Trust and Confidence In Relationships

 

Are you “stalking” your boyfriend or girlfriend on Facebook?  Waiting for them to put their iPhone down so you can check their texts??  Confidence is something I find lacking in a lot of people I’ve met.  Especially in relationships.  People are always second guessing their decisions or wondering what the other person is thinking.  I hear a lot about Facebook status.  I have students who will tell me what their boyfriend or girlfriend’s status is and ask me what I think that means.  Facebook and technology in general are great, but they also can have a negative impact on people’s confidence.

Often I have people who talk about who their boyfriend or girlfriend are “friends” with on Facebook.  Every post is analyzed to see if that person is interested in someone else.  It takes a lot of energy to stalk the internet and be a creeper on people’s Facebook pages.  It might be better to use your energy to improve your confidence or deal with the trust issues you may have.

There are a couple of reasons it is hard to trust.  One, because you may not believe in yourself.  I know people who think they aren’t good enough and are afraid their boyfriend or girlfriend will leave them.  It  causes people to over analyze every interaction their boyfriend or girlfriend has with the opposite sex.  Two, you may have been betrayed in the past.  If someone’s ex cheated on them, it is going to be hard to trust in the next relationship.  It also adds to feeling not good enough.  Three, your boyfriend or girlfriend could be making another person more of a priority in their lives.  This is a gray area, but sometimes opposite sex friendships can cross boundaries.    If a boundary is being crossed, it could lead you to feel less trusting.

The truth is that you are good enough.  In a relationship you only control 50%.  That is the risk of getting involved with someone else.  You could get hurt!  If you want to avoid being hurt, stay single.  All you can control is being the best person you can be in the relationship.  Being close to perfect won’t guarantee that person won’t leave, cheat, or in rare cases, die.  It could happen even you are the best girlfriend or boyfriend ever.   But YOU are the only person in the relationship YOU can control.  If you treat that person well and give them all the love you have, then they would be an idiot to lose you.  If someone doesn’t want to be with you, let them leave so you can be free to find someone who does.  Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t really want to be with you.  The rejection does suck, but when you know you have put your heart and soul into the relationship, you can be confident that you weren’t the one with the problem.  Sometimes you find people who can’t commit, find it easy to lie, or haven’t grown up yet.  It is hard to live and learn, but I find every relationship experience we have teaches us something.  I am a wiser persophonen for being hurt a few times.  Those mistakes then lead me to the right person.

It is hard to trust.  The only alternative to not trusting is to control someone.  Controlling someone usually makes that person resent you and want to spend even less time with you.  If you are feeling insecure in your relationship be careful that you aren’t becoming controlling.  It will only ruin your relationship and you will lose the person you are trying so hard to keep.  The more trust you have in someone, the less control you must have.   If your boyfriend or girlfriend has broken your trust, you have a couple of choices.  You break up with them or you forgive them and find ways to repair the trust.  Most people will give someone another chance, but they don’t forgive and they don’t work on repairing the trust.  This leads to a controlling relationship.

Is it worth the effort??  If the person is truly sorry, they will find ways to prove to you they are now an honest person.  If they aren’t truly sorry, it will happen again and you will have another choice to make.  Just remember, if someone cheats on you or lies to you, that doesn’t mean you are the problem.  If you think you are part of the problem, find someone who can help you work on the things you want to change.  Otherwise, be confident and move on!

5 Signs That a Nice Guy Isn’t So Nice

I found this post on Hugstronger, a website dedicated to helping college student’s stay positive.

We’ve all been warned.  Before leaving for college, we receive a surplus of information from older friends, advising us both academically and socially.  These friends also share their dating wisdom, cautioning us against falling for the “wrong” kind of guy.

Pop culture portrays the “wrong guy” as the unmotivated slacker who skates by on an academic probation, or as the misogynist who only wants you for your looks.  However, during my freshman year, I learned that the wrong guy can be difficult to spot, because he often disguises himself as the nice guy you can’t help but trust.

That fall, I met a boy with whom I instantly connected.  We fell into an easy friendship that eventually developed into more.  With little dating experience behind me, I took his seemingly charming personality at face value.

In time, I learned that his “nice guy” routine was exactly that – a routine.  He simultaneously pursued multiple girls who had no knowledge of each other, while feeding them the same lines and spreading hurtful rumors. Ultimately, I realized our relationship was unhealthy and would only drag me down.

Nice guys do exist, and I’ve dated a few since then. However, when dealing with new guys, watch out for red flags:

1. He says mostly negative things about his ex-girlfriends.
If he tells you extremely personal (or insulting) details about previous girlfriends, chances are he’ll say the same things about you when you break up.  Of course, you don’t want to date someone who still loves his ex-girlfriend, but if he seems particularly vindictive toward the girls he’s dated, you might want to break things off.

