The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why your single friend always gives the best relationship advice

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.

For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.

I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.

So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?

Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.

The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.

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Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?


Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.

Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.

Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.

Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.

I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.

Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.

In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.

Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.

Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.

We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.

The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.

I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.

And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.

Happy dating!

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Mental Health Love + Sex Love

Tinder ruined my mental health — here’s what happened

After several failed romantic attempts during my sophomore year of college, I gave in and downloaded Tinder.

Dating apps were extremely popular in the network of universities in my area, and despite being staunchly against them, I succumbed to the swipes. Several of my best friends used dating apps frequently, including one who had met her boyfriend through Tinder. So I thought, why not? Not much else has worked so far.

I carefully crafted my profile, obsessed over selecting a variety of five different pictures that I looked good in and best showed my personality. I linked my Spotify account to show my music taste and added in a cheeky bio. After hours of scheming and brainstorming, I looked down at my handiwork. I hardly recognized myself, a foreigner with a couple of posed, artificial photographs. This is who guys would see, who people would make snap judgments about. I felt sick but continued to activate my profile.

I became infatuated with the attention and the swiping.

The matches slowly rolled in, followed by cheesy pick-up lines, awkward gifs, and heart-eye emojis. Despite my lack of interest in several of the people I matched with, I became infatuated with the attention and the swiping. Tinder felt like a game where I could talk to as many people as I wanted to, ghost them, flirt with them, and more. The people I was matching with began to feel just endless, disposable pixels. As a result of that, I too started to feel replaceable and hollow, like I didn’t matter.

Finally, one guy and I made a connection. He seemed witty, kind, and we had great banter, so we exchanged numbers and set up a coffee date later that week. I was ecstatic and felt like my roller coaster emotions about Tinder finally had paid off

A few days later, I took the train into the city to meet up with him. I had all the usual first date butterflies and arrived at the coffee shop a bit early to ease my nerves and find a table. I waited and watched people migrate in and out of the cafe. He was late. At last, after about 20 minutes, he gave me a call, apologized for running behind, and that he would be there in a few minutes. When he sat down, something immediately seemed wrong. It was like all of the pixels that I had swiped left and right on were facing me at once. The eyes I was looking at felt empty. I wanted to throw up.

Tinder felt like a game where I could talk to as many people as I wanted to, ghost them, flirt with them, etc.

The date went fine. It was short, lasting only 30-45 minutes. We made small talk, he told some funny jokes, and while I so desperately wanted to like him, I didn’t. He walked me back to my bus stop, we hugged awkwardly, and he said he would text me later to set up another date, and I agreed. I cried quietly the entire bus ride home while staring numbly at his Tinder profile. 

My friends encouraged me to go on a second date. You just need to get to know more, they quipped. There’s nothing wrong with him. They were right. He seemed perfectly nice, but there seemed to be something wrong with me. I grew more and more anxious after he tried to set up a second date. I sobbed for hours every time I looked at Tinder, and felt like a physical embodiment of my manufactured profile: expendable and unimportant. Just another profile. I didn’t like how Tinder made me feel and how it allowed for me to judge others without considering their humanity. 

I didn’t like how Tinder allowed for me to judge others without considering their humanity. 

With my anxiety and depression worsening, I sought out the counseling services on campus. There I was able to work through my feelings about love, dating expectations, and self-care. I realized that I needed to stop forcing myself to date just for the sake of finding the one. And that I needed to love myself and take care of my mental health before investing in someone else. 

I canceled the second date with the coffee shop date, stating that he seemed like a great guy, but I wasn’t emotionally ready to be dating right now. Then I deleted Tinder profile and the app, and a sense of pent up relief consumed me. 

Tinder works for plenty of people, and that’s perfectly ok. I know plenty of people that have found their significant others and spouses on dating apps. Coincidentally, I had matched with my current boyfriend of almost a year and a half but had ignored his messages on the app. A few months later, some mutual friends introduced us. 

Love shouldn’t be forced.

Whether it’s through Tinder or real life, dating can be horrible and/or wonderful. Regardless of how you are meeting people, make sure you feel comfortable and emotionally ready to put yourself out there. 

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Love + Sex Love Music Pop Culture

13 signs your love life is basically a SZA song

It’s been three years since SZA blessed our ear concha with her certified platinum album Ctrl… and fans and R&B critics alike are thirsting for more. Earlier this year a promising tweet sparked rumors of a 2020 release, and to fuel the suspense further I’ve had her entire discography on repeat.

Screenshot of SZA's response "I’d say the date me and punch jus discussed .. but that would stress me n build uneccesary pressure 🥺.. short answer is yes" to "are we getting anything this year ma’am i’m STARVING."
[Image Description: Screenshot of SZA’s response “I’d say the date me and punch jus discussed .. but that would stress me n build unnecessary pressure 🥺.. short answer is yes” to “are we getting anything this year ma’am i’m STARVING.”] Via Twitter
In the meantime, here are 13 signs that your love life resembles a SZA song (stay tuned for Ctrl 2 to determine whether they’re auspicious):

1. The perfect work-love life balance still seems like a picturesque myth.

From “petty dues” to “shitty news,” you find yourself constantly engulfed in the ropes of hustle culture – even if it means running on Broken Clocks in the ceaseless pursuit of perfection. 

