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Informal Guide to Love, Sex, and Dating

As a follow-up to last week’s hook-up does and don’ts, here’s an informal guide to love, sex, and dating at the Claremont Colleges. This is written from my experience as a heterosexual female and should not be taken in any way as an generalization of the dating scene at the colleges or of every woman’s experience with love, sex and dating.

It’s first semester sophomore year. I have a single and I’m officially single for the first time in three years. Exciting, right? Mostly scary. When I started this journey, I had almost no idea how the dating scene worked at the Claremonts, and neither did most of my friends. I had heard the classic stories from some of my girl friends wondering whether or not a guy liked them, whether or not they should text him, how long they should wait to do so, etc. That semester, I learned the most about myself than I ever had before. Through trial and error (and many tears shed), as well as the advice of many of my friends I came up with some tips for love, sex, and dating at the Claremont Colleges:

Know your worth

All right, so this may seem like I am preaching to you, but really. Know your worth. If a guy is not treating you right, stand up for yourself! I had a friend who was dating a guy who never talked to her over the weekdays, didn’t answer her texts, nada. When they hung out on the weekends, she acted as though nothing had happened. That’s not OK! If you feel that you are not being respected in any way, you have a right to say something about it. Rule #19 of one of my favorite guides to dating, Glamour’s 31 Things I Wish I’d Known About Dating When I Was 21, states that “ your wants and needs are just as important as his, and if you don’t express them because you think it will scare him away, then you’re saying you don’t count as much as he does” If you’re worried about him leaving or no longer being interested, then he obviously doesn’t know your worth.

Figure out your boundaries

Being single and living in a single meant I had the freedom to do a lot of things, if you know what I mean. But just how much was OK? No one had ever given me any hard and fast rules. I agreed that in a relationship it was best to wait until you felt completely comfortable with the person. But what if you weren’t looking for a relationship? What if you wanted to be an independent woman, a sexually independent woman? You have the right to feel good right?

Maybe. After months of random dating and hookups, I realized that, for me, being a sexually independent woman did not mean having sex with whomever I pleased, it meant respecting my body enough to save it for someone who would respect it back. Sure, there are some women that can be emotionally detached enough to have flings and come out of them fine, but I’m not one of them, and I know a lot of us aren’t.

In my experience, sex with a stranger is completely awkward. You’re worried about looking good, while making sure he’s feeling good. You don’t know his favorite spots and he doesn’t know yours. And you’re supposed to enjoy yourself in all of this? Moreover, casual relationships almost rarely work out. Both parties have to be completely honest with each other about what they want from the interaction and have an understanding never to develop feelings for each other. Sounds like a commitment to me. Figure out what your boundaries are.

Everyone is different, and a lot of it does come from trial and error. But remember that if you do make a mistake and go too far with someone, it’s OK. College is a place of exploration and if you never do certain things you may always wonder about them.

Keep to your boundaries

Once you figure out what it is that you’re comfortable with, keep to it! What helps for me is letting my best friend know how far I plan to go with someone when the night begins, that way she can keep me on check if I’m tempted to do otherwise. Alcohol obviously makes this a lot more difficult. Be honest with yourself about what it is that you’re really looking for. Deep down, for me, I knew that I was a relationship person. And yet, with the pressure that is college, I tried to do otherwise. Eventually I realized that though I had fun dancing and interacting with guys at parties, I would have to go into it with the mindset that I wouldn’t be meeting my future boyfriend. If I did meet someone with whom I felt I had a connection, I would hold off on doing anything physical and just give him my number. If he called within the next week, awesome! I’d make sure to hang out with him during the week rather than solely on the weekend. If he didn’t call back, which happened more often than not, I’d move on and not look back. Realize that this is a time of exploration for many, and most people are thinking about themselves first. Protect yourself! Which brings me to this next point.

Do you

Do you

College is the best time to be single. You’re figuring yourself out, taking great classes, meeting great people, and going to fascinating talks… There is so much to do on campus that it’s a wonder how we can even have time to date. Plus, many of us, myself included, plan on going abroad our Junior Year, which makes being in a relationship tough. And with the huge regional diversity on campus, it’s likely that you’ll meet someone who lives far away from your hometown. Enjoy yourself! More often than not, the best kind of relationships come unexpectedly when you’re too busy working on bettering yourself. If things don’t work out with a guy or if you’re feeling down, remember that you are at one of the most amazing colleges in the world and working to take on the world no matter what it is you’re doing!

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