2. He likes to tell you about all of his admirers.
Even when he claimed to be interested in only me, my not-so-nice guy would constantly rant about the many girls who were “in love” with him.  I’m not a jealous person, but I often wondered why he needed to share this knowledge.  It’s one thing if other girls find him attractive; it’s another thing if he’s using that information to try and upset you.

3. He mixes up his stories.
First he tells you that he was spending time with his boys last night.  Then he casually slips in that another girl was there.  Then he gets annoyed when you ask him for details about his evening, and accuses you of not trusting him.  What starts out as simple curiosity can quickly morph into suspicion.

4. He plays hot and cold with your emotions.
If a boy is sending you mixed signals for any prolonged period of time, he’s not that into you.  If he’s truly worth your time, he will make it known that he’s interested, and he won’t keep you guessing whether or not he wants a relationship.

5. He disguises condescending remarks as compliments.
In trying to win me back, my not-so-nice guy once explained that I had grown since we last parted ways, and that he now felt more attracted to me because of how “assertive” I had become. (Translation: “Now that you’re unattainable, I consider you a challenge worth pursuing.”) The truth was, I hadn’t changed much in that time, and I didn’t need his affirmation that I had “grown” enough to be worth his attention. Remember, you deserve to be treated well no matter how much you still have left to learn or accomplish.

Not-so-nice guys come in all forms. Be aware of the warning signs, so that you won’t fall into the same traps as many others.  Don’t settle for anyone who treats you as anything less than you deserve.

Valerie Moses is a senior at the University of Central Florida, pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations and a minor in Hospitality Management. Trained in career counseling and advising, she loves working with college students and helping them discover the majors of their dreams. When she isn’t in class or at work, Valerie can be found planning theme parties and large-scale fundraising events, roaming around Orlando with her friends, playing with her two dogs, writing her memoir, and keeping up her own blog, So It Must Be True.

The Text You Wish You Could Take Back!

It’s Saturday morning or maybe afternoon.  You wake up and look at your phone.  Then you start to freak out as you read your texts from the night before.   You know you’ve done it!  Then afterwards you swear to yourself that it will never happen again.  But like Katie Perry sings, “Next Friday night…do it all again!”

So, are you really doomed every weekend to text something you regret at 2am?  Let’s just say that not a lot of good things happen at 2am with your phone unfortunately.  Even if you haven’t been drinking or engaging in extracurricular activities, your guard is down when you’re tired.  The judgment part of your brain that usually tells you to stop before doing something stupid isn’t at its peak after a certain time at night.  When you stay up late because your bored, studying, or even partying, it makes you vulnerable to those thoughts and feelings you’ve been able to keep under control the rest of the day.

How many of you text your ex in the early afternoon because you miss them and want to hook up for a few hours?  I’m guessing very few.  How many of you text your ex after at 11pm, midnight, or 1am to see if they’re awake and want to hook up?  I’m guessing a few more hands went into the air.  You may think alcohol gives you the liquid courage you needed to take a risk.  But, in reality the alcohol, or even just being over tired, is what shuts down the part of your brain that thinks through the possible consequences of your actions.  It is only when you wake up the next day that your brain remembers why you should delete that person’s number from your phone.

Even if you didn’t actually hook up, you still sent a text that you now wish you could suck back through cyber space.  It’s now out there that you are still thinking about this person.  Maybe you feel embarrassed or mad at yourself for giving your ex or some other idiot an ego boost.  You know when you get a drunk text there is a part of you that feels good.  It can be offensive or annoying, but it can also feel empowering.  This is why on the other end the person is cringing the next day.  It sucks to show vulnerability.  All I can say is that you are not alone.

It is common to have those weak moments.  The lyrics of the song, One More Night by Maroon 5, say it better than I can.  “Trying to tell you “no” but my body keeps on telling you “yes”.  Trying to tell you to stop, but your lipstick got me so out of breath.  I’d be waking up in the morning, probably hating myself.  And I’d be waking up, feeling satisfied but guilty as hell.  But baby there you go again, there you go again, making me love you. Yeah, I stopped using my head, using my head, let it all go.  Got you stuck on my body, on my body, like a tattoo.  And now I’m feeling stupid, feeling stupid, crawling back to you.  So I cross my heart and I hope to die.  That I’ll only stay with you one more night.  And I know I said it a million times.  But I’ll only stay with you one more night.”

