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A Collegiette's Guide to Life
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    Trying to figure out if a guy is interested in you can lead you down a confusing road. Sure, you could just flat out ask, but that takes away the fun of finding out if he’s crushing on you back. It can also be a frustrating process; especially if you don’t think he’s making his intentions very clear. Sure he’s flirting with you, but that could also just be his personality. If you think the movie He’s Just Not That Into You describes your life, you might be surprised to find out that these signs are right in front of you.

    Adam LoDolce, love expert and founder of, a website where he helps the 21st century woman create a love life she loves, weighs in on the signs you may be missing!

    1. He always “likes” your social media posts

    Everyone gets excited when the guy they are crushing on likes their tweet, but usually it doesn’t mean much of anything—unless he’s doing it all the time. “If he likes all your Facebook posts that could be a sign he’s interested,” says LoDolce. If you’re continuously seeing his name under the likes on your social media, no matter what the post is about, it’s safe to say he’s taking a real interest in you. It might not set off any warning signs when you see his name in a list of Instagram likes, but it can actually mean he’s taking the time to keep up with your posts on a regular basis to learn more about you.

    Related: 5 Signs He Wants to Be Your Boyfriend

    2. He gets closer to your friends

    Making the effort to get to know your circle of friends is a major signal that he is interested. “Becoming friends with your friends means that he’s trying to get closer to you and win the approval of those in your life,” says LoDolce. If you’re always together in a group setting it can be easy to miss this sign, so really pay attention to how he interacts with your friends. If he’s really taking the time to get to know them then he’s probably doing it so he has the opportunity to get to know you better as well.

    3. He tries to act cool

    Some guys might act nervous around a girl they like, but other guys might even come off as a little bit cocky. This doesn’t mean that they are like that all the time; instead it could mean that they are trying to impress you. “He always acted different around me than he did with our other friends,” says Jessie Young, a sophomore at New York University. “I could tell he was making more of an effort to come off as cool whenever I was around.” Don’t jump to conclusions when a guy shows you a new side of himselfthere could be deeper meaning behind it!

    4. His friends are in on it

    If a guy is interested in a girl, he’s probably confided in his friends about it. If you start to notice his friends talking him up or trying to get you guys together, that’s a pretty telling sign that he has feelings for you. “I was at a party and his friends keep telling me all these funny stories about him and talking about how great of a guy he is,” says Elizabeth Darrah, a senior at Rutgers University. “I got the vibe that his friends were trying to hint that he was interested in me.” Pay attention to how his friends not only interact with you, but how they talk about him as well.

    5. He asks a lot of questions

    He can only ask you about your schedule so many times before things start becoming suspicious. “Asking meaningless questions is another sign, and proves he’s just looking for a reason to talk to you,” says LoDolce. It may seem like he’s just making conversation, but if you pay attention to the types of questions he is asking you might be able to catch on to his plan. If the questions get repetitive, he may be running out of ideas to get your attention—so take note!

    Of course there are the obvious signs of flirting, but it’s the more subtle things that can really show just how interested he is. Instead of only looking for things like body language or playful teasing, start paying attention to other things he’s doing. If you take the time to notice these signs, you’ll be able to put together the pieces and confidently make your move—or at least let him know you’re interested in him, too!


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    Dating in college can be tough, so being in a long-term relationship is a rarity. For those who are lucky enough to be in a relationship, sex, no matter how much you’re having, is important. The longer you are in a relationship, the more ways that sex in that relationship changes. Carole Lieberman, M.D., a psychiatrist and author in Beverly Hills, notes that there can be both positive and negative changes. “Some changes may bring you closer together, and some may send you looking for new excitement,” she says. Here are just some of the ways your sex life changes the longer you are with someone.

    1. You learn to communicate 

    Sex may be a natural instinct, but good sex is all about communication. You'll learn what your partner likes once you guys can talk about it. At least, that's what Sarah*, a graduate student at Temple University, thinks. She's been hooking up with the same guy for a year and knows how important it is to be vocal.

    “If you're always doing missionary and it's not fun for you, let them know,” she says. “There's a ton of positions to try and sometimes it can be fun figuring out what works for you and your partner.” The longer you are with someone, the better you get to know them, emotionally and physically.

    2. You learn what you like

    If you’re not into self-pleasure, you might not know exactly what you enjoy in bed. At least, not everything you like or don’t like. The longer you’re with your partner, the more you’ll learn what makes you tick. This learning curve is partly because you’re with someone who makes you comfortable, but also because there’s less pressure for both of you.

    Karen*, a junior at the University of South Carolina, agrees. “There’s definitely less pressure, which doesn’t only make it more fun, but it also gives you the chance to get a little ~crazy~ and even be a little selfish when it comes to getting what you want out of sex,” she says. That familiarity and comfort you have with your partner will make you feel more willing to explore.

    3. You get more confident

    Now that you know what you like and what your partner likes, you’re more likely to be confident in the bedroom — Demi Lovato — level Confident. Karen loves that there is less stress when you've had sex together for a while. “When you first start out with a person there’s a lot more self-consciousness and more pressure to be ‘good,’” she says.

    This is one of the most positive ways sex changes, according to Dr. Lieberman. You get more comfortable with each other. "Gone are the awkward fears about whether he will be disappointed when he sees your body," she says. "And gone are the first awkward trial and error efforts to please each other."  These early experiences are replaced by encounters you and your significant other can enjoy.

    4. You may get bored

    Over time, boredom can creep up on you and your partner in the bedroom. This is especially true if you keep doing the same thing over and over. Jessica*, a sohpomore at SUNY Fredonia, doesn't deny that sex can be boring. Her recommendation: Take a break. Isn’t there a saying that distance makes the heart grow fonder?

    Whether you are in a committed relationship or just having a purely sexual relationship, keeping things interesting will get you out of a sexual rut. Dr. Lieberman recommends introducing new positions, locations or even sex toys. Obviously, you should never do something you are uncomfortable with, but trying out something unfamiliar could make sex less ordinary.

    How should you approach your partner?  Dr. Lieberman suggests showing your SO. that you're willing to be more adventurous with them. "Any suggestions you make should be done in a playful way," she says. "You can tell him that you are feeling close enough to him now to explore sex together and ask what he would like to do that you haven’t done yet." This is a good first step to take so you can both eventually move on to more ~experimentation ~.
    Related: 5 Conversations You Ned to Have Before Sex

    Ordinary sex comes with the territory of long-term relationships. But there are still good things that come with time! The longer you’re with someone, the more you learn about their body, your body, what you like and what you hate. This all comes with an overall confidence boost. There are lulls, but that gives you the chance to switch things up with your SO. Knowing about these changes beforehand could make you more confident in the bedroom now —  AKA a win-win for both you and your partner.

    *Name has been changed

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    By Phoebe McGowan

    My whole adolescence I wanted a boyfriend. I was boy crazy, searching for my true love. Finally, during the second semester of my senior year of high school, I got what I wanted. He was cute and sweet––a perfect first boyfriend that you can make all your mistakes with and be glad that it taught you so much.

    Still, he was a year younger than me, and while we liked each other oh-so very much, we thought the idea of long-distance was silly. The summer before I left Milwaukee for St. Paul, he and I talked about how ridiculous it was to think long-distance was possible. We laughed at other couples' naivety. Neither of us explicitly said that we did not want to try long-distance, but it was clear we both thought those kinds of relationships were pointless. Fast forward to the day I left. We continued to make plans to see each other once a month, and that year ended up being my first time experiencing long-distance. 

    Despite not being able to see each other as much, our relationship grew and we fell in love. While some warning signs of toxicity in the relationship bubbled up, we were very happy that year. But I was ready for long-distance to be over.

    The question of where he would be going to college the following year gave me a lot of anxiety. I didn’t want to lose him, but he really wanted to do a gap year in Germany. I wasn’t very supportive in this goal of his, and when he didn’t get accepted into the program I tried to persuade him to come to Minnesota. He decided to go to the University of St. Thomas, and I was so excited. We’d never have to say goodbye again! How wrong I was. He ended up resenting me and broke up with me in the first two weeks of the semester. I was heartbroken and spent the year experiencing a melancholy I had never known. We went on and off that entire year, before finally called it quits in April 2016.

    That summer I went home and was afraid for what was to come. But I had someone in mind back home that I hoped I’d be able to have some summer fun with––which lead me to my second and current long-distance relationship. Steve* was someone I had had deep feelings for before I got together with my last boyfriend. We have been best friends since high school, but had never been in the same mindset to get together, and ended up dating other people. Within a week, we had kissed and talked about what we wanted. The summer went on and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time together, and then I went to England and missed him incredibly. I was calling him my boyfriend by the time I got back.

    We have been long-distance for a year now. I go back for winter and summer break, and he visits me whenever he can. This relationship is so different from my last because we FaceTime often and show each other what we’re doing on Snapchat. This makes it easier to feel close but it is still quite torturous being far away.

    I definitely didn’t plan on doing long-distance even once, and certainly not twice...but I don’t want to be with anyone else. We are in a very healthy and loving relationship, and I expect it will last a long time. I see this time apart as a chance to get to know myself, to be alone during my college experience, and to take back the year I spent being on-and-off with someone who was wrong for me. I’m a senior now, and I don’t know where I’ll be next year. I hope it will be somewhere near Steve, but if not, we will work something out. He’s worth the wait. 

    *Name has been changed 

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    Chances are you're probably going to be single at some point in your life. Maybe it will be ten years from now. Maybe it will be tomorrow. Or maybe you’ve been single your whole life! And while being single has its perks (read: you get to do what you want, when you want), sometimes feelings of loneliness can creep in. We’re all vulnerable to these feelings, especially in today’s hyper-connected world, so what can you do to keep the loneliness at bay? 

    The first step is to identify where these feelings of loneliness are coming from. According to filmmaker and founder/executive director of MediaGirls, Michelle Cove, loneliness is simply part of the human experience. As normal as this is, Cove points out that there is “a shame or a stigma attached to it.” While we all at some point feel lonely, we very rarely tell our friends and family, “Hey, I’m feeling a little lonely right now.”

    These feelings of loneliness are surprisingly not exclusive to those who are single; those in relationships can feel lonely too! Cove says the biggest mistake single people can make is thinking that those in relationships are not lonely. “[Loneliness] comes to everyone and is not the enemy," she says. So, next time you see a couple, don’t assume that they aren’t feeling the same way as you.

    Even though we all feel lonely at times, some of us do feel much lonelier than others. But what’s the biggest reason for this? Cove says that social media is a big factor. When you are scrolling through your Instagram feed and see all of your coupled friends sharing anniversary posts, or even your single friends traveling the world, the feelings of loneliness can ramp up again. So how can you handle this? One of the best solutions is to just sit with your feelings. “[One solution is to] just sit with it, don’t dwell, but feel it and see if it will move through you," she says. If the feelings are still present after a while, try to spend some time with people who are genuine and authentic; they can help you feel better.

    Zoe Hawryluk, a junior at Boston University, seconds this advice. “I’ve learned to find and seek mental and emotional fulfillment from my close friends rather than from a significant other,” Zoe says. It can be very cathartic to sit a share your feelings with close friends! If you’re not up for socializing, Cove says watching your favorite comedy (and laughing along) on Netflix can also be a great way to cope! However, it is important to consider how often you are experiencing these feelings. If your feelings of loneliness are chronic, and you feel like you can’t move past them, it could be worthwhile to find a professional to talk to, to get to the cause of your feelings.

    So, if you are single, and have accepted that loneliness is a part of life, what do you have to look forward to? According to Stephanie Murray, a junior at the Savannah College of Art and Design, being single is a great way to learn more about yourself. “Sometimes [being single]’s full of exotic adventures and finding new hobbies you never thought you’d like,” she says. “I believe everyone should have a period of extended singleness or loneliness, so they can evaluate themselves and make mental notes of what they want from a partner and what they offer as a partner.” Being single means you only have to accommodate your schedule, which means you can go to that yoga class you love or attend an author event at your favorite local bookstore, without having to worry about pleasing anyone else. You’ll learn new things about what you like and don’t like, and, if other people attend the event, you may even make some new friends!

    Zoe also says that one of the benefits of being single is all of the extra resources you have: “You have more time and money to treat yourself and to spend time with the people who truly love you and would never leave you.” Being single is a great excuse to treat yourself and your closest friends to a fancy dinner or a movie night!