2. You question your own emotional maturity and fear pushing your partner’s patience.

If you feel like your relationship parallels the cop-out Prom ending to a cliche teen rom-com, don’t fret; even SZA bodies these insecurities. 

3. You find yourself measuring your self-worth with your crush’s potential love interests.

Maybe you find yourself resonating more with the identity-fogged Drew Barrymore of the ’90s, and maybe it’s ok to feel “not more ladylike” in your soul-searching. Regardless of how intimidating “her mom jeans and her new Vans” are, it’s time to recognize your self-worth as independent of external factors. Yes, you are “warm enough.” 

4. You seek someone who can ground you with endless emotional reassurance.

Like SZA in Garden (Say It Like Dat), your emotions (and insecurities) run deeper than being “sensitive about havin’ no booty.” You crave emotional vulnerability in a relationship yet fear the consequences of baring all to a significant other. 

5. The “falling” part of “falling in love” scares you more than anything.

Being “down for the ride” is placing uninhibited trust in someone who could make or break your fall – which is easier sung than done.

6. Still, you’re capable of being your own cheerleader.

If a cheer chant was an SZA song, this would be it. Even in the face of massive disappointment, nobody says “Go, Gina, go Gina” better than you do.

7. You have no qualms getting even with a cheater.

Step 1: “Let me tell you a secret/I’ve been secretly banging your homeboy.”
Step 2: “Oh no, she didn’t, ooh yes, I did/Oh no, she didn’t, I’ll do it again.”

8. You’re ambivalent to, or even emboldened by, being “the other woman.”

You’re not afraid to challenge patriarchal dating norms like SZA, who repackages the side hoe position as a part-time job that she’s got “covered for the weekend.”

9. You romanticize the past based on old relationships.

Perhaps in fear of closing out a decade with personal purpose, you mentally keep yourself “stuck in them 20 somethings.” 

10. When necessary, you’re not afraid to “Skrrt skrrt” farewell on someone who’s playing games.

You’ve got places to see, things to go to, and plenty more people to do… you see your time as too precious to “cry over spilled milk.”

11. “You could never trivialize” your sex life.

You believe in uplifting the vagina like Doves in the Wind, as emblems of peace and power instead of a means to commodify women’s bodies. 

12. Passive-aggressive communication styles really grind your gears.

You’re not a Normal Girl (but really, who is?), but you bounce back and forth deciding whether you’d want to be one. Moreover, you’d rather “pop your top” and face conflict head-on than let resentment for your partner fester within. 

13. Scratch “nice guys.” You have a thing for “gentle giants.”

Your schedule has no room for toxic masculinity – you need a “phoenix among feathers” willing to fly a relationship forwards with soft gusto.

Finding Love Galore in the current era can feel as hard as attempting to locate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in modern-day Iraq, but thankfully, each SZA song just gets it.

Editor's Picks Love + Sex Love Life Stories

It took years to go on my first date – I still don’t know why

I didn’t go on a date until I was almost 24. This wasn’t because I was against dating so much as the fact that no one had ever asked me on a date.

But there I was, two weeks away from my birthday and a guy on Tinder asked if we could get a drink that night. It felt too rushed and I like to take things slow. I would be happy talking to a guy over text for weeks or months before meeting in person – but I said yes. Mostly because my coworkers urged me to, but partly because it felt just impulsive enough to be right.

It didn’t end up going anywhere. My second-ever date a few months later also didn’t lead to anything, but the two of them combined, mere months apart when I’d waited almost 24 years for a first date, felt like a sign – that times were changing. It felt like maybe, just maybe, I was finally becoming someone who dated.


Now two years have gone by and I’m starting to wonder if I’m not well on my way to another 24 years without a date. 

Again, it’s not that I haven’t tried or wanted to date. In fact, maybe I’ve wanted it too much. Maybe I’ve poured too much of my self-esteem into getting a date, a follow-up date, a relationship. 

These two years in a “dating desert” have been a rollercoaster. Some days I believe there’s something wrong me — surely there’s something wrong with me if I can’t get anyone to want me! 

Other days I’m convinced it’s not me, it’s them; the men of the world are just not looking at me the right way, not seeing all that I have to offer.

Ultimately, I think it’s neither of the two. What I try to remind myself (when I can), what I try to make myself believe, is that there’s nothing wrong with not dating.

This is something that I absolutely know and believe in my mind and sometimes even in my heart. I know so many great people who haven’t dated, or who did date but never married, or who did all the above but are alone now; and that’s not just fine, that’s good.


Because everyone has their own story to tell, everyone’s life is its own beautiful narrative, and it can’t all look the same.

I think back on the things I wanted as a child (married by 19, multiple children by my mid-twenties, living in South Carolina for my whole life) and I have to laugh.

That’s not my life at all.

