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?

Why You Shouldn’t Be Friends With Your Ex

This can be quite the pickle as you end a relationship and feel as if you don’t necessarily want it to be completely over. Carefully walk the friend line because there is a good chance someone will be hurt.

So here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex.

1. When you breakup with someone you are still going to have feelings for them– you can’t just turn them off once you become friends. This is going to lead to a disaster or disappointment.

2. False Hope– when you become friends with your ex, you don’t necessarily want to admit that there is any false hope. Let’s be honest; one of you will have the anticipation that you will get back together.

3. You’ve seen each other naked. This is going to be kind of awkward as you hang out and you will surely blur what a friendship is once a conversation leads to a topic having anything to do with being naked.

4. You’re not going to actively want them to be with anyone else. What is the point of being friends if you can’t really be friends with them on Facebook and comfortably see who they are flirting with? Also, judging the girl commenting on his pictures isn’t the healthiest hobby to have.

5. Friends can talk about sex and dating other people. There is a good chance you will be uncomfortable if you ever hear anything sexual about your ex which defeats the purpose of a friendship. Why would you want to talk about sex with your ex… who you are NOT having sex with?

6. Good chance you will sleep with each other again. You might regret this the day after when you are confused about what you should think or say to them. Especially if one doesn’t become attached from it.

7. You deserve to be around people who make you happy. If your ex broke up with you, then you need to reconsider how they really make you feel. If you think they make you happy, then the next day you hate them—that doesn’t sound like much fun.

8. Hanging out with friends requires friend activities, including attending their wedding(s). Can you go to your ex’s wedding and be fine with it?

9. Being friends with your ex is just going to lead to breaking up again and again. Going through a breakup once is already hard enough. Why do it more than once?

10. This doesn’t necessarily apply to every ex. There are rare relationships where the ending is truly mutual and neither would care if the other has moved on and are not interested in being an item again.

I hope these reasons were able to help you out in some way. It’s never a fun situation to be in but remember you will be fine and you need to keep your chin up!

This post originally featured in Living the College Life

Hooking Up With Your Ex

Weak moments…many people have them when it comes to their ex’s.  Since it seems to be almost impossible to delete them off your Facebook and out of your contacts on your phone, it is too easy to hit them up for sex when you have a lonely or drunk moment.

It is logical to want to stay away from someone you just broke up with.  However, break ups are rarely ever logical.  Emotions are messy and it can take awhile to extricate someone completely out of your life.  Unless one half of the couple is resolute on never speaking to the other half ever again, sex is very likely to happen.

Why?  Because loneliness sucks!  Your mind tells you that at least your ex is familiar territory.  Sometimes there is an underlying agenda of wanting to get back together with your ex.  Sometimes it is just about wanting sex in a weak or stupid moment.  Other times, you just don’t want them to be having sex with anyone else, so you make sure your still offering it up.  You may not exactly want to get back together, but you aren’t ready to let them go either.

Whatever reason you are using to still hook up with your ex, just know that it could make things a lot more messy in long run.  First scenario, you are still in love with your ex, but your ex is no longer in love with you.  Yes, they may agree to have sex with you which makes you feel good in the moment.  However, after that moment passes you feel even more alone.  It can make you miss that person more and hope that maybe you might get back together.  You may think you can keep it casual, but deep down you know you’ll freak out if you find out they are seeing someone else.  Unfortunately, this is how this particular scenario usually ends up.  One day your ex will find someone else, at that point, they are probably going to have an easier time turning you down for sex.  When you find out they are in fact seeing and having sex with someone else you are going to go through the break up pain all over again.  The hope of getting back together is gone and it can be pretty devastating.

Second scenario, you are wanting to have sex with your ex to keep them from having sex with someone else.  This may or may not work in reality.  Remember, you are no longer together.  This means they aren’t cheating on you if they are having sex with someone else during the same time period they are still having sex you.  If it comes out that they are sleeping with other people besides you it is going to cause you to feel very angry.  You will want to start a fight that you don’t really have a right to start.  They don’t owe you anything after a break up.  I know they SHOULD have told you they were having sex with someone else, but they don’t HAVE to.  You may still feel like they cheated on you because they weren’t upfront.  However, remember many people lie in order to have sex.  Don’t be surprised that your ex is doing the same thing.