    Related: 12 Reasons Why Being Single When You Start College is the Best 

    One of the most important things for people – especially those in relationships – to remember is not to pity those who are single. Sometimes, people make a conscious choice to be single. Whether they are avoiding relationships because they are too busy or need some time to themselves after a rough relationship, there is no reason to pity someone who is single.

    Sabrina Araullo, a senior at Montclair State University, thinks that being single is a time for personal growth that will only make you stronger in the future. “Being in a relationship should not, by any means, be your target end destination,” Sabrina says. “However, when the right time comes for you to be in a relationship, you'll be able to approach it in a way that sees both you and your significant other as, not completing each other or defining who you are, but complimenting each other and allowing yourself to experience a new type of personal growth.” So, single ladies, embrace the time you have to yourself, it will only make you stronger!

    Related: 9 Times When Being Single is the Best

    What should you take away? First, there is nothing wrong with being lonely. Our society tries to stigmatize these feelings of loneliness, when we should be normalizing them. Don’t feel ashamed of being single or feeling lonely. Go to the movies solo. Bring a book and go to a fancy restaurant by yourself.  Loneliness and being single is a great way to learn about yourself, and become the best possible version of you!

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    If you’ve decided to study abroad, you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime. But if you have an SO, you may be feeling anxious about what’s going to happen to your relationship. Let it be known that staying with your SO while you’re abroad isn’t for everyone. But if you do decide to stay together, there are some things you’ll need to know in order to keep the spark alive when you're apart for a semester or longer. We’ve talked to collegiettes with experience to let you in on ways to maintain your relationship while you’re studying abroad.

    1. Define the relationship

    Before you leave, it’s absolutely crucial to define the relationship. If you’ve been dating for a while, it’s still important to have a conversation about what your boundaries are and where the two of you stand for the semester (or however long you’re abroad). “My boyfriend and I were together for a really long time before we actually made anything official,” says Lauren*, a junior at the University of Denver. “It wasn’t until a little bit before abroad that I actually brought it up because I didn’t want to leave and have no clue where we stood even though we spent most of our time together.” Lauren and her boyfriend decided to stay together — but it’s okay to take a break too! If you think having an SO is going to hinder your experience, see how they feel about an open relationship or let them know you want to be single while you’re abroad.

    2. Make a plan

    If you’ve decided you want to stay with your SO, it’s important to establish a plan for when you’ll be able to talk to each other. Are you okay with not talking every day? Would a simple goodnight text do the trick? Especially with time differences, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page. “Given the time difference (he’s in Colorado and I’m in Sweden, so I am 8 hours ahead), we have a very limited time to talk throughout the day, which is probably the most difficult part because I’m missing out on the majority of his day, and vice versa,” Lauren says. “We try to FaceTime once a week, which is the best time to actually catch up and talk, but I can’t deny that only being able to really talk to him once a week is one of the most annoying things.” Even though Lauren wishes she could talk to her boyfriend more, FaceTiming him once a week gives her a chance to see him and let him know how she’s doing (and vice versa). Nicole Kelly, a senior at Bryant University, also scheduled a time to Skype her boyfriend at least once a week while she was studying abroad in China. "It made it easier to get through the week because we knew that regardless of the time difference and busy schedules, we would always have time dedicated to catching up," she says. Figure out a time that works for both of you, and try to stick to it!

    Related: Should You Stay With Your BF When You Study Abroad? (& How to Make it Work)

    3. Communicate

    This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s critical to communicate with your SO and let them know if your feelings are starting to change. “While you do not have to talk every single day, staying open with your partner is important,” says Isabel Calkins, a junior at New York University. “If at any point you are starting to stray from your feelings, you have to be open about it. It will take work to maintain the relationship but as long as you know that where you are is temporary, things are going to be okay if you want them to be.” Keeping an open line of communication will help keep each of you satisfied, as Lauren has experienced. She’ll sometimes “just ask to FaceTime that night or ask him to give me just a little more attention throughout the week,” she says. If you need to scream into a pillow or have a small crying session, that’s okay too. This isn’t something easy!

    4. Remember it’s temporary

    If you’re having a mini-breakdown or wondering how you could possibly go on like this, remember that it isn’t forever! “I guess there’s no perfect way to handle a long distance relationship during abroad, but I always remind myself that it’s only temporary, and things will be back to the way they were once I return to the states,” Lauren says. With this mindset, you’ll be able to enjoy what you’re doing in the present (which is so important!) and know you have only a few months before you’re back with your SO. It’s definitely a different ball game if you’re overseas, but with hard work, you can get through it.

    5. Find a way to stay connected

    Even if you're thousands of miles away, you can find ways to stay connected. Mailing letters (so much more romantic than texts!) and care packages will bring a smile to your SO's face and let them know you're thinking about them. It's also a great way to share what you're doing with the other person (send them something cool from a place you visit!). If mailing is too complicated, like it was for Nicole, you can find other ways to let your SO know you're thinking about them. "It would've been super complicated and taken weeks for him to send me anything [he was in Boston while she was in China], but I ordered him pizza delivery once," she says. Such a cute and simple idea! If your SO feels like they're still an important part of your life, the relationship will continue to grow rather than be put on hold.

    If you’re still feeling uneasy about where your relationship stands once you go abroad, talk to your SO about it. If you don’t trust them, the relationship isn’t going to last anyway — so that shouldn’t be an issue. Figure out what’s going to work best for you and be prepared. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but as Isabel says, “Long distance is really hard but not impossible!” If you’re meant to be with your SO, you’ll get through it. Good luck, collegiettes!

    *Name has been changed

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    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

    By Fiona Flores

    “You really want us to be serious? Imagine what all of my friends would say. I’m almost four years older than you. I already finished college and you are just starting…”

    These are the exact words I said to my SO after two weeks of dating when we started talking about if we could become something more. Yes, it was a horrible thing to say, I admit it. But in that moment, I wasn't thinking straight. I was actually scared. Scared of what could happen if I admitted that I was actually falling in love with someone who was younger.

    Let me clarify: I had never dated someone younger than me. I always searched for older men because I thought they were more mature and knew what they wanted from their lives (LOL!). I was usually attracted to older men because they gave me a sense of security. I thought that being with somebody who had his life figured out was going to help me figure out mine. Turns out that wasn't the case, and all of those relationships ultimately failed.

    When I met my current boyfriend I wasn’t really looking for love ,and I wasn’t looking for love with somebody who was younger than me. But then I found myself attracted to his jokes, his appearance and the way he treated me. Weirdly, he treated me in a way none of the boys I have dated before had. He was very nice, he would listen to my “I just graduated and I don’t know what to do with my life” speeches. He was patient, kind and smart, all the things that I really needed.

    The only problem was his age. I was 23 when I met him and he was just about to turn 20. I could already imagine all the cougar references people might make. I couldn’t help worrying about what people would say or think about me. The perfect man I used to imagine was the one who already had a “life” in which I could just fit myself into. As we all know, though, life has a funny way of changing our plans. So when I found myself attracted to someone who didn’t really fit in my ideal world, I tried to run away. I tried to pretend that it wasn’t a big deal, but deep inside I knew it wasn’t like that.

    Was I really going to walk away from the only man who had shown honest feelings for me, just because he was younger? Would I be able to live without regrets whenever I thought about that decision? When I realized that the answer to all of those questions was “no,” I did what I already knew I would. I decided to give it a try and surprisingly, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It’s the first time I feel that I am growing up in a relationship (despite our occasional fights), and it’s also the first time that I truly feel loved by somebody else.

    I also found out that by dating somebody who is younger my life has become a little less stressful. The energy he puts in my daily routine makes me want to try something new every day. Apparently, dating younger men can bring a lot of benefits to you.

    I believe that love is difficult, no matter what our age is. But I also believe that if we allow ourselves to really fall into it, really good things can happen to us. 

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    Okay, we all know that one person who tends to share WAY TOO MUCH on social media. Then the time comes when you see the one picture of their ring. Your heart stops beating. The earth starts to move. The time has come. They got engaged.

    Maybe you’re single and you don’t think it’d ever happen to you, so you don’t sweat it. But maybe you’re in a pretty serious relationship and you see it happening sometime in the near future. After the excitement of the thought subsides, your first impulse is how you’d share it on social media.

    No, I’m not implying that you’re a millennial and we share EVERYTHING. You may have family members who weren’t able to make it to the engagement, or friends from out of state that wanted to see pictures. It’s easier to just post everything up so everyone can see it, rather than sending stuff one-by-one to a million curious people. So how do we stop ourselves from over sharing or sharing too much of this special moment?

    It’s about the proposal—not the ring

    It seems like everyone’s first thought is to post their hand with that shiny rock on their left ring finger. It’s almost like you’re flaunting the ring more than your future husband or wife. Being proposed to is probably one of the most special moments in your life—and your first instinct is to post a picture of the ring? Come on.

    Chelsea Nicole, a junior at Iowa State University, had some advice from an outsider’s perspective. She had a better alternative to pictures of oversized rocks.

    “While photos of you and your SO might seem like you’re still bragging about your engagement, I think of it as a cute way to show off a new step in your relationship in a healthy way, rather than showing off material aspects like the ring,” She says.

    Sharing special moments with your SO rather than the ring they bought you says a lot about the kind of relationship you have with that person. Sharing the ring first will give everyone the impression that the most important thing about this new step in your life is the rock it came with.

    Related: 6 Relationship Things You Should NEVER Post About on Social Media

    Cut back on posting a billion pictures

    A couple of cute pictures showing off your look of surprise or your first kisses together as finances is pretty cute. Have a full stop right there. There’s no need for the thousands of photos taken that day. Granted—it all depends on where you’re posting them. Facebook is fine because you can group a whole bunch of pictures together. Instagram? Not so much. You don’t want your friends sliding through 50 pictures in just one post. Know your audience and where you’re posting.

    “My sister and her fiancé didn't change their relationship status to ‘engaged’ or put up a bunch of pictures; he did one post with three pictures in it with no captions, and that was all,” Katrina Dejagger-Kennedy says. “She changed her profile picture to one of the photos and that was all she did. Which I thought was classy and understated – sharing the news but not shoving it in people's faces.”

    This was a great way to share the news without saying too much. ‘Okay, we’re engaged, here’s how, thanks a lot for your well wishes.’ Boom. Simplicity at its finest. Maybe you want to share a bit more pictures, and that’s okay too. But post them all at once and leave it. Spreading and sprinkling pictures of the moment around for a year after the engagement is a bit much.

    Does EVERYTHING have to be on social media?

    If you overshared your engagement, chances are you overshare a lot of other things. Social media is meant for your great aunt and uncles or distant cousins to see pictures of you and see how your life is going. An engagement is a great thing to share on social media—your friends will be so happy for you and family will be excited for the wedding. But remember its about the meaning behind the event rather than the likes you’ll get on the pictures. Just keep that in mind before you hit the post button.

    “How to not overshare proposals: spend more time with the one who proposed. Why are you even sharing this when you finally locked it down for yourself?” Says Afif Samir Nasreddine, a grad from University of Florida.

    It’s true—After he/she proposed the pictures are IMMEDIATELY posted up. Why? People don’t have to know the very second you get engaged. Enjoy the moment with your SO and celebrate with those who were able to make it to the engagement.

    Related: 5 Ways Social Media is Hurting Your Relationship

    I’m not saying that being proposed to should be kept hush hush. Sharing the happy news is great! A lot of people will be happy and excited for you. Just be aware about what you actually want people to know. Remember, that moment is about you and your fiancé, not about your 200 Facebook friends. On the other hand, screw it. It’s your day and you’re allowed to be happy and show it off.

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    By Renee Collett

    I’ve always seen my friends go through serious heartbreak over people they’ve dated. I've seen how sad they feel and how hard it is for them to stop reminiscing about the “good times” they had with their partner. I’ve seen all of it—just never experienced it. The “relationship,” that is. Have I been heartbroken? Oh, yes. But heartbroken over a guy I barely dated rejecting me.

    Complaining to my friends about it seemed embarrassing to me. I'd never even dated this kid officially, so why should I feel sad? But as much as I told myself not to feel sad, I continued to feel like I’d been slapped in the face. It felt like a legitimate heartbreak, or what I imagined that should feel like.