I’m a single 26-year-old in New York City who can barely manage to feed herself most days; a brood of children would be supremely unlucky to have me as their mother at this stage. 

But as a kid, all I wanted was the story of dating in high school, engaged in college, married by graduation, family a few years later. I didn’t succeed in that plan obviously since I didn’t date in either high school, college, or even grad school. And I thought it made me broken.

I thought it meant I was unlovable, undesirable, and flawed in a way that couldn’t be fixed. Sometimes, if I’m being honest with you (and myself) I still feel that way. But that doesn’t make it true. 

Just because I feel broken doesn’t mean I am broken. 

More importantly, my time in single-dom is teaching me something very important: how to love myself. That’s something I’ve always struggled with. My self-esteem has lived at the bottom of the ocean for much of my memory, and I’ve lived with depression and anxiety since high school; all of that combines to make me not just dislike myself, but outright hate who I am much of the time. 


Being single forces me to reckon with that.

I can’t default to finding my value in the fact that a man loves me because there is no man who loves me. I can’t ignore the feelings of being undesirable, because they’re ever-present. 

It’s hard for me, as someone who desperately craves human connection and wants a so-called “forever person,” to come to terms with the fact that I don’t have that

I think it’s okay to want a relationship and be sad that I don’t have one. I do think what’s not okay is beating myself up over it. 

That’s what I’m trying to stop. Instead of looking at this amount of time with no dates as a desert, I’m going to look at it as just another stretch of ground on the journey of life, if you will.

Maybe it’ll last forever; maybe it’ll end tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m going to remind myself and everyone around me that there’s nothing wrong with being single and learning to love yourself.


3 important questions to ask each other before an arranged marriage

Arranged marriages continue to be commonly practiced in many cultures.

An arranged marriage involves having a potential spouse suggested by parents, friends or other family members. The two people are often given the opportunity to talk and hang out before sealing the deal. For this reason, anyone in that position should have a list of questions to ask their potential future spouse in order to understand if they are compatible.

While it is good to know what shows they watch on Netflix or what kind of music they like, I think everyone can spend their time a little better if they have a list of questions prepared. Inspired by Yasmin Nassiry, a la YasGuru, a matchmaker and relationship expert, these three questions are perfect to build a list off of.

1. Find out their core values.

Barack Obama when he was the President of the U.S. speaks on TV
[Image description: Barack Obama when he was the President of the U.S. speaks on TV.] via Giphy
We are pulled towards people who have the same core values. Look at your longest relationships and think about why you get along with those people. It’s often because you have shared values and you gravitate towards them. Someone you get along with doesn’t necessarily need to have the same taste in music or clothes. That’s a superficial and immature way of thinking. Just because two people like to watch different shows doesn’t mean they won’t get along.

We are not closest to people who are our clones. We are often closet to people who respect the same things we do and who in general have similar values. If you are someone who values education for example, and you meet someone who thinks education is useless, then you need to think about how well you can get along with that person. It’s not that he or she has to be highly educated, but if you pursue further education and your spouse continuously questions why you are studying or doesn’t value your learning, then that leads to fundamental problems down the line.

This also means that you have to figure out what some of your core values are so that you can make sure that your potential spouse has some of those same values.

2. Figure out what your major deal-breakers are!

 A woman wearing a bandana shakes her head and says, "Oh Hell no!"
[Image description: A woman wearing a bandana shakes her head and says, “Oh Hell no!”] via Giphy
The next thing you need to find out is what is a deal-breaker for you and if the person you are considering for marriage has any of those issues. These are factors that are absolutely non-negotiable and if you compromise on them, you’ll end up miserable. Compromising is required in any relationship, especially marriage, but there are certain things that people either don’t have the patience for or don’t believe in at all. You need to ask your potential spouse how he/she feels about those factors because it could lead to difficulties later.

For example, if you’re absolutely against drinking alcohol, for religious reasons or otherwise but your potential spouse drinks, even casually, you need to consider if that will become a problem later in the marriage. Going into a relationship knowing that he or she drinks and asking them to change afterward is unfair. This shouldn’t be a list of 100 things by any means, but knowing a few things that you absolutely cannot compromise on is important to have a successful marriage.

3. Spend time together in a public place.

A woman with long dark hair and a white blouse is saying, "So rude."
[Image description: A woman with long dark hair and a white blouse is saying, “So rude.”] via Giphy
This one might seem obvious, but sometimes the reason to go out is not just to spend time together. Going out with someone in public, especially to a restaurant, gives you the chance to observe how your potential spouse interacts with others. Let’s be honest, when you meet someone for marriage, they’re often putting their best foot forward and showing you their best side, which is great. But, people often lie when they first meet someone. People tend to act nicer than they actually are or act more accommodating than they are in general. So you want to give yourself some time and see your potential spouse interact with others to get an idea of how they behave.

Is your date nice to the waiter or are they rude? If the food comes out cold or takes too long how does he or she react immediately? Are they quick to get angry? See if you can spend time in a few different settings and be aware of how your date is treating others because that is probably how they will treat you eventually. Observation is key!

