 

    Emily Schmidt, a Standford sophomore and self-described introvert, has recently been faced with this problem. 

    “I recently started dating an extremely shy guy, and as an introvert myself, I thought I wouldn’t have much trouble making him feel comfortable around me,” she says. “However, I discovered that it takes a lot of time for shy guys to open up, especially if they weren’t friends with you before the relationship.” 

    If you yourself are shy, it’s important to remember that your guy is feeling the exact same way you are: excited, but kind of scared and not sure what to do about it. In this case, it’s best to practice the golden rule (yes, the one from Kindergarten) and treat others the way you want to be treated. So, be positive, kind, and, most importantly, yourself, and both you and your guy will feel comfortable in no time!

    Related: 6 Dating Tips for Shy Girls

    What matters most in relationships is that you connect with someone and feel comfortable sharing with them. And, as frustrating as it may be, sometimes this just takes time. 

    “I didn’t want to scare him off because I really liked him, so I let him make all of the moves," says Schmidt. "He didn’t kiss me until about a month of hanging out, and even then, it took him an entire movie plus five minutes of credits to work up the courage. You have to be really patient and accepting when it comes to making a shy guy feel comfortable.” 

    And you know what they say—sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for. 

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    So you’re moving this summer. Maybe it’s to a totally city or just somewhere 15 minutes from where you used to be. Regardless, it’s likely to be an entirely different experience than what you’re used to and that includes the dating scene! Dating and romance are always more fun during the summer, and are also sure to be far more exciting when you’re in a new place.

    We talked to some expert collegiettes about their experiences meeting new people in a new place and put all their tips together for a go-to list. Read on and don’t forget to share your own ideas and experiences in the comments and on Facebook and Twitter!

    1. Spend time at local bars and restaurants

    At first, you’ll have to get comfortable being that person who’s alone at a bar, café, restaurant, etc., but you’ll soon be surrounded by others doing the exact same thing. Dating new and unknown people is daunting, but just remember that a lot of other people are in a similar boat!

    Dating is also way easier when you’re young and everyone’s in a transitional summer period. “Some of the best connections I made happened...when I simply asked, ‘Do you mind if I sit here?’" says Abigail Megginson, a sophomore at the University of West Florida. Putting yourself out there is the first step, and people will admire you for having that confidence.

    Related: 50 Fun Summer Date Ideas

    2. Speed date

    Speed dating is a fantastic—and efficient—way to meet new people! Some of the awkwardness of the initial dating stages goes away while speed dating because everyone already knows they’re there to find a connection with someone.

    You can look out on Facebook for events happening in your area, or check out sites like DoRelish to see if your city is listed or just Google speed dating and your city! What do you really have to lose?

    It might not seem like the most romantic option, but there’s definitely something to be said for an environment that forces people to talk to one another to see if the chemistry is there. “Honestly the worst that can happen is an awkward encounter,” says Dajin Kim, a sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin. The competitive atmosphere also gives this one a fun edge!

    The stakes aren’t too high either, as long as you don’t set yourself up to meet the one on the first night. Maybe that will happen to you, but if it doesn’t, just give one of these other options a try until you’re ready to revisit speed dating (and/or you’re confident that the folks you met to during the first attempt have cycled out).

    3. Bond with your coworkers

    You might not have both coworkers and neighbors, but we’re betting you have at least one! They’re your surefire entry into local events and new people, because they live there too! Hopefully they’re not as new to the place as you are.

    “I resorted to the most cliché ways to establish conversation [with my coworkers],” says Ashley Ortiz, a fourth-year at the University of Puerto Rico. “That was by asking how their shift was, if they knew any good pizza places around the area and simply putting myself out there.” There’s a lot to be said for small talk!

    Beyond just learning the local ropes and the ins and outs of wherever you may be working, there are surely plenty of friends and new love interests to be found among the people you work with and the people they can introduce you to. “I knew that if I wanted to have a good time and establish some connection with my coworkers, I had to initiate conversation,” Ashley says.

    You don’t necessarily have to date or hook up with your coworkers (in fact, you may want to steer clear of this if it’s not prohibited entirely), but who’s to say one of your coworkers’ best friends isn’t your soul mate or next best fling?

    4. Go to free community events

    Community centers and parks aren’t just for old people and families! “No matter where you are, there's sure to be like free outdoor exercise classes or like free concerts and things and you can always meet people at those things,” says Linne Halpern, a junior at Wesleyan University. Go check out a local bulletin board in your neighborhood to see if there’s anything of interest.

    If you’re in DC, NYC or other big cities, there are plenty of websites like DCist and Nonsense NYC where you can find local events off the beaten path. As for smaller towns, there are likely community websites or things posted at local event centers (we know, we know, but you have to do some of the work!) that you can take advantage of.

    Remember that you do have to take the initiative here. “I would suggest setting a goal for yourself to make sure that there are a certain number of nights per week where you make sure to stay out of the house, like don't go straight home after work just to sit on your couch, make sure to get out and explore,” Linne says. You’ll have fun regardless!

    Related: 5 Tips for Actually Making Friends in a New City

    5. Tinder, Bumble and others

    Last but not least, you always have the option of good ol’ fashioned dating sites and apps. Thankfully, there’s no shame in this kind of dating anymore, although it can be tough to decipher whether a whole app and the people using it are interested in casual flings, serious relationships or all other sorts of romantic pursuits.

    Like speed dating, the pressure to succeed on dating apps and websites is only high if you make it so. Finding someone you enjoy spending time with or have a physical attraction to is hard work — it wouldn’t be worth it if it wasn’t! Regardless if it’s casual or serious, you want it to be fulfilling.

    Tinder and Bumble are just the beginning. There’s also Coffee Meets Bagel, a “ladies’ choice” app similar to Bumble, and Hinge, which sets you up with people your Facebook friends are friends with. Maybe even give one of these obscure dating sites a try if you’re on the rebound, looking to connect with someone over your flavor preferences, and more!

    There’s a lot to worry about if you’re spending a summer in a new city, from moving to finances to job prospects. That said, new love interests shouldn’t be the most stressful thing — hopefully they even help you mitigate some of these pressures!

    Dating is inevitably nerve-wracking, but just remember that even when it doesn’t go well, it’s good practice. Dating lets you get a better idea of what you’re looking for and what are deal breakers, and you’ll always come out of it with great stories!

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    Summer vacation is something that we can all look forward to. When we think of summer, we think of beaches, ice cream, road trips, tan lines and everything else we hope the summer will be filled with. Most of all, we hope that the summer will be filled with happiness. If you’re anything like us, you seem to have this unrealistic expectation that summer is going to be picture perfect—especially when it comes to spending time with your significant other. 

    What’s cuter than walking down the beach hand in hand while Taylor Swift’s “Sparks Fly” plays casually in your head? Absolutely nothing, that’s what. Even though summer could quite possibly do great wonders for your relationship, it could also be the reason that it may not do so well. Even though we’d love to day-dream about the endless possibilities that summer may hold, we often tend to forget the other things that summer comes with. Friends, jobs, internships, summer school or even distance also come with the start of the long awaited break. Here are some different reasons and scenarios where college relationships might not make it through the summer.

    1. Distance

    If you met your significant other in college, there’s a huge possibility that they don’t come from the same hometown as you. In this case, it’s most likely just a matter of distance. No matter how much time we spend on our phones, going from walking each other to class every day or simply just grabbing a meal together to relying on text messages and phone calls could still be pretty hard. Even though emojis are getting (kind of frighteningly) accurate at representing our emotions, there’s simply none that show our 2 am derp faces that make us who we are. Nothing can really replace cuddling up and watching a movie…no, not even your super soft body pillow. 

    Although it seems like your love is strong enough to withstand something so seemingly trivial as distance, it’s important not to underestimate the power distance can have. Trust us, we believe in the power of love as much as you (maybe even more), but distance does bring up some challenges. If you are from different towns, whether it’s an hour drive or a 15-hour drive, it’s important to plan for long distance, even if it’s just for the summer. 

    Simple things like these can give your relationship the spice it needs to keep the love *blossoming*:

    • Setting a day of the week to FaceTime
    • Watching a movie at the same time over the phone
    • Sending pictures of things you did that day
    • Writing letters
    • Sending a simple text saying that you are thinking of them

    Even the little things make a world of a difference. The important thing is to put in the extra effort each day to show your SO that no matter how busy you are, they are still on your mind. We know, it’s so cliche, but that’s what gets the butterflies in your stomach!

    2. Spending too much time together

    If you are lucky enough to live in the same hometown as your significant other, you have your own set of challenges to face. No matter how much you love spending time with someone, there’s always such thing as spending TOO much time together. With the stress of homework constantly keeping us busy gone, it leaves more room for lounging around at home. Although this is usually good, anything in excess could cause some problems.

    With this, there is a risk of getting too comfortable with each other to the point where it seems like the relationship has gotten boring or even lost its *spark*. “Oftentimes, I’ve noticed that couples that seem to spend too much time together seem to get more frustrated with each other,” says Sabrina Lau, a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. “I think it’s important to remember that a relationship should be two independent people that are together instead of two people depending on each other.”

    It’s important to remember that summer is not just all about the things you and your significant other can do together, but it should also be about what YOU can do. Whether it’s joining a weekly yoga class, taking art lessons or simply just going for a run by yourself, making sure to do your own thing once in a while is always a good idea. Hey, we never said you couldn't send Snaps documenting your new experiences to your SO.

    3. Simply being too busy

    Especially in college, summertime is not always going to be all fun and games. A lot of college students use summer as a time to be productive. We know…shocking, right? But hey, give us some credit—even though we are college students, we can be responsible every once in a while! Many people have internships, part-time jobs or even study abroad. The point is, that’s less time you have to spend with your boo thang.

    “I think that face-to-face time or even just proximity that you get with your SO just by nature of going to the same school or attending the same classes probably has a lot to do with how your relationship developed in the first place,” says Margeaux Biché, a junior at Barnard College. “If you're not on the same campus, hearing about the same events, frequenting the same places and on the same schedule, it can get tough to maintain that connection.”

    As much as we may hate to admit it, we all get consumed by something or another that could potentially distract us from our SO. This could take a huge toll on relationships, especially if only one of you is busy throughout the summer. In this case, it is important to make sure your SO is supportive of these new endeavors you’re taking on. There’s no doubt that in the future, you and your SO will be stressed with work life or school life. In this time, make sure that you’re their number one cheerleader. As long as they continue to prioritize you as well as show you the affection you deserve, it’s okay if they're busy. Most of the time, a SO is supposed to be someone who makes a person feel like they can breath even throughout the chaos of life. 