Either Adam Levine has sent one of those texts or he knows someone who has.  How do you think one more night starts?  With a text late at night!!  So how do you solve this problem?  Flush your phone down the toilet??  Probably not.  There really is no easy way to stop being stupid with your phone if you feel tired, lonely or just plain horny.  Unfortunately, your phone, with all its cool capabilities, isn’t always your friend.  Also, be aware that life is full of mistakes.  Usually humans need to put themselves in a lot of pain or have to feel a lot of fear to change a behavior.  If you make too many mistakes with your phone, you hopefully start to feel some pain from embarrassment or become afraid of losing something else you value (like a current relationship).  Once you’ve reached a certain pain threshold, then even liquid courage isn’t going to coerce you to send a text you’ll later regret.

Not all late night texts are going to be painful.  Some might even be cute or hilarious.  However, if they are painful or get you into trouble, then hope that memory will help stop you in the future.  No one likes it, but pain is a good reminder of what NOT to do.  If something hurts, you most likely will try to avoid it in the future.  If you keep repeating something, either it hasn’t been painful enough or too much time has gone by and the pain has faded away.  At some point though, it will get easier to have more control over your phone.   Until then, don’t be too hard on yourself okay?

Welcome Class of 2016!!

Another school year has begun!  August rolls around so fast every year.  What I can’t believe is that is was exactly 20 years ago that I was headed off to college as a freshman.  I know I shouldn’t date myself this way, but it just blows my mind that I started college that long ago.  It certainly doesn’t feel like it!

Anyway, move in day has come and gone for a lot of college freshman.  The first weekend away from your parents can bring mixed feelings.  For some it will be exciting to have freedom at last.  For others it will be somewhat anxiety provoking to be so far away from home.  Others will feel dread at classes starting and feel overwhelmed already looking at their syllabus online.  Other new freshman may feel a little lost, a little lonely and wish they had gone to the school where all their friends went.  Others will feel like they’ve walked into their high school class reunion.

There are so many different experiences while starting college.  You’re figuring out a whole new living situation and trying to find your way around campus.  You can’t believe how many new people you’ve met in just a few days.  So many new Facebook friends, yet so little time to actually be on Facebook.  You realize that 2am is early to get to bed, yet somehow you still signed up for all 8am classes.  You may make a mental note to change that for the spring semester.  It is a crazy time full of adjustment.

Some adjustments will be easy.  Others will be hard.  Some people are born to party and make new friends easily, yet will find they struggle to make it to class and finish the semester.  Other people will thrive in their classes, but feel anxious every time they have to find someone to eat lunch and dinner with every day.  Just know that everyone goes through some hard times their first semester.  College is a lot of fun, full of great new experiences.  However, it is also stressful and full of moments of doubt.  Each experience is going to shape you and help you become someone you won’t even recognize at the end of your four (or five) years of school.

It is okay to take risks and try new things.  If you make a mistake, do your best to learn from it and move on.  Don’t be too hard on yourself or have too high of expectations.  Especially watch the expectations.  So many new college students have this image of being the perfect student, or getting into the best sorority or fraternity, or finding the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, or going to the best parties every weekend.  You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to be involved in all the right clubs or organizations or be in a relationship to have a great college experience. 

Just take this opportunity to explore the opportunities before you and make changes as necessary.  Ask for help when you need it and take responsibility for yourself when you don’t.  Have fun, but not too much fun.  Study hard, but not too hard.  Don’t go to any extremes.  My advice for new college students is to find balance.  All work and no play isn’t good for you, but all play and no work won’t get you very far either.   Make sure you find time to eat, sleep, and exercise.  This will help reduce stress and keep you focused when those really hard weeks during midterms and finals come around.

One of the top things I talk about in my counseling office, besides relationships, is stress.  Time management is key.  In college you really have to know how to manage your time.  Take the next few weeks and try to find a good routine and schedule for studying, hanging out with friends, and getting involved with other activities on campus.  If you take on too much, try to back off on a few commitments.  If you find you are bored and spending too much time in your room, look for ways to get involved with things that may interest you.  Tweak your schedule as you go through the semester until you find the right balance with your time.  This will be key as you go through your time in college.

Good luck out there!!  I hope you have a great first year!!

A New Adventure

School is starting soon!  It is that time of year again.  I love the energy on college campuses this time of year.  Yet, it is a time for change.  Every year on a college campus is different.  New students, new classes and most likely new living spaces.  Can be good, could be be bad, definitely is hard at times!

I’m going through some changes of my own.  I am moving to Georgia.  I have decided to leave Aurora University, and I’ll be starting at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA right after Labor Day.  I’m excited, but sad too.  I love working with college students and the good news is that I’ll be doing the exact same job, just in a new location.  The hard part is saying goodbye to great friends and the students I have worked with the last couple of years.