Now that you have a few things to consider, this should make it easier to separate the absolute no-gos from the realistic potential spouses. But remember, this also requires that you get to know yourself first and what you think is important in life.

Without that, you’ll never find the partner right for you.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I’m a nonbinary person – and that makes dating hell

“You seem cool, but I think being nonbinary is pretty weird… like, what does that even mean?”

Whenever I go on dates or have casual hookups, this is generally the type of conversation I get. This is a direct quote from the last hookup I had.

I use they and them pronouns because I’m nonbinary. Identifying as nonbinary is different for everyone, but for me, it means I don’t feel like I’m a boy or a girl. I’m a mix of both and neither at the same time.

I’ve been out for almost a full year now. I live my everyday life refusing to conform to society’s standards of what a man or a woman is like. I like to hang out somewhere in the middle. Sure, some days I dress more femme, and other days I dress more butch. But every day, I am trying to overcome the binary.

As someone who loves love, and to be loved, dating as a gender non-conforming person has been tricky. When I say dating, I mean everything from casual hook-ups all the way up to long-term relationships. It’s not just about people respecting me and caring for me, it’s about having to constantly educate people so they are able to respect and care for me properly.

Most dating apps, like Tinder, don’t have nonbinary options available when it comes to selecting a gender. The apps are always asking if I’m a man or a woman. I always have to put into my bio that I identify as nonbinary, to then be harassed by the people I matched with.

Where are our apps? Why isn’t there a nonbinary option on Tinder or Bumble?

(Side note: Grindr does have a nonbinary option. You go, Grindr. Love you.)

Questions like “so what kind of junk do you have?” are a common occurrence when I use dating apps. So I just don’t anymore.

But it’s not just dating apps.

Dating as a nonbinary person is so exhausting because it often requires teaching other people. I don’t want to sit down to dinner and explain my identity, the history of the word, or anything else. I’m there to connect with someone – hopefully, someone who doesn’t care about why I wore a blazer instead of a dress, or vice versa.

I also want to stop feeling unsafe when I go on dates.

I tend to choose pretty good suitors when I actually meet them, but there have been times when I have disclosed my gender identity and my sexuality (yes, they’re different) and the atmosphere changed. Suddenly I was looking for a way out because I had made the mistake of trusting someone who decides whether people are worthy of life depending on how they chose to express themselves.

The last hookup that I had told me that me not being okay with him calling me ‘she’ was “off-putting… and kind of weird, honestly.” I didn’t take it lightly.

His actions are on him, because he didn’t educate himself before meeting me, and he chose to be disrespectful. No one should feel bad about wanting people to respect their pronouns.

To cis folks who want to date us, but think we’re weird and don’t use our proper pronouns:

We don’t need to date you.

For the people who want to date us, love us, sleep with us or just be with us, here’s some advice.

I would recommend seeing one of my good pals, Google. Read up on what being gender non-conforming is. Ask us what our pronouns are, and correct yourself if you mess up. Watch the movies Hedwig and The Angry Inch and Shortbus. They will hurt your heart and teach you a great lesson. While you’re educating yourself, remember to simply be a decent person. Everybody has trans and gender non-conforming people in their lives, whether they know it or not.

As the Spice Girls famously said:

“If you wanna be my lover, you’ve gotta respect my pronouns, sexuality, and gender identity.”

That’s how the song goes, right?

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I am sick of being a manic pixie dream girl

I remember reading The Fault in Our Stars the summer the movie came out. There was a lot of hype around John Green books at that time, and I fell into it. I read a couple of his other books but to be completely honest, I didn’t really see the pull. They were interesting books for sure, but just not really my cup of tea. And call me cold and detached but I didn’t cry reading The Fault in Our Stars (or during the movie).

Yet, these books played an indirect role in my life for the next couple of years. I moved away from home, became the “new girl”, dyed my hair, wore thrift store clothes and basically didn’t care about anything.

If you’ve read a John Green book you know he likes to write about a certain stereotype of girl that was dubbed the manic pixie dream girl. This girl was outgoing but a loner, “crazy” but just the right amount, deep, and introspective (with what you might call a romanticized version of depression). She brings the main character out of his slump and changes his life with her wild, non-conforming personality.

Basically she’s perfect… but in a quirky, hipster way.

As a new girl at a new school with my teenage anger and ripped jeans, on the outside, I fit this box. I didn’t care about taking care of myself, so I would engage in reckless behavior. I didn’t really fit into any of the groups and didn’t make an effort to, so I become somewhat of a loner.

Now, as a teenage girl who just moved thousands of miles away from everyone she’s ever known and loved, I was dealing with a lot. All these manic-pixie-dream-girl boxes I checked were at their basic form destructive behavior. Yet I was told I was just “acting like a teenager” or even that I was trying to fit the manic pixie dream girl stereotype. I was brushed of as a teenager girl fangirling over something so hard I was trying to become it.

Guys would become interested in me like I was a science project. What was I going to do next? Would I fix them?

