Tag Archive | "relationships"

College hookup culture leads to vague relationship statuses

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

College hookup culture leads to vague relationship statuses

College students’ social lives include more hookups and casual hangouts than official dates. With new technology and vague terminology, it’s difficult to define what dating is on college campuses today.

“I thought things would be different in college—more responsible and mature—and it’s not,” said Megan Haugh, Michigan State University international relations major. “I feel like it’s just creating a society where it’s easier to hook up with random people.”

The term hookup can encompass anything from kissing to sex, according to the journal article Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review. Students talking to each other about hooking up leave the listener to interpret the word how they will; therefore people never really know how far their acquaintance went with their hookup.

Other vague terminology such as “hanging out” can have different meanings for different people.

“One guy last year kept saying, ‘You want to hang out?’ and I was like, ‘Are we dating? Is this a thing right now?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re sort of together, I guess.’ That’s so weird. You can’t just assume we’re dating,” Haugh said.

Many people think the word date implies a committed relationship, but if there is no clear communication, others are left confused.

Hooking up has become the normal relationship on campus, according to the journal article Hooking Up in Young Adulthood. Some college campuses even host relationship seminars to discuss the topic. Beatty Cohan, a psychotherapist, author and radio host, has given a presentation called “Rate Your Mate BEFORE It’s Too Late.”

Cohan said in an interview that she encourages women to set rules and parameters because they have a stake in what happens.

“If some guy came up to me and said, ‘Would you like to hang out?’ I would say ‘I would very much like to see you, but I would appreciate if you called me several days in advance, and I’d love to go out on a date,” Cohan said.

In that interaction, the dynamic is changed, and the asker now knows what the other person wants is a date.

“How else is the guy going to know that this casual hookup isn’t working, if all the girls are going along with it?” Cohan said.

Cohan said she doesn’t place all the responsibility for starting relationships on men; she is a strong advocate in women taking risks and initiating conversations with people they don’t know.

“We have to put ourselves out there; no one’s going to find us sitting in a dorm room,” Cohan said.

Haugh said she regards herself as old-fashioned—she would prefer that boys ask her out.

“Honestly, if a guy comes up to me face-to-face and asked me out, I’d always say yes to the first date. I actually feel like guys expect girls to ask them out now,” Haugh said.

Generations who experienced casual dating in their youth are sometimes confused by the lack of casual dating.

“I told my mom not to be surprised if I don’t get married. I’ll give her a grand-puppy,” Haugh said.

Although marriage rates are at historic lows, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cohan said she thinks people should stop looking at statistics and focus on their own relationships.

“You look at statistics that start with ‘everybody’s miserable,’ but that’s not true,” Cohan said. “ I think that even though larger culture certainly has changed and is changing, there’s no reason why you can’t find the things that are important to you in a relationship with someone.”

Many students rely heavily on texting, social media and dating apps to get to know their potential romantic interests. Years ago, people had to go on dates to find out a person’s favorite movie or where they went to college. Now, if their privacy settings aren’t strict, a quick search on Google or Facebook can reveal the desired information.

Joseph Walther, a telecommunication, information studies and media professor at Michigan State University, said people romanticize or reject others based on their social media profiles.

“People tend to present themselves online in pretty idealized ways. Sometimes they get an intense spiral of attraction that way,” Walther said.

Although there are a number of studies that suggest people lie online, Walther said none of those studies have demonstrated that people lie more online than they would offline. Walter said that people just display favorable aspects of themselves—like they would in a job interview. He said that people are able to make messages more attractive via texting and chatting.

“Nothing is an accident when you send it. I think you get a lot of uncontrolled communication when you meet face-to-face, and sometimes that can be a disappointment,” Walther said.

Posted in Featured, Sex & HealthComments (0)

PDA: How Much is too Much?

Tags: , , ,

PDA: How Much is too Much?

By Lauren Walsh

As I was sitting on the CATA bus the other day, a couple sitting next to me decided that it was the appropriate time to have a make-out session. Considering that I had just finished taking a terrible exam and felt somewhat under the weather, watching them exchange saliva made me feel as if I was going to regurgitate lunch. It’s understandable that Valentine’s Day has passed months ago, which may have an influence on all this public display of affection, but I also believe that there is a perfect time and place for everything. Whether it is, thanking your girlfriend for that amazing dinner, or showing your boyfriend how grateful you are for that obnoxious red hearted bear, this display of gratitude should have some kind of physical limit in public areas.