Yesterday was my last day at AU.  It was hard saying goodbye.  There will be so many people I will miss.  I’m looking forward to my new adventure, but wish I could take quite a few people along with me to Georgia.   I feel like a freshman student.  A new campus and I don’t really know anyone yet.  Missing my old friends, but looking forward to making new ones.  Those mixed of emotions of excitement and fear can be overwhelming at times.  It isn’t always easy, but it usually is worth it when you take a chance and try something new.

Like the above quote says, “You have to laugh and have fun with it!”  It has always been my dream to live in the south.  I hate cold winters!!  There is so much to look forward to.  I will keep that in mind as I go through the reality of moving 900 miles away.  Relationships are tested by change and stress.   I know my relationship will be fine during this huge move, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live through.  Those moments are when I have to think about warm winters and no more driving in ice and snow!

Trust me, I will use all the advice I’ve given to others and do my best to think positive when I feel stressed or nervous.  I’m glad I can find encouragement from reading the blog’s of other people who have been through something similar as well as reading my own advice which I often give to others.  I’ll also be staying in touch with all my great friends up here in Illinois, who I know will encourage me any time I need it.

I can’t lie and say I don’t have conflicting emotions.  It’s like a graduation.  Bittersweet.  Those are the hardest things to go through.  Those that you are excited, yet sad about.  I admit I’ve gone back and forth wondering if I’m doing the right thing.  On one hand I know it will all work out, but there is still a part of me that thinks, “what if it doesn’t?”.  There are no guarantees in life.  However, nothing is permanent.  There will be freshman that realize college isn’t for them or that they’re just at the wrong college.  They will leave and move onto something else that works better for them.  The same is true for me.  I can always come back to Illinois if it doesn’t work out.  So, why not take the chance?

Like I said, change is hard.  I am in the middle of packing which is a pain.  Starting a new job is a little scary.  Having a house for sale is very stressful.  Will it be worth it in the long run?  I truly believe so.  Valdosta State is a great university and their counseling team seems very solid.  I am very honored that they offered me the position and in January when it is 60 degrees outside instead of below zero, I don’t think I’ll be complaining.

I will still be keeping up with this blog and hope to impart some wisdom to the students at VSU.  Wish me luck on my new adventure and please send up a prayer that my house sells soon!!

Losing a Loved One

Loss is hard.  Fortunately, most college students who are dating don’t have to deal with their boyfriend or girlfriend dying.  It does happen, but it is a lot more rare than a typical break up.  However, after last Friday’s massacre in Aurora, Colorado, it makes you think about how fragile life really is.

A lot of people who were injured or killed last Friday were younger people.  They were sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends and even boyfriends and girlfriends of people who are now grieving the senseless loss of their loved one.  This year has been hard on my family as well.  We have experienced a lot of loss since the end of 2011.  It can make you stop and evaluate your choices in life.  There are so many things people take for granted when it comes to the people they love.

It is easy in the every day stresses of life to believe that the people you count on the most will always be there for you.  I have met with a lot of students who really can’t imagine losing their boyfriend or girlfriend or even their close friends to death.  It is easier to imagine losing a grandparent or distant relative.  It is a little harder to comprehend the loss of a parent, a sibling or a friend who still has so much life to live.

That is usually why it can be harder to accept.  The people who lost their lives on Friday, July 20th were mostly in the prime of their life.  They were looking forward to seeing a good movie with their family and friends and had no reason to think there life would be over within a few short minutes.  Thank God incidents like this are very rare.  You are much more likely to be struck by lightening then to be shot in a movie theater or on a college campus.  No matter how a person dies, when it happens to someone you love, it can be hard to understand and accept.

So, how do you move forward after losing a loved one?  You’ve probably heard it takes some time.  It isn’t easy, no matter what anyone tells you.  Your mind, your heart and your soul are going to go through a long process.  The grief process has five steps.  1. Denial  2. Anger  3. Bargaining  4. Depression  5. Acceptance

You notice that acceptance comes after a lot of other emotions cycle through.  No person grieves the same either.  That is why it is hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving.  Some people want to talk about the person and feel better when they open up.  For others, they don’t want to talk about it.  They do better when they stay busy and distract themselves a little more.  For most people, you can’t go wrong with giving the person who is grieving a hug and asking if there is anything you can do for them.  Sometimes just bringing them a home cooked meal is enough.  Just knowing that you care and you want to help is better than nothing.

If you are the one grieving, be patient with yourself.  Some days you’ll wake up feeling better only to crash back into depression or anger a few hours later.  It is a long grueling process, but time does eventually help.  The days and weeks pass and your brain will start to adjust.  At first, you may be resistant to letting go of your pain.  You don’t want your loved one to feel that you’ve forgotten them.  I remind people who are grieving that you can still remember them without feeling so much pain.  You can start to remember them with a smile and actually feel happy in your memories instead of feeling so lost or sad.