    4. The need for “adventure” during the summer

    Finally, this is something that many people may not take into consideration. A lot of times when people think of summer, they think of it as a time to catch up with friends and family that they haven't seen in a long time—a time when they need to experience new things…or even new people. Even though it’s totally okay to experience new things, more often than not we hear the phrase “we have all summer to hang out” or “I see you all the time.” We often begin to prioritize other things under the pretense that we can always see our SO later. Especially in the summer, there’s more room for feelings to start to get a little confusing.

    “I would say relationships usually don't last over the summer because most people use this time to be free,” says Ashley Drayton, a Georgia State University graduate. “Everyone is happier, excited for new adventures so people tend to lean towards being single and not having to worry about a significant other.”

    It’s definitely true that sometimes we get so lost in the idea of having an “adventurous” summer that we often feel as though we may not need somebody else. We may even think that these new experiences are better than our old ones. Although it’s great to be an independent person, it’s important to think about what you really want. People tend to get so wrapped up in the idea that summer is for flings, hookups and fun that they have this desire to try new things. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the best for someone in a committed relationship.

    In the midst of summer being a time for adventure, we sometimes have the urge to look for something fresh and new. This is mostly the case for relationships that seem to be reaching the end of the “honeymoon phase.” Those couples that seem to start to become too comfortable with each other may have a desire to reach that new and exciting time period once again. Just remember girls, if this is the case, maybe he just isn’t as into you as he should be.

    Related: Will Your Relationship Last Through Summer?

    Summer is a great time to test the strength of your relationship. Not only does it allow you to work through different obstacles, it gives you time to grow as a person. It’s a time that allows reflection not only on the relationship, but on yourself individually.

    Summer could show you what you really like to do or it could show you that your relationship isn’t meant to be. Maybe you’ll realize that you are too dependent on each other…or maybe you'll realize that you’re perfectly independent. Whether it ends up ending a relationship or strengthening a relationship, just remember: You’ll learn from it.

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    If you’re anything like us, one of the most frustrating situations is watching your friend pine over a guy or girl that is obviously just not that into them. Even when these signs are like blaring lights to you, it seems as though your friend has an excuse for every single red flag you bring up. However, can we ever blame them? We can almost all say that we’ve all been blinded by love once or twice. Sometimes it’s hard to see that someone is just not that into you when you’re so infatuated with them. It’s easy for us to ignore all the red flags and pick out the small things they may do to support the fact that they could be into you. If you sometimes have trouble taking a hint, here are some signs that they're just not that into you.

    1. You always initiate the conversation

    We’ve all heard of the guys and girls that play hard to get and hate to “text first,” but playing hard to get is a game that can only last so long. When someone is actually into you, you shouldn’t be the only one initiating conversations. Even the biggest player will end this game when it comes to someone they’re really into.

    Vanessa Le, a junior at the Columbia University, couldn’t agree more. “If someone is really into you, they’ll find some way of starting a conversation with you,” she says. “Whether it’s asking about a homework assignment or just bringing up an old conversation, it’ll be clear that they want to talk to you.” 

    Now that’s something we can relate to. No matter how obvious it may seem, sometimes when we are the ones that are constantly initiating conversations, we may not even notice that they never seem to start conversations. Think to yourself, if you stopped putting in so much effort, would y’all still be talking?

    2. Your conversations are dry and one-sided

    Now that we’ve gotten past initiating the actual conversation, it’s time to consider the quality of the interaction that you guys are having. When it comes to texting, phone calls or even personal interactions, it’s pretty clear when a conversation seems to be mostly one-sided. If you’re the only one asking questions only to receive dry answers, he/she is probably not that into you.

    Fayna Zeng, a junior at the University of Texas at Dallas, says that this is a big indication someone is not into you. “When a guy/girl is really into you, he/she will always be interested in what you’re saying. He/she will not only answer in depth but he/she will also take the time to ask you questions.”

    We couldn’t agree more. When someone wants to start a relationship with you, he or she will undoubtedly want to know every single thing about you. Since communication is a key factor in starting a relationship, if the conversation isn’t flowing naturally, it’s probably not a good fit anyway.

    3. They never initiate a hang out

    Even with the advanced technology we have today, nothing will ever beat real, genuine, face-to-face interactions. Text messages, phone calls, Snapchat, or even FaceTime can’t compete with actually taking the time to hang out with someone. When a guy/girl doesn’t ever ask you to hang out in person, it’s pretty clear that he or she is not interested enough to take time out of a busy day to get to really know you.

    Sarah Siddiqui, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, thinks this is a huge indicator. “Whether it’s a guy/girl, there’s no real rule about the guy having to initiate hanging out first. With either gender, it’s clear that if the person is interested in you, they’ll either ask you to hang out in person or they’ll hint at it.”

    It’s as simple as that. It’s easy to add a little “yeah we should go try that out sometime” or “let’s go there soon” to simple conversations. If they’re into you, they’ll make the effort. Having that time to get to know each other in person is a big sign that they’re interested in seeing how you guys connect in real life.

    4. They never give you a definite answer

    So let’s say that you do have the courage to ask the person of interest to hang out. How they respond is also a huge indicator of whether or not they’re into you. If he/she always leaves you with wishy-washy answers like “maybe,” “we’ll see,” or “I’ll let you know,” it’s pretty clear that you’re not a big priority. Most of the time, when they are unsure about their answers, they are either just trying to be nice or they’ll wait to see if something better comes along.

    Allyson Short, a sophomore at the Purdue University, thinks this is a huge one. “When someone is into you, they’ll always make time for you,” she says. “The fact that you ask them to hang out will undoubtedly get them really excited and they won’t wait to say yes. If they’re truly busy, they’ll make plans for another time.”

    We couldn’t agree more. It’s obvious that when someone is truly interested in dating you, they’ll drop everything to hang out with you. Whether they have other plans with friends or wanted to stay in and rest, they’ll drop it all when you initiate some sort of hang out. Never take a wishy-washy answer as a good sign no matter how into them you are.

    5. They aren’t prioritizing you

    One of the biggest yet hardest decisions to make is deciding whether or not he/she truly prioritizes you and makes you happy. If you feel as though they make you sadder than happier, it’s clearly not a good sign. When someone is really truly interested in starting a relationship with you, especially at the beginning, they’ll do everything to win you over. If they’re already acting like you’re a second choice, chances are, you probably are one.

    Thalia Carrillo, a senior at New York University, says this is a good thing to think about. “Sometimes you just have to sit down and think about whether you think he/she treats you right. Someone who really likes you won’t ever hurt you on purpose. If you find yourself getting exhausted trying to get him/her to pay attention to you, they aren’t into you enough.”

    We think that’s some great advice. We know, it’s hard to think about whether he/she makes you happy or not when you’re super into them, but deep down you should be able to tell whether or not he/she prioritizes you enough. The keyword here is “enough” in that he/she shouldn’t be putting in minimal effort. When starting a relationship, it should not feel like you’re constantly chasing them.

    Related: 4 Scientifically Proven Ways to Communicate Better with Your SO

    When it comes to someone you really like, it’s often hard to see the obvious signs that everyone else may be seeing. Even though you may know deep down whether or not they’re into you, we often try to defend the people we are infatuated is. However, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that someone who is truly into you will do everything they can to win you over. If you’re constantly wondering about his/her feelings towards you, sorry, but they’re probably not that into you.

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    One word. Four letters. They both start with the letter “L,” but the two words couldn’t be more different. At the same time, however, they’re incredibly difficult to distinguish between, especially when caught up in the heat of a new romance. Have any guesses on what we’re talking about here?

    If you guessed love and lust, then you may have felt confused about either one (or both) while exploring a relationship with someone. Relationships are difficult to navigate, especially as a young collegiette, so when the big “L” word is thrown around, things can become quite tricky. So, is that big L word love, or lust?

    To help you achieve a clearer understanding, we spoke with Dr. Patrick Wanis, relationship expert and author of the audio book Get Over Your Ex Now! on the key differences between the two.

    “The simple definition of love is wanting the best for the other person,” says Dr. Wanis. Lust, on the other hand, which Dr. Wanis also equates to “infatuation” and “passionate love,” is more about wanting what’s best for you.

    “Infatuation is about what can you do for me, and love is about how much can I give to you,” Dr. Wanis explains. “One is all about taking, not necessarily receiving, and love is more about giving.”

    Sound familiar? If you’re still unsure about what exactly you’re feeling for your partner, here are four huge signs that the scale is tipped to lust rather than love.

    1. You don’t really know each other

    Your chemistry is insane, and the feeling when you two meet is absolutely electric. You know you feel something for this person, but do you really even know who this person is, and vice versa? You might want to ask yourself these questions to really understand your feelings.

    For example, you probably know some things about your partner, such as what they study in school, what their favorite bands are or what they enjoy when hooking up. However, if your communication doesn’t really crack that surface and dive deeper to a better understanding of each other, then lust may be the answer why.

    “If you’re not sharing your personal experiences and problems, and that person has also set these boundaries, then you’re not in a relationship where you’re actually mutually supporting each other,” Dr. Wanis explains.

    A major factor of being in a relationship that’s based on mutual love is being able to support one another, especially emotionally. If you don’t picture yourself ever opening up to this person and letting down those barriers, then the relationship doesn’t align with the foundations of love.

    2. The relationship is purely physical

    Whether you’re in a relationship of love or lust, it’s not uncommon for them both to start off very physical. After all, seeking out new partners and beginning these relationships begin by being attracted to one another physically. However, if your relationship is just physical, then it’s not necessarily love.

    “Lust is a physical desire, it can be a chemical attraction,” says Dr. Wanis. “Lust, passionate love and infatuation aren’t necessarily bad, they’re only bad when that’s all there is between you. They’re only bad when they don’t transform and morph into another level.”

    Again, the key here is that love is not purely physical. There’s nothing wrong with having a loving relationship that’s very physical, but it can be a problem when the relationship lacks substance in all other areas of love.

    Related: 7 Ways to Show Intimacy Without Having Sex

    “There’s nothing wrong with experiencing passion because you need to have passion between you and your partner,” Dr. Wanis continues. “It’s okay to have lust between you and your partner, the challenge is if that’s all you have, then it’ll die just as quickly as it started.”

    And while there’s nothing wrong with having a loving relationship that’s physical, there’s also no shame in exploring your desires and pursuing your feelings if lust, if that’s what both you and your partner want.

    “I wouldn’t discourage two people from being in a relationship of lust, as long as they recognize that’s all it is,” Dr. Wanis explains. “If two people say, ‘look, I’m obsessed with you, I just want to have lots of great sex,’ and the other person agrees to it, fine. Just beware of it becoming dangerous where it starts to drown you and completely takes over your life, [like] an addiction.”

    One of the biggest lessons Dr. Wanis teaches is to get clear about what you want, so in this case, it’s not only getting clear about what you want from this physical relationship, but it’s also recognizing if that’s all it is and will be.