This is hard for me to say because I have always been a fan of PDA. I still believe that life is too short to not show somebody your love or affection, but I think that out of respect to the rest of us, there should be some ground rules. It’s as if the person you were sitting next to in class decided to let out flatulence without any warning or remorse; they decided to do it because they felt that it was important to them despite the olfactory damage inflicted. They’re ultimately the kind of person that will do that at a wedding or funeral, and while to some this may be disrespectful and shameful, others take pride in their public display of gas; similar to how others take pride in their PDA.

Although passing gas in public may be considered a funny quality, it exceeds the limit of proper social behavior, like PDA. People should take into consideration that when they’re in public, they can still act like themselves while respecting others. Otherwise we would live in a vulgar society, where people wouldn’t care about their fellow human beings; PDA should still exist, but with boundaries. Such as, how people view food superstitions like the five- second rule, where if their food drops on the floor, they have five seconds to pick it up before it gets contaminated with bacteria. This principle should be applied to PDA in the sense that, people should have a “ten-second rule” of having a make-out session. If I am on a thirty minute bus ride, I sure as hell do not want to see a reenactment of a love scene from the movie The Notebook, on my way home.

“PDA should be displayed appropriately, as if you were a parent in front of your children. Making-out for a long period of time in front of your children is as unsuitable as if you were to do it in front of others,” stated political science student, Leiana Monkman.

If you’re a passionate person, it’s easier to say that you’ll limit your practice of PDA rather than to actually do it. It’s not as if every time you go to kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend you’re going to time that kiss, its more about being aware of where you are at the moment and taking it into consideration. Personally, being passionate is one the best qualities somebody could have, but knowing where and how to display it makes it more admirable. When researching what others thought about PDA, I came across the public display of affection quiz at Gagirl.com and found it to be pretty accurate and amusing; here are some of the questions:

Is it ever okay to PDA in church or synagogue?

  • Never
  • Maybe
  • Every time you go.

At the movies, you sit:

  • In the middle row, in the center to get the best view.
  • Anywhere you can sit together and not get a neck cramp.
  • In the back row, nice and private!

And my favorite…

At a party Saturday night, you two spend how much time “upstairs” together?

  • There was an upstairs?
  • Maybe twenty minutes.
  • There was a party downstairs?

If you answered C to every question, Gagirl.com states, “Think twice before groping each other. You may be making everyone around you feel uncomfortable. Be especially careful in such public spaces as church or businesses, where it is taboo for intense PDA. We suggest you tone it down a few notches.”

So next time you’re in a class or on the bus with your girlfriend or boyfriend and they’re looking especially good that day, try to restrain yourself. Show them a preview and let your partner see the movie in a private place. Like I’ve stated in my previous article, “Patience is a virtue.”

The longer you wait to you let out your passionate side to your loved one, the more exhilarating it will feel when you finally have the right moment.

Posted in Personal Perspective, Sex & HealthComments (0)

TXT ME! Relationships and Texting Trouble

Tags: , , , , , ,

TXT ME! Relationships and Texting Trouble

By Erica Turner

As of 2011, the average 18-24 year old sent and received about 50 text messages per day.  One can only imagine that with the new iPhones, Blackberrys and other technologies, that number has only skyrocketed.  It is no surprise then that a majority of people use text messaging as a dominant means of communication with friends, family and partners out of convenience.

“I text my boyfriend during the day while he’s working and I’m at school,” said communications junior Taylor Lundgren. “We can’t talk on the phone because we’re both busy, but it’s an easy way to exchange brief messages throughout the day.”

Texting can be thought of as an art form; carefully structured with emoticons and extensive exclamation points to convey a certain message.  But these constructs mean different things to different people, so there can be a discrepancy between what you intended to say and what you actually said.

Sarcasm, voice inflection and other non-verbal cues are virtually non-existent over text messaging and can cause unnecessary problems or undesirable situations when communicating with partners.

“I don’t ever use sarcasm in a text message unless it’s accompanied by a smiley face or wording that’s obviously different from how I usually speak so that he can tell I’m in a silly mood,” said Lundgren.

But sometimes, it is not just the content of the text that is causing problems.  Lack of response or partners concealing text messages can cause just as many issues, if not more.

Photo Credit: Jenna Chabot

“I have gotten in an argument about that; for being shady about text messages,” said communications junior Kara Folas.  “Guys get really protective about their phone and who they’re texting, and I get annoyed about that very easily.”

Texting just adds an additional complex factor into the mix of communication and is commonly skewed, which is why it is important to not rely on it too much.