Life has a way of marching on whether we like it or not.  Days, weeks, months and then even years pass.  New people come into our life.  They don’t replace the people we lost, but they fill in the gaps that are still there in our lives that need to be filled.  The only positive thing about loss is being able to empathize and understand what other people are going through when they experience it.  You will be able to relate and give encouragement to those people because you’ve been their yourself.  This may help you, in a way, deal with your own loss.  Giving to others has a way of healing your own heart from the pain.

Even though we are all different, all of us at one point or another are going to experience a loss of some kind.  I hope you never have to experience what the people of Aurora, Colorado are experiencing.  I also hope as a college student you don’t have to go through the death of parent, sibling, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend.  It is hard enough to get through the stresses of college.  Going through a major loss can make it a lot more complicated.  If it does happen to you, know that you have choices.  You can withdraw from classes for the semester and take a leave of absence.  This will allow you to focus on your family or getting help for yourself without having to stress about papers and tests.  Many students have had to do this and come back to school after a few months feeling a lot more prepared to deal with class.  Other students need the distraction and choose to stay in school at this time.  There really is no right answer on how to best deal with situations like this.  Do what you think is best for yourself and your situation, and try not to compare yourself to others students.

Also, find trusted family and friends to talk to and gain support from.  You may also decide counseling is something you would like to try.  It can be helpful because you are able to open up without feeling like your burdening your family or friends who may be dealing with their own grief.  Many people have stated that counseling has been helpful, but it isn’t for everyone.  You can do some research to find out what ways of grieving will work best for you.  Just remember it is a process.  It is okay to be angry, upset and sad.  However, if you feel you’ve been stuck in one part of the grieving cycle too long, it is time to do something to be able to move forward.  One step at a time is the best way to approach the grieving process.  Feel free to look into any of the websites listed below that may be helpful.

Coping with Grief and Loss

Understanding Grief

5 Stages of Grief

Race and Relationships

Ryan Knapick and Josh Baker have been best friends since fifth grade. Colette Gregory entered the picture in high school. She and Josh are dating now. Knapick is white, Gregory is black and Baker is half-Hispanic. To them, race doesn’t matter.

“People are finding people with common interests and common perspectives and are putting race aside,” says Knapick, 22, a May graduate of Indiana University who works at a machine shop and lives with his parents in Munster, Ind.

He and his friends are among an estimated 46.3 million Americans ages 14 to 24 — the older segment of the most diverse generation in American society. (Most demographers say this “Millennial” generation began in the early 1980s, after Generation X.) These young people have friends of different races and also may date someone of another race.

This age group is more tolerant and open-minded than previous generations, according to an analysis of studies released last year by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, part of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. The center focuses on ages 15 to 25.

Another study by Teenage Research Unlimited in Northbrook, Ill., found six of 10 teens say their friends include members of diverse racial backgrounds.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, today’s teens and twentysomethings grew up with “diversity,” “multicultural” and “inclusion” as buzzwords. Many were required to take college courses in cultural diversity. Now the media fuel this colorblindness as movies, TV and advertising portray interracial friendship and romance.

Some attitudinal changes are based in demographics. About 33% of those under 18 are racial or ethnic minorities, and about 20% of elementary- and high school-age students are immigrants or children of immigrants, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Racial diversity is especially common in college friendships because that age group is exposed to a wider range of people, and college students have more opportunities to become friends with peers of other races, says Anthony Lising Antonio, an associate professor of education at Stanford University, who has conducted research on friendship diversity.

It’s not that young people are specifically seeking out friendships with other races, kids say.

“It goes beyond that to who you get along with,” says Karina Anglada, 17, a high school senior in Chicago whose parents are from Puerto Rico.

The ‘color-mute’ syndrome

Rebecca Bigler, 42, a psychology professor who directs the Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab at the University of Texas-Austin, traces such attitudes to baby boomer parents who may have set a tone for raising colorblind kids.

“It makes us feel racist if we acknowledge race, so we try not to, and we end up being color-mute,” she says. “Children learn from their parents that you don’t talk about race.”

Bigler is white. Her former husband, the father of her teenage son, is black. People talked about race when she was a child in the ’70s, she says, but now the younger generation — especially white kids — believe that racial injustice is “a thing of the past.”

“Society is still marked by racial inequality, and my worry is that it won’t get addressed,” she says.

Evidence of inequity is ubiquitous: A Department of Justice study released last year shows that blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be searched, arrested and subjected to police use of force. And last month, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University issued a report about inequality in American schools, even as the system becomes increasingly multiracial.