    Feeling sad when a guy you barely dated rejects you is completely valid, in my opinion. Just like a break-up, you begin to wonder if you’re the problem. And since you never even got the chance to officially “date,” you think that you’re an even bigger problem. For me, I kept dwelling over the what could’ve been, which made my thoughts spiral into a self-deprecating and saddening cycle.

    My infatuation with the idea of dating this guy was so incredibly strong that when things didn’t work out, it felt so real to me. The short time we’d been talking, I had felt my best, like I was hanging out with someone who was probably my soulmate. But I should’ve realized that after months of talking, and him never officially asking me out, that he was perhaps just not right for me.

    Despite this, the sadness ensued. And like I said, it was valid. But something that I reminded myself often was that if it were meant to be, it would happen. And since it didn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be. I allowed myself to dwell on the what-ifs and experience my fake heartbreak for quite some time. Who cares if it wasn’t official between us?! It felt real to me, so why should I deny myself own feelings?

    You are allowed to feel bad. But remember if he rejects you, he clearly isn’t for you. It's not easy to deal with, but it's better to not hide your feelings.

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    By Quinn Chao

    Getting into a new relationship is always difficult. You’re constantly worried you’ll love more than the other person. You don’t want to text first, but you find yourself doing it anyway. After a while, it starts to feel like you’re the only one putting effort in and you're afraid of coming off as super annoying. Eventually, they stop answering and you’re left wondering what you did wrong. Here’s how to handle getting ghosted by someone you like, as someone who has been through it. 

    Stop wondering what they’re doing.

    It’s very hard in the age of social media to not be invested in this person’s life. You want to know what they’re up to and why they cut you off. That being said, I found it best to stop watching Snapchat stories of him with other girls. I stopped asking his friends what girls he was with and stopped looking at his tagged photos. I was done seeing the “fun” times he was having without me; I realized I won’t get any better by dwelling on the situation. I hit him with that unfollow on Snapchat and focused on me.

    It’s okay to be upset.

    For weeks I was hurting. Although it may have not been a full-on relationship, it was still someone I cared for who just abandoned me. I sulked and cried and let myself feel these emotions. It is important to not repress your feelings because then it’ll just build up inside you. Get a bowl of ice cream, watch sad movies and vent to your friends. Just make sure that you eventually get back to real life after all that self-care. 

    It’ll take time.

    If you don’t feel better after a couple days, it’s natural. No one gets over someone they care about within 72 hours. My friends thought I was being dramatic, but it took me three weeks to stop thinking about him––and I learned that’s okay! Everyone goes through different situations and it is fine to take the time to heal that you need to.

    Don’t compare them to others.

    Every time I met a new person, I would say they weren’t as great as he was, but that was completely untrue. I just was holding myself back instead of letting myself thrive. There were too many good people I let slip through my fingers because they weren’t “him.” In the end, I came to the conclusion that no one was going to be him, so either I end up lonely and upset or let myself learn to accept what I cannot change. No one is the same as anyone and you’re never going to come across the same person twice.

    Don’t blame yourself.

    Too often I’m left searching for what I did. However, I did nothing wrong. Putting in effort to have a conversation with someone is how a relationshipshould work, and if the person on the other side doesn’t agree, it’s not your fault! I could go back in time and figure out what went wrong and change it, but he still would leave. These things happen to teach us lessons. Trust me, you did nothing by being yourself and caring, and anyone you're interested in should be able to see that and respect it.  

    They don't deserve you.

    If we look at the other end of this situation, there is the person who never texted you back. They never gave you a reason or even an excuse, they just stopped talking to you. These people are the worst. The most someone could do before they decide to never speak to you again is to explain why. But, they don't have the decency to just be nice––instead they leave you wondering for an explanation. You're never obligated to settle for someone who can't go out of their way to think about your feelings.

    And you deserve better.

    There are so many great (and better) people are out there for you. Don’t let this one person ruin all your faith in love. You are so much stronger because of this and now you are ready to face relationships with a fresh outlook. You got this!

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    You know people in real life who have successfully found a partner through dating apps or websites. After some hesitation, you decided to download Tinder, Bumble and anything else you could get your hands on thinking, "Why not?" Well… Now, tbh you're ~the most~ over online dating, and you can think of several reasons why.

    1. You regularly delete the apps because you tell yourself you enjoy being single.

    Psh, who needs them?! Besides, by deleting the apps, you have more space on your phone for photos of your dog.

    2. But every so often, the single life feels kind of boring. 

    When you're bored, you make the mistake of downloading the apps again.

    3. But you're frustrated by the surface-level interactions.

    Like, these people only saw your photos and MAYBE read your one-sentence bio. They'll never understand you.

    4. So when one of your matches suggests that he finds you cool or interesting, you quickly call him out. 

    How could he like you based on a few text messages?! Not possible.

    5. You also feel hesitant to reveal personal information to these random people on your phone screen.

    Why does this guy think he needs to know where you go to college or what you do in your free time?

    6. When someone tries to start sexting, you act like you don't know what he's talking about.

    Send a pic? OKAY. *sends random photo of the sunset*

    7. You have no tolerance for "come over" messages anymore.

    Tinder match: "I'm coming over." You: "I didn't invite you."

    8. So you have an endless list of not-so-great excuses for when people want to meet up.

    You honestly don't even know why you're using these dating apps anymore.

    9. When a match asks you what you're using the app for, you don't have a good answer.

    You honestly have no idea.

    10. You know that online dating works for some people.

    Several friends of yours successfully met people online.

    11. And that just confuses you even more.

    What are you doing wrong?!

    12. You just keep matching with people who you are not compatible with in any way.

    Someone make it stop.

    13. Yet they're so persistent.

    No, you don't want to hang out. Was that not clear the three other times you said it?

    14. You spend a lot of time swiping—left, that is.

    You know those people who furiously swipe right on pretty much everyone? Yeah, you're basically the opposite of that.

    15. You try to be witty, but all of your matches still just say "Hey" or "What's up?"

    Why do you even try anymore?

    16. Feeling hopeless, you try other methods of engaging in conversation.

    And you fail, of course.

    17. You're not sure you'll ever understand.

    Maybe it's time to give up on online dating. 

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    Couples who have a certain distance between their ages have added struggles that other couples do not have to deal with. They will be stereotyped, judged and questioned about their relationship. Unfortunately, as with many other areas of life, the women in the relationships fall prey to more substantial judgment. While male friends applaud “their boy” for scoring a younger or older woman, women are looked down upon as gold-diggers or cradle robbers. Along with this extra judgment, couples with a significant age difference have many other adversities to overcome in their relationship and may need some guidance on how to deal with them. HC teamed up with some relationship experts to find out how these couples should handle these unorthodox struggles in their relationship. 

    1. You may be judged 

    Every couple has a characteristic that makes them susceptible to judgment. People can be cruel, and if couples are interracial, same-sex or have an age difference, they are more likely to feel the wrath of society's judgments. Carole Lieberman, M.D., Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author says, "Over the years, it has been more common to see younger women with older men, so society has become more accepting of this than of older women with younger men.” Dr. Lieberman thinks the stigma that surrounds the older woman and younger man romantic relationships may be a feminist issue. “It feels threatening to older men to see that women today, who are more self-sufficient, can choose to be with younger men. But, either way, you need to be willing to shrug off other peoples’ judgments.” In other words, add another way powerful women are breaking through societal barriers and threatening the patriarchy, by choosing to be in — what some may see as — abnormal relationships. 

    2. Planning for a future may be trickier 

    Planning for a future with a partner who is significantly older or younger than you may also present an issue. Most couples who do not have an age gap can't help but entertain the possibility of a future with their partner, but the added adversity of age, some couples may be afraid to talk about the image they have in the back of their minds. Dr. Lieberman says, “Couples with an age gap, who want to plan for a future, need to talk about things like whether they want and can still have children, how future illnesses might affect their relationship, how sex might change, how to assure financial security when one partner dies, and so on.” While this advice may not apply to younger couples now, if the relationship continues, they may need to consider this down the road as they both get older. 

    Rhonda Ricardo, author of Cherries over Quicksand says, “If you marry a SO with a large age gap you’re most probably on different biological energy levels so be prepared to jump roadblocks about how to raise children or possible not ever have children, far before feelings might get hurt because changing your mind may not be an option since your SO (man or woman) could reach an age that vetoes waking up three times a night for diaper changes.”

    On that note, talking about the natural aging process may be taboo in a relationship with an age gap. Dr. Lieberman adds, “It is very tricky to talk about the natural aging process because the older partner has fears that the younger partner will leave them as they age.” Of course, this is a valid concern for the older party, but Dr. Lieberman advises that the conversation is vital to the relationship and “has to be done very gradually and sensitively.”

    Related: 5 Signs You Are Too Good For Your Significant Other 

    3. Meeting the parents can take on a whole new definition of awkward

    It may be awkward introducing one's partner to family, parents and friends when there is a large age gap. Dr. Lieberman comments that family members may offer unsolicited advice and make unfounded predictions about the inevitable failure of the relationship. (Some of us may be able to relate to this sentiment, even if there is no age gap in our relationship.) Dr. Lieberman agrees that you can't argue with people in love (no matter the situation), and even if you are heading for disaster, "no one can ever be convinced of this because at the beginning they are smitten." Just make sure that when it comes time to introduce the family to your new, older or younger SO, don't get defensive. In the end, your family wants you to be happy. While it may take time for them to see that this relationship makes you happy, they will come around. 

    Also, Ricardo says, “The best way not to suffer from unwelcome drama in an age gap relationship is to stop any confusion in less than a minute of a new friendship meeting. If the SO’s age difference is completely obvious then the couple must introduce their SO as their SO, not make strangers guess who their companion may be, or the couple must expect to hear the innocent, ‘Is this your daughter/son/mother/father?’” If the couple is hesitant to be honest about their relationship upon meeting family members or friends, they could end up making the situation more awkward than it has to be.

    In that light, couples with an age gap may also have to deal with those family and friends who may not take their relationship seriously. If the people you love are convinced that “it is just a phase,” Dr. Lieberman says it may be pointless to try to argue with them, “There is no point in trying to convince people to take your relationship seriously," she says. "Just let them see how happy you are together." It is important to remember that although you may accept the unorthodox nature of your relationship, it may take your family and friends a little more time to be comfortable with it. Rather than fighting them on it, help them to see why the relationship is what is best for you.

    4. "What do you talk about?" could take on a new meaning 

    With a difference in years between partners, some generational differences are bound to surface. An older partner might not have seen The Hunger Games, while you may not have seen The Godfather. Dr. Lieberman agrees that couples may struggle to find topics of conversation and activities that interest both parties. She adds, "An older partner may feel frustrated that their younger partner isn't familiar with music or movies from the past. A younger partner may feel frustrated that their older partner can't keep up with them in activities such as skiing." Dr. Lieberman also makes an interesting point that couples with an age difference face an added challenge of finding a shared group of friends who are compatible with both of them. If two people are really meant to be together, however, they may have to think outside of the box when it comes to activities and hobbies they can share together. Something must have brought them together in the first place, so they just need to find the thing that keeps them together.

    Ricardo invites you to imagine this situation: “A twenty-year younger guy says they are perfect for each other… except in the car because she must tune into to her classic rock and he says he can feel his twenty-year younger skin sag and crawl every time the 1980 rock-stars hit their high-notes while she sings along with those currently over fifty-year-old singers. He wonders how many more years he will be able to drive with her without actually sticking his head out the car window, Doberman style, in a desperate search for silence because his earbuds collection can’t block their music gap.” Again, if a couple is truly dedicated to their relationship, they have to find activities, hobbies, and even music to listen to that they both can agree on. Perhaps if one partner loves country music and other likes Frank Sinatra, they can explore a different kind of music that they can enjoy together.

    Related: How Much Do Your Friends' Opinions of Your SO Really Matter? 

    5. One partner may be a know-it-all

    Ricardo brings up an interesting point that the older person in a relationship with an age gap may feel that their intellect is superior because of his or her age. Ricardo says, “If your SO (man or woman) is older and condescendingly acts like they know more because of their age, not because of true wisdom, there may be some hidden jealousy about how you are not aging and they clearly are.” Communication, as in any relationship, is key with couples who have an age gap. If your older SO is constantly trying to throw you under the bus (especially in front of other people), it may be a sign of a deeper issue. If jealousy is not the cause, make sure to evaluate other possibly unhealthy aspects of the relationship.