    3. Your relationship doesn’t evolve

    Previously, Dr. Wanis mentions that in the case of a relationship that’s mistaken as love, it’s bad if the physical side of the relationship doesn’t evolve into something more. While a huge sign of lust is that your relationship relies on the physical attractiveness of it, another sign is that the relationship doesn’t eventually evolve into companionate love.

    “Science shows that that intensity of lust, and passion and infatuation lasts from six months up to 30,” Dr. Wanis explains. “It usually is around 18 months—that’s the average. But it can end abruptly within six months, or last as long as 30 months.”

    Think of lust as a fire. Being infatuated with someone and pursuing a passionate love may start quickly just as a fire would, and the flames may seem bright when it’s fueled with passion, but they’ll soon fizzle out if that’s its only fuel.

    “We can’t keep up that level of intensity past 30 months because you’re living a life,” says Dr. Wanis. “Once you commit to each other, then you’re going to have all these challenges together.”

    Living your life throughout college and beyond means traveling, finding jobs, and maybe eventually marrying and having children (if that’s a part of your plan), so if you don’t see yourself potentially living through these challenges and making these commitments to your partner, then it’s probably not love.

    Related: 5 Signs Your SO Loves You (Even if They're Not Saying It)

    4. You’re only internally focused

    While these three signs can be huge indicators that you’re experiencing lust and not love, Dr. Wanis stresses the biggest difference between the two lies in your motivation and intent. Are you seeking to fill your own desires, or are you looking to give to someone else?

    “The difference between lust and love is that lust, or infatuation, is internally focused,” says Dr. Wanis. “How do I feel when I’m with you? What can you do for me? How great can you make me feel?” If these are questions that you’re asking yourself when with your partner, you’re only focused on your own needs.

    “[Lust is] very different to the external focus [of love] which is how much can I give to you? How much can I make you feel better?” Dr. Wanis explains. “Lust is primarily about satisfying your own desires, love is more about how much you can give to the other person. Infatuation is about receiving pleasure, love is about giving to the other person.”

    Dr. Wanis continues that if your thought process is, “I need to get all my desires and needs met, and as long as they’re met, I don’t care about anything else,” then you’re experiencing lust. “And you don’t really care about the other person, as long as they give you what you need. That’s not love.”

    Related: 7 Signs You’re in Love 

    If you’re still unsure, you can ask yourself more about how much you’re willing to really know and come to care about the person. “Is this just lust, or do you care about each other? Are you interested in what’s best for your partner? Are you interested in supporting and encouraging your partner, or are you just obsessed with making sure your partner gives you everything you need?” Dr. Wanis poses.

    Hint: if the answer is no, it’s not love!

    So what’s the bottom line?

    We’ve explored four major signs that you’re in lust and not love, and although it can be difficult to admit it to yourself, especially if you’re really passionate about your partner, it’s important not to confuse lust for love. Bottom line, if you’re still unsure, Dr. Wanis boils it all down to a science.

    “Our deepest, hidden desire is not to be loved, but rather to love someone,” Dr. Wanis explains. “And that’s the difference between infatuation and love. Infatuation comes most likely from the biological perspective, which is procreation, versus love, which is about building bonds, creating an emotional connection and a community, a sense of belonging and a sense of secure attachment. They’re two different things.”

    While it’s extremely difficult to distinguish between lust and love, especially in the earlier stages of the relationship, hopefully, these signs will point you in the right direction.

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    Urging the idea of consent doesn’t mean it’s always integrated smoothly into real life. On paper it’s giving permission and saying a verbal “yes” to a sexual activity with another person, all the while maintaining that saying “no” could stop the encounter at any time. But here’s the thing: boiling consent down to a simple binary of saying “yes” or “no” completely erases the gray area from actual sexual encounters and fails to acknowledge just how uncomfy and anxiety-inducing saying “no” to another person can be.

    During college, women are trying to navigate online dating, dorm crushes, first-time hookups, and learn their personal boundaries with alcohol. Since we’re operate in real life (and not within the boundaries of a supersafe sex-ed lecture) that pretty much leaves consent to be something that’s assumed rather than said out loud. Couple that with the fact that there’s no standardized approach to navigating consent that works for everyone, and you end up getting a lot of gray area where sexual harassment, assault, and partner violence can slip through unchecked. That’s how we’ve ended up in this bummer-of-a-2018 place where #MeToo and a plethora of stories have been brought forward by women forced too far by partners or abusers that didn’t ask for or acknowledge their feedback.  

    So, what does consent look like in real life? Well…it’s complex.

    This week, The New York Times launched a project, 45 Stories of Sex and Consent on Campus, and to continue the conversation we asked college women what enthusiastic sexual encounters look like to them. Here’s what they had to share.

    What does consent look like to you?

    “It looks like respect: Respect for my wants, needs, desire, and space. Respect for my body, my safety and my limits. Not taking advantage of me if I am asleep, too drunk, or in a bad situation. Not pushing and bugging for me to go further than I want, not pushing me to step into a sexual realm that I have expressed negative feelings towards. Most blatantly taking no as a no, not as a challenge to try harder.” – Meagan, Athabasca University

    “I’ve been lucky so far to have dated some really sweet guys who are concerned about doing more than I’m comfortable with. A guy I dated last year would even ask before he touched me in certain ways. At first, it seemed a little awkward, but I’m so glad he asked me and didn’t just assume that I was down for whatever, because I’m not. So, for me, consent is done right when you don’t make assumptions. Just because I’m dating you or was flirty with you doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you. I’ve noticed in relationships, sometimes guys feel they are entitled to your body, but that’s not how it works. I don’t owe you sex or anything even remotely sexual just because we’re dating. If I’m not feeling it or I’m just not ready to go that far with you yet, I absolutely don’t have to. Consent to me is all about realizing that sex should never be assumed in any situation.” - Micki, University of Missouri, Columbia

    "Consent is being told yes throughout sexual actions such as kissing, touching, and any form of sex, both oral and penetration. Basically, if one doesn't say yes, don't assume they want it." - Student at William Paterson University

    "Saying nothing at all does NOT mean consent." - Haylee W., University of Nevada, Reno

    “One issue is how consent is depicted on screen. In educational settings about consent, we’re taught that it needs to be explicit, not implied. That means asking directly. But in films, we rarely see a person in the bedroom stop kissing and then ask, ‘Do you consent to sex?’ The idea may seem ridiculous. I appreciated in the Kay Cannon-directed movie Blockers when Kayla is about to take her first swig from a flask, she stops and makes clear to her prom date that she wants to have sex — because intoxicated people cannot give consent. I’d like to see more shows addressing it and how that conversation should go.” – Student at University of California, Los Angeles

    "I hate the phrase consent is sexy. Like??? Uh, consent is a basic human right." - Rebecca, Colorado State University

    Tell us a story of a time you felt your consent was valued by a partner.

    "The first time with my boyfriend was also my first time ever. He asked me if I was sure and if I liked it several times. Now, he doesn't ask because [we're at the point where] it's really obvious that I like what we are doing, but he always pays attention to my reactions. I know he would stop if I showed some type of rejection. For me, consent is not only saying yes, but showing you like what is happening. For me, if someone just stays quiet, it is not consent, it's just the fear of saying no." - Jazmín, University of Buenos Aires

    “When my current boyfriend and I started dating we took everything really slow, he would ask before taking any big physical steps and even some small ones. I even remember him asking if he could put his arm around me while we watched tv at my apartment. Our first kiss happened to be at party where we had both been drinking, he made a comment that he would like to kiss me but he didn't even make a move closer to me until I told him that It was ok for him to. This was very important to me as I am a victim of sexual violence, but my boyfriend didn't actually know that when these moments happened making it even more comforting.” – Student at Athabasca University

    “I impulsively hooked up with a friend of a floormate sophomore year. He was very nice and clarified each and every step along the way. This person was completely attuned to my needs and stopped once I felt uncomfortable. We negotiated, and although I felt like I didn't get as much as I put into the act, we both laid out our expectations before proceeding with anything. We maintained a kind, healthy, respectful dialogue throughout.” – Allie, Mount Holyoke College

    If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can get help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). For more resources on sexual assault, visit RAINN, End Rape on Campus, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

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    When you love someone so much, reaching one romantic milestone after another is the most magical feeling. Traveling with your SO is no exception. Escaping the everyday setting and getting whisked away to a relaxing vacation with your sweetheart is a special occasion indeed, but it’s a big step in your relationship as well.  How do you know you’re ready to make that step? Here are some things to consider before you go on vacay with your SO.

    Are you comfortable enough to vacay with them?

    Love doesn’t necessarily need to be measured by time, right? But traveling with anyone (SO or otherwise) requires that you know him or her pretty well. If you’ve only been dating your SO for a few weeks, for example, it may be a little too soon to go traveling with him or her. If you’re going to a place far from home with someone who you don’t completely know yet, it can be risky in terms of safety and of keeping your new relationship stable. Abbie Long, a junior at the University of Kentucky, knew what time was right for her to make that big decision to vacation with her boyfriend.

    “Four months after my boyfriend and I got together, he and his family invited me to go on their annual family vacation together. I passed on the opportunity to go with them because, personally, I thought being together for only four months was too soon to spend a week together on vacation,” Abby says. If you’ve got the gut feeling that it’s a little too soon to vacation with your SO, then wait until you feel absolutely comfortable before you two start making vacay plans.

    “A year later, [my boyfriend’s family] asked me to go on vacation with them again and I without a doubt said ‘yes’ because at that point we had been together for well over a year, and I was so much more comfortable with my boyfriend and his family,” Abby says.

    On the other hand, you are the ultimate judge of whether you know your SO well enough. If you feel you two are totally ready to go on a splendid getaway, then go for it! Jackie Nappo, a senior at the University of Connecticut, took a vacay with her SO a little early into their relationship and she ended up adoring the experience.

    “I actually took a huge leap of faith with my current boyfriend.  When we had only been dating for three months, we took at 12-day trip together to Ireland, just the two of us. It was crazy, and I was really nervous about it, but it ended up being one of the best experiences for our relationship and so much fun,” Jackie says. Every relationship has its own pace, and if you think you’re far enough along in it (whether that’s a few months or a year), then go ahead and book that trip with your special someone.

    Can you tolerate their everyday behavior every day?

    If you already live with your SO, then you may already be used to their sleeping, eating and even hygiene habits. However, many couples haven’t reached that stage yet. Vacationing with your SO may be your first glimpse into their everyday habits. You’ll have to deal with their habits for that vacation period, and they will have to deal with yours. Would you be able to stand it if he or she leaves a mess in the kitchen at breakfast in your Airbnb? Or if your SO isn’t very organized and loses his or her passport all the time during your trip? These may seem like little things, but be honest with yourself. Are you far enough into your relationship where you can deal, or would these things really irk you?