Where students go to school depends on where they live, which is dependent upon family wealth. The Harvard study found that segregation isn’t simply a black/white divide but a multiracial one, in which whites remain the most isolated group and the least likely to attend multiracial schools. California schools are the nation’s most segregated, the study found.

‘Common interests, not color’

Gregory, 24, knows that firsthand. She was born in Gary, Ind., and grew up in Los Angeles; she was the only black person in a private school in her Bel Air neighborhood. She returned to Indiana for high school, the same Catholic school Knapick and Baker attended.

“It’s more natural to me to be in a diverse setting and to be attracted to people because of common interests and not because of common color,” says Gregory, who works in fundraising at a Chicago theater company. She earned two degrees from Northwestern University.

Baker, 23, who graduated from Loyola University in Chicago and is an accounts manager for a Chicago consulting firm, says his high school’s diversity allowed him to be friends with whites, blacks and Hispanics. He says he’s Hispanic, like his mother. His father is white but is unsure of his heritage because he was adopted, Baker says.

Knapick, who is seeking work in his college major of criminal justice, bonded with Baker playing basketball, running track and as Boy Scouts. Both are Eagle Scouts and earned their honors at the same ceremony.

Some of the mixing is a result of record numbers of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, totaling more than 35 million over the past two decades and representing the largest wave of immigration in American history, says Marcelo Surez-Orozco, founder of the Harvard Immigration Project, now known as Immigration Studies @ NYU. He is a professor of globalization and education at New York University.

“We have more groups coming at a faster rate and changing our society with a speed we’ve never seen before,” he says.

In addition to immigrant families, the number of children from other countries adopted by U.S. parents has tripled from 1990 to 2005.  The fact that white parents are adopting babies from China, Guatemala or South Korea who don’t look like them reinforces the idea that race matters less. So does the fact that interracial marriages, though still not common, have increased from less than 1% of U.S. marriages in 1970 to almost 6% of marriages in the 2000 Census.

The tide began turning when the Supreme Court in 1967 struck down laws in 16 states forbidding marriage between blacks and whites.

No pressure to ‘choose sides’

A Gallup Poll on interracial dating in June found that 95% of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of blacks and whites dating. About 60% of that age group said they have dated someone of a different race.

Olivia Lin, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is Asian; she’s dating someone who is Puerto Rican and says her family is “pretty open to it.” Lin, who will graduate in the spring with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, in the fall will attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., the only non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored college or university in the country.

High school freshman Aliya Whitaker, 14, of Montclair, N.J., says her mother is Jamaican and her father is African-American. Her mother encourages her to make friends with those of other races.

“She’s never told me to stick with my own people or choose sides,” Whitaker says. “When my friends have quinceaeras (Hispanic girls’ 15th-birthday celebrations) or bar mitzvahs (a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony for 13-year-olds), she encourages me to go.

“But she says: ‘Remember where you come from.’ “

This post was originally written by Sharon Jayson in USA Today.   Click here to read the entire article.

Say What You Mean

Why is it so hard to say what we really mean?  Our feelings of pride often conflict with being vulnerable.  Its hard to let our guard down.  Even in a relationship.  A former student said to me once that her boyfriend never listened to her.  She explained by saying that one night she went over to see him.  She told him she had a hard day and she was exhausted.  She then stated that she was mad because he went on to tell her about how hard his day was.   I mentioned that he seemed to listen to what she said, but she wasn’t happy with his response.  She said that she was mad because he didn’t ask her what was hard about her day, or offer to give her a hug, or tell her how great she was anyway.  We discussed the fact that she didn’t ask for those things, but still expected him to get that message.

So often we want something from someone, but instead of being direct, we assume people are mind readers.   This student wanted a hug, she wanted to talk about her day and be encouraged, but she never asked for those things.  She wanted her boyfriend to just “know” she needed them.  A lot of times in relationships people don’t want to risk rejection, so they don’t always ask for what they want.  Or they believe that they shouldn’t even have to ask.  You may believe it doesn’t mean as much if you have to ask for something because you think it is less sincere.  I disagree.  If you tell someone what you want and they are willing to make that adjustment or change, it says a lot about their feelings for you.  I think its important to let your boyfriend or girlfriend know what you want or need, especially in a relationship.  If they ignore you, then you have a problem to address.

Communication is complicated in relationships especially because its hard to find someone that thinks, feels, and believes the exact same way you do.  It is easy to become upset when people don’t always interpret your needs in the right way.  It can cause a lot of conflict.  The first person to look at when it comes to communication is you.  Find out if there is anything you can do differently to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a way that others can understand you more easily.  Ask yourself if you are sending “coded” messages to your partner.  Is it fair that they should always know what you mean without you having to open yourself up a little more?  Remember, its not always the listener that is at fault.