    In response to how to deal with any of these struggles, Dr. Lieberman suggests, “The answer for most of these challenges is patience, finding creative solutions and finding more to love about your partner than the inconveniences that an age gap may bring.” Perhaps the most important solution to any problems in a relationship is communication. If you are nervous about how your family and friends will react to your relationship, communicate both with your partner about what you expect from the meeting, and with your family about why the relationship is serious and meaningful for you. If you and your older or younger SO cannot agree on what music to listen to on the car ride to meet the parents, listen to an audio-book instead. Relationships are about compromise, and a relationship with an age gap is no different. Compromise, communication, and creativity are key in making an age gap relationship work.

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    When you’re in a committed relationship, it is easy to worry that the initial spark that attracted you and your partner to each other might one day burn out. After all, the longer you are with someone, the more comfortable you become. However, there are some things you do without even realizing that can (and probably do) turn your partner on!

    We’ve consulted April Masini, a relationship expert, to reveal the truth about keeping the spark alive in a long-term relationship. Read on for five things you’re already doing that turn your partner on.  


    1. Being true to yourself

    In your early 20s, it can be easy to lose sight of who you are sometimes. But, your partner fell for you because of who you are—just simply being yourself is a major turn-on.

    “In more mature relationships, there are usually some things that people look for in a partner—whether it’s lifestyle, career, intelligence, sense of humor and all sorts of other factors,” Masini says. “When they see someone who meets their list of desired qualities, they become attracted because the person is everything they wanted.” Who you are is more than enough, and owning that is incredibly attractive.

    2. Having good manners

    Manners matter, and being a genuinely good person will always be attractive. No matter how much your partner loves you, nothing will turn him or her off more than seeing you be disrespectful to others.

    Masini reiterates this point. “People with good manners will find that their etiquette is a turn on,” she says. “Someone who can be at ease at a ballet, a restaurant where there is fine dining, on a camping trip or staying as a house guest is attractive because they have social intelligence.” Being polite—in all social situations—will never go out of style.

    3. Staying informed

    When you’ve been with your partner for a long time, an easy way to turn him or her on is to blow his or her mind with your knowledge. There is a whole world around you, and by staying up-to-date on what’s going on, you’ll make your relationship that much stronger and always have something to talk about.

    Masini thinks this is a great way to bring something new to the table. “Don’t slack off on being interesting!” she says. “Read, keep up with the news, volunteer, socialize—you’ll be a much better partner if you’re well read and study, work and have interesting friendships to bring to the relationship.” Intelligence is a turn-on no matter how long you’ve been with someone.

    4. Being generous

    Genuine generosity is such a valuable trait—and something your significant other definitely doesn’t take for granted. “Generosity is underrated and when you find a partner who is generous, you should value that quality in them,” Masini says. Knowing your partner is kind makes them that much more attractive.

    Additionally, generosity is healthy for a relationship because it is contagious. “People tend to react to generosity with more generosity!” Masini adds. Kindness helps you both (and your relationship) grow. This generosity extends farther than simply having manners. Going out of your way for someone else, being kind to others and living a happy life are all traits that your partner will find extremely beautiful.

    Related: 7 Moves That Might Make Your SO Fall Even More in Love with You

    5. Maintaining your health

    It might seem easy to let yourself go in a long-term relationship, but Masini recommends against it. “Remember who you were, what you looked like and how you acted when you were first dating,” she says. “That’s what you want to [continue to] evoke in a long-term relationship.” She recommends going to the gym and dressing in a way your partner likes while staying true to yourself.

    You should never change who you are for your partner, but continue to work toward being the best—and healthiest—version of yourself. Feeling good about yourself makes you radiate confidence, and that alone is incredibly attractive.

    No matter how long you’ve been with your significant other, there are certain things about you that will always turn him or her on. Be generous, be confident, be informed, but most importantly be yourself—and never forget, your partner loves you for who you are!

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    If you're freshly out of the closet to your family or if you've never brought a girlfriend home before, the holidays can be tricky. For some, it may even be dangerous. Wanting to introduce your love interest to your loved ones is easily understandable, and you absolutely deserve that kind of holiday joy when making the yuletide gay. And it’s totally normal to have apprehensions and anxieties about being visibly queer around your family. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and I want you to don the gayest apparel ever this year. So enough with the tacky puns, let’s get started on these simple conversational tips and strategies that’ll help you ease your partner into the family this holiday season.

    Plan beforehand

    If there is an allied family member you trust to prioritize your safety and happiness in a family setting, let them know in advance that you’re planning on bringing your girlfriend to whatever holiday event your family is planning. They may be able to let you know if there will be anything or anyone in attendance that may pose a risk to you or your girlfriend’s well-being! If not, they will likely offer you some much-needed support anyway! It’s always comforting to know when you’ll be walking into a situation with a support system already in place. If you’re pretty sure you and your partner will be safe and comfortable around your family, it doesn’t hurt to send a few texts beforehand and let everyone know that you’ll have a plus-one!

    Talk to your partner

    You may get asked awkward questions by nosy family members. It happens! Take a minute before the big holiday to sit down with your partner and establish some conversational boundaries and ground rules. They may not feel comfortable discussing their own family with yours, or they may not want to use certain words or labels to describe your relationship. Everyone is entitled to their own comfort levels and you two should absolutely discuss such matters before the big event. They’ll feel much more at ease when meeting your family and you’ll feel much more at ease knowing you helped dodge any awkward silences.

    Be safe

    Being visibly queer is not always easy or safe. Everyone deserves to share their beautiful partner with a supportive family, especially during the holiday season, but sadly that’s not always the safest option. You and your partner’s security are the utmost priority, and, if that means skipping out on dinner with the in-laws, then so be it! There are lots of ways to enjoy the holidays outside of a home. Find a queer holiday potluck online and cook something for the community with your partner! Volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter together and bring cheer to people in need! Order some greasy food and have a romantic night in with some cheesy winter movies! There is no need not to have a jolly, warm, and safe holiday with your love.

    Don’t sweat it!

    Bringing a girlfriend home is virtually no different than bringing home a boyfriend or roommate or best friend, I promise. You’ll have to deal with your relatives asking how you met and bringing up embarrassing childhood memories and it’ll be cringe-worthy for a moment or two, but it’ll pass and your family will love her. Just relax! Holiday parties are about eating, drinking, laughing, and bringing up dumb memories from last year’s holiday parties. You’ll get through it, and you’ll have your awesome partner right by your side the whole time.

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    Ah, love—what a delightful, difficult thing you are. You pick us up when we’re down, wrap your arms around us when we need it most and know exactly how to make us feel cared for and beyond beautiful. Unfortunately, though, talking about you can be as tricky as trying to discuss trigonometry when we haven’t touched a math textbook since high school. 

    Lucky for us, many gestures embody the passion that’s not always expressed easily through words. Even if your SO has yet to break conversational ground with the first “I love you,” it’s a safe bet to believe that this intention exists if he or she…

    1. Surprises you with meaningful gifts

    2. Gazes into your eyes

    3. Pulls you in for intense make out sessions

    4. …and ends each of them with a smile

    5. Holds your hand in public

    6. Supports you through sad situations

    7. Wants your opinions

    8. Listens to—and remembers—what you say

    Related: 5 Signs He's Interested That You're Not Noticing

    9. Calls or texts to say “good morning” and “good night” 

    10. Always asks about your day

    11. Makes an effort to befriend your family

    12. Knows how you take your coffee...

    13. …and brews it for you

    14. Steps in when you need a massage

    15. Starts doing things you like to do

    16. Wants to cook with you

    17. Talks about a future that includes you

    Start keeping an eye out! Sometimes, love shows itself in more situations than we think. 

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    There are several situations that can result in a significant other being your only friend: you have distanced yourself from your friends because of the SO, your friends become jealous of your relationship and distance themselves from you, the SO and the friends do not get along, and so on. What should you do in these situations? Is it healthy for your social life to revolve around one person? How can you handle this dynamic if you have no choice in the matter? HC teamed up with some experts to get the facts on buddying up with your partner.

    When you find yourself in a situation where your SO is your only friend, it is helpful to determine what the problem is. If your friends have isolated you because of your boyfriend, then getting some new friends might be the answer. If your boyfriend wants you all to himself, which can be sweet in some situations, it may be cause for concern. In some cases, you may have no control over the number of people you feel close to, but it is important to make sure that you are comfortable with the circumstances of your relationships, because if you and your SO break up, it could be cause for disaster.

    Your friends may be the problem 

    Maybe it isn't your fault that your SO is your only friend. People can be mean, and not all of us have such great luck when it comes to making friends. Personally, I was in a relationship in high school where I had been phased out of a friend group once I got a boyfriend and then I stayed with my boyfriend (even though it was a toxic relationship) because he was my only friend at school. After we broke up, I became extremely depressed because I was so isolated at school (among other reasons). In response to a situation like this, Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author, Dr. Carole Lieberman advises, “If you aren’t careful to keep nurturing your relationships with friends, even though you’re in a romantic relationship, the thought of breaking up with your boyfriend seems impossible, even if he turns out to be a jerk. It may seem like the lesser of two evils to stay with a jerk than to be at school with no one to talk to at all. But, you can prevent being in this no-win situation by making an effort to keep your friends, even if it means spending less time with your boyfriend.”

    In cliché terms, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I learned this lesson when I got to college. Before meeting my college boyfriend, I had been phased out of another friend group and found myself in a somewhat similar situation. While my boyfriend was my only friend for a while, I slowly developed new friendships that lasted throughout my relationship with my boyfriend. When I felt it was time to end that relationship, I felt confident that I could handle it because I had friends to support me, unlike the last time.

    Don't be too focused on your SO

    Especially if it is your first love, it is easy to become immersed in a relationship. When you’re in love with love, you want to relish in that happiness, which may alienate you from others. Dr. Lieberman says, “When you’re in love, it is easy to let the rest of the world slip away because you are so focused on your boyfriend. It seems like he’s the only one who matters.” As a result of this, you may find that your friends don’t matter as much, Dr. Lieberman adds, since you are so obsessed with your new beau. “Suddenly, you find that your boyfriend is your only friend. This puts you in a very risky situation because you become more dependent upon your boyfriend for everything, which soon makes him feel like you’re suffocating him. Now you don’t have any friends to turn to.”

    Collegiette Sara* says, “Forming a close relationship with your boyfriend is crucial, but relying on him for absolutely everything can (and, in all likelihood, will) lead to trouble because it’s a limiting situation. He may feel as though making sure you have someone to spend time with is his responsibility. In time, it’s possible that they responsibility will become a burden.” You don’t want a relationship to be based on one party feeling sorry for the other, and it is possible that in a situation where your SO is your only friend, they may feel just that.

    While this may seem like a grim perspective, it is a common situation that many young girls face, particularly when in their first relationship. If friends are jealous of you flaunting your relationship in their faces, they will not want to be around you as much. In addition, if your friends do not get along with your SO, they will isolate you because you are associated with him. If you feel that they are truly good friends, remember to show them that they are still important to you. More importantly, you had an identity before you met your SO, and your friends helped shape that identity. So don’t lose yourself when you start a relationship.

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

    Ignore the negative commentary

    Sometimes you can be in a healthy, great relationship, but your SO is your only friend. While you may think this is okay, Dr. Lieberman warns, "It makes a guy wonder if there’s something wrong with a girl who doesn’t have a buzzing social life or at least a few good friends. He’ll ask himself if he’s missing your fatal flaw that makes everyone else steer clear.”

    As with anything even slightly out of the ordinary, people may gossip about a relationship wherein one or both parties’ only friend is each other. Dr. Lieberman explains, “When one or both partners don’t have any other friends, it makes people wonder about their relationship. Are they hiding something kinky or twisted? Are they doing something that they don’t want others to know about? Are they misfits who are only able to find one other person to like them? These are the questions that go through other people’s minds and make them uncomfortable.” While understanding why people think and act the way they do, even when something is none of their concern, is important, it is also important to live your own life. If you are happy being in a relationship with your best friend, so be it. Don’t allow other people dictate your happiness. In the same way, if your SO questions why you have no friends, show him that everyone has flaws, but that you are more than the people you surround (or don’t surround) yourself with.