Relationship coach Quentin McCall said a majority of your communication with your partner should occur face-to-face.  McCall said that if 50 percent or more of your communication with your partner is by means of technology, it is time to reconsider your communication habits.

Also, realizing when texting is or is not the appropriate channel for communicating a message is can help you decipher between weather to use texting or an alternative method of communication.

For starters, whether you are interested in ending a relationship or taking it to the next level, text messaging is not the appropriate means of doing so.  Break-ups, first ‘I love yous’ and serious conversations should never be communicated through texting, e-mails or other technologies.

“I think its absurd to have serious talks via texting, but sometimes I find myself forgetting to say something to his face, or I rethink the situation and have different views or something to add, so I then use texting,” said Folas.

Folas also reported never ending a relationship via text out of respect for the other person, which seems to be the general consensus on campus.

“A text is among the most insulting ways to end a relationship with someone,” said supply chain management junior Joe Ferstle.

So keeping the content of the message appropriate for the channel will help you to competently communicate with partners, but texting still gives rise to other issues that are evident in relationships.

Texting lets partners be in constant contact with one another and can create pressure on those involved to keep the conversation going.  But this pressure can cause you to disclose information that you would not ordinarily in face-to-face interactions.

“I think texting is a really nice way to talk to your significant other throughout the day when you’re busy,” Lundgren said.

“I do think however that it takes away from face-to-face or verbal conversations during the ‘getting to know each other process.”

Psychologist John Suler said this is the result of disinhibition effect.

“It’s a double-edged sword.  Sometimes people share very personal things about themselves…and as a result intimacy develops,” said Suler.

But this intimacy can develop too quickly and leave feelings regret and awkwardness.

The disinhibition effect is caused by the lack of non-verbal communication cues that text messaging fails to convey.  Try to be conscious of this while texting, so that you can avoid unnecessary disclosure that could end up hindering your relationship.

But even when you are monitoring the content, situations and disclosure of your messages, the context where you choose to send messages is also a factor in communicating effectively.

Not only have miscommunications while texting destroyed existing relationships with the recipient, but they can also damage relationships of potential partners.

Ferstle said that it bothers him when people are texting during professional events or affairs where good manners are expected.

Texting while on dates or in the midst of a conversation with someone else can be seen as disrespectful, rude and can give people the wrong impression.  Be attentive to those you are with and save the texting for your own time.

However, despite all of the potentially negative effects, when texting is used correctly, it can be used to help relationships prosper.

“Texting is a good way to reach out and follow up with someone you’ve just met.  It is a more immediate way of telling the person you’re interested and would like to see him/her again,” said psychologist and author Diana Kirschner.

But be warned. Kirschner also said too much texting can be seen as overbearing and desperate.  Keep it in moderation and avoid the late night intoxicated texts to make sure you are not creating any problems or situations you will end up regretting later.

Clearly, texting is a convenient way to help partners stay in contact with each other, but its damaging effects should be recognized to help people avoid detrimental situations.  Use it correctly, and its positive effects will be evident in your current relationships and even help you generate a few new relationships.

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (0)

How Do You Know If You Can Trust Them?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How Do You Know If You Can Trust Them?

By Lauren Walsh

While break-ups are part of life and guide us for our next relationship, they somewhat restrain us from fully trusting our next potential partner.  This is based on how people try to rationalize their jealous or passive behavior caused by unfortunate experiences in their previous relationships. Trust shouldn’t be based on our previous heartbreaks, but rather should gradually develop with time-and sense of security. Many people begin relationships by immediately telling the other person to “trust them,” and once those words are said, a feeling of paranoia can follow. We begin questioning if we really do trust that person and wonder what exactly makes them trustworthy.

Trust is One of the Hardest Things to Gain in Relationships.

Since winter break has passed and spring break is just ahead, couples may separate from their highly intertwined daily college lives to visit their family or friends. While some return home to their high school friends or old flings, others may head to beaches where they’re surrounded by dental floss sized bikinis. These college breaks briefly turn these typically close proximity relationships into temporarily long distance ones. With this picture in mind, how are you confident that your partner is trustworthy?

“It’s normal for couples to separate during a break because I know that I’ll want to have fun with my friends at the club and I know that the guy I am seeing will want to do the same,” said  accounting junior Ally Waltman.

However, for business sophomore Alex Bergman, cheating in a situation like this would be the ultimate deal breaker.

“If I ever had a girlfriend who cheated on me, it would be the ultimate deal breaker,” Bergman said.

