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Dating in college can be one of the most challenging aspects of the college experience. For some it will be easy; they may have come to college with their high school sweetheart and some may meet their “soulmate”. While for others it may be a bit challenging as they attempt to discover who they are and what they want or maintain a long-distance relationship. Regardless of your status there are a few things that you can do to safely navigate dating, love and everything in between.

There are three rules to take note of when it comes to dating:
1. Be comfortable with who you are. Before you start dating, you want to be comfortable in your own skin, confident in who you are, and know what you have to offer someone. Lacking confidence could make you susceptible to potentially harmful relationships.

2. Healthy relationships do not hurt. If you are in a situation where you are being physically, verbally, emotionally, or mentally abused…LEAVE!! This is a nonnegotiable component of dating! If you are being harmed in any way, you need to remove yourself immediately. Talk to a counselor about your concerns and remember who you are and what you bring to a relationship.

3. Know your intentions and find out theirs. No one wants to be led on, develop an emotional attachment and later find out that their feelings/intentions were not reciprocated. Be honest and up front about what you want and do not want. Just want to be friends; say that. Looking to be in a relationship; say that. Not looking to date anyone; say that.

Dating on campus can be challenging and difficult to navigate, below are a few tips.
1. Find out more about the person. Like their major, extracurricular activities, and friends that have on campus. See if you have things in common.

2. Learn more about the person’s dating history. Do they have a dating history with others the campus, do they have a reputation when it comes to dating on campus, or do they bring any drama to dating?

3. Have fun. Dating should be fun. Go out, spend time together, and enjoy each other’s company. Go out together and as a group to experience each other in both settings.

4. Stay focused. Your goal while in college is to ultimately graduate. Do not allow dating to interfere with that goal. The same goes for working, completing internships, and shadowing. Dating should never impact the factors that dictate your ability to graduate. Your school assignments should not be jeopardized, arrive late or missing classes, and simply not studying (enough) should not be a result of you dating. You want a partner that will encourage you to be your best self and accomplish the goals you have.

Long distance relationships require communication, trust, and patience. Below are a few tips:

1. Set expectations in the beginning. Let your partner know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. If you can only call once a day or visit once a month or want to video chat each night vocalize those requirements in the beginning. Come to an agreement with your partner, so you both have an understanding. Be sure to communication any new expectations should your needs change.

2. You will need to trust your partner. This may be the hardest part of the long-distance relationship. You will not always know where your partner is or what they are doing, but you must trust that they are being honest and doing what they say they are doing.

3. Long distance relationships also require a lot of patience. You will not always get to see your partner. Travelling can be expensive, so the face-to-face interactions will not always be feasible. With technology today, you can make the most of video and phone capabilities and it helps to make the time apart more bearable.

4. Do not let jealousy or loneliness ruin the foundation you have built with your partner. It is hard to see other couples having fun and doing things that you desire to do with your partner. Find other ways and thoughts to occupy your time and mind. Go out with friends, study with classmates, join organizations, get a job, or even volunteer. Do other things to occupy your time until you can reunite with your partner once again.

Dating in general can be very complex, now add in college and possibly long distance. You can imagine all the work that will be needed for relationships to flourish and grow. Use the tips above as a foundation as you explore dating on campus or navigating a long-distance relationship. Talk to family, friends, and professionals as needed as you navigate through the dating world.

He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened

-Lao Tzu

February is nationally known as the month for love.  What started during the Roman Empire as a way for young men to find their maidens has evolved into a $15 billion dollar industry.  Valentine’s Day is a great way to celebrate the love you have for your partner and the people that are special to you….but what about the people that do not have a partner?  That is okay! You too can celebrate Love.  Singles Awareness Day is term that has been appropriately named as an alternative for singles on Valentine’s Day.  Use this day to celebrate, get to know, and love yourself.

Being single on Valentine’s Day is not a life sentence; it is just one day to recognize the people that you love.  Starting with you, do something special; take time to recognize yourself. Focus on appreciating the things you do have in your life.  Love will come, but only when the time is right.  College is the time for self-discovery.  Use this time to learn more about what makes you tick and how you can grow.  You should not be overly focused on being single or looking for a partner.  Love comes when you least expect it and last when you are happy with yourself.

Think outside the box this year. Instead of sulking, find new ways to celebrate Valentine ’s Day and showcase the love you have for yourself, for your friends and for your family.  Below are ideas to consider for celebrating Valentine’s Day:

  • Remember the little character valentines and you passed out to your classmates in elementary school.  Consider giving some to your RA, your floormates, or classmates.
  • Do something nice for the people you work with; everyone loves chocolate.
  • Go to dinner with friends. Dress up and make it a real fancy affair.
  • Make cards/crafts for a children’s hospital.
  • Have a small gathering in your room of your single friends.
  • Make cookies/cupcakes for the custodial staff.
  • Wear red. It is also Healthy Heart Month.
  • Visit a nursing home. Bring joy to someone who may not get visitors very often.
  • Go speed dating try something new and possibly meet some really cool people.
  • Buy coffee and donuts for the staff meeting.
  • Make a compilation of your favorite love songs.
  • Invite friends over to watch your favorite love movie.
  • Send your parents a valentine’s day card.
  • Attend an RAs program.  RAs try to think of activities to keep you busy.
  • Cook a meal in the community kitchen.
  • Try something new!

Whatever you choose to do this year to celebrate Valentine’s Day remember it is just one day and the goal is to focus on you and the people you love.