    Relationships, like friendships, can be tricky. Put together, they are even more work. When you are in a new relationship, it is always important not to lose yourself, but also not to lose your friends. On the other hand, being in a relationship may show you who your real friends are. If you make an effort to maintain your friendships when you are in a relationship, and your friends still reject you, maybe you do not want to be friends with them anymore. Sometimes it is okay if your SO is your only friend, but be wary of the signs that you are too dependent on your lover.

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    Having an invisible emotional plastic bubble can be comforting — it allows you to keep people at an arm’s length and helps you better dictate who you let into your life. However, that emotional unavailability can ultimately be damaging to current or potential relationships. And while we all know that all collegiettes are strong, independent women, we also know part of being strong means allowing other people into your life.

    Though emotional unavailability often affects romantic relationships, it can be harmful to other aspects of your life as well. Similarly, being emotionally available can have a positive effect on your life.

    “Becoming emotionally available opens up every corner of your life – not just romance, but friendships, family, business connections, educational connections. People are drawn to someone who is emotionally available,” says Bryn Collins, a licensed psychologist and author of“Emotional Unavailability: Recognizing It, Understanding It, and Avoiding Its Trap” and the forthcoming sequel, Emotionally Unavailable Parents, which will be available in November 2018.

    Sound familiar? Here are five tips for how to curb that emotional unavailability and open yourself up to better and healthier relationships.

    1. Recognize any fears you have

    Failure is a vital part of life. However, failure oftentimes breeds a fear of failure.

    “One of the biggest reasons people cut themselves off in relationships is fear: fear of rejection, fear of not being ‘good enough,’ fear of intimacy, fear of not being in control,” says Collins.

    Though fear of all of those things is understandable, it can ultimately lead to an overall lack of being vulnerable to friends and partners. Usually, when people are harboring so much fear, it’s easy to withdrawal from relationships and shut yourself off to do anything deemed as ‘weak.’

    “Relationships inherently require vulnerability and many people feel as though being vulnerable is emotionally dangerous — as though their vulnerability makes them weak," continues Collins. "Actually, vulnerability is a strong position and strengthens a relationship.”

    Veronika, a senior at the University of Toronto has experience with this. “I generally don't like being vulnerable and that's why it took me a bit to open up to my boyfriend,” she says.  “I think what helped is considering him a best friend and trusting him enough to confide in him.”

    Like Collins suggests and Veronika knows, opening yourself up to people and confiding in them one of the best ways to start being a more emotionally available person. There’s an exchange of trust that happens, ultimately leading to stronger relationships.

    2. Trust yourself

    We’ve all heard that saying — before you can love someone else, you need to learn to love yourself. The same holds true when talking about trust.

    “Trust is also important and trusting yourself is step one,” says Collins. “Trust has four components: predictability, reliability, truthfulness and honesty. Self-confidence is important as are good communication skills.”

    While it’s obvious that most people need to trust someone in order to open up to them, it’s also equally, if not more important, to trust yourself. You need to be able to trust your own decision-making skills, your own boundaries and your own ability to communicate with your friends and SO. If you block emotions from yourself, how are you supposed to share them with those around you?

    Related: What to Do If Your SO Has Anxiety or Depression

    3. Set boundaries

    Even though being emotionally available is important and has the ability to make your relationships thrive, it’s also good to know your own limits. Being emotionally available is hard; opening up to people makes you more vulnerable to getting hurt. With that, it’s a good idea to set your own boundaries for how vulnerable you want to be.

    “Have good boundaries – don’t permit yourself to be used or abused,” suggests Collins.

    While it’s good to be emotionally available, you don’t want to be available to the point of people using you or taking advantage of your emotions. This may not happen, however it’s something to be weary of.

    4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

    Everyone knows that at the core of every relationship is good communication. Despite that, it can still be difficult to communicate with your partner, especially if you struggle with being emotionally available. However, lack of communication when you’re feeling particularly distant can leave your partner at a loss for what to do – which is the exact opposite of what should happen in a healthy relationship.

    “It's important to keep talking about your feelings when you're in a relationship, even if it makes you uncomfortable,” says Rachel Fitzgerald, a senior at the University of Windsor. “Tell your partner how you're feeling and why – and if it's about them, make sure you don't use words like, "You always..." or "You never..." because it can make your partner feel attacked. Instead, try, "I'm feeling ____ because _____" and you'll probably get a lot further.”

    Similar to being vulnerable in relationships, having good communication in relationships will make them so much stronger.

    5. Find out what’s causing you to distance yourself

    For some people, being emotionally unavailable may just be part of who they are. For others, it may boil down to other elements like being stressed or the way you were raised. Regardless, it’s important to work on recognizing the triggers that make you becoming emotionally distant.

    “Recognizing and combating the fears … is also critical,” says Collins. “Working through fears and unlearning childhood damage help as well, perhaps with a therapist.”

    Whether you recognize the causes of your emotional distance with a professional, or if you have a handle on any day-to-day things that may prompt you to pull away.

    “I find that I'm usually emotionally distant when focusing intensely on school or work – I block out my SO when I'm stressed out,” says an anonymous collegiette. “It's helpful for me to involve him and remind myself that he's here and willing to help so I don't have to face everything alone.”

    If you know what your stressors are and what tends to make you more distant, you’re more likely to know when you’re being distant because of your own boundaries or when the distance is caused by a different source.

    Being emotionally available is definitely hard work. As collegiettes, we’re often taught to power through and sometimes that means bottling everything up even though it may not be the healthiest way to go about things. Opening up to the people around you can help reprieve you from some of the burden of carrying a bunch of stress and emotions around. So take the plunge, trust yourself and open up a bit.

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    Let’s get real: relationships are difficult. Whether you’ve been dating your SO for the last four days or four years, there’s always a kink (as well as the fun kind of kink) or two in even the healthiest relationship.

    Even if the smallest complication in you and your bae’s relationship doesn’t seem like a big deal, it can turn into a plague on your relationship if you continue to obsess over the same small things.

    After all, the little things in life matter and the little things in your relationship shouldn’t be treated any differently. Learning how to let go of certain things will help your relationship become ever healthier.

    1. Overthinking

    We know as soon as you tell yourself to stop overthinking, you’re going to start overthinking even more. One thing will lead to another, and you’ll be contemplating how your beau is planning to move to a different country and marry a Victoria’s Secret model all because he said he was too busy to meet for lunch today.

    We can all be professional overthinkers at times, but if you’re consistently overthinking simple things that your SO does (or doesn’t do), then you should talk to your partner about this. Let them know that you’ve been overthinking things.

    Communicating to your SO about why you’ve been overthinking will allow you both to understand some of the triggers and underlying reasons for your overthinking.

    Related: Dating Advice I Wish Someone Had Given Me Before College

    If you notice that you tend to dwell on similar situations, then you might be worried that your partner doesn’t like you as much as they used to. Talking to your SO about this can make your relations a lot less stressful.

    As a chronic overthinker myself, it's better to have a discussion with your SO about how you interpret what they are and aren't doing. Rather than letting those thoughts consume your emotional health, chatting with your SO will allow you both to get some clarify (after all, your bae might be overthinking some things too).

    If talking to your partner about the miniscule things that make you overthink (and the bigger picture issues that might be causing you to overthink) doesn’t help, then you both could work on ways to calm your overactive imagination:

    • Don’t focus on the things that can go wrong. Harmless overthinking can be exacerbated because you only focus on the things that could go wrong. So if you start to worry that your SO is becoming distant because he or she couldn’t Netflix and binge eat pizza this week, then you should stop yourself short of thinking that bae has a side piece. Instead, think of the positive things your SO could be doing. He or she could be working, finishing an essay or even visiting the local animal shelter to surprise you with the cutest and softest puppy ever (okay, that might be a long shot, but we can all dream). Regardless, try to focus on the optimistic scenarios too, so your overthinking doesn’t consume you.

    • Be proactive about your overthinking. Noticing when you’re overthinking is a skill that is mastered by few. However, when you do first notice your exaggerated thinking, don’t just think about it and wait for all those thoughts to resurface at the most inopportune time — do something about it. Think about what you can actively do about whatever it is that causes you to overthink. Whatever that action is, you need to do it (even if it’s as simple as talking to your SO or doing something for yourself to forget about your nagging thoughts).

    • Realize that overthinking won’t solve anything. You probably can’t predict the future, and even if you could, overthinking isn’t going to fix whatever minor issues you’re having in your relationship.

    2. Getting hung up on the differences

    It shouldn’t be news that everyone’s different. Even you and your bestie have your differences (despite the fact that you both are basically twins), so it’s completely natural for you and your SO to have different likes and dislikes.

    Granted, it’s important that you and your beau agree on more significant issues (like your basic survival plan if the zombie apocalypse ever happens and how many dogs you should get), but you shouldn’t fret if your partner has a slightly different lifestyle than you.

    Molly Crum, a James Madison University alumna, explains that you shouldn’t “let small differences in personality or preferences totally freak you out.” Molly continues, “for example, I really enjoy working out daily whereas my boyfriend only exercises when he can around his busy schedule and if he truly feels like it. However, our differences are nothing drastic; he never tries to change me or stop me from doing my workouts, and I never pressure him to join me at the gym. Of course shared values and interests are important, but small differences can actually keep a relationship interesting as long as each of you accept the other for who they are.” After all, you shouldn’t want to change your partner.

    Obviously, any lifestyle differences might seem like a deal breaker in the long run, but ultimately it doesn’t matter if your SO exercises less than you or puts milk in the bowl before the cereal (even if that does seem a bit insulting). Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about any small differences between the two of you.

    3. Comparing your partner to anyone else

    While you may not be verbalizing these comparisons to your SO (though if you are, seriously stop, because comparing anyone to another person is one of the worst things you can do for someone’s self-esteem and mental health), it’s unrealistic to compare your current SO to your ex.

    Obviously, your SO isn’t your ex, but that isn’t a bad thing — seeing as your ex is your ex for a reason. Regardless, if you’re still doting on whatever good qualities your ex had, you should instead focus on the awesome qualities that made you fall in love (or like) with your SO. After all, it’s not very healthy to mentally compare your partner with anyone else (including other Instagram couples).

    John Remus, a senior at Iowa State University, explains that also "you shouldn't compare yourself to other people." John continues, "I used to compare myself to other guys, and that made me feel really inadequate in my past relationships." After all, comparing yourself to other people (whether they're your SO's friends of a celeb) isn't healthy either and can cause some serious jealous and intimacy issues in your relationship.

    Regardless, your SO is a different person (thankfully) and you should love that your bae is different. Instead of obsessing over the little things in your relationship, you should learn to enjoy your SO’s company – so you can be truly happy in your relationship.

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    Love is in the air, especially around the holidays. The weather is getting colder, the mistletoe is being hung and there are a plethora of holiday movie marathons happening every second of the day. This is the perfect recipe for a date with your SO, and it may even be time to say those three little words we hold so dear – want some pizza?

    No, I'm only kidding. But, it may indeed be the perfect setting to say, "I love you." However, whether it's the first time or the millionth time you've said it, it's always more special to show it. There are tons of ways to share your affection for someone without words, and let's be honest, actions do speak a lot louder. Here are some creative ways to spread the love this season. 

    1. Give them a thoughtful gift

    When it comes to picking out a gift for your SO, you don't have to break the bank. Whether it's his or her birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day or even just a random day, giving them a thoughtful gift is a great way to let them know how you feel. Autumn Dube, a recent graduate from Emmanuel College, says she "loves to give gifts or small notes or gratitude to show she cares for someone." Some other great ideas are handwritten letters, handmade art or a compilation of keepsakes that are dear to the both of you. It's always the thought that counts, not the dollar signs. 

    2. Listen to them

    One of the best ways to show someone you care is the listen to them. If they start talking about something that's important to them, make sure to listen and engage with them about the topic. Let them know that you support everything that they love and enjoy--and encourage them to tell you some of their favorite stories. This also includes being there for him or her when needed. Stella Strouse, a senior at the University of Central Florida, mentions the importance of "being there for them in general even through the toughest times." Wanting to get to know someone better is a great way to prove your affection. 

    3. Be spontaneous

    Planning spontaneous dates and surprising your SO will keep him or her surprised and show that you care about making him or her smile. If you've spent the last three days lounging around watching Netflix (which is great), try to mix it up and plan a picnic date at the park or a night out dancing. Even if your SO is a homebody, planning a fun night out every now and then is sure to be appreciated. 