    “When you're traveling, there isn't an escape from your SO's quirks, so you really have to be pretty in love to make that work,” Jackie says.

    This applies to traveling with friends too; the dynamic can change negatively or positively when you’re with each other for a week or two without separation. Keep these things in mind. That’s not to say it’ll definitely be a bad experience; it could turn out to be like an early honeymoon you’ve been dreaming of! Just know you’ll both confront each other’s “at home” habits and will have to accept and adapt to them as you trek along in your vacation together!

    Can you handle the stresses of vacationing together?

    Traveling is a wonderful experience, but a stressful one too; it can test your patience with one another and how you work together through daunting situations. Your relationship will go through many tests, and vacationing with your SO may end up being one of them. But don’t fear that if you get into an argument during your trip, that means your relationship is in turmoil. A trip together will test the both of you, but it will also make you grow together. Make sure you communicate throughout your vacay and always work together to get through common travel stresses like immigration issues or transportation problems. In the end, you’re traveling together because there’s no one else you’d rather have beside you to explore the world. Take all those bumps in the road and conquer them together as part of your romantic journey.

    Where will you go?

    Don’t think you need to splurge on a trip to the Bahamas to make sure it’s a perfect vacation for the two of you. Everyone is different, and there are so many unique destinations and experiences that’ll be perfect for the both of you. For some people, vacationing with your SO’s family sounds like the sweetest experience you’ll ever have, while for others it sounds pretty scary. An outdoorsy couple would love to head to the Midwest for the ultimate hiking trip, while an artsy couple may be down for a visit to Paris to see the Louvre. Sometimes, you don’t even have to go that grand and you can turn a seemingly not-so-vacation-like activity into a complete trip for the both of you. Katia Davis, a senior at the University of Kentucky, made a one-day event into a full-blown vacation and it turned out splendidly.

    “My boyfriend and I decided to take a vacation alone together last year and it was one of the best vacations I have taken. One of the main reasons we decided to vacation together was because his best friend was getting married in a different state and he was a groomsman. We decided to make the one-day event a week vacation instead of only staying a few days,” Katia says. Taking an activity and expanding it may be a great solution to finding that perfect vacay spot.

    Also, if you and your SO have very different ideas of “fun,” then compromise on a place that you know the both of you will thoroughly enjoy! You may be into Disney parks, and he/she might be into scuba diving, so head to Florida and dedicate one day to exploring Disney World and another to going to a beach nearby to scuba dive. Be open with your desires and be willing to compromise so that you can not only do what each of you like, but that you can share your interests with your SO in a thrilling new way.

    So should you vacation with your SO? Take these factors into account and really evaluate your own relationship before you make this big decision. Talk with your SO about the possibility of traveling together and get a handle on how they feel about it. If you and your SO have some issues already, then can a trip really resolve those issues or make them worse? If your SO is having any doubts about vacationing with you, hear them out and keep up the communication so you can come to a solution together. Vacationing with your SO has its realities which you should consider before you book that first trip. However, take these points of consideration as just that; traveling with your SO really is an enthralling adventure that’s totally worth having. To wake up to your SO’s face in the morning in a new place far, far away, then walking out into this new world together, ready to explore every alley and corner is a truly priceless experience. Travel hand and hand with your true love when you’re both ready and make your first trip together one you’ll always remember.

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    Female masturbation has always been highly stigmatized, and for a long time it felt taboo to even reference it, let alone openly talk about it. But according to EmpowHER, self-pleasure is actually something extremely “commonplace, normal, pleasurable, and healthy” – AKA we should have been having convos about it, like, yesterday. 

    In 1995, May was declared National Masturbation Month after San Francisco-based sexual health and pleasure store Good Vibrations decided they were fed up with the taboo surrounding masturbation and preventing women from achieving the ~pleasure~ we deserve. So, Good Vibrations named the month with the intention to raise awareness about the benefits of masturbation (of which there are quite a few, let me tell you).

    Simply put, masturbation is the most universal and important kind of sex a person can have. In addition to being just plain fun, masturbation is also a positive, empowering expression of self-love. To close out National Masturbation Month with some good vibes (pun intended), we've put together a list of our current favorite sex toys. Go forth, and enjoy yourself ladies. 

    1. Unbound Squish ($99)

    Squish is a widespread favorite – plus, just look at how freaking cute and friendly this little nugget is. The egg-shaped vibrator responds to pressure, so the harder you squeeze the harder it vibrates. Bless. It’s completely customizable, so you can create your own perfect vibration patterns that the Squish will remember.

    2. Broad City Yas Kween 10 Function Bullet Vibrator ($21.99)

    We can't hype this enough. Just take one user's review of it: “The Broad City Yas Kween bullet vibrator is some high class sh*t. It may be mini but oh boy does it give some almighty buzzin' lovin'.” The quality of this vibrator is pretty apparent, and the fact that it displays our most-used catch phrase definitely helps. Plus, it's travel-sized! 

    3. Lelo Sona Cerise Rechargeable Clitoral Stimulator ($99.99)

    Promising an “entirely new type of orgasm,” Sona uses sonic waves and pulses rather than the traditional vibrations, making it better than anything you’ve used before.  Sounds pretty good, right? We're so here for vibes that help us feel like fancy ladies. 

    4. Babeland Dahlia ($89)

    Exclusive to Babeland, this vibrator is great if you're looking for a toy that goes beyond beginner level. With multiple ways to use it, the petal design and curved tip are perfect for intense vibration and stimulation. Just pair with some lube for a little extra fun, and you've got yourself some mind blowing solo time. 

    5. Vesper Vibrator Necklace ($69)

    Lowkey also real jewelry, this stainless steel vibrator doubles as a fashion statement. And the best part? It’s absolutely silent AND it gets warmer as you use it – trust us, the heat makes things intense. It’s designed for women who want external and internal stimulation, both in private and in public. 

    6. Secrets 5 Function Remote Control Vibrating Lace Thong ($54.99)

    Why buy regular underwear when you can buy a pair with a built-in vibrator? The lacy and soft panties and remote-operated vibrator are the perfect combination for everyone. You can use the remote yourself, or pass it to your partner. It’s comfortable and discreet, which means you can use it anywhere and everywhere.

    7. Unbound Zip Vibe ($18.00)

    Affordable and adorable, this mini vibrator is a staple every girl needs for lovin herself. It’s perfect for first-time users who need an intro vibe, but powerful enough for veterans looking to add another toy to their collection. 

    Send your apprehension out the door and enjoy what’s left of National Masturbation Month. But don’t stop there - feel empowered, amazing, and keep loving yourself for the rest of the year too.

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    So I’m a bisexual, and also a queer, and also a gay. I say all of those things about myself even though they don’t all mean the exact same thing because I’m a human being who changes and grows and learns more about myself every day. It’s a thing I’ve accepted about myself.

    But it took a while to get here.

    I first started wondering if maybe I wasn’t A Straight Girl when I graduated from high school. There was this friend I sort of really, really cared about. And then I got to college and there was another girl I really, really, really cared about. And then another. And then this girl I really, really cared about told me she was gay and dated girls and my entire mind was blown and I had to ask myself: wait, is this what I want?

    What followed was pretty much several months of really rough depression. I’d come back to my apartment after class, sidestep my roommates, crawl into my bed, and just sleep. Like, every single day. I literally didn’t know what to do with my own feelings or myself because I thought I was straight. And, if I wasn’t, what did that mean?

    Eventually I got to the point where I realized I was probably queer, but then I had a new problem to face: what if I was wrong/ I didn’t want to be That Girl who used a lesbian and broke her heart when I realized that, actually, I was straight. As a big, giant ally for pretty much my entire life, I was truly horrified with that possibility. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I didn’t want to hurt the community. I didn’t want to hurt that girl. But I also didn’t want to hurt myself. And more and more it felt like I was causing myself nothing but pain by forcing myself to push it all down and stay in the dark so I wouldn’t have to face who I maybe actually was, or was becoming. 

    I’m not the only one who’s ever felt like that.

    Now, I say I’m bisexual. Now, I say I’m queer. I tweet about being gay and post my (girl) partner all over my Instagram and decorate my house in gay art and spend a lot of time reading about queer issues. My friends are all pretty damn queer and we don’t apologize for it. My life and the way I’ve built it is queer.

    But for a long time, I felt like I didn’t get to call myself that. For a lot of people, coming out whether to yourself or to other people feels hugely risky because it feels like there’s a way to do it right, and a way to do it wrong. Especially when you’re someone who wasn’t born knowing they were 100% gay, it can feel like your sexuality somehow doesn’t count. Especially when you’re bisexual or pansexual or asexual or another sexuality that gets pushed aside in favor of the L and the G, it feels like there’s so much at stake, and if you don’t Do Your Sexuality Right you’re going to ruin the community.

    But I’m here to tell you that’s bullshit.

    As the queer community turned into the Gay Rights Movement, it often feels like there’s only one way to be gay — and that that way has to be palatable and easily understood by cis, straight people. We have to be “born this way.” We have to be 100 percent gay. We can’t risk confusing cishets (cisgender hetrosexuals, aka straight people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth) and losing our rights. We end up policing each other and expecting each other to follow this guidebook that literally does not exist. And when you don’t, it feels like you’re breaking a rule.

    But gatekeeping is bullshit and the rules of queerness are bullshit and however you do your own sexuality is yours and it’s real and it can change and it counts. You don’t owe anyone shit.

    It’s not your job to make things easy for cis, straight people. Your only responsibility is to educate yourself, to uplift other marginalized folks, and to be kind to other people and to yourself. If for you that means fluidity in labels and experiences, give that to yourself. You deserve it.

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    Sex seems so simple in the movies, but working up to the big moment can be a challenge for many of us in real life. For some, the thought of going through with the act is enough to induce panic before or during an attempt to have sex. Whatever the reason for your anxiousness, know that it doesn’t have to be that way forever. Here are four things to do if the thought of sex gives you anxiety.

    1. Wait

    There is no reason to rush or force yourself into doing something you are not 100 percent mentally or physically prepared for. There is no deadline to meet when it comes to sharing an intimate moment with someone.  

    Melly*, a senior at Georgia State University, had to endure heartbreak which caused her to become apprehensive about sex.

    “After I was cheated on, the thought of having sex would make me nauseous,” she says. “I have chosen to wait until I am sure that I am completely healed before I jump back into giving myself to someone in that way. I am still waiting, but every day I feel like I am making progress towards being more comfortable with the idea of sex.”

    Listen to your body. When you are ready to have sex with someone, your body will relax and instinct will take over. If you feel as if you have to coach yourself through every move, you may not be ready.