Third scenario, you just want a random hook up because you are feeling lonely or too drunk to care.  Maybe you don’t have a hidden agenda.  You have emotionally moved on, but the prospect of having sex with your ex is too strong to pass up.  This seems simple and at first doesn’t reveal any complications.  However, what do you think the chances are your ex is on the same emotional page as you when it comes to your break up?  Lets guess…about 1%.  I haven’t done a study, but I feel that is a pretty good guess.  So don’t complain when the texts and phone calls start up the following day.  You may have just opened a door that should have remained shut.  Now you have to deal with the emotional fall out all over again because they are hoping to see you or hang out again.  Remember, you aren’t the only one involved in this game, be prepared for drama when you don’t respond to their text or Facebook message the next day.

Last scenario, you are in a new relationship, but feel like hooking up with your ex for old times sake.  Think again!  This is cheating and don’t think your ex won’t try to mess up your new relationship because they are too mature for that kind of drama.  You are taking a very big chance that all will stay quiet and on the down low.  If you are in a new relationship then that hopefully means you have moved on.  Stay moved on or decide not to get into a new relationship yet.  The mature thing to do is be faithful, instead of expecting your ex to the mature one by not updating their status as “hooked up with ex last night”  on their Facebook page.

No one is perfect and it is hard to move on after a break up.  I know having sex with your ex is common, but don’t give up on trying to set better boundaries with them.  It is possible, and deep down, you know you either want more from your ex or they are wanting more from you.  Remember, short term pain for long term gain.  I always tell students that they can handle a lot more than they think they can.  Which means you can get through that lonely moment and feel proud of yourself the next day that you didn’t give in.  In the mean time, if you do mess up, just remember a day will come when you will be moved on.  Live for that day and don’t give up trying to make that day sooner than later.

Finding Yourself When You’re Single

I saw this post on College Candy. It was written by Katie.  Feel free to click on the link to read more from Katie.

My name is Katie. I’m a twenty-something. I am single. I mean like, painfully single. This means no guys to kiss, to flirt with, to text, to complain to your girlfriends about, etc. Nada. Nothing. Zip. I’m in the healing process from a pretty brutal breakup, and now that ex-Manfriend and I are dunzo, it’s time for me to be single—painfully single.

This is usually the moment when I panic and scramble to find someone, anyone to fill the void that comes with being alone. I will reel in past loves that didn’t work the first ten times. I’ll text a “thinking of you” message to The One That Got Away. I’ll even contemplate online dating for a hot minute. I feel the need to do all this because I’d rather grasp at straws than let the loneliness step in and take control.

I think this is the time in our lives when we’re just plain confused about everything, including love. Am I supposed to be single? Am I supposed to be looking for a hubby? I never know what’s “right” or “normal” in the dating world of a twenty-something. Maybe it’s because a few of my friends are getting hitched and having babies (Please stop doing this by the way, people. I’m not emotionally ready to handle it. Think about ME.), or maybe it’s because I’m afraid of being alone. It could just be the anxiety that drives me to feel like if I don’t pair up soon, I never will. It could be because I’m not exactly the best at being single.

And that doesn’t mean that I’m always in a relationship—quite the contrary actually. I’ve said the “L” word a couple times and been in “serious relationships” (Whatever the hell that means anymore. #bitter), but for the majority of my life, I’ve been a single woman. I think I’m okay with being single, just not painfully single. I guess I should explain the difference.

If you ask any of my girlfriends, they will tell you that I always have “someone.” This basically means that I always have a guy to like or “talk to” or text. I go on dates and all that fun stuff, but there is never any pressure of commitment. When I’m not committed, I’m probably semi-committed by my own doing because I can’t deal with the pain of being single. Sidenote: If I don’t make sense right now, that’s normal because I never make sense to myself when it comes to any of this stuff either. It’s just that when I don’t have anyone to “talk to”, that is when the pain of being single seeps in. It feels like nothing else will ever come along. No new catches, no old flames—just me, myself and I.

When I become painfully single, the panic sets in. I switch into desperation mode. I start looking at my best guy friend differently, consider online dating, and go out more than usual just in case the man of my dreams sits down at the barstool next to me.

I have to ask myself why I’m suddenly entertaining the thought of dating my Boy BFF. Is it because I’m actually interested and have feelings for him or could it be that I can’t deal with being 100% alone? I’m beginning to think the latter. Can you blame me though? Who doesn’t like having someone to text the mundane details of your life to? Someone to snuggle and watch Netflix with? Someone to call yours? Being part of a pair is a wonderful feeling of fulfillment. Though for the first time as a twenty-something, I’m starting to recognize that having a guy be interested in me is not the “be all, end all” for my personal fulfillment.

I’m learning that I can be happy and content without a guy in my life. I can believe that I’m worthy without needing a guy to reassure me of that. I can find out who I am on my own. Male attention should not dictate my happiness and quality of life. I can be alone.