While it does sound practical, when has taking a break from your partner over vacations become the norm instead of spending time together? Has trusting your partner become so difficult that taking a break is like the new way to actually deal with a relationship? If people don’t want to be in a relationship, then they shouldn’t be — no breaks, commas or ellipses.

This is why the expectations of being trustworthy have dwindled in the first place because the definition of being “in a relationship” has changed. If a guy is into a girl and is seeing her exclusively but the girl is seeing other guys, not only will this cause heartbreak and an exchange of offensive words, but health risks could be involved.

“Relationships can be tricky things to define, and if you’re in one, you want to make sure that both you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to where you stand. You might think you’re only sleeping with each other, but the reality could be very different and very scary.”

The fact that almost twice the amount of women than men thought they were in a relationship is perplexing and unfortunate. What prompted the women to think they are in a relationship? Are they being misled?  Expecting too much?  Did three dates in one week become a “committed relationship?” Did he pick-up the tab, so a “we’re together” status was assumed?  Is it because girls are naturally born “nesters?”  Where is the fine line between dating and being classified as a boyfriend/girlfriend?

The most pragmatic solution is to discuss what the partners expect from their relationship. When a mutual understanding has taken place, then trust will ultimately follow.

Once trust is earned, no longer will flirting with random bodies in bikinis have an effect on your relationship. Besides, guys should have faith that their partner would rather be with them than hooking up with someone else — isn’t that the very least one should expect out of a relationship? On the other hand, it’s completely normal for guys to look at other girls; it is in their DNA, instigated by testosterone levels and the fact that guys are hunters.

However, Paul Newman once said, “Why fool around with hamburger when you can have steak at home?” So girls and guys, just because you may be looking at other attractions doesn’t mean you shouldn’t appreciate what you already have, so don’t make trust, or lack of trust an issue. Besides, you can always show your “better half” how good they have it with you by reminding them about what made you stand out from the others in the first place.

Communication is Key.

Personally, trustworthiness is based on values, morals and whether the other person initiates the relationship. If two people are in the first stage of dating and are waiting to see what the other person expects from them, instead of forcing monogamy, their relationship terms should be agreed upon. Forcing monogamy could create a sense of obligation causing the other person to run in the other direction to date other people.

It’s like being grounded by your parents as a child; you feel forced to do something that was unjust, so you feel like defying their rules and sneaking out. This feeling of rebellion provides you with a rush of adrenaline that causes the behavior to repeat; you get a “high” from being bad. People who cheat obtain the same adrenaline rush because they act out their dissent against something they didn’t agree to. If you force someone to be exclusive or make them feel guilty for not wanting to be, they are more likely to cheat, and you will be less likely trust them.

Posted in Personal Perspective, Sex & HealthComments (0)

Relational Resolutions

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Relational Resolutions

By Erica Turner

As we welcome in the New Year, students make resolutions that they hope will improve their lives. Some have promised to raise their grades, score that dream internship, or land their first job. But one of the most popular resolutions on campus for 2012 is improving relationships.

Not surprisingly, improving relationships is easier said then done. It can be hard to shake our ways and break those habits that hinder us. Regardless, it is important to have healthy relationships with those we care about in order to uphold our own mental health.

Photo Credit: Jenna Chabot

One way we can cultivate these relationships is by trying to meet the needs and expectations of our partners and friends by making them a priority even if it means putting our own goals temporarily on the back burner.

“I think that in order to have a great friendship or relationship it is important to put others’ well being over my own,” education junior Casey Droste said.

Droste hopes to accomplish this by keeping her resolution in her mind and reminding herself of her commitment every time she is in a sticky situation that might challenge her resolution.

“I think in order to have great friendships and relationships it is important to put others first. My relationships are important to me, and I want the people in my life to know that,” she said.

Psychologist and author Dr. Michelle Callahan believes that doing something nice for someone else actually improves our own personal well-being. Callahan emphasizes taking the focus off yourself and growing your relationship with someone else by putting them first.

Doing something for someone else makes us feel important and fulfills our self-presentation goals. When our peers think of us as helpful and kind, it in turn raises our self-esteem and improves our self-image.

However, staying grounded and maintaining your own sense of self is equally important. Granted, helping others can make you happier, but sacrificing your own expectations all together can cause serious long-term problems.

Making sure you are at your best by realizing when to cut your losses can improve your mental health and improve your relationships.