As I grew older, graduated and went to university I thought I could leave the annoying stereotype behind. But date after date I got told “you’re crazy, huh?” with a gleam in their eye like it was a compliment. Because apparently the fact I liked to change my hair color also meant I was going to want to go on a midnight road trip with them and solve all their mommy issues.

It took me a while to realize that the manic pixie dream girl stereotype was just another version of the “crazy girl” stereotype. She’s the girl who will go partying on a Tuesday night and then wake up on Wednesday with perfect makeup and no hangover as she makes you breakfast. She’s the girl who says unexpected shit that is just barely crossing some moral line but she’s so hot you don’t care. This girl is wild but not so wild you can’t bring her home to meet the parents.

Spoiler alert! This girl doesn’t exist!

Dudes would become surprised when my “dark past” wasn’t just something that made me deep and introspective but also something that gave me real problems. They would realize that crazy on a Friday was fun but crazy on Sunday morning was too much. And so I would become too much while simultaneously not enough as they compared me to this unachievable stereotype just because on the outside I looked like I would fit.

It’s stereotypes like these that directly shape how we feel about ourselves. To a certain extent we like labels, they tell us who we are, but only if we are the ones putting the label on. I never wanted to be the “manic pixie dream girl” and so it became a box I was constantly trying to break out of. But every move I made seemed to only confirm the stereotype.

So I gave up. I stopped dwelling on it. If I wanted a tattoo, I got it, if I wanted to wear jean on jeans, I did. I worked on myself and my education. I’m still somewhat of a loner, I still like bleaching my hair, but the difference is now I care about myself, and I care enough to not let some dude who wants to get me drunk and crazy look at me twice.

People can label me all they want, and they do. I still get told “you’re crazy” on dates but instead of laughing uncomfortably now I respond with “define crazy.”

Love + Sex Love Advice

This is how to know if someone’s into you

As young women who participate in modern dating through which we exercise our rights as rational individuals, capable of making decisions about our romantic life, we sometimes act irrationally.

I’ve had my fair share of encounters with men who I should and shouldn’t spend my time with and yet I still succumb to the predictable response of speaking to someone that probably isn’t worth my time.

Sometimes, I chase a man in hopes that he is unsure of his true feelings. Or in hopes that he doesn’t want to tell me how he feels because he is scared. Or he’s not ready. Or he just needs a little push.

And here is what I’ve learned from my experiences—if someone wants to be with you, they will be with you. Of course, every situation is different, and we cannot speak in binaries. However, there are disparities between these people.

Here are some signs that can help tell you whether a person is worth your time or not:

Here’s the one you should give your time to:

A gif of a boy saying "If you need to hear why I love you, I can go on all night."
[Image description: A gif of a boy saying “If you need to hear why I love you, I can go on all night.”] Via giphy

The person you should give your time to will make an effort to be with you.

If someone has feelings for you, and I mean true feelings that propel them to think about you and be with you in the long run, then they will make sure that you are aware of this. This person will get to know you, will compliment you and mean it. They will give you as much time and attention as you deserve, and they will make their intentions clear to you.

They will not play games with you, or fling words in your direction with hidden meanings that you spend long nights trying to uncover so that you can add missing pieces to a love puzzle that you have created in your mind.

You will just know.

And here’s the one you shouldn’t give your time to:

A gif of a girl saying "You are an asshole."
[Image description: A gif of a girl saying “You are an asshole.”] Via giphy

This person is someone that spends a long time treating you as more than a friend, only to eventually reveal that they do not have feelings for you.

The person who plays games and flirts enough to secure your attention, but not your heart. The person who confuses you with their actions and mixed signals. The person who calls you when it suits them but refuses to see you when it suits you, who gives you enough attention to keep you out of the ‘friend zone’ but not enough to be in the ‘relationship zone’.

Still, there are moments when you refuse to believe what your eyes and their words tell you and, instead, you let your heart insert false information in your mind about them not being ‘ready to commit’ and needing ‘more time to realize his feelings’.

 A girl screaming out "boy bye"
[Image description: A girl screaming out “boy bye.”] Via giphy

It is a heavy battle, I get it.

Liking someone who does not return your feelings can make you unsettled. You start to question your worth. This is destructive to your emotional well being because your worth is not defined by anyone. You need to take care of your heart and the only way you can do this is by maintaining a safe distance from people who treat you this way.

And to do this, you must be prepared:

1. Learn to read the signs instead of trying to read between the lines.

2. Observe their behavior and actions—what do they tell you?

3. Ask them if they like you and if they say no, believe them.

4. Do not let them waste your time.

5. Lastly, don’t tell yourself that they want you, even though everything they say or do suggests the opposite. They aren’t worth it. 

 A girl saying "I don't need a man. I don't need anybody to make me OK. I'm fine by myself."
[Image description: A girl saying “I don’t need a man. I don’t need anybody to make me OK. I’m fine by myself.”] Via giphy

So if someone wants to be with you, they will make it clear to you.

You may not be able to control the way someone feels about you, but you can work on how much you love yourself.