    2. Disconnect from society's view of sex 

    There's enormous pressure from society on how women should exhibit their sexuality, which may distort your perspective of sex. There's so much emphasis put on the “first time,” and keeping your body count as low as possible. You need to construct your own opinion of what sex means to you.

    Trisha*, a junior at Kent State University, was afraid to have sex because of the negative stigma society places on the act.  

    “At a time when most of my friends were not having sex, the one thing shoved down our throats was how much it was going to hurt,” she says. “Not only that, but adults made it seem like there was no preventing pregnancy or STDs, and that our value as women would diminish if we had sex.”

    Having sex and who you have sex with does not define you. So keep that in mind if you are anxious about people looking at you differently if you do decide to have sex.

    3. Test the waters

    The thought of having sex may make you anxious beforehand if you overthink it. However, you may become more relaxed if you slowly work toward the goal. Taking it slowly assures your mind and body that you are comfortable.

    Be vocal with you partner. If you do feel uneasy, it’s important to let them know so they can take it more slowly or stop altogether.

    Rachna Shah, a freshman at Dartmouth College, suggests open communication with your partner if you’re on edge.

    “Approach it slowly—in a roundabout manner, rather than directly,” she says. “Letting your SO know that you’d prefer to do it that way can help your relationship from faltering.”

    Establishing trust through communication is an important step when it comes to reducing your anxiety about sex.

    Related: 13 College Women Get Real About Their Sexual Histories 

    4. Pleasure yourself

    Becoming more comfortable and embracing your body will help you become more comfortable with somebody else. Masturbation is a great release for your body. It can also normalize your body to the feeling of intimacy and orgasms so you won't be sent into a frenzy if you do engage in sex.

    Sarah*, a junior at the University of Alabama, also suggests watching pornography to relax yourself.

    “There is a huge stigma around women watching porn, but there is a lot of material out there to educate women about their bodies and how they want to be pleasured,” she says. “It may also increase your own libido and inspire you to actively want to have sex.”

    Self-love is the best love, and it’s an important step to intercourse with someone else.

    Sex can be an escape from life’s anxieties if you wait until you are mentally and physically ready. You're not in a race or competition with anyone. Patience is key, but following the above steps may put you on a path to readiness.

    *Names have been changed.

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    You know that feeling when you're with your partner, and you don’t think you could be any happier in that moment? That feeling when life seems to be in slow motion, and your responsibilities don’t seem so daunting and overwhelming. Who would want to let go of that feeling?

    Unfortunately, life isn't in slow motion. Responsibilities don’t just go away—you have dreams you need to attend to and a life of your own that needs to be worked on. Sometimes that means having to move away from your fling, your lover or your long-time relationship. It may mean you or your partner is going off to a new school or a new job. It means change and excitement, and that’s bound to cause some stress, but if you’re able to overcome the initial disruption, and maintain that level of trust, there’s a great chance you’ll learn to like—maybe even love—your new arrangement.

    Long distance tends to teach people a lot about themselves. The time and energy going into a relationship may hinder at first because physical interactions and quality time seem to diminish to phone calls and Skype sessions. Both partners need to readjust and consider their options through intense and honest conversations. Before you say your goodbyes and proclaim that you’re in an LDR, there are factors and questions you should address both personally and as a team.

    Do you see a future with your partner?

    This is tough to just blurt out to a partner. The future is scary on its own, but factoring in another person complicates it even more. It requires introspection about what you think of your SO, and how you envision them in your life in the long run. You want someone that you’re willing to wait for, and that's willing to wait for you. Picturing your future with them should make you happy because you want to hear about what’s happened while you’ve been away and vice versa. You should want your partner to succeed even if that means being apart for a while. That level of support is the difference between short- and long-term relationships. Putting aside your personal attachment so both of you can grow and come back to each other is what's going to make the future better. If you can see that with your partner, then maybe an LDR is the right choice.

    The person you’re with should help make you better because you’re great on your own. If you don’t believe their presence will amplify who you are already, then long distance may not be for you.

    Related: 5 Ways To Transition To a Long Distance Relationship

    Do you believe you can commit to this person without physically being able to be with them?

    This may seem difficult to answer because it's hard to know if you’ve never been in an LDR before. You may feel like you need to test the waters for before you fully declare you're capable of it. However, you know yourself, and you know your SO as well. If you or they have a history of cheating even before going the distance, try to think of reasons why this would or wouldn't happen again.

    Micki Wagner, a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia, can attest to this type of dilemma. "I just recently went through a breakup with a guy who couldn't do long distance. A big reason why distance is hard for him is because he and his ex were long distance, and she cheated on him. So that made it difficult for him to be fully trusting, even though I'm not her and I wouldn't have done the same."

    There'll be new people and new places with long distance, and while these conversations aren't the most comfortable, knowing someone has been unfaithful is a hell of a lot more uncomfortable. Be clear on what you want and expect. You might even discover this is or isn’t something you can truly handle.

    Do you trust this person?

    When work runs late and someone misses a phone call, how will you react? Are you comfortable with your partner going out on the weekends and drinking? Are you uncomfortable when they don't check in regularly? These questions may seem to have simple answers, but you’d be surprised at how many people stare at their phones waiting for the same explanations. Can you handle the instances where life gets in the way or will you simply jump to conclusions because it’s all too much?

    Molly Crum, a recent graduate from James Madison University, says, "My boyfriend and I did long distance every summer break of college. At first, it was really hard, but I tried to focus on who I did have around me and how I could spend our time apart to make it go faster. I spent a lot of time with my family and high school friends I hadn't seen all school year. I took on a full-time job and redecorated my whole bedroom because having fun goals or projects to work on distracted me from missing him and gave me something exciting to tell my boyfriend about later!"

    If you're someone who needs constant attention and reassurance, you may think an LDR is impossible, but we’re here to tell you it’s not. If anything, being apart from someone who seems like your whole world might actually show you that they’re not—you are. You may even be able to reconnect with old friends and hobbies.

    Nobody's perfect, and there will be times we assume the worst because we’re human. But being curious about what’s been going on is different than accusing your partner of cheating. Both people in a relationship are accountable. If your partner has made comments about their insecurities in the relationship, you should be able to thwart their concerns. Trust works both ways.

    Is this person your friend?

    This is one of the most important aspects of LDRs. Couples who choose to do long distance are usually successful when the relationship is built on a foundation of friendship. Meaning, you should like your partner for more than the physical reasons. These relationships tend to highlight the other beautiful reasons people choose to be together.

    For example, you may be with your partner because they’re easy to talk to and they just “get you.” If that's the case, long phone and FaceTime calls will allow you to still feel close to your partner, or you can watch your favorite movies together by screen sharing. There's obviously a lot more to relationships than hooking up. Being actual friends with your partner allows LDRs to work more smoothly because you've already established a liking for each other outside of sexual attraction. If communication is lacking in your relationship and you don’t actually like talking to your partner, an LDR may not be for you.

    How long will you be apart?

    The logistics of LDRs seem to be many people’s first reaction to the thought of this type of relationship. How often will the couple see other? Who's going to visit who? What's the maximum amount of time you can go without seeing each other? You may not have the answers right away, but know that these questions will come up.

    A warning for those who are thinking about long distance: love isn't always enough. It's common to think love conquers all, but honestly, that’s just not the case. Things get lost in translation, and sometimes you’ll feel like you need more love and support. It’s okay if you feel like you’re not getting enough, even if you know you love each other.

    Dania De La Hoya, a sophomore from Illinois State University, says, “My long distance relationship ended a couple months ago, I think because of this very reason. Not everyone can do long distance. It's hard not seeing your SO on a regular basis and in my case, my ex needed more than long distance could give him—more seeing each other, more physical affection, so we just grew apart. I think it helps if there's a specific end in sight because long distance can't go on forever. If you know it's just temporary, you have that to hold onto.”

    Dania's right; an end goal is important to these types of relationships. There needs to be a conversation about the conclusion to an LDR, which can seem almost impossible in college. People are just barely becoming adults and joining the workforce in this age, and assuming that you’ll both graduate and get jobs near each other is pretty optimistic. Honestly, this conversation may be best for people nearing a new chapter in their lives (graduation), because if you want the long distance to end, you have to be willing to compromise for your future with your SO, which isn’t applicable for many young adults.

    Time and time again, we’ve witnessed couples who don't seem to have these types of honest conversations and end up hurting more than loving each other. Save yourself and your SO the trouble and talk to them.

    The rewards of an LDR are almost exactly the same as any other relationship: love, understanding, support and comfort. It can be hard missing an SO, but amazing when you get to hold them after a long time, and to a lot of people, that’s worth it. But if you’ve realized that an LDR is not for you, remember that this doesn't make you a bad person, nor does it make you better or worse at relationships. It just means you have different needs, and that’s okay. It may mean the person you’re with is not willing to commit. Maybe they're not the person for you, and that’s okay too. There's no perfect couple who can handle any change or disruption that comes their way. Relationships are complicated and messy, and whether or not you choose to be long distance is just another difficult decision ahead in your beautiful life.

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    Once upon a time, there was a movie that portrayed a couple as unrealistically as possible. They never fought, nothing bad ever happened, and they lived happily ever after. The end.

    But like, in what world, and how do we all find that? The truth is, dating is hard! In real life, there is no such thing as the perfect relationship with a perfect person. So we found some romance movies that cut the fairytale crap and help us deal with the reality of dating, which isn’t always as magical as we’d like it to be.

    1. How to Be Single

    What makes this movie great is that it doesn’t romanticize dating. It follows the story of a bunch of young adults exploring the dating scene in New York City. That’s a pretty cliché rom-com description, but this movie is realistic because it shows just how difficult dating and actually finding love can be. Lauren Wingo, a recent graduate of Marymount University, watched this movie after going through a tough breakup with her long-term boyfriend.

    “It’s messy, heart-wrenching and painful, yet so full of hope,” she says. “It truly displays the mindset of continuing to take steps forward knowing that you will find what is yours amidst any heartbreak that comes your way.” 

    Dating definitely can be complicated, and movies like How to Be Single resonate with us because the story reflects that.

    2. Celeste and Jesse Forever

    We all have that one ex who seems to still have a hold on us. We still think about them, stalk them on Instagram, and maybe even reach out to them (or at least seriously consider it). Celeste and Jesse Forever deals with very real situation of what to do about that ex you still care about. Sure, we probably weren’t married to that ex, like Celeste and Jesse were. But at any rate, it’s nice that this movie takes on navigating a relationship with your ex post-breakup.