    4. Make time, always

    No matter how busy you may be, making time for your SO is sure to communicate how you feel. Being in a relationship is a commitment, and he or she deserves to be a part of your daily life. Make sure to allot enough time for your SO, so her or she never has to wonder how you feel or their importance in your life. If you're really busy one day or one week, make sure to send a sweet message as a reminder that you're thinking of him or her. 

    5. Cook a nice meal

    That fastest way to many peoples' hearts is through their stomachs. Surprising your SO with a thoughtful home-cooked meal screams "I love you." Take the time to make his or her favorite meal from scratch, or you could try a cooking delivery system, such as Hello Fresh, if you aren't the best in the kitchen. Your SO will surely be thrilled to see that you spent the time making a meal no matter how it turns out. 

    6. Be forgiving

    Relationships can be very hard – both you and your SO will disagree, fight and even make mistakes. If you truly love someone, you'll learn to forgive and move on. Don't hold grudges and make your SO feel terrible about something he or she has already apologized for. Try to be understanding and see the other side of every story, that's what love it about. 

    7. Give small signs of affection

    Or as some call it: The X's and O's. Shower your SO with hugs and kisses as often as you can. Make sure they know you don't want to keep your hands off him or her, because you are so in love. Giving frequent small signs of affection will reassure your SO that you are crazy about them – but keep it to a minimum in public. 

    8. Make a secret handshake

    Your SO is so much more than just your SO – they should be your best friend as well. What's better than a secret handshake between two besties? Tell your SO you want to make a secret handshake. It's sure to make him or her blush and feel special. This is a great way to show love in the littlest of ways. Little things can go a long way. 

    9. Be vulnerable

    One way to show your love for someone is to open yourself up to love as well. Take notice of everything your SO is doing as well, and be vulnerable. Peel back your layers and show who you really are. Giving all of yourself and receiving all of him or her in return is the best way to show love. 

    Hopefully, with these tips, you'll be able to speak your SO's love language and win him or her over forever. Love doesn't have to be marked by three words--it can be shown in a plethora of ways. 

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    New Girl called it the “backslide” when Jess and Nick went back to their exes. “How I Met Your Mother” coined the phrase “revertigo.” Gossip Girl just blamed fate and hormones for the on and off again Chuck and Blair relationship rollercoaster.

    Whatever term or excuse you prefer, there is undoubtedly some sort of phenomena that makes us return to old relationships and habits when we really should just move on. And this tendency to revert back to old ways seems maximized when we go home for the holidays. Maybe that means getting drunk with high school friends and reminiscing on the past, or maybe it means something more damaging, like returning to an old relationship that has been played out time and time again.

    For some, there’s always that one person we keep returning to when we’re back to our old home address, whether it’s for the summer, Thanksgiving, or winter break. And no matter how many months you’ve been away at college, even if you haven’t thought about them all semester, once you’re back in the old zip code you’re just the same high schooler hung up on a guy. So how do you avoid this back-home backslide? How do you honor the months of progress you have made while away? And why are you tempted to backslide in the first place?

    Why do we backslide in the first place? 

    Let’s get to the root of the problem. Why do we backslide in the first place? According to professional matchmaker Marla Martenson, there are two major factors at play that make us return to old relationships. First is a self-esteem issue. We all want to be wanted, and past relationships remind us of what that was like. Second is humans do not particularly like change.

    Related: 9 Times When Being Single is the Best

    “We get used to someone, as well as attached, and it is challenging to let go, even when the situation is not ideal,” explains Martenson.

    Author and blogger Stephanie May Wilson agrees that fear of the unknown can influence our decision to backslide into a past relationship because it seems like a comfortable, familiar, and fast way to stop being alone.

    “I think we all share two really common fears as humans,” explains Wilson. “We fear being alone and we fear the unknown. Old relationships, even if they were hard, painful, or even destructive ones, feel like a way around both of these fears.”

    Old relationships can become like security blankets. They feel safe and comfortable, sure, but they also can prevent growth. We talk and reason ourselves back into these relationships even when we know they are not right for us because we are afraid of change, we are afraid of the unknown, and we think that maybe this time, things will be different.

    “We reason that even if the relationship wasn’t perfect, at least we know what to expect, at least we have a relationship,” says Wilson. “But of course, this is a destructive pattern that can keep us trapped in bad relationships for years.”

    That might explain why we keep going back to that freshman year hook up when we’re bored or why our best friend is back “on again” with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, but what about being home for the holidays? Why is backsliding so much more tempting when we’re away from school and back in our hometowns?

    Blame it on the nostalgia

    It does not help that we are surrounded by places and people that remind us of who we used to be, and by extension, who we used to be with. Sometimes nostalgia takes over and makes us think things were really better than they were. Constant reminders and nostalgia make for a killer reminiscing combination.

    “Going back home, to the place where your whole relationship existed, is like visiting a museum of your relationship,” says Wilson. “It brings back all of your old memories, and usually only the good ones, which of course sparks that thought, ‘Maybe I should call him. Maybe there’s still something there.’”

    Not to mention, if you and your ex went to different colleges, just being back in close proximity location wise means higher probability of running into them at the grocery store, while Christmas shopping, or at a bar with your friends. The “out of sight out of mind” philosophy suddenly doesn’t work as well.

    Is backsliding really that bad? 

    So why is backsliding a bad thing? If it’s just a short-term hookup while you’re home, is it really that big of a deal?

    The first thing to keep in mind is that when relationships end, it is for a reason. Maybe those reasons have changed or gone away in the time that has past, but before you think of texting him to meet up, remind yourself why you broke up in the first place.

    “Your relationship ended because one of you, and probably both of you, weren’t getting what you needed out of the relationship. Or maybe it was timing, or circumstances, or your season of life, or fundamental incompatibility,” says Wilson. “Whatever the reason, your relationship ended because it wasn’t working.”

    At this point, you might try to justify it to yourself by saying you have changed, or they have changed, or the circumstances are different now. Maybe your ex is even telling you himself that he has changed or will change. But in many cases, “change” is easier said than done.

    “People are totally capable of changing, and maybe there will be a day when both of you will have changed into the kind of people who are just perfect for each other, but that kind of change takes a long time,” explains Wilson. “If someone tells you, ‘I’ve changed,’ or ‘I will change’ or if you’re thinking they might have changed, it’s best to really give it some time and space until you’re sure… When a relationship fails, we need to wait until we see real, consistent evidence of change before we think about diving back in.”

    Remember why things ended in the first place

    Your relationship ended for a reason, and more than likely that reason did not just disappear in a matter of months.  Not only is returning to old relationships potentially harmful emotionally and mentally, but it can also prevent you from moving on and finding a relationship that is genuinely good. You deserve a relationship that makes your life better and happier, not more dramatic. There comes a point when an old relationship is too worn out or broken to keep trying, but if we keep going back to a broken relationship, we won’t be able to build new ones.

    “There have been years of my life when I’ve been holding out hope for someone, going back again and again because it’s comfortable or because I’m hoping something has changed,” says Wilson. “But those relationships never ever panned out, things never did change. And because I was so consumed with the past, my heart was totally unavailable for my present or my future.”

    Focusing too much on the past detracts from your potential happiness in the future and just causes emotional distress in the present. Additionally, revisiting an old, comfortable relationship can make going back to school even more difficult, especially if you have been struggling with homesickness already. You won’t be able to feel at home at college if there are mixed emotions and uncertain relationships keeping you tangled up back in your hometown.

    Honor the progress you've made

    Meg, a sophomore at the University of Kansas, emphasizes the growth you experience during college. Reverting back to an old relationship can ruin a lot of that personal progress.

    “College brings a lot of growth and change to your life,” Meg says. “If you’ve grown out of a relationship, you won’t be happy trying to mold back into the person you were when you left by getting back into a past relationship.”

    But even if you know you need to move on and you have no intention of backsliding, how can you prevent a slip-up?

    Prevent the backslide with reality checks and barriers

    Martenson recommends putting your thoughts to paper and journaling about your feelings about the person and relationship. Include the highs, the lows, what made it great, what made it unbearable, and the mediocre in-between. Making a list about why the relationship was not right and how it made you feel will give you a more unbiased perspective on the situation. You can really think and process through the reasons it ended.

    “Seeing it in black and white really helps seal it into your brain and keeps it at the forefront,” explains Martenson. “Write down what kind of relationship you would like to be in and why. Does this person fit that description? Remember, you broke up for a reason, trust your gut and intuition.”

    Related: 4 Ways to Handle an Unexpected Text from an Ex

    In addition, you can set up precautionary boundaries, because even if you think a backslide is unlikely now, you might think differently after a few days bored at home, or after a drink or two.

    “Loneliness and a desire for comfort will cause us to do all kinds of things,” says Wilson. “Either way, thinking through it in advance keeps us from making poor decisions when the moment presents itself.”

    Take measures to avoid it now, and maybe even enlist some help. Deleting their number might seem extreme, but it will definitely prevent you from texting them. It might also be helpful to go on a social media cleanse and take a break from Snapchat or Instagram for a few days. Not only will this keep you from internet stalking your ex, but it will also help you live in the moment during the holiday season with your friends and family. You can also ask your back home besties, your sister, or even your mom to hold you accountable.

    Moving on, moving forward

    As tempting as reverting back to an old relationship can be, especially when you’re home for the holidays, it’s important to keep things in perspective. This might include some reflection on your part if you really want to avoid your ex – remember the relationship for what it was, not what you miss right now. Think about how much you have grown and changed as a person in the months or years since the relationship has ended, and honor that progress.

    “Remember the growth and change you’ve experienced,” says Meg. “Do what your future self would thank you for doing.”

    The sooner you commit to moving on, the sooner you can focus on all the other great aspects of being home for the holidays. Shopping with your friends, watching movies with your siblings, and celebrating holiday traditions with your family are a far better use of your time and energy than thinking about your ex and the drama that inevitably follows a backslide.

    “If you ever want to be in a relationship that’s better than this one, if you ever want to find the person who is right for you, you have to start letting go of the person who wasn’t,” advises Wilson. “And that starts by saying, “No, thanks!” when they invite you for drinks over Christmas break.”

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    Let’s be honest, we’ve almost all been there. More often than a lot of us would like to admit, our curiosity has led us to check out the new pool of potential partners through dating apps such as Tinder. Whether we’re looking for a genuine relationship or purely just for a little bit of fun, it can be a little nerve-wracking going to actually meet your potential boo. With all the talk about how dangerous meeting an online date could be, many of us are afraid of ending up on the end of some horror story. However, sometimes it’s worth it to take a little risk every once in a while. In any case, it’s important to be extremely cautious before agreeing to meet up, especially if it’s just to hook up. If you’re not sure if your Tinder hookup will end up as a beautiful fairy tale or a tragic horror story, here are some signs to keep in mind:

    1. You’ve talked for a decent amount of time

    We know, time says nothing when it comes to love. However, when it’s just a hook up with someone you don’t know a lot about, it’s important that you allow a sufficient amount of time to get to know a person before meeting up with them. You never want to agree to meet up after a three quick messages unless you personally know them or someone who knows them.

    Whitney Le, a graduate from the University of Texas at Dallas, couldn’t agree more. “It’s easy to seem normal within the first few messages,” she says, “but after talking to them for a while you can pretty much tell if he’s creepy or cool.” Even if you don’t want anything serious and maybe you don’t even care where they’re working or where they go to school, it’s always important to make sure that this will be a safe encounter. Even a minimal amount of small talk can tell you a lot about the intentions of the person. After a few messages you can usually tell the creeps from the kings and queen.

    2. They don’t seem reluctant on sharing personal information about themselves

    One huge indicator that they’re not someone you should meet up with is if they’re reluctant on sharing personal information. Now we aren't saying that you should be worried if he won’t tell you his deepest fears and desires, but if he won’t even share with you his first and last name, that may be a huge red flag. Although he or she may just want to hide using a dating app from his or her friends, he or she could also be hiding the presence of a significant other… or even a criminal record. Even though it’s usually not that serious, the person you’re agreeing to meet up with should at least respect you enough to tell you something about themselves.

    Kaitlyn Tran, a freshman at Collin College, says that this is a bad sign. “Most of the time it’s easy to tell if they’re just embarrassed or just plain sketchy,” she says. “If he won’t even tell you his real name and has only one photo, don’t give him the time of day.” We couldn’t agree more. Nothing ever comes from secrets!