Love + Sex Love Advice

7 do’s and don’t’s of dating more than one person at a time

In our current day and age, monogamy is the norm in most Western societies. Monogamy is a valid lifestyle choice, and many people feel comfortable dating only one person at once.

Many others, however, prefer ethical non-monogamy.

This is a blanket term covering different types of relationships in which some or all participants have multiple marital, sexual, and/or romantic partners. In other words, any type of consensual and thoughtful romantic or sexual setup outside the realms of monogamy. And it can be a viable choice for you! It’s time to destigmatize the concept of a multiple-partnered-lifestyle, as long as things remain honest, ethical, and safe.  

This spring, I took a dive into the world of non-monogamy, dating five men at once. Through some trials and tribulations, I came up with a helpful guide for choice-craving women to ethically date multiple people at once.

1. Do be honest.

GIF of someone saying, 'Being honest was the right thing to do'.
[Image description: GIF of someone saying, ‘Being honest was the right thing to do’.] Via GIPHY
If you’re looking for something casual, say it! If you want to continue to lead a multiple-partnered lifestyle, say it!

Communication is key if you’re serious about maintaining multiple relationships at once, whether they’re casual relationships or something a little more serious. It’s great to explore your options, it’s just not okay to lie about it.

2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

A GIF of two hands forming a pinky promise.
[Image description: A GIF of two hands forming a pinky promise.] via GIPHY
Don’t bring up exclusivity, don’t pitch visiting your cousin’s graduation in Chicago this November, and don’t yell out “I love you” during sex – unless of course, you really mean it.

Be upfront about your intentions.

3. Do take your time getting to know each person.

GIF from Bachelor in Paradise where someone is asking, "So you kind of like me?"
[Image description: GIF from Bachelor in Paradise where someone is asking, “So you kind of like me?”] via GIPHY
Getting to know people should be fun. I know it’s hard to avoid thinking what you could potentially be doing with each suitor a year from now (what’s their opinion on the name ‘Audrey’ for a girl?), but breathe in, breathe out, and do your very best to stay in the present moment.

Take your time learning about the people you are electing to spend time with! Dating’s a great way to do extraordinary activities you normally wouldn’t. Let these meetups be an escape from the grind, not an addition to it.

4. Don’t mix it up.

GIF of Kate Mckinnon on Saturday Night Live. She's saying, "Let me check my day planner."
[Image descriptions: GIF of Kate Mckinnon on Saturday Night Live. She’s saying, “Let me check my day planner.”] via GIPHY
Don’t text Fred about your reservation this Friday, when he’s under the name “Patrick.” Even if you’ve followed rule #1 and were honest about non-monogamy, you don’t need to add fuel to the jealousy fire by rubbing each suitor’s face in it.

We all think we’re smarter than the fable of the girl who texted evil comments about a person to that same person, and yet if you’re dealing with two parts fatigue mixed with one part “all these men have the most generic names on the planet,” then you’re bound to mess up. Keep codenames, keep a calendar organized by color, and keep it all private.

5. Don’t assume they’re not doing the same.

GIF of Donna from Parks and Rec saying "I have several men in rotation."
[Image description: GIF of Donna from Parks and Rec saying “I have several men in rotation.”] Via GIPHY
Just because Jared texts you once every thirty minutes and bought you an Arrested Development mug does not mean he’s solely dating you! If you’ve pitched the idea of non-monogamy to your partners and they’ve okayed it, it’s important to have a conversation about your partner’s intentions. Looping back to point #1, honesty is 100% essential for developing a healthy and ethical non-monogamous relationship.

And jealousy is a normal part of having multiple relationships.

But that doesn’t mean it has to consume you or cause you to take action. And of course, if the burn is too fiery, it may be time to have a dialogue with your preferred mate and talk about giving a one-on-one relationship a try.

6. Do use protection.

GIF of the sex education teacher from Mean Girls. He's holding out a box of condoms and saying, "Okay, everybody take some rubbers."
[Image description: GIF of the sex education teacher from Mean Girls. He’s holding out a box of condoms and saying, “Okay, everybody take some rubbers.”] Via Giphy
I’m not gonna tell you whether or not it’s okay to sleep with more than one person at once. That’s a call you have to make for yourself. But I am here to lecture you about protection like a hip NorCal single mom.

Until you’ve had an in-depth conversation with your partner(s) about who’s sleeping with whom, wrap it before you tap it.

7. Do schedule time for yourself.

A GIF of Oprah relaxing in a bubble bath. She's drinking champagne and smiling, and she's surrounded by candles.
[Image description: A GIF of Oprah relaxing in a bubble bath. She’s drinking champagne and smiling, and she’s surrounded by candles.] Via GIPHY
It’s easy to get caught up in the aforementioned color-coded calendar filled with drink plans, dinners, sexcapades, and wine sipping on the Barnsdall Art Park grass (go ahead, steal my place, I’m handing it to you) once you’ve committed to non-monogamous dating.