Photo Credit: Jenna Chabot

“My resolution is to work to help my good relationships grow and not be so hard on myself about working to suffice relationships that are bad (for me),” said human development and family studies junior Emily Schmid.

Callahan reiterates that the most important relational resolution is to take better care of you.

“You can’t be your best, when you’re feeling your worst. When you aren’t well, you won’t be the best spouse, parent, friend or co-worker,” she said.

How do you ensure you are at your best? Relax, eat well and exercise. Also, pursue things that interest you or take up a new hobby. Finding new ways for you to grow as an individual can improve your relationship and facilitate your relational growth.

Relational author Julie Spira believes peoples become more appealing when we have our own lives and are confidant and feeling good about ourselves.

Spira says to think of things that used to make you happy that you no longer do.

“Having interests and experiences that have nothing to do with each other means you have more to bring to the relationship,” said Spira.

Resume an old hobby or join a new student organization to help yourself thrive on a personal level and to strengthen your sense of individuality.

However, this can be a challenge to find time to develop your own personal growth, as well as time to nurture your relationships in all of the turmoil of school, work and other commitments.

Plan one-on-one times with your partner so that you can stay connected and share your experiences. Spending quality time alone with your partner give you the opportunity to bond at a deeper level.

“Sometimes you literally have to schedule the time, put it on your calendar and protect it just like you would a meeting at work,” said Callahan.

There is no official quota of how often you should be seeing each other, but many experts agree that having face-to-face time together at least once a week will cultivate a healthy relationship.

But sometimes in our busy schedules, we can’t always make face-to-face time, and we have to find ways to make our relationships work long-distance.

“I want to have people in my life that bring out the best in me and keep my relationships close, even when I’m far in distance,” Schmid said.

Technology becomes a valuable resource to make use of when trying to keep in contact with loved ones, especially in long distance situations.

“Utilize technology to stay close and connected, but don’t rely on it exclusively or allow it to replace face-to-face relationships. Putting in good face time is still an important and necessary way to build and maintain close relationships both at home and at work,” Callahan said.

It is an ambitious resolution to improve one’s relationships, but unlike the temporary satisfaction of other resolutions, improving your relationships will benefit you in the long run.

Lets face it: our friends, families and partners are the ones that make our lives as special as they are. So show them a little appreciation this season by finding ways to improve your relationships with them by making your own relational resolution.

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (1)

School Stress and Your Relationship

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

School Stress and Your Relationship

By Erica Turner

Finals week is quickly approaching, which means times of high stress are on the horizon.  Along with the struggles of exams, papers, and presentations, external pressures from significant others seem to play a significant role in anxiety.

Communication junior Travis Richards said, ”I feel like exam week puts undue stress on relationships because everyone has such high expectations for their performance that they put all other aspects of life on the back burner including, but not limited to, relationships.”

Obviously finals are a time of high stress, which affects all individuals differently.  When we encounter a stressor, a multitude of things can go on psychologically that effect our behavior, some more governing than others.  Personally, I obsess about the situation and let it dominate my mind until it is resolved.


“I get sassy.  I isolate myself and let the little things bother me.  I also procrastinate because I have anxiety about starting all of the work I need to finish,” said Eli Broad business junior Emily Kmiec.

Procrastination is a strategy that is beyond familiar on college campuses.  However, procrastination enhances stress by causing your work to pile up and making you feel overwhelmed.

James Madison junior Shannon Conaway has a more effective method that will help to reduce stress.

“I compartmentalize, so I take one thing at a time and divide and conquer,” she said.

This strategy is helpful to avoid becoming lost in your work.  Make a list of all you have to do and then go through and complete each task in its entirety.

Special education junior Lexi Justice said her nervousness bleeds into her personal life.

“I can’t stop thinking about whatever is bothering me, and then I begin to worry about everything,” she said.  Like Justice, when many people are stressed, it overflows into their personal lives often causing unnecessary problems.

These avoidable problems can create unneeded tension in students’ lives outside of the classroom.  But how can these stressors be managed and their effects minimized?

Stress leads to irritability causing us to lash out more at others and behave in ways that wouldn’t normally.  When we do act out, those people often attribute our behavior to our rude character instead of our pressing situation.

“The biggest thing is the fundamental attribution error, [which is] attributing things to internal causes instead of external ones,” interpersonal communications professor Kelly Morrison said.

To avoid the fundamental attribution error, look at the circumstances as a whole and determine if you could be making misattributions that could negatively impact your situation, she said.

For Eli Broad business junior Emily Kmiec, the stress of her partner rubs off on to her causing additional unnecessary anxiety.