    3. Your conversations flow naturally 

    Although it’s hard to see how well you may click with someone over text, it’s never a good sign when the conversation already seems forced. If some of the texts he sends seem to make you uncomfortable or uneasy, it’s never a good sign. A conversation over text isn’t everything, but you can tell a lot about how a person thinks by the way they text. If your conversations are always leading to a dead end or constant misunderstandings, there may be an issue. 

    Joel Hurtado, a senior at the University of Texas at Dallas says couldn’t agree more. “Even though I’m pretty bad at texting, it’s still pretty easy to tell if I will click with a person or not,” he says. “If I have to constantly stop to think what I should say to a person, it’s probably not gonna work.” Of course, people are different behind the phone screen than they are off it, but it’s important to remember that most of the time, they are less afraid to show who they are behind the screen. If it’s awkward when you text, it’s probably going to be even more awkward in person. 

    4. You have mutual friends

    One of the sure-fire ways to tell if a person is safe is if they know people that you know. Even though this isn’t a requirement, it definitely helps. One of the best things about Tinder (unless you’re trying to hide from your friends is that since it is connected to Facebook, it allows you to see if this person knows some of the same people you do. Even if there are no direct connections, even a secondary connection could mean something. If your match is showing to have no connections whatsoever, it could be a little bit worrisome. Especially since it is mostly location-based, it’s usually pretty likely that they know someone you do. However, if they’re off the radar, that just means you should be extra cautious!

    Sarah Lee*, a junior at University of Missouri, says having mutual friends helped calm her nerves. “After finding out that I had a couple friends who knew him, I was definitely a lot less reluctant on meeting him,” she says. “Even if I couldn’t tell if he was cool from talking to him, since I knew people who knew him, I knew the worst thing that could happen was an awkward encounter.” Let’s be real, awkward encounters are pretty bad, but it’s a lot better than a dangerous one!

    5. They don’t seem too pushy about meeting you 

    This is one sign that a lot of people look over. Although it’s okay for someone to be eager to meet you, he or she should never be pushy about meeting you. It’s always a bad sign when they’re almost getting angry at your reluctance and constantly giving you excuses for it being okay. In the digital dating world, many people understand that most people are often unsure about meeting someone for the first time. This is something that your match should respect and understand. 

    Kelby Cole, a senior at the University of North Texas, says this is a huge red flag. “Your match should never guilt you into coming,” he says. “Although it’s nice for them to simply want you to come, it should never be an obligation.” If your match seems to constantly beg you to come over, it’s probably not a good idea. 

    6. You think it’s time for you to get out there

    One of the best things about online dating is that it gives you a chance to get out there when you may otherwise not be able to. If you want to experience something new but don’t know where to find it, this is a great reason to go for that first date. A lot of times with balancing work and school, it’s hard to find a good pool of candidates. If you are open to trying new things, what better way to do so than through a dating app?

    Neal Brooks* a junior at the University of Texas at San Antonio says this is huge time saver. “It’s hard to find new people to meet in college,” he says. “It’s hard not to come off as weird when you’re approaching someone in real life, but with a dating app you know that you’re both at least somewhat romantically interested.” This could is one huge reason why you should go on that tinder date. If your mindset is open to new people and new experiences, go for it!

    7. You truly want to go  

    At the end of the day, it’s ultimately your choice. Sure, there are a lot of ways to make sure that your potential hookup isn’t a serial killer of some sort, but it’s also important to think about yourself. Deciding whether or not you should go is not solely based on the trustworthiness of the person you’re meeting but your personal desire to go. There’s never anything wrong with getting yourself to get out there and have a little fun if it’s something that you truly feel that you want to do. 

    Thalia Carrillo, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, agrees that this is a huge factor. “I think so many people are so worried about the safety of the whole situation that they forget to think about what they want,” she says. “Although you should never let your desires cloud your judgment, if it’s something that you have a good feeling about and you want to do, why not?” We couldn’t agree more. With all the safety reasons aside, the truth is that most of the time people on these dating sites are just as normal as you are. 

    Related Article: 6 Dating Tips for Shy Girls

    We all have those moments where we just want to meet new people and let loose. It’s totally okay and definitely nothing that you should be ashamed of. Although the whole idea of Tinder may have a horrible stigma around it, the truth is that there are a lot more people that engage in these activities than you may realize. As long as you’re smart about it, it could be a great opportunity to meet some really cool people. However, since the Internet is full of various types of people, being safe is of the utmost importance. If your match passes the test, don’t be afraid to go for it!

    *name has been changed

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    Valentine’s Day means a lot of different things to different people. For some, it is a holiday in celebration of love in our lives, and a time to show those we care about our affection for them. For others, it’s an excuse to binge-watch romantic comedies with our friends over cheap wine. And still, for some, Valentine’s Day has an overarching negative connotation. Whether you’re single, casually dating, or in a serious relationship, sometimes Valentine’s Day just gets you down.

    It can be a reminder of love lost or absent from our lives, or can send us spiraling into an existential crisis about the meaning of love, if we have it now, or if we’ll ever find it. When it comes to love, lines are always blurry and there’s no clear, universal answer to the many questions the concept triggers. Not to mention, the popular culture focus on romantic love, soulmates, destiny, and other romance clichés can certainly isolate a large portion of the population. So, when you create a whole day centered around love, it’s no surprise that it can seem less like a cause for celebration and more like a reason to crawl under the covers.

    “Occasionally, Valentine’s Day gets me down because the constant couple posts/Instagrams/Snapchat stories are an in-your-face reminder that you’re not sharing that day with that ‘special someone,’” explains Kat Mediavilla, a sophomore at Kansas State University.

    Addie Donaher, a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, agrees that social media and society as a whole can sometimes exaggerate the prominence of the holiday and make some people feel isolated.

    “Literally every store has valentines deals and couples tend to make a big deal of the holiday on social media so it can make you feel really alone,” Addie says.

    However, focusing on the grand romantic gestures that only happen in movies detracts from your present happiness, and from the actual reason behind Valentine’s Day. According to creator of Self Love Beauty blog and founder of the Beautiful Me campaign Lisa Thompson, Valentine’s Day can lose its significance if we limit our concept of love to only the romantic variety.

    “Sometimes Valentine's Day looks negative to people because there is a standard that this is a day for people only in relationships when, in reality, it is about love,” says Thompson.

    At its core, it is a day about love—and if we’re lucky enough to have that strong human connection with anyone in our lives, from a parent, to a roommate, to a best friend, to a significant other, it deserves to be acknowledged.

    If the very mention of Valentine’s Day brings you down in the dumps, it’s time to take charge of the holiday and celebrate on your own terms.

    “[People who view Valentine’s Day negatively] can take control of the holiday and plan something or learn the why behind they are feeling down,” says Thompson. “More times than not, everyone just is down because they think they should be or because they are single… make the day something new to celebrate for yourself.”

    Taking control can mean starting new holiday traditions with your friends and having a night out on the town, or a night in where your gang can exchange positive words of affirmation to empower one another.

    “You could also use the day to show your friends how much you care for them by having a special girls’ night or just getting a little treat for those in your life who are close to you,” suggests Kat.  

    Or, you could take the time to write love notes to your family members you don’t talk to as often as you should. A surprise letter in the mail could brighten a grandparent’s or parent’s day more than you realize.

    “Show kindness through giving whether that is through words, friendships or affirmations,” advises Thompson. “Everyone needs to hear it.”

    Maybe the holiday dedicated to love is a perfect time to enact small acts of thoughtfulness that can go a long way.

    “Spending time with friends and showing you love them or even like getting flowers for yourself as a form of self-love is a good way to celebrate it,” suggests Addie.

    Valentine’s Day can be a celebration of these different forms of love in our lives, but also a time to show ourselves some love, too. It can be an introspective opportunity to examine if we are giving the same love to ourselves as we give everyone else in our lives. Think about your relationship with yourself, and if you find that there’s a serious deficit in self-esteem, Thompson advises to examine the root causes of our lack of self-love. Sometimes we flat out deprive ourselves of love, and maybe at other times we recognize our worth but do not do enough to care for ourselves.

    “[People can] learn to understand why they don't love themselves currently to start and build from there,” explains Thompson. “I truly think when you understand the why behind not loving yourself, you then know where to go from there. Spend time getting to know yourself.”

    Not to mention, Valentine’s Day can be a great excuse to treat yo’self, in the words of the ever-inspiring Tom Haverford from Parks and Rec. Spoil yourself a little and splurge on that new makeup palette you’ve been eyeing for months, or take some “you” time at the nail salon.

    “To make the day brighter, I like to treat myself to a special dinner or candy and pretend that I’m my own Valentine,” says Kat.

    Valentine’s Day is a great time to celebrate you and all you have to offer. Showing yourself love enables you to show love to others and live your life more completely. It is more important than many realize, and it can be beneficial to designate Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to grow in love for everything you are, were and can be.

    “Self-love is exactly that—love for yourself and when you have that I can honestly say so many other things come together,” says Thompson. “It isn't easy...honestly not at all but it is really amazing when you start to believe in yourself.”

    In the end, Valentine’s Day is really what you make of it. You can wallow in misery and mourn your singleness, you can ignore the holiday altogether, or you could use it as an excuse to spoil yourself and loved ones with a little extra love and attention.

    “Valentine's Day is a day about love so share it and don't be negative toward the people that are in relationships,” says Thompson. “Let them enjoy it the way they want to and you enjoy it the way you can as well. It is all what you make of it!”   

    Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a cause for spiraling into questioning if you’ll ever find love, or a cause for stress about defining the relationship with that repeated hookup, or a questioning time about how serious your current relationship is and where it is going. As a whole, the day is about love, and, as Hugh Grant so astutely points out in the modern classic movie Love Actually, “If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.”

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    I’m not the friend you go to for relationship advice. I’m the friend who you complain with about the rude guy at the bar or promise to live with if neither of us gets married. I am perpetually alone not because I’m a man-hater or because I fear commitment, but because of my high standards for relationships and men.

    Some of the biggest influences in my life have been TV and movies. I grew up in front of a screen, and I loved it. I still own an embarrassing number of VHS tapes, many of which are Disney movies. I’m one of those people who loves re-watching movies, and I like to recite lines just for fun. These movies, which I adored so much, are one of the reasons I have such high expectations for relationships. I know it sounds silly, but this is where my relationship issues all began.

    It started when I saw Beast defend Beauty, when Prince Eric fell in love with a girl who was very different from him, and when Quasimodo was brutally friend-zoned. These characters were proof that fairytale love exists, and I expected my future relationships to be fairytale-like. All that slightly changed after my parents got divorced. My dad moved out, I lived with my mom and sister, and I spent most of my time with my mom’s female-dominated side of the family. The estrogen levels were very high, and so up went my expectations for men and relationships.

    It’s ironic because you would think, with my parents’ divorce, that I would have been anti-relationships, but I just have high standards for myself and my partner because I have seen a bad relationship. I was strangely optimistic for my own love life. I wasn’t going to let myself down by getting into a “bad” relationship. If I kept my expectations high and waited as long as possible to find the right person, it would all work out. I wouldn’t waste my time, or anyone else’s for that matter by dating people I saw no future with. I promised myself I wouldn’t mess up the way my parents did. I guess I blamed my parents for not knowing that their relationship wouldn’t work out. Granted, I’m glad for my existence and that of my sister, but how much pain could have been avoided if they never married at all? 

    Related: What It's Like to Date if You (or Your SO) Had Toxic Parents

    Knowing what a messed up relationship can do to people, I promised myself I wouldn’t settle for mediocrity. I would never settle, period. I thought I knew what I wanted out of a relationship. But I had no way of knowing since I had never been in one.

    My so-called "deal-breakers" were concepts pushed at me through TV shows, movies and my feminist family members. I had no way of knowing what my actual deal-breakers would be because I didn’t let myself date. 

    I never understood what was so great about dating around. My older half-sister once told me to date all different types of guys to find out what you like in a potential partner. I completely avoided this piece of wisdom, and I missed out on some dating opportunities because I was scared: Scared I wouldn't like the person. Scared they wouldn't like me. Scared I would like that person. Scared they would like me.

    This isn’t a sob story, and please don’t email me with potential blind dates. I know what my issue is here. I know I have to change this habit of comparing everything to either entirely imaginary, idealistic relationships or my parents' toxic relationship. The first step, writing this story and admitting that having ridiculously high standards, is just a coping mechanism.