    3. Stuck in Love

    Similar to How to Be Single, Stuck in Love follows the stories (and love lives) of multiple people. In this movie, though, they are all in the same family, trying to deal with love in its many forms at different stages of life. Makena Gera, a sophomore at Marist College, says this movie isn’t perfectly true-to-life, but she recommends it anyway because “the relationships aren't as romanticized as many romantic comedies or dramas tend to be,” she says. Plus, Lilly Collins, Logan Lerman, Kristen Bell and Nat Wolff are in it, so we’re already into it!

    Related: 3 Reasons Why You Might Not Actually Want a Relationship

    4. Sleeping with Other People

    After 12 years, a man and a woman who once had a one-night-stand come back into each other’s lives. The catch is that, despite their feelings toward each other, they’re trying to just be friends. Lauren MacDonald, a senior at University of California, Santa Barbara, says part of what makes this movie realistic, is that it shows how romance can be born out of a friendship. Plus, it shows realistic unrequited love.

    “I thought it pretty accurately depicts what it's like to be in love with someone who does not love you back, but continues to string you along,” she says.

    It’s sad, but unfortunately quite a few people deal with this at some point in their dating lives.

    5. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

    In this film, starring Elizabeth Taylor, unhappily married couple George and Martha end up dealing with issues in their relationship in front of a young married couple Martha invited over to their house for drinks. One of the biggest issues George and Martha are dealing with is infertility, which has rendered them childless. Infertility is an issue that not many films bring up, which contributes to George and Martha’s realistic relationship in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?   

    6.  Blue is the Warmest Color

    This movie tells the story of a 15-year-old high school student who is coming into her sexual identity after meeting a mysterious blue-haired girl, whom she eventually falls for. The beauty of this movie is that doesn’t focus on the drama of a relationship, so much as it shows the details of Adèle and Emma’s relationship, making it easier to relate to.

    7. He’s Just Not That Into You

    Once again, we encounter a movie that follows the stories of several people in relationships and looking for them. These types of movies tend to be more realistic because they provide such a wide range of situations, from a rocky marriage to difficulty dating to a serious couple disagreeing on whether or not to get married. Jackie Buchheit, a senior at the University of Missouri-Columbia finds this movie to be realistic for just that reason.

    “(The movie) shows the ups and downs that a relationship can have, like cheating, lying and mixed signals,” she says.

    Annoyingly, all of that is realistic. All. Of. It. But the good news is that true love does exist (@Chrissy Teigen and John Legend), and though, dating is a lot sometimes, it is ultimately worth it. And Prince Harry is marrying a normal girl just like Prince William did. So there’s hope for all of us, right?

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    Friends with benefits (FWB) has morphed into a taboo subject for many collegiettes. When you’re home on holiday break or just talking to your mom on the phone, potential significant others always seem to sneak their way into the conversation. That hot guy or girl from all the Facebook photos? Out of embarrassment or another cringe-worthy emotion, you’re forced to tell a fib. “We’re just friends.” Yes, that much is true, but there’s added advantages that come with being friends with the hot guy or girl from all the Facebook photos. Despite the small details you’ll probably have to keep from the family (unless you’re super close), FWB can be more than just regular hookups. The non-sexual benefits can help you learn about yourself and improve your day-to-day life, given the relationship’s relaxed nature.

    1. Gain experience without the emotional complications

    We all come into college with different levels of sexual experience. Some of us lost our virginity in high school, while some of us still dream of our first kiss with a Liam Hemsworth or Gigi Hadid look-alike. Whatever your sexual experience is, FWB offers a unique solution to those of you who’d like to learn a thing or two without the emotional baggage. Erica*, a freshman at Temple University, believes that “FWB is a good first-hand experience to know what different things feel like. You can watch a sex scene in a movie or read about in a book, but if you’ve never had sex, it’s hard to fully understand your friends when they talk about it.”

    If your younger sister had sex before you, or your friends all talk about sex and you stay silent, it’s only natural that your inexperience will weigh heavier on your shoulders. As long as you’re okay with no-strings-attached sex, FWB can act as a learning experience. Especially if your partner is older or simply more experienced, they can teach you a thing or two before you get involved in a real relationship. You’ll feel more confident when the big time comes. If you’re a virgin and trying FWB for the first time, please be aware that you might become emotionally invested. Sometimes your brain and heart don’t agree.  

    2. Work around busy schedules

    It’s possible you haven’t had a full eight hours of sleep in a while. Writing essays, finishing problem sets, and last-minute cramming have become ingrained in everyday life. Even though you’re not stuck in high school for seven hours straight anymore, it seems like learning to function in college takes twice as much effort and energy. If you’re one of the many who doesn’t have time for a full-time relationship, FWB might be the perfect solution. Rachel Petty, a graduate of James Madison University, says, “Sometimes having a FWB can be a lot of fun! You get the perks of a hookup without any commitment. If you’re okay with it not turning into something more, there’s no reason not to. Just make sure you’re both on the same page!” To avoid any miscommunication or unrealistic expectations, listen to Rachel’s advice and make sure you and your FWB understand one another. If they're not around and you want to meet up multiple times a week, some problems may arise.

    3. Fill the physical affection void

    No matter how hot your cardboard cutout of your favorite movie star may be, he or she isn’t going to be very comfortable to cuddle with at night. College is a strange place for physical affection. Sometimes you can go for weeks at a time without a hug (especially in the beginning) or you can become a permanent chair for your bestie. It all depends on how touchy feely you are and how close you are with the people around you. Even if you’re the type of person who needs a constant five-foot radius of personal space, there’s always a night when you crave intimacy of some sort. Anna*, a sophomore at Stanford University, says, “From first hand experience, I know that being single can be tough if you’re having a particularly stressful day. Yes, a hug from a friend can help or a phone call home, but there’s something about having a FWB on speed dial that’s exhilarating and comforting at the same time.” Instead of ordering a pizza, order a steamy session with your FWB.

    Related: 5 Signs Your Friends-With-Benefits Relationship Isn’t Working

    4. Learn about sexual likes and dislikes

    Although FWB can be a way for inexperienced collegiettes to get the gist of all things sexual, it can also be a way to experiment. If you want to go Fifty Shades of Grey-style, find someone who’d fulfill that fantasy! There’s no limit to what you can try out. In past relationships, your partner may have set sexual boundaries, while you wanted to go further. Use FWB as a means of expanding your skillset, like discovering how to have fantastic oral sex. Scarlett*, a freshman at Georgia Tech, explains, “FWB is a good way to figure out what you want in a non-serious setting. It’s an easygoing environment through which you can really experiment with things and find what you’re comfortable with, what you like, and what’s definitely off the table.” Remember, your sexual pleasure and health are the most important. It’s totally okay to be selfish in this situation—just make sure you have consent first.

    5. Strengthen a previously platonic friendship

    Even though FWB is typically known to mess up or make friendships awkward, it can also have the adverse effect. Think about it—if both of you are clear with one another, mutual understanding is at an all time high. Paige*, a junior at Stanford University, says, “It’s funny because my FWB and I started out just talking to one another. We both had very similar interests and one night I was feeling particularly stressed while doing homework in his room. He offered to lay with me and it soon turned steamy. We both agreed before having sex that it was just sex, nothing more. The trust between us has definitely gotten stronger because we promised to let each other know when we’re interested romantically in someone else.” For the relationship to work smoothly, a certain level of maturity has to be present.

    If you’ve watched a number of Hollywood blockbusters depicting the crash-and-burn reputation of FWB, we’re suggesting you keep an open mind. It’s true that FWB isn’t for everyone and sometimes friendships end up ruined, but it’s a chance to explore another type of relationship. Whether you’re the the president of every club and don’t have time for a commitment or you’re a virgin and want to know what sex is all about, FWB offers the flexibility and versatility you might want. You'll never know if it’s a good option if you don’t give it a chance.

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    In relationships, you can always expect a few bumps in the road. From disagreements about where to eat to bigger issues like cheating, unexpected fights happen all the time. At the end of the day, you make up with bae and move on. But what happens with the big fights that bother you even after you’ve kissed and made up? Even though you tell your SO that you accepted their apology and have forgiven them for what they’ve done to you, sometimes you could be lying to yourself.

    1. It hurts when mutual friends are hanging out with them and not you

    When you’re in a relationship, sometimes your friends become their friends and vice versa. When fights happen and you’re at home dwelling on what you could have said and your boo is out with your mutual friends, it can make you feel like your friends picked him over you.

    Ciara Clemons, a sophomore at the College of Charleston, says, “For me, the idea of him hanging out with people that you're both friends with hurts you. It’s super trivial but I think it’s definitely a sign that you’re still hurt and almost a bit betrayed that your friends would pick him over you.”

    If they’re good friends to the both of you, they will make time for the both of you, but sometimes friendships get confusing when relationship fights are involved. But, if you’re jealous of him for hanging out with your friends or feel like he’s doing it to spite you, it may be a discussion for the whole group to have.

    2. Seeing them in person is awkward, to say the least

    We’ve all had those awkward encounters with ex-friends and ex-significant others, but what about the person you’re in a relationship with?  Those fun hangout sessions, dates or just running into each other on the street can be awkward post-fight or argument. If you feel yourself getting tense, not talking or find yourself way more interested in your phone than normal, maybe forgiveness hasn’t happened yet.

    “I'm the type of person who only sees the good in people, so when I'm blindsided by a guy, I physically don't want to see him,” says Emily Schmidt, a freshman at Stanford University. “If I see him walking down the street and he looks my direction, I'll stare straight ahead. The day I can wave and smile at him is the day I know I've forgiven him.”

    No matter how he has wronged you, try to work past the awkwardness and have fun. Forgiveness is a process and focusing on moving on through hanging out and having normal conversations can help, in some cases.

    Related: 27 Things Guys Do That Really Annoy Us

    3. You still get upset when you hear about them and what they’re doing

    With social media and mutual friends, it can be impossible to not hear about what everyone is doing at all times. If you made peace with your SO or simply just don’t care about what they’re doing, then seeing them on your friend’s Snapchat or hearing a story about him won’t bother you.

    Ashley Drayton, a graduate of Georgia State University, says, “I try to stay my distance, but if I'm constantly checking social media, or getting upset if I hear anything about him then I know whatever happened is still bothering me.”

    Your SO needs to get over the argument and have their space just as much as you do. If they’re on social media having a blast with their pals and you’re at wine night obsessing over what he’s doing, then you’re not enjoying your time apart. When shit hits the fan, going your separate ways for a night or two can help you both reflect on what happened and make peace with one another.

    4. You boycott the places they’re going to be

    If you get food poisoning at the sushi place or if you know that your ex-friend will be at that one party everyone’s going to, you probably boycott those places. It happens to everyone: sometimes there’s those places you just will not go under any circumstance. Even a fight with your SO can result in your boycotting, but it’s not always the best way to “get over” a fight.