It is difficult to be vulnerable.  You may be rejected.  You may ask your partner for a hug and they may look at you like you’re crazy.  You may come to realize that your partner isn’t ever going to be the physically affectionate type.  They aren’t going to automatically hug you when you’re feeling upset.  You can handle this a couple of different ways.  You can choose to let it go and get that affection from other friends and family.  You may talk to your mom or your best friend if you need a hug.  It may decide its enough that your partner does other great things for you when you feel down.  Maybe they offer great advice or cook you your favorite dinner to make you feel better.  Look for the other things that your partner brings to the table and ask yourself if that is enough for you to feel good about your relationship?

The other thing you can do is decide that it isn’t enough.  Maybe you’ve opened up to your boyfriend or girlfriend about things you need in the relationship and they’ve ignored all of them.  You may come to the conclusion that they aren’t able to give you what you need.  Sometimes a couple may have similar interests, but the way they communicate or show love is completely opposite.  This can be overcome, but it requires a lot of compromise.  Again, you can look outside your relationship to meet some of your needs.  One person is never going to meet all of your needs anyway.  Which is why friends and family are so important.  However, if you are going outside of your relationship to meet almost all of your emotional or physical needs, then you may want to consider the fact you may not be in the right relationship.

The key is first ask for or explain what you want or need.  Don’t let yourself get upset over something your partner may not even know you are wanting.  Again, not everyone comes from the same background or thinks the same way.  What may seem obvious to you, may not be obvious to your partner.  Give them a chance to know what you need.  Also, remember that you may need to remind them sometimes.  Habits are hard to break and they may not always react the way you want or need them to.  If they ask you to do something that seems odd or different to you, you’ll realize that it isn’t always so easy to remember something that doesn’t come naturally to you.  However, if you both can be patient, it will be worth it.  It always better if both you and your partner open up  and help each other make a few healthy changes.  However, sometimes the person can promise to make a change and never follow through.  You’ll feel like you have to constantly remind them and they constantly forget or fall off after one or two times.  The anger and resentment will build and start to really damage the relationship.

In this case, you may come to realize that you need to leave the relationship because you’ll start to feel rejected by your partner.  It does happen.  Not everyone can give you what you need in a relationship.  This is why you date before you get married.  You want to find out what works and what doesn’t.  Dating helps you realize what you can and can not compromise on.  You can either change what you need or change the person you depend on to meet those needs.  It isn’t easy, but definitely necessary to live your life with someone and be happy.

Nominated for the Illuminating Blogger Award!!!

On Wednesday I was nominated for the Illuminating Blogger Award!  I was nominated by the blog, So It Must Be True…, written by Valerie.  The nomination is for blogs with illuminating and informative content.  I’m honored by this nomination, and I’m truly grateful to all the readers out there that either enjoy or have been helped by reading my blog.

In accepting this award, I have to share one random thing about myself.  I guess it is no secret that I love to help people.  What some people may not know is that I love animals.  I am addicted to reading blogs about cats and dogs.  They crack me up and the pictures are usually too cute for words.  I get a chance to see the lighter side of life, and it really helps me cope with the things I hear in my counseling sessions.  Here are my three favorite blogs about cats and dogs.   The Blog of Otis, Rumpydog, and Kitty Bloger

Another part of accepting this award is being able to nominate five other talented bloggers. Therefore, I would like to give the Illuminating Blogger Award to the following blogs:

One Gay at a Time-  I started to read his blog a couple of months after I started writing College Life.  He gives a very honest and open inside view into his dating life as a gay man in New York City.  I started adding a few LGBT relationship posts onto my blog soon after I started reading his blog and used some of the insights I learned from his life to benefit the LGBT students who may read my blog.

Rewriting Life- This blog is written by Kaleigh.  She uses her blog to help people, especially younger girls gain strength and build their confidence.  She just finished her senior year in college and may have just graduated in the last few weeks.  She is also the founder of the website, HUGstronger.  I have been inspired by her writing and can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Singleosophy-  This blog is written by friends, Grant, Max, Les and Heather.  Although, I think Les is taking a hiatus from the blog.  They write using a lot of their own experiences with dating and life in general.  It is very humorous, yet insightful at the same time.

The Unforseen Wisdom Ahead-  Lauren writes this blog.  She opens her heart and soul in her blog posts.  I love to read her posts about life, love, dating and her dreams.  Her blog has inspired some of my ideas for my posts.

Finding Roots-  I love this blog by Jarryd.  He is a college student who is finding himself.  His writing is genuine and honest.  He writes about dating, friendships, being gay, his major which is public relations, entertainment,inspiration and life in general.  His blog is entertaining and full of great information.