“It makes me stressed, and I want to help because it feels terrible to be stressed because there’s nothing you can do,” she said.

Personally, I fall victim to what author of The 14 Day Stress Cure Morton Orman, calls ‘Kicking-your-seeing-eye-dog.’

Morton says, “[this is a] pattern whereby you try to change or mold your partner into someone who thinks, feels, and acts just like you do.”

However, trying to change your partner or having unrealistic expectations is not something that is going to benefit your relationship in the long run.

For Justice, running is her stress reliever.

Morrison suggests managing stress by getting more sleep and participating in either yoga or meditation.  She says these hobbies can provide the quiet time you need to handle your situation, without the risk of injury.

Morrison points out that so rarely with all of the various technologies are we separated from the stressors of our lives.  With iPhones, Blackberrys, e-mail and other forms of instant communication, we are constantly connected with work and school with no downtime in-between.

For Kmiec, relying on her friendships to manage her stress is key.

“Confiding in my friends helps to manage my stress by hearing the opinions of the people who are important in my life,” she said.

Talking with friends about stress is a technique Morrison defines as self-disclosure.

“Self-disclosure tends to relieve stress and facilitate mental health, so talking to someone is typically a good idea.  This could be a good friend, a parent, partner, or certainly talking to someone at counseling services on campus,” Morrison said.

Communication junior Travis Richards said, “I divert my stress away from my girlfriend and confide in outside sources in order to avoid putting unnecessary stress on the relationship.”

Shannon Conaway submerges herself in her work in order to ease the anxiety associated with stress, which gives her less time to devote to her partner.

Conaway says, “When I’m stressed, I have less time [for my boyfriend] because I’m too busy with homework.”

However, limiting face-to-face contact with your significant other could be counterproductive because of the insufficient emotional reactions of interacting by the means of technology.

“When you’re online, you’re less likely to empathize because of online empathy deficits,” Morrison says. When you are unable to see the reactions of your behaviors, you’re more likely to act in destructive ways.

By cutting your partner out, you are also losing a valuable support system that can help you through your stressful experience.

So, during this time of approaching angst, try to take Kelly Morrison’s advice by being open-minded and understanding of your partner and look for relaxing alternative outlets to channel your stress.  It could save you relationship, or at the very least help you to avoid a few miscommunications.

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (0)

The Transfer Student Guide to Relationships

Tags: , , , ,

The Transfer Student Guide to Relationships

By Lauren Walsh

I transferred from a college of 20,000 to a university with a student body of 45,000 – I should have met somebody by now!  I assumed that sitting at a café or the library may entail a casual conversation with a stranger, but for me and many transfer students, this is not the case.

Instead, transferring to Michigan State University as a sophomore or junior comes with obstacles when trying to obtain any kind of relationship. Unlike freshman students who enter the dorms with an instant connection with their roommates and communal diners, many transfer students come to MSU unfamiliar with the student social life at a large campus.

I’m not alone in my theories – fellow transfer student and communications junior Emily Bunn said, “A big part of starting out at MSU as a freshman is getting to know so many people in the dorms, and I feel like I missed out on that opportunity.”


As I walk among fellow Spartans, my status is imperceptible to those other students, and a simple introduction in class usually doesn’t lead to outside plans. This leaves us to the rare situation found between transfer students and prospective relationships. Having already been here two months, finding instant reliable friends or even someone to date seems inevitable. When attending casual get-togethers, I assume that the chance of meeting that certain somebody would be promising, but most of the guys I meet are completely unaware about how to make an advance toward a girl, and the ones who do already have girlfriends. This disheartening situation should have a section on the MSU Facebook page with the headlines “Relationship status: Complicated.”  On any given night, these feelings of disappointment only persist as I go to different bars or parties.

At least I am not alone in my frustration. “When I moved here I thought I’d meet people instantly, but the students in my classes are completely silent, and meeting someone at a bar seems reckless and unpredictable,” said fellow transfer student and accounting junior Abby Maynard.

Unless you’re a freshman attending common house parties where meeting someone has infinite possibilities, dating for transfer students should come with a “Dummies” handbook. The guide should include a rulebook about where to not meet people in East Lansing, outlining places that have worked for others and ways to have the confidence to actually make that daunting first move that could be the start of something new and exciting. Finding a romantic relationship in college is a common goal of many students, but transfer or not, being single in college seems to be the vast majority. Regardless of those exceptional committed relationships out there, college students will be college students and will play the field.