    “I was talking to a boy in a fraternity, but he ended up being a jerk, so I've been refusing to go to socials that my sorority and his fraternity have, and things of that nature,” says Camila Mota, a sophomore at New Mexico State University. “I also refuse to go to any pool parties at the apartment complex he lives in.”

    Boycotting him can help create space between the two of you, but it can also keep you from having fun with your friends. When it comes to parties, socials and other big events, there'll be so many people there that you two may not even cross paths. Save the boycotting for bad hookups and ghosters, and use the tool of conversation for your bae.

    Whether it’s a fight with your current SO, a hookup gone bad or an ex, forgiveness takes time. You may think you’re over a situation or a fight, but at the end of the day, you could be holding onto the resentment. If time has passed and forgiveness doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards, you may have to go back to the root of the problem or fight and see if you will actually be able to work on it in order to have a healthy, successful relationship.

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    When you find yourself falling for someone you’ve been dating and the feelings seem mutual, you typically get excited to share your emotions with your SO. You want them to know you care about them, you enjoy their company and ultimately hope they feel the same way. But what do you do when you realize you’re with someone you don’t see a future with? Or maybe you simply aren’t looking for a relationship with anyone at the time. It’s never easy to tell someone you’re not invested in the same way they are, so we’re here to share some advice on how to make that conversation a little easier.

    Be honest

    Honesty goes a long way, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Navigating your own feelings can be difficult, but it’s not fair to drag someone along your emotional roller coaster. Juliet Goulet, a graduating senior at Bishop’s University, agrees that honesty is important no matter what the situation is. “Trying to make excuses or lie your way out of the conversation won’t help anyone. You’ll get mixed up and messed around and probably end up feeling guilty in the end,” she says. Being honest with your partner also means you’re being honest with yourself, which is all around an emotionally healthy way to live.

    Every partnership varies, which is why you should be upfront with your intentions once you figure them out. “It’s important to understand that single and taken aren’t binaries,” Juliet says. “There is so much in-between, and every situation is different. Just because you don’t want a relationship doesn’t mean that you don’t want something. The ‘I’m not looking for a relationship’ talk isn’t always necessarily a ‘let’s stop seeing each other’ talk.” You could truly enjoy your SO as a person and value your time together, but if the idea of being with them long-term just doesn’t seem to fit, you have to let them know. Who knows, maybe they’ll even be on the same page as you and you can continue to date without future expectations.

    Related: 7 Signs You Dodged a Bullet With Someone

    Help them understand your perspective

    If things seem to be going wonderfully and both partners are into one another, it can be difficult to explain that you’re simply not interested in a relationship. Today’s culture has normalized the casual dating/hookup culture, but that doesn’t always make letting someone down any easier. Megan Malaby, a recent graduate of Emmanuel College, shares how she handles these situations. “I always ask my partner to look at our relationship with me rationally and objectively,” she says. “In the situations I have been in, emotions are so high and we both feel especially impassioned and aren't able to think clearly. Once we both analyze our current positions considering us as two random people rather than ‘us,’ it's generally easier to make a clean break because we are able to identify the issues that are (generally) mutually felt.”

    You can genuinely care about your partner even if you don’t want to advance the relationship, which may feel like a lie to them at the time. It’s not your responsibility to lay out every single thought going on in your mind, but giving them reasoning allows for some peace of mind. If you’ve ever been let down by an SO, you can understand why elaborating is a kind thing to do.

    Define the relationship upfront

    Most collegiettes have been on both sides of heartbreak. Whether you’re the one getting your heart broken or letting someone else down, it’s never an enjoyable situation to part ways with someone you care about. If you’re entering a new partnership, however, and you already know you’re not in the long-term commitment state of mind, it’s smart to have this conversation fairly early on. Chelsea Jackson, a junior at Iowa State University, describes herself as “not-the-relationship type.” “If I'm the one to bring up that I'm not looking for a relationship shortly after meeting someone, then usually the other person ends up nagging me with tons of questions about why I don't like relationships or that I just haven't met the right person yet,” she says. “All of these questions are super annoying, so I've found that after I've gotten to know the person a little bit, it becomes simpler for me to ease them into the reality that I'm not looking for a relationship and that it's best to just keep things casual.” Sometimes having to explain yourself is frustrating, so rephrasing your thoughts can be beneficial. Relationships aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but being upfront can save some crushed hearts down the line.

    Don’t be ashamed of your decision

    Relationships take time, effort and constant commitment. Sometimes we aren’t ready for that big of a step in our lives, especially if we have a lot going on with ourselves. Chances are when you meet the right person, nothing will stop the two of you from being together. But until then, there’s nothing wrong with putting your needs first. “While you should be as honest as you can with your partner in terms of what you want, you don’t need to justify why you don’t want to be in a relationship,” Juliet says. “Sometimes it’s just a feeling or an attitude that you may have instead of any reason in specific and, while that could be hard for your partner to wrap their head around, it’s a personal choice that doesn’t need someone’s approval.”

    Your heart knows what it wants; it’s just a matter of listening to it. When you have the conversation about not wanting a relationship, it leaves your partner with many questions. You can answer and explain as you please, but it’s important to keep your sanity in mind, too. No good can come from prolonging a partnership that clearly has two different expectations for the near future.

    Dating can be tricky, messy and wonderful all at the same time. It’s okay to explore and get to know yourself in various ways through dates and partners. It’s expected at this age, honestly. Caring for another person means keeping their feelings in mind. If you aren’t looking for something serious but feel that they are, that’s a conversation you need to initiate. It’s never fun to feel like you’re letting somebody down, but in the long run it will save them more pain than they may be able to recognize right now. Be honest with yourself, and the rest will fall into place as it should.

    Follow Autumn K. Dube on Instagram.

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    An erection happens when blood rushes to the penis, making it firmer and enlarged. Think of it as a boner’s way of saying “hey” and giving you a thumbs up. They happen for a number of reasons, and there are a lot of factors that affect the ~quality~. Whether you’re a virgin or you’ve seen your fair share of erect penises, these are a few surprising things we think everyone should know about boners, so you can become somewhat of an expert yourself.

    1. They’re more spontaneous than you think

    Sorry collegiettes, but getting a boner doesn’t always mean that a guy is totally into you. Sometimes they just happen without conscious control.

    Dr. William Schiff, a urologist from Fresno, California, specializes in men’s health and erectile dysfunction. He informs us that there are actually three different types of erections. “Arousal from physical contact is called a reflexogenic erection. If the erection spurs from audiovisual stimulation it’s called psychogenic. The last are nocturnal erections which happen when someone is asleep.”

    Eric, a junior at the University of California, Irvine, puts this in easy-to-understand terms. “Foreplay and making out obviously gives me a boner, but sometimes nothing gives me a boner,” he explains. “I’ll be sitting in class and the room will be really cold, or I’ll remember I forgot to turn in a homework assignment, and then it just happens. I get them a lot from things that are the most non-sexual.”

    What does this new penis fact mean for women? What he’s packing can be just as much a surprise for him as it is for you. If you wake up in the morning to some unwelcome morning wood or see a bump in his jeans start to rise while you’re talking, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s coming on to you. Understanding what stimulates erections is important. Most guys have 11 erections a day, and we can bet that most of those don’t have anything to do with sexy-time.

    Related: 5 Sex Taboos You Should Be Over By Now

    2. Certain habits have negative side effects

    Your body isn’t going to be in great shape if you eat poorly and don’t exercise, and those same rules apply to boner quality. An unhealthy lifestyle can make arousal a lot harder than you would expect.

    Getting intimate with a guy who does a lot of smoking and drinking also doesn’t bode well for the bedroom. It’s been confirmed that these habits play seriously into erectile dysfunction in younger men. Smoking inhibits proper blood flow, which means the penis isn’t getting the blood it needs when your guy is aroused. In turn, alcohol acts as a depressant, so even if he wants to get hard and show sexual desire, it may not happen. If his erectile dysfunction becomes a problem where he can’t get it up every time after having a couple drinks, don’t be afraid to talk it out and maybe pursue a healthier daily lifestyle to achieve a healthier sex life.

    3. Anxiety is so real

    Having performance anxiety or even a serious psychological issue like stress, anxiety or depression will definitely make it a struggle for him to get hard. Mental health actually has so much to do with erections. Whether he’s nervous about sex or even anxious about things happening at school or in his personal life, that tense feeling is going to affect the way his penis operates.

    Dr. Schiff elaborates on the correlation between stress and penis function. “Performance anxiety is equally common in men and women; just as clinical disorders are equally common,” he says. “It’s extremely debilitating when you feel like you can’t fulfill an expected role. Reminding your partner that sex doesn’t need to be goal oriented is a good place to start. When you struggle with anxiety you have no idea how your body is going to react in certain situations, so making sure to have supportive sexual dialogue and understanding is key.”

    If the tables were turned, basically treat him the way you want to be treated if you were the one feeling anxious about not being able to get wet. Acting annoyed or upset is going to be the opposite of helpful. Let him know that getting hard isn’t an issue right now, and there are so many other ways you can be intimate without trying to meet an end goal. It’s great to make mental health and anxiety a safe thing to talk about in the bedroom, and will hopefully lead to more pleasure for both of you in the long run.

    4. The better a guy sleeps, the better his erection will be

    Pretty much everything feels better after getting a full night’s rest, and the same goes for boners too. “A poor night’s sleep negatively affects men’s testosterone levels which in turn impacts the erection,” says Dr. Schiff.

    Plus, remember how we mentioned that guys get nocturnal boners? Well, when he doesn’t get enough sleep his nighttime erections get interrupted, and that also can damage his overall penile health. Needless to say, let the boy get his sleep! Boners are low-key so much more complex than we expected.

    Related: So THIS Is Why Guys Send Dick Pics

    5. Masturbation plays a role

    If your guy hasn’t played with himself for a few days, he’s likely to get a more intense erection later. While everyone has their personal masturbation choices both in and out of relationships, being greeted with a bigger and firmer erection now and then might be nice.

    Real live college guy, Eric, better explains what this feels like so those of us without the anatomy can understand. “I can for sure tell a difference in how good my erection is depending on if I masturbated,” he says. “If I haven’t masturbated or done anything for a week, my boner is going to be that much better when I am having sex. Everything is way more sensitive.”

    Try asking your guy to go a few days without any sexual stimulation, and then see what happens. When he does get an erection, it’s going to be way more intense for both of you *wink wink*.

    Honestly, we are so here for all the sex facts. We hope you learned something new about boners today, collegiettes!

    Follow Gina Escandon on Twitter.

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    I'm pretty sure Jewish girls are a species all their own. Some of the stuff that we do would not be considered normal in "the real world," aka around non-Jews. If you're gonna date one of us, there are some things that you will definitely have to get used to.  