The Fifty Shades of Grey Phenomenon

The Fifty Shades Trilogy has become a huge phenomenon.  I know many college women and maybe some curious guys are reading it.  What makes this trilogy so popular?  It seems to tap into those fantasies that a lot of people have about finding someone you are completely consumed with and can’t get enough of.  I have heard that this book started from another phenomenon called “Fan Fiction”.  I haven’t read or wrote any fan fiction, but a couple students  told me that it started with the “Twilight” series.  The writer’s of fan fiction use Bella and Edward as inspiration for characters and make up their own story about them.  Usually it is very sexual in nature.  “Fifty Shades of Grey” started out as a fan fiction novel on the internet.  It was so hugely popular that it became a book.  The author, E.L. James, changed the names of the characters from Bella and Edward to Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey.

First off, I’ll just come right out and say I’m one of the few women left on the planet that has not read the Fifty Shades Trilogy.  I think most people picked up the book because of curiosity and as they started to read it they became hooked.  I have read the Twilight series and I was hooked immediately by the first book.  I love the story of Edward and Bella.  Edward is so drawn to her that he denies his own instincts to be around her.  What woman wouldn’t be drawn to that?

That is the same kind of draw to the Fifty Shades series.  My guess is that it isn’t just the S&M and blatant pornographic scenes in the book that have hooked so many people into reading it.  I’ve heard that women are drawn to the main character, Christian.  He calls all the shots and doesn’t get emotionally involved.  Then Anastasia comes along.  He is intrigued by her and he realizes even though he is the dominant in the relationship, he isn’t completely in control anymore.  Him being so consumed by his need for her is what drives people to be hooked into the story.

When some people think of S&M, they only think of one person punishing or hurting the other one to becomes sexually aroused.  If this was true, then it wouldn’t be such a huge fantasy for so many people.  The reality is that S&M is all about choice.  It may look like one person is forcing his will, but ultimately the submissive is choosing that role.  He or she wants to be in that position.  It is an interesting dynamic.  One person really looks like they are in control, but if you look closer, you’ll see that it is an illusion.  A person can gain power in two ways.  They can take it by sheer force or they can be offered it by someone who freely gives it to them.  In the book Anastasia gets to Christian, but she freely gives him power over her.  Their feelings are mutual.

When it comes to sexual fantasies, many people can feel very ashamed.  There are a lot of mixed messages about sex in our culture and many people can become confused about their sexual feelings.  I don’t suggest that people open up to just anyone about those very private thoughts.  However, in a trusting relationship, it can draw two people closer together if they share their fantasies.  You can let your partner know if you aren’t comfortable with something they bring up without shaming them.  You also don’t have to try something just because your partner has had a sexual fantasy about it.  Not all fantasies are meant to be acted out in real life.  That doesn’t mean you can’t still use them to enhance your sex life with your partner.

The key is being open, honest and affirming.  Listening to your partner openly and being able to affirm that they have a right to feel or think the way they do, even if you don’t agree.  You both need to be okay with each other saying no and not feeling rejected as a person.  When acting out any sexual fantasy, both people involved have to be okay with the situation.  If one person feels coerced or forced, it will cause a lot of resentment to build.   It is okay to try something because you want to make your partner happy, even though it may make you feel a little uncomfortable.  Just know you can say no if you find out you don’t like it after you’ve tried it.  If your partner isn’t open to you saying no, then you have bigger problems than sexual compatibility in the relationship.

When reading the Fifty Shades trilogy, remember that you are reading fiction and that life doesn’t always work out the way it does in books.  Fantasies are great, but remember that reality doesn’t always live up to fantasies for a reason.   Not everyone is compatible.  It isn’t easy to find someone who wants you as much as you want them and then on top of that be completely sexually compatible.  The reality is that in real life people usually have to let something go or compromise to be in a successful relationship.   Just remember there isn’t something wrong with you if you like something and your partner doesn’t.  Be confident about yourself and how you feel.  If living out a particular fantasy is really important to you, you may need to be in a relationship with someone who feels the same way.  If your relationship is more important, than let go of living out that sexual fantasy and continue to use it in other ways to enhance your sex life.

Also, please remember that sex won’t be fulfilling if it isn’t mutual.  In the trilogy I’m pretty sure Christian isn’t forcing something that Anastasia is truly against.  Make sure you are confident enough to stand up for yourself and that your partner respects you enough to listen before you engage in any sexual activity.   To be safe, make sure you trust the person and know that you can say no at any time.  Not everyone out there should be trusted obviously.  It is no small thing to open up about your sexual fantasies, and you should be careful when choosing who to be vulnerable with.  Lastly, remember to use protection.  People do get STD’s in real life!