“I was seeing this guy who is also a transfer student, and thought since we had this common ground that maybe it would last, but after a long weekend of tailgating and parties, I never heard back from him,” said business sophomore, Kelly Atlas.

Photo taken by Kristi Cookinham

Since there are so many choices and interests at a university, many students prefer to stay single and enjoy the “diversity” that MSU has to offer. So, when a transfer student does finally meet that certain somebody, how are they supposed to keep that individual interested? In life, everything is a game; whether it involves competing against others for a job or internship or maintaining a relationship with a potential partner. As difficult as it is to find that possible girl or boyfriend, it is more difficult to make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd. As Beyoncé sang, “All the single ladies, all the single ladies, I got gloss on my lips, a man on my hips, got me tighter than my Dereon jeans, acting up, drink in my cup, I can care less what you think.” So, take her wise words, put on your favorite jeans, hell, drink tea in that cup, if that’s who you are. All that matters is that you’re being yourself.

As an active participant in this transfer student relationship strategy, I urge all you who transferred or even single romantics to belong to the various societies MSU has to offer. After joining clubs that relate to my major and hobbies, not only did I gain the resume building, but I discovered a new way to meet people that have the same interests and future goals. Whether it’s joining a study group, ethnic dance club, an intramural sport or the Greek system, the more people you meet, the bigger the social group you will gain and discover a further sense of belonging.

So the next time you’re sitting in a café, ask the person next to you what they’re reading or extend a simple smile or “hello.” Being nice never hurts, and it could spur a rewarding relationship or at least a funny story to tell about with your friends.

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (1)

High School Relationships Surviving College

Tags: , , , , ,

High School Relationships Surviving College

Unless you’re watching one of the “Twilight” movies or listening to a Taylor Swift song, you probably think the idea of having a very serious relationship while in high school is only slightly less realistic than having one in middle school.

Even less realistic is the idea of taking a high school relationship and transitioning into college. Many people claim that by the time you take your fist mid-term exam in college, your high school relationship will be over. Wanting to meet new people and try new things are often the motivations behind these break ups.

Not all love is lost for college relationships. There are college students that believe it can work and have made it work.

Kelcie Ebbitt and boyfriend Jeff Cain.

Elementary education senior Kelcie Ebbitt has been with her high school sweetheart, Jeff Cain, for almost four years. Ebbitt said that the transition to college didn’t hurt their relationship; it strengthened it.

“If anything, college has given us more opportunity to get to know each other,” she said. “We have come so far since high school, and staying strong has never been an issue for the two of us. We have been able to support each other through things such as changing majors, not getting or getting jobs and just generally experiencing life together.”

Cain, a physics and materials science and engineering senior, said that it was easier to maintain his relationship while in college in comparison to high school.

“The freedom that comes with college translated to more freedom in our relationship,” said Cain. “We can see each other whenever we want to and for however long we want to.”

One thing to keep in mind is that Ebbitt and Cain both go to the same college, which is a very important factor in maintaining their relationship and a luxury that many college relationships don’t have.

“Distance can be an issue depending on the newness of the relationship and whether the couple has established intimacies and commitments,” said Dennis Martell, health education services coordinator for Olin Health Center. “Before, you were able to see this person everyday, and now you may be lucky to see him/her once a month.”

Martell said trying to find a balance between academics, new friends, old friends, a partner, family and extracurricular activities is only part of the difficulty of this type of transition.

Martell, who has expertise in student health issues such as student wellness, student transition to college and sexual behavior, said distance between couples can potentially cause relationship-ending problems.

Jenna Otting and her boyfriend Scott.

Jenna Otting, a communications junior with a specialization in public relations and health promotions, is familiar with the problems that Martell described. She has been with her boyfriend, Scott, for nearly three years; however, her boyfriend is a full year in college below her and he goes to a college a few hours away.

“My boyfriend and I do not attend the same college,” said Otting. “I think this makes a big impact because when we went to the same high school, we were able to hang out almost every day. It’s really strange to switch so suddenly to seeing each other once a month.”

Martell said that many people transitioning into college relationships face obstacles because the experience is different than what they’re used to at home. “The individual going to college tends to be going through many transitions that tend to impact relationships that existed before they chose to go,” Martell said. He/she may not have the same views, beliefs, values, thoughts or opinions as before. This can cause conflict with the other partner.”

Even with these obstacles, Otting remained optimistic.

“This isn’t always a bad thing,” said Otting. “It gives you space and helps you meet new people by you not always having one another to fall back on. It also forces you to make an effort which reinforces that you truly care about one another. If you are committed enough to your relationship and stay positive, it can work out just fine.”

Martell said that while relationship experts don’t exactly know what makes a relationship last, what they do know and believe is that overall relationships that can endure tremendous transitions have something going for them and usually will last longer.

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (0)

Tan Away the Winter Blues

Tags: , , , , ,

Tan Away the Winter Blues

College relationships. To many, college love is the graduation from high school crushes and puppy dog love to mature relationships that, hopefully, offer promises of a bright future, post graduation and beyond – as long as you survive the ‘break up season.’

Every year between January and March, couples will begin to split for what appears to be no good reason. You may notice it among your group of friends. Couples who have dated for months and years alike will slowly begin to break things off in hopes of finding something new.

Kate Mortensen, an economics junior, has experienced relationship troubles nearly every winter.

“Its just general unhappiness,” explains Mortensen. “Everything will be going smoothly for months, but every winter things just seem to go downhill, until spring, and everything suddenly will be perfect again… It just seems like we get the winter blues or something.”

Mortensen’s relationship stresses are not unlike many around campus and are generally dismissed by students as mere winter blues; however, they may actually be side effects from a mood disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD, as stated by the Mayo Clinic, is a type of depression that starts at the same time every year, usually during the winter months, and can lead to moodiness and irritability. Other symptoms include hopelessness, anxiety, loss of energy, social withdrawal and weight gain. SAD is treatable, and treatment ranges from UV light exposure to prescription drugs; however, tanning is a simpler solution that will give you the same benefits without pricey doctor visits.

Tanning may be the solution.

Sarah Munkacsy, owner and operator of Bronze Bay Tanning in downtown East Lansing is a strong believer that tanning is a viable treatment for SAD and a better alternative than taking prescription drugs.

“A lot of people come in and say ‘I’m really depressed,’” she said. “[Personally] I feel so much better when I tan.”

Munkacsy, who was diagnosed several years ago with SAD, spent several winters taking antidepressants like Prozac in an attempt to return to her normal, vibrant self.

“I just didn’t like how I felt. I usually have a type A personality, and I just didn’t feel like myself,” she said.

Upon being asked about her relationship with her husband, Munkacsy said she did not feel like she changed toward him. Her husband, who works with her at their tanning salon, told a different story, signaling that she was quite moody before she began treatment.

After several winters of taking Prozac, Munkacsy approached her doctor asking if there were any other treatment options for her SAD. Her doctor suggested tanning two to three times a week, and she hasn’t looked back.

“It’s so much better than drugs,” she said. “I feel like myself again.”

What is it about tanning that makes people feel better? Katie Edwards, an employee at Bronze Bay Tanning, explained it in simple terms.

Edwards had recently worked on a research project involving tanning and its general effects on the body. According to her research, light exposure leads to two different mood elevating chemical reactions. The first is the production of vitamin D, which studies suggest is directly related to moods; that is, the more vitamin D you have in your system, the happier you tend to be. The second reaction is the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin, as with vitamin D, is stimulated by light exposure and is directly linked to moodiness and possibly depression. During the summer months, most Michiganders are active and readily get sufficient light exposure; however, with the typically overcast winters, light and warm days are hard to come by. Therefore, less sunlight means less vitamin D and serotonin, and as a result also means moodiness, depression and a strain on your relationships.

SAD is suspected to affect up to 20 percent of the general population; however, Munkacsy believes most cases go undiagnosed and dismissed as moodiness or winter blues.

“I have tried tanning and do feel a lot better after I go,” said Mortensen. “I’ve never officially been diagnosed with [SAD], but whatever winter moodiness I have, it clears it up pretty well.”

Mortensen, who has struggled with relationships during the aforementioned ‘break up season,’ went on to talk about her relationships.

“It seemed like I’d get in a lot of petty fights pretty readily for no reason,” she said, “but since I started tanning it’s been a lot easier over the winter months. I just hope that [my boyfriend] feels the same way.”

“I think that most people aren’t educated about [SAD],” said Munkacsy. She suggests that anyone interested in tanning and its positive affects on mood should visit www.tanningtruth.com.

“It’s such an easy fix. If people knew how much better you feel after tanning, a lot more people would be doing it,” said Mortensen.

So before you break off another relationship between the months of January and March, try getting a tan. The results could save your relationship and make you feel more like yourself again.

Posted in Sex & HealthComments (3)