    1. What's a Jewish girl's favorite thing to make for dinner? 

    A reservation! I make the best matzo ball soup ever, but I'm not trying to cook for other people. 

    2. We use a lot of words you won't understand

    Schlep: a long trip. Schvitz: sweat. Goy: you.

    3. We're always down for sushi

    Jewish girls LOVE sushi. We're not gonna eat anything with shellfish, but we LOVE sushi. 

    4. If you meet her Camp Friends, you'll be totally lost

    They have years and years of inside jokes that they can convey with just a look. They won't catch you up. Make sure your phone is charged. You just wouldn't get it. 

    5. Her and her Camp Friends have all dated each other (or hooked up)

    But you have nothing to worry about. It was probably just a result of camp goggles. 

    6. Her family's food is the best, no matter what

    #ShitJewishGirlsSay: "My mom's matzo ball soup is way better than this." 

    7. The first question her family will ask when they find out she has a new SO is, "Are they Jewish?"

    We're not getting married, so does it really matter? 

    8. We love to complain

    The weather, our hair, our new Canada Goose jacket getting dirty… we love to complain. 

    9. We're always hungry

    And if you come to one of our family meals, you better come hungry and wear pants with a stretchy waistband. 

    10. We all wear the same opal hamsa necklace

    Most of us have them in the classic turquoise, and we all got them in Israel. Same goes for our Hadaya rings. 

    11. We've been on a program to Israel

    And it was the best summer/semester/year/10 days of our life!

    12. We are amazing at Jewish geography

    My cousin probably knows your sister's best friend. Did she do USY, or did she go to Ramah? 

    13. Friday nights are not date night

    Unless you want to have a second dinner at like 10 p.m.? 

    14. Our flat iron is probably our best friend

    For some reason, our hair seems to be a lot frizzier than everyone else's. We are not strangers to every type of chemical straightening on the planet. Also, if we leave our hair natural and you say it looks "frizzy" when it's actually just curly (there is a difference!), then we will hate you forever. 

    15. We probably call our parents multiple times a day, in addition to having a "Fam Jam" group chat

    We just like to chat with them.

    16. We know what celebrities are Jewish, and we probably have at least one mutual friend with them 

    Abbi and Ilana are Jewess princesses. 

    17. We'll say L'chaim for literally anything 

    Taking a shot at the bar? L'chaim!

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    If you find yourself dealing with frequent urinary tract infections, know you’re not alone.

    UTIs are the second most common infection, according to Everyday Health, and account for millions of doctor visits annually. If you find yourself dealing with multiple UTIs—specifically, more than twice in a span of six months—this is considered a recurrent UTI. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that one in five women have a recurring UTI. So, how are you supposed to deal with what seem like non-stop infections? We’re here to help.

    First of all, what is a UTI?

    Essentially, a UTI is when bacteria enters the urinary tract, resulting in frequent trips to the bathroom or burning feeling when you pee.

    "A UTI is an infection of the bladder or kidneys," says Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine. "When healthy, neither of these have bacteria in them, so an infection occurs when bacteria gets into the urethra, which connects the outside of the body to the bladder, and proceeds up the body into the bladder or kidney. UTIs are more common in the bladder, and more common in women."

    According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, symptoms of a UTI include:

    • Frequent urgency to pee

    • Burning sensation when you go

    • Pee that is tinted or has a strange odor

    Why do you keep getting recurring UTIs?

    1. You don’t pee when you should

    A key factor in preventing a UTI is peeing. Basically, peeing is part of your body’s self-cleaning process (another reason why you shouldn’t be using hygiene products besides simple soap and water). It’s meant to flush out your urinary tract and get rid of harmful bacteria, like the kind that causes a UTI. Trying to hold it when you really have to go can result in a UTI.

    2. You don’t drink enough water

    Dehydration means infrequent trips to the bathroom, and then your body can’t execute its self-cleaning process. Drinking enough water everyday will keep harmful bacteria from infecting your urinary tract by keeping your peeing cycle regulated.

    "Staying hydrated is always a good idea," says Gillespie. 

    3. You don’t pee after sex

    Again, peeing is a cleansing process!

    "One of the easiest ways to prevent UTIs is to always urinate shortly after intercourse," says Gillespie. "Since UTIs happen when bacteria travels up the urethra and into the bladder (and the bacteria can be introduced with intercourse), think of this as a way to 'flush out the bacteria' before it has a chance to settle and create an infection."

    Related: 5 Myths You Probably Still Believe About Your Vagina

    4. You use scented feminine hygiene products

    Since your body has its own self-cleaning plan, douches and deodorants are unnecessary. If you do use those products and they are scented, they can actually do your body more harm than good because they can mess with the balance of healthy and harmful bacteria. Plus, the fragrances can cause irritation.  

    5. You wipe from back to front

    This can transfer harmful bacteria towards your urinary tract instead of cleaning things up—so make sure you wipe from front to back.

    6. You wear the wrong kind of underwear

    Cotton underwear can help prevent recurring UTIs because it's a more lightweight and breathable material, so it isn’t super sweaty and gross down there.

    7. You use the wrong kind of birth control

    Sometimes the pill can be preferable to other forms of contraception. "Consider a new method of birth control if you use spermicide, particularly if you also use a diaphragm, as that may increase your risk of recurrent infection," Gillespie advises.

    Treating a UTI

    As soon as you experience any symptoms, head to your doctor to get tested so you can be prescribed an antibiotic.

    "One thing I see is that women mistake another infection (such as a yeast infection or other condition) for a UTI, since they may have similar symptoms," Gillespie says. "However, they have very different treatments! So, especially if you have not had a UTI before, it's important to see your doctor to get tested, so you can get treated appropriately."

    Recurrent UTIs can occur when the first one isn’t treated soon enough. Your usual family doctor or healthcare provider can treat a UTI. Do NOT wait to go to the doctor—UTIs can quickly progress into bladder infections. Regardless of what the internet tells you, cranberry juice will not cure your UTI! 

    Preventing a UTI

    Essentially, drink lots of fluids throughout the day to keep your urine flow consistent and flush out your urinary tract, so when you gotta go, go. Keep things clean down there with soap and water—nothing scented. Taking a probiotic can help regulate the balance between good and bad bacteria by boosting healthy bacteria that can then kill off any harmful bacteria. According to Women’s Health Specialists of California, eating acidic foods such as berries, citrus, and apples can also help prevent an infection.

    And that urban myth that cranberry juice can prevent or treat a UTI? Not so much.

    "When it comes to cranberry juice and cranberry products, there is not strong evidence that they help," Gillespie says.

    UTIs may be uncomfortable to talk about, but they are even more uncomfortable (and even painful) to deal with. Taking precautions to keep your urinary tract healthy now will save you in more ways than one. If you're frequently dealing with UTIs, try the preventative measures suggested and try to determine the cause. Gillespie advises talking with your doctor if you continue to deal with a recurring UTI, as it may actually be something more serious, or you may be put on a preventative antibiotic.

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    Today’s society is one of many norms and expectations. Although this applies to every part of daily life, it seems to be the most present in the world of relationships and dating. Women in a heterosexual relationship may expect the guy to pick up the tab every date or open her car door every time, and although these are classic forms of chivalry, it’s time for women to take control sometimes. In a world of growing feminism and a fight for gender equality, some of these dating rules are totally okay to break. Here are some of those rules that college women believe are acceptable to forget.

    1. Waiting hours (or days) to text them back

    It’s normal to be nervous about texting a new fling, or even SO, back right away. No one wants to seem desperate, and many women want to play “hard to get,” but according to Rachna Shah, a freshman at Dartmouth College, “There's this idea that you should always wait a certain number of hours to text your SO back—some people even extend this to days! If you're interested in the other person, I would just reply to them immediately (or when you have time). Playing ‘hard to get’ isn't always a good idea.” Playing hard to get could easily make someone you’re interested in think that you’re not, causing them to move on or look elsewhere. It’s okay to be straight forward with your feelings; it can make the relationship a lot less confusing and avoid "situationships."

    2. Not having sex on the first date

    This one tends to be controversial because of the clear double standard in today’s society regarding the sex lives of women versus men. Many women believe having sex on the first date may ruin their chances for a long-term relationship with that person or make them appear “easy.” Chelsea Jackson, a junior at Iowa State University, believes that, "If you and the other person are feeling each other and both consent, there isn't a reason to try to talk yourself out of having safe sex on the first date. The unspoken rule that you shouldn't have sex on a first date is severely outdated. If someone wants to judge you it, let them because they aren't worth your time." No woman should feel ashamed for sleeping with someone after the first date. If the chemistry is there and the sparks are flying, it’s okay to break this outdated rule.

    Related: 7 Signs You Should Just Make the First Move Already, As Told by Moms

    3. Having him pick up the tab every time

    It’s a long-lived rule that the man in a heterosexual relationship should pick up the check every time. However, this doesn’t have to be a norm for everyone’s relationship. It’s totally okay for the woman to pick up the tab sometimes. In fact, it shows equality in the relationship. Kayla Düngee, a junior at Georgia State University, says, “I'm all for breaking the rule that guys should pay for everything. It plays into traditional gender roles that are outdated. I will gladly foot the bill not even just once in a while. As long as my SO puts in obvious effort and doesn't become dependent on my checks, I think it's perfectly fine.” This doesn’t mean the woman should pay every time, but splitting the check 50/50 or taking turns paying for meals can create a healthy, balanced relationship.

    4. Every conflict must be resolved

    It’s instinctive to want every single argument to end happily with both parties in complete understanding of one another, but that just isn’t the reality in most relationships. There will be situations and topics of which partners may never see eye-to-eye, and that’s okay. In a relationship, it’s important to pick and choose your battles. Not every single conflict will be resolved as you see on TV or in the movies. No relationship is perfect, and there are no rules when it comes to how people should work through their problems. What's important is that you know how to communicate with your date or SO in a mature way.

    5. They should make the first move

    Forget waiting for them to make the first move. There’s nothing wrong with you going for what you want. As Autumn Dube, a recent graduate of Emmanuel College, puts it, “There's always the idea that guys should make the first move. This isn't the case anymore. If you're into someone, ask them out! If you're attracted to them, let them know. There's no shame in going after what you want and from our experience, people find confidence attractive. Be honest with yourself about what you want and then go from there.” Most of the time, the other person is too shy to make the first move or unsure if you're interested, so by making the first move, this insecurity can easily be resolved.

    Many social rules and norms are being replaced or forgotten as time goes on, and dating rules are no different. You should no longer feel restricted; it’s okay to take charge in a relationship when it comes to money, sex or communication. It’s okay to stray from the classic norms and make your own decisions. Every relationship is different, so there should be no set rules for the world of dating.