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    Depending on the circumstances, Valentine’s Day can have mixed results. Sometimes, it means a day devoted to romance between you and your sweetheart. Other times, a collegiette can be left wondering if Cupid’s arrow hit the wrong mark. Regardless, we all have our ups and downs when it comes to February 14, and our experiences make for great stories! Here are some V-Day dates that have had a lasting effect, for better or for worse.

    V-Day Victories

    “My boyfriend and I have now been together for 4 1/2 years. Last year we decided that for Valentine's Day we were going to take our first road trip somewhere. We decided to spend the weekend in Washington, D.C. We went to a very nice sushi dinner, then went to see the Wizards play the Spurs (Go Spurs Go!) and then took the long way back to the hotel so we could see some of the city. The next day we went sightseeing and went to museums. Maybe it seems nerdy, but it was so fun to be away and be by ourselves. I can definitely say that weekend made us fall even more in love.” - Mel, James Madison University

    “For Valentine’s Day about two years ago, my boyfriend and I took this ancient massage class at a local yoga place. We had started seeing each other about a month ago and hadn't officially decided to be exclusive, but it sounded fun and I've always liked yoga. I thought it sounded unique and interesting if nothing else. The class was mostly pairs of married couples or girlfriends enjoying a man-free Valentine’s Day. We were the youngest people there by far. Seeing a guy try to be flexible is hilarious to say the least. The fact that the class was all about celebrating and appreciating each other without the commercialism was so cool. Not to mention the massage skills you get out of it!” - Allison, University of Utah

    “My favorite Valentine’s Day date happened a few years ago. My boyfriend at the time picked me up and wouldn’t tell me where we were going, which was fun because I love surprises. We ended up at an ice skating rink! Neither of us was expecting the other to know how to ice-skate already, so it was a nice surprise when we were able to focus on our conversation instead of trying not to fall. We held hands while we skated and talked for a long time. Afterwards, we got hot cocoa and pizza to warm up. It was simple and sweet!” - Briana, University of Missouri-Kansas City

    Love Letdowns

    “Last year on Valentine's Day, my boyfriend and I were both off at college. I wanted to spend it together, so I decided to make the five-hour drive and surprise him at school! We had a great weekend together and I left feeling proud of myself for doing something so nice. The next day (it was the actual day of Valentine's Day), I was on my way to class when I received a phone call from him. Instead of a Happy Valentine's Day, I was shocked to hear that he was breaking up with me! He said he'd met another girl and had planned to wait until after Valentine's Day to tell me. In the end I was the one who ended up with the surprise!”- Courtney, Indiana University

    “I was asked out to see a movie, but when we got there it was sold out. Instead of looking for another movie, he ended the date and decided to get something to eat. He didn’t ask me to join him and then he got on the phone with his mom in front of me, telling her he wasn’t doing anything important. He then dropped me off at my dorm and told me he had a fraternity party to go to later and to have a good night. What a loser!”- Ali, Baker University

    “My boyfriend of a few months and I had planned a really simple but cute Valentine’s date. We were going to go to a new sushi restaurant, and then we were going to catch a movie and get some drinks afterwards. Our meal was really good, and we had a great time at dinner, but about 20 minutes after we left I knew something was wrong. I felt so nauseous! I did some deep breathing and tried to divert my attention, but it only got worse as we went into the movie. Still, I was too embarrassed to say anything to my boyfriend. Halfway through the movie, it hit me and I got sick in the theater! It was mortifying, and my Valentine’s Day date came to a very sudden stop. Thankfully, my boyfriend was nice and we still laugh about it today.” - Claire, Ohio State University

    In Between

    “It was my first date with my high school boyfriend. Sinatra was playing, he had an apron on and he put roses on the table. It appeared that he had made me this gorgeous dinner! It was all so adorable! He even bought me a box of chocolates. A few months later when we were getting more serious, I told him that I would never lie to him. He said, ‘I've lied to you before...’ I was like, ‘Geez how many other girls is he dating?’ He then proceeded to inform me that his mom had made the whole Valentine’s dinner and snuck out right before I got there... and to think I had the guts to ruin macaroni and cheese the first time I cooked for him!”- Veronica, Indiana University

    “I was excited for Valentine’s Day last year because I had a guy that I was beginning a relationship with. He told me to plan on going out, so I bought a new dress and tried to make myself look super cute. When he came to pick me up, I asked him what we were going to do. We ended up going to his apartment and watching a boxing match with his friends. It was not romantic to say the least, and I felt so out of place since I had dressed for a date. He paid way more attention to the TV than to me. After about an hour, I texted my best guy friend to see if he’d come get me. Long story short, he took me out to a diner after he picked me up, and now we’ve been together for almost a year.” -Emily, University of Illinois

    Even if your date is heading for disaster, you could be looking back on it and laughing in the years ahead. And remember, V-Day is just one day of the year! Don’t let it be the only one with some romance involved. It is always possible to bounce back from bad dates and look forward to better ones in the future - whether they happen on Valentine’s Day or not!

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    Is there anything more frustrating than knowing who you’d like your Valentine to be but not knowing how to snag the date? No matter how many hints you drop, some people can remain totally clueless. This year, instead of imagining what it would be like if you were out celebrating with your crush, take matters into your hands. Here are six ways to do it.

    1. Get a group together

    Let’s face it — unless you’re in a relationship, Valentine’s Day probably isn’t your favorite holiday. Organize a casual party the weekend before the big day (the holiday falls on a Sunday this year). Invite some of your single friends over for chocolate, champagne and pink drinks and candy hearts — you know, the things about Valentine’s Day that everyone enjoys. This is a great option if you don’t know your crush that well since it feels so casual.

    Once you’re at the party, use Lauren from University of Florida’s tip and see what his plans are for the big day. “I always find it easier to talk in a party environment,” says Lauren, who met her current boyfriend after chatting him up at a V-Day party three years ago. “You’re more comfortable around your friends. Ask him what his plans are and if he’d like to hang out on Valentine’s Day. If he says he can’t, you’re around enough people that it’s not awkward.” And around enough chocolate that you won’t even be a bit bummed.

    2. Double up

    Is your crush’s fraternity brother one of your good friends? Or maybe his sister is dating your roommate? A double date is always fun, especially if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day option that doesn’t feel super serious. Ask your friend if she can suggest a double date to her partner.

    3. Give them an offer they can’t refuse

    This option is perfect if the object of your affection is someone you know really well, like a cutie you’ve been seeing casually or your best friend who you’ve been crushing on. Purchase tickets to see a band they like or get a Groupon for a restaurant you know they've been dying to try (make sure it’s valid on V-Day, though, as some Groupons exclude this day!). It’s a thoughtful approach, but still way more casual than suggesting a candlelit dinner at a five-star restaurant. Kelsey, a senior at Skidmore, purchased two tickets to see Regina Spektor and invited her then-crush to go with her. “Honestly, he was probably more excited for the concert than hanging out with me when I first asked,” Kelsey says. “But we had such an amazing time together and a concert is a pretty romantic environment. It’s a fun first date.”

    4. Currently seeking: One cute crush

    Okay, so you know that you want a date on Valentine’s Day, but you don’t know exactly who. How do you go about meeting a cute bae before February 14? A lot of date parties or couples-only parties take place the weekend of Valentine’s Day, so ask your friends if they know someone in need of a date. Sure, it’s a risk to go on a blind date, but even if you don’t hit it off romantically with the person, you can have fun getting dressed up and celebrating the holiday. Diane, a sophomore at University of San Diego, met her current boyfriend when, at the last minute, her friend’s frat brother was out of a date. “I thought it would just be a fun group thing, but we wound up hitting it off,” says Diane. “If I hadn’t offered to be his date, he wouldn’t have been able to go to the party and we would have never met. Guys are looking for dates too!”

    5. Um, JUST ASK

    Former Her Campus Real Live College Guy Ryan admitted that there’s no super secret trick to snagging a date by Valentine’s Day. “To be honest, if a girl asks me out in any way, shape or form for V-day, I'll be inclined to say ‘no doubt’ and accept,” said Ryan. However, this doesn’t mean you can go up to that hot guy who you have literally never spoken to before and ask him out on a date. Ryan clarified by saying, “This is also assuming that a) we've been flirting and b) we're attracted to each other. With that perfect scenario in mind, I'd really just say that we don't need to be asked out creatively. Last time I checked it's not senior prom.” If you’ve been talking to a guy, don’t be afraid to say, "Would you want to get dinner on Tuesday?"

    6. Ask the girl who knows you best

    When it comes to playing matchmaker, there’s no one who can do it better than your BFF. If both you and your best friend are single this year, make a pact to set each other up. Try to go into the situation with an open mind. You might not see yourself hitting it off the person who lived down the hall from your BFF freshman year, but she knows that you two share the same goofy sense of humor. Trust that your friend knows you best and will set you up with a person who you are truly compatible with (or can at least have a fun night with).

    Maybe in a perfect world, the person you’ve been eyeing would send two white doves to your dorm room with a letter inviting you to a homemade dinner, but that’s not very likely (or convenient — can you imagine trying to get those doves out of your room? Total disaster.). Instead of waiting for Cupid, grab those arrows yourself and use these tried and true tips to fill up February 14 in your planner!

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    Whether you and your campus cutie have been going steady since freshman year or you hooked up at a house party last month and have been inseparable ever since, by the time February rolls around, you start feeling the pressure to come up with a fun date idea for you and your crush on Valentine's Day. Don’t fret! Here are six date ideas for Valentine’s Day that are fun and collegiette budget-approved!

    Take a dance class together

    Ballroom dancing? Yes! Tango for two? Sultry – definitely yes! Irish step? Er… sure, why not? So why not skip the sweaty dance floor in a frat’s basement for once and take a dance class together? You can often find a class to try out together at the gym or on campus with a student group. The workout will get your blood pumping, and even if your crush doesn’t exactly have Justin Timberlake or Taylor Swift's dance moves and you’re tripping over each other's feet – that’s okay! You’ll be having too much fun laughing with each other to care.

    Host a picnic… indoors!

    It’s absolutely freezing outside, so having a picnic out on the grassy campus lawns is out of the question. So why not bring your blankets indoors? Spread a blanket out on the floor, light some candles (battery-operated ones if you live in a dorm hall that doesn’t allow them) and cook up some food to share. It doesn't have to be fancy, but your SO will appreciate something a little more romantic than your Ramen noodles special. It’s way less cheesy (not to mention, cheaper) than the dinner-and-a-movie combo and it’s a good way to enjoy a homemade meal together. Bon appetit!

    Stargaze at the planetarium

    Ok, we’ll admit that we got a little inspiration for this idea from Friends. And while the rocky relationship between Ross and Rachel isn’t exactly what we’re approving, we think that their first date at a planetarium was still a cool idea. It beats having to get bundled up to sit out in the freezing winter night, but see if you can sneak in a Thermos of hot cocoa to simulate the experience of stargazing outdoors anyway! Many museums, art galleries, and other cultural institutions have reduced (if not free) admission for college students to take advantage of! Some colleges are lucky enough to have a museum on campus, so check one out.

    Attend a poetry slam

    If you’re dating the angsty artist type, then this is a date that he or she will most definitely appreciate! And even if you two aren't exactly Shakespeare’s biggest fans, these modern-day poets who take the stage often take urban themes and translate them into exaggerated, fun and heartfelt performances – so it’s definitely not the snoozefest that your Intro to Poetry class might be! Most likely, one of your favorite local cafes or bookstores will be hosting a poetry slam.

    Get a massage together

    Stressing over that upcoming midterm? Chances are, your S.O. is stressing about something too (welcome to college!). So why not propose that the two of you unwind with a good massage? Check out health services on your campus to see if they offer massages – some offer them to students and faculty at a much cheaper price than you would find at a spa. If not, look for Groupons and other deals on massages in the neighborhood.

    Spend a snow day

    Just because we’re responsible, grown-up collegiettes doesn’t mean that we can’t act like little kids every once in a while and what better way to do that than to drag your Valentine’s Day date outdoors for some wintry fun? Did someone say, “Classes are canceled?" Well no, not exactly. But you can still spend the day sledding, building snowmen and making snow angels. And if a snowball fight should happen to ensue and you “just happen” to fall on top of each other… well, you can thank us later.