Don’t let it all become homework! When you need to take a night for yourself or your friends, by all means, take it! Get some Epsom salts, light a candle, and craft your breakup message while lying in a pool of bubbles. It’s cliché to say, but if you love yourself above all else, you can see non-monogamous dating for what it should be: an adventure.

It’s a big ocean out there with a lot of fish. Have fun, get messy, and remember to be upfront.

Love + Sex Love Advice

Dating in college? Here are six tips to help you balance love and coursework

When I stepped into the first broadcaster’s meeting for the University at Buffalo’s campus radio station, I didn’t expect to meet my future husband. But there he was, standing at the front of the room in a baggy sweatshirt and a backwards hat.

Many students end up exploring their interests and their amorous preferences while at college. It’s a time when you’re growing into yourself, and that growth means many people might try dating in college.

The Pew Research Center found that college is still a predictor of who people will marry. According to a 2011 survey, 28% of graduates met their spouses in college. That’s nearly one-in-three!

So how do you go from making eyes across a lecture hall to creating a life together? Here are a few tips to take the stress out of college dating, and make sure it’s more about discovery than distress.

1. Don’t be afraid to be boring

A GIF of Arthur, the cartoon aardvark, and his friends walking on the sidewalk. The caption reads, "Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card"
[Image description: a GIF of Arthur, the cartoon aardvark, and his friends walking on the sidewalk. The caption reads, “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card”] via GIPHY

There’s a lot of pressure to be exciting these days, especially for women. It seems like most college coming-of-age love stories involve brooding men and quirky, infallibly excited women. But it’s important to know that not everyone is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and the boring can be downright exhilarating when it’s with the right person.

Think coffee dates discussing philosophy, or sharing a table at the library studying for exams. Boring dates can also be the most accessible – because who can really reject a study date? Being boring means that you can also find time to get together – and not sacrifice your studies in Spanish for studies in anatomy.

2. Make use of free student events

GIF of Andre from Black-ish saying, "I have zero dollars".
[Image description: GIF of Andre from Black-ish saying, “I have zero dollars”.] Via GIPHY

The words ‘college student’ are most often preceded by the adjective ‘broke’. This means that pricey dinners or expensive bar tabs are probably out of the question.

Most people think that the free student events are boring, but you might be surprised. My college regularly had discounted tickets to off-broadway shows and free buses to get you there! Take a look at posters in the student union or in the campus newspaper to see what events you can get into for cheap. It’s a great way to have memorable dates without breaking the bank.

3. Cook together

A GIF of the Swedish Chef from The Muppets dancing and banging spoons against melons in his kitchen.
[Image description: A GIF of the Swedish Chef from The Muppets dancing and banging spoons against melons in his kitchen.] via GIPHY

When you’re living on ramen and dining hall food, a home cooked meal can be downright decadent. Instead of going out, split the bill at a local grocery store and cook together!

My partner and I tried to get together and cook one meal a week together – you’d be amazed at how fancy spaghetti and a jar of tomato sauce can feel.

4. Find your comfort level… and exceed it!

GIF of Kris Jenner saying, "This could be your new... like... hobby."
[Image description: GIF of Kris Jenner saying, “This could be your new… like… hobby.”] via GIPHY

College is a time for self exploration. You’ll never grow if you’re always comfortable.

Try new things, and use the discomfort to grow more comfortable with your partner. Whether that means taking a new class together, or an joining an intramural sport, you will find the opportunity to grow, and your partner will grow with you.

5. Don’t be afraid of breakups

GIF from a scene in New Girl where a character named Nick is being broken up with by his girlfriend, Carolyn. He has his hands over his ears and he's saying, "I can't hear you! That means we're not breaking up! No! La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!
[Image description: GIF from a scene in New Girl where a character named Nick is being broken up with by his girlfriend, Carolyn. He has his hands over his ears and he’s saying, “I can’t hear you! That means we’re not breaking up! No! La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!] via GIPHY

Dating in college might lead you to find a healthy, happy, life-long relationship. It could also lead to a breakup, whether ugly or amicable. It’s totally okay to try dating in college only to find that relationships – or that one particular partner – just isn’t for you.

Rejection hurts, but use the time to really do some self love and exploring. You might find that when you’re single, you find the passion to start a new relationship. Don’t stay in a bad relationship for fear of being single – a college experience is a terrible thing to waste.

6. Be yourself

GIF of someone saying, "Be yourself, because who you are is brilliant."
[Image description: GIF of someone saying, “Be yourself, because who you are is brilliant.”] via GIPHY

I was not nearly the same person in senior year as I was in freshman year, and you won’t be either. Enjoy this time of self exploration, and aim to be unapologetically and unironically yourself.

If you like to fall in love fast – fall in love fast, and don’t let anyone shame you by calling you ‘clingy’ or ‘needy’. If you are distant, be distant and explore the wonderful world around you. It’s impossible to find love if you’re wearing a mask.

Remember that you’re at college to learn and grow, both inside and outside of the lecture halls. One of the ways you can do that is through creating and nurturing relationships. Whether you decide to try dating in college or not, remember to prioritize your own emotional and physical health!

Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why dating scares you (and how to dump that fear!)

Dear Madame Lestrange,

My mom and therapist say it’s time for me to start dating. I’m finishing up high school. They say it’s what people my age do, but I’m actually scared to be that emotionally invested in someone.

Any tips?

Thank you,

Scared to Date.


Dear Scared to Date,

Dating can be scary, but it can also be exhilarating. The thing is that a lot of us have the wrong idea about what it means to go on a date. We have this image of a prospective partner surrounded by a hazy Hollywood glow. They’re funny, smart, and interesting, and they offer to pay for the bill. They’ll walk you home and, in a sweep of lusty excitement, will lay a life-changing kiss on your lips. The entire soundtrack from Twilight will play over and over again in your head the whole time.

And honestly? It could happen. You could have a romantic, perfect encounter on your first date, but you could also have a pretty boring time. Hell, you could even have a downright terrible time.

The fact is that the experience of dating is different for everyone. It’s meant to be fun because you get to meet new people, learn more about yourself, and gain some hilarious stories to take with you on life’s journey. So don’t overthink it.

But as much as this is true, you should date when you are ready for it. Some people choose to date in high school, some people choose to date in university. In fact, some people would rather wait until they’re done with their education to even consider going on a date.

And all of it is “normal.” Again, we have this idea in our minds about what is the normal thing to do, but the truth is that “normal” doesn’t really exist.

So find your own normal, girl. And when you do, revel in it.

You’re welcome,

Madame Lestrange.


Do you have any questions for Madame Lestrange? She’ll answer your questions on love, sex, and relationships. Send all of your burning questions to or fill out our anonymous form here.

Love + Sex Love

Online dating advice ruined any chances I had with my crush

Yes, I’ve never actually dated, or been in a relationship – but I’m still pretty sure that an “internet Ph.D.” can’t tell me shit about who I should date or how I should date.

In this beautiful (yet painful) age of technology, everyone has an opinion. In all fairness though, everyone always had an opinion. They just didn’t have a device and the resources to share that opinion with the world instantaneously. But now that we all do, we use this to our best efforts – mostly.

I was 15 or 16 years old when I first stumbled upon them: “10 Signs He’s Into You,” “Here’s Why Your Relationship Needs Work,” “Studies Say This Is What Makes People Cheat,” etc.

15-year-old me was rather naive and gullible – she’d never actually been in a relationship but she was convinced that she would ace them (when did she get into them) simply by absorbing all the wisdom she possibly could from articles online.

And so she tried. Unfortunately… it didn’t end well.

My teenaged self was so preoccupied with fitting every guy into this framework she’d constructed from articles she’d read online that she lost track of what she actually wanted.

As a result of this, my independent thought process got seriously skewed. I still struggle with relationships and dating because I take time to figure out if this is actually me talking, or that article I read 2 years ago?

We’re all victims of this. I know of friends who live for articles like these. They consume them like their favorite carbs on a daily basis.

We all want something to fall back on. But are we really going to let our intimate relationships get dictated by the likes of someone online?

One of my ‘almost’ relationships failed because I thought we had to talk about everything under the sun – it failed like a shitstorm even before it began. My point is – not every relationship is the same because not everyone is the same.

I’m not my friend. That article’s advice may have done good with her partner but it’s not necessary that it’ll do me good with mine. The people who write these articles have probably had success in their relationships or that aspect of their relationships and that’s great – good for them! But at the risk of sounding like a One Direction song, “They don’t know about the things we do, they don’t know about the I love you’s”.

Don’t let them generalize your relationship because they don’t know what you or your relationship are going through. Relationships are deeply personal affairs. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t publicize them on social media – if that’s your groove.  But you cannot seriously believe a stranger on the internet about what’s right and wrong in your relationship. In this case, stay away from strangers y’all – seriously.

There is no guarantee that just because this “trick” worked for 80% of couples, it’ll also work for you. You are not a statistic – and neither is your relationship.

Relationships are meant to be lived. The whole point of being with someone is to actually be with them. You’re not gonna be doing much of that if you’re busy ‘planning’ your relationship.

This is a sacred space between you and your partner, don’t let a know-it-all on the internet intervene and ruin it for you.

Your mind is a wicked little creature – if you let it be. Chances are, you’ll read an article about problems that probably aren’t even in your relationship and you’ll start believing they are.  We all fall prey to this black hole the internet has created that manipulates our thoughts so smoothly.

One of my friends asked me out once and I point blank told him no because I read an article once about body language and how guys should ask you out. I felt incredibly naive when I later discovered that the article was written by a someone.

That’s it – a someone.

They didn’t actually have a degree in body language and human behavior – they just had an opinion. My point is, even though I didn’t like my friend at the time in that sense, I still denied him a chance all because of a ridiculous article I read online.

Let your relationship or your dating life take its natural course – the way it’s meant to. That internet Ph.D. doesn’t know shit.

(Unless they’re actually a Ph.D. and make sense. Then maybe they know shit.)