There is nothing wrong with being single. In your twenties, it might actually be one of the best things for you. I think that being single is something you have to do for a little while in order to understand who you are as an individual. A friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend about a year ago, and of course, she was bummed. But instead of crying and moping around, she took up running. Whenever she was feeling upset, she just went out for a jog. She soon found herself running almost everyday of the week. About a month ago, she crossed the finish line of her first half marathon.

She told me that she would never have known how much she enjoyed running if her and her ex had never called it quits. She’d be too busy traveling to go visit him a few states away or working extra hours at her job to save up for a plane ticket to go see him on the weekends.

Being single allows us ladies to find out who we are and what we’re passionate about without having a guy influence us. Because let’s be honest, do you really like to golf? Or watching Monday Night Football? Or playing Tony Hawk on his old Playstaion? Or watching Dumb and Dumber whenever it’s on cable? Maybe you do if you’re the perfect woman, but I’m guessing you probably don’t love all those things, you just adopted them because he loves them.

When you’re on your own, you have the opportunity to discover your own passions. You have the time to go out and figure out what you enjoy and what you want to do with your life. You get to cross the finish line of your own half marathon. There is no one to answer to. There is just your mind, your passions, your ideas—yourself. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely, and I think for the first time, I’m understanding that difference.

Katie is finishing up her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

Acquaintance Rape

September is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  I wrote this post last year, but feel it is worth repeating.  Date rape happens more often than people think and the beginning of the school year is when most rapes occur.  You think you would know if you’d been raped right?  Not necessarily.  I’ve had women come in for counseling because they felt a friend or acquaintance took advantage of them, either while they were drinking or while they were feeling vulnerable.  They either felt they couldn’t say no or felt pressured by the person they thought they could trust.

Acquaintance Rape happens a lot more often then being assaulted by a stranger.  Over 77% of women report being sexually assaulted by someone they know.  Of those 77% only 2% will actually report the assault.  Why do you think so many women refuse to come forward?  Sometimes it is out of fear.  Sometimes it’s because the woman blames herself for getting into the situation.  Sometimes the woman feels she didn’t say no forcefully enough.   A lot of the time, women will minimize their feelings and try to tell themselves to just forget what happened.

The following situation is an example of why sexual assault isn’t always so black and white:   One night a woman runs into one of her male friends.  She is upset, and he offers to listen and give her some advice.  She starts crying and opening up about what happened with another guy.  She tells him she feels rejected and unlovable.   Her male friend offers comfort and support.  He may start to hug her and rub her back.  It starts to get late and he asks her to stay a little longer so she won’t feel lonely.  They hang out and talk some more.  He starts to cuddle with her and before she realizes it they are kissing.  She says she should leave, but he convinces her that the other guy is stupid for rejecting her.  He tells he thinks she is beautiful, and he would never do that to her.  He continues to touch her and she gives in.  Soon most of their clothing is removed.  She starts to push him away again, but he resists and continues to hold and touch her.  He tells her not to worry, he’ll treat her right.  She feels guilty for letting things go this far.  She also feels she owes him for listening to her.  They have sex.

The best outcome of this scenario is the next day she feels bad about giving in and having sex.  She feels she consented in the end because she didn’t say no.  She may confront her friend and tell him she regrets her decision and doesn’t want to have sex with him again.  She may or may not ever choose to open up to him again when she feels upset or vulnerable.  She may also have lost some respect or trust for him, but doesn’t feel traumatized by the event.

The next best scenario is the next day she feels bad about giving in and having sex.  She regrets it, but doesn’t feel strong enough to say anything to him.  She may act like it never happened.  She most likely will avoid talking to him when she feels so upset and vulnerable.  She has lost trust and respect for her friend.  A distance grows between them.  She may feel a little upset about the event, but tells herself she has lived and learned.  Next time she will open up to a girlfriend or talk to her guy friends during the daytime when she feels a little safer.

The worst scenario is the next day she feels sick to her stomach when she thinks about what happened.  She feels violated.  She regrets not saying no more forcefully, but feels he should have known she wasn’t there for sex.  She wishes he would have listened when she tried to stop him earlier and pushed him away.  She not only has lost trust and respect for this male friend, she now feels like he is a predator who only listened to her so he could get sex.  She feels traumatized by the event and can’t stop thinking about it.  She is very emotional and doesn’t know what she should do now.  She is very afraid of seeing him again.  Will anyone believe her?  She may start to blame herself and tell herself all the things she should have done.  She most likely won’t report it.  She will go on to blame herself even though somewhere inside she knows she was sexually assaulted by her friend.

Research funded by the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that  1 out of 5 college women will be sexually assaulted.  September happens to be the month when most sexual assaults are reported.  School has just begun and many college students are experiencing their freedom for the first time.  Students go out with their friends and blow off stress from the week.  Some may drink and end up in situations similar to the one above.  The next day they may feel they were assaulted, but don’t report it because they blame themselves for drinking too much.

Unfortunately, sexual assault can happen in all different types of situations.  However, they all leave the person assaulted feeling very vulnerable, scared and alone.  A lot of guilt is also embedded into these situations.  I used the above example to show that rape isn’t always black and white.  Different people are going to feel differently after experiencing similar situations.  However, your feelings are not wrong, whether you feel just slightly uncomfortable or horribly traumatized.  Everyone is different, and your feelings are more true than the details of how it happened.  No one can tell you that you shouldn’t feel something.

If you do feel traumatized, it does help to talk about it.  Processing your feelings can help you move through them.  This will make them less powerful in your mind and help you learn to not blame yourself.  You won’t “get over it”, but it may help you not think about it all the time or have nightmares about it.   I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but I do know that women have worked through this and felt they were able to take their power back.  If you are continuing to struggle, please see a counselor or someone non-judgmental who won’t tell you how to feel, but help you process your feelings no matter what they are.

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!!

Should You Confess to Cheating?

I read a post on Sexy Tofu’s blog about whether confessing to cheating is always right thing to do.  I thought she had some good insights and made some good points.  I decided to copy her post and share with you her thoughts on this topic:

I’ve written before on infidelity; It’s a big “no no” in my book—which, in case you were wondering, probably closer resembles a dog-eared trashy paperback than a manual on ethics.  But I’m going to get into ethics now.  Bear with me.

Most of us already know that when it comes to emotions, not everything is in black and white.  We all have feelings, and these feelings can make a bigger mess than a two year old with a white wall and a box of crayons.

However, if we want to get ethical, are there shades of grey when it comes to right and wrong?  Are moral standards based on the eye of the beholder?  Does right and wrong change situationally?  Is a hero still a hero if he only saved that little boy from the well because he knew he would be showered in praise?

Oh man, that was some rapid fire questioning.  Back on track.  I think that cheating is always the wrong thing to do.  If you’re unhappy or unfulfilled in your relationship, get out of it.  Don’t cheat.  But no one can be right all the time, and so let’s consider what happens after you have cheated.  Most would consider that the “right” thing to do would be to tell your partner.  Come clean.  You’ve already been unfaithful, let’s not double the offense with dishonesty.  Right?

I think it depends on both the situation and motive behind your confession.

As for situation: How big is your offense?  If you meet with an old flame or a stranger and share a fleeting kiss, a one time mistake completely regretted, is that something worth uprooting your partners’ self esteem and your relationship?  Some would say no, and others would say yes.  You made your bed, now lie in it—crumbled relationship and all.

What if you’ve cheated but plan on leaving anyway?  Is it better to just leave and save your partner a bit of dignity (being left is bad enough, being betrayed and left is even worse), or should you tell them before you go?
What if you’re a habitual cheater?  That sort of dishonesty is often a personality trait; someone who tends to veer toward the hedonistic side of things.  Should Sir Tryst A Lot come clean while someone who kissed a stranger at the bar should keep their lips sealed?  Does it matter the level of offense, or is a cheater a cheater a cheater?

And as for motives, what if in your confession you lift your own burden of guilt only to place it on the shoulders of your partner?  You may feel better, but they all of a sudden feel betrayed and hurt. And anyone who has ever been cheated on knows that even if you KNOW the offense had nothing to do with you or your actions, you cannot help but take it personally.  It will make you insecure, even if only momentarily.  It’s insanely difficult, even for the most logical and mature of us, not to turn betrayal inward.  And on top of the pain you put on your partner, the relationship will suffer, trust will have to be rebuilt, if possible.  So in this light, is it always right to be honest?

I think the righteousness of a confession can also depend greatly on the motive behind the confession.  A friend of mine recently brought up the concept of acting out of love vs. out of fear.  Not to get all new agey on you, but I think that could have a lot to do with what makes coming clean the right or the wrong thing to do.  Are you telling your partner because you love them truly, because you’re truly sorry, and you want to correct your dishonest behavior and rebuild? Or are you telling them because you’re trying to remove your own guilt, which some may argue is a product of fear.  Or on the other end, could you argue that in staying quiet, you are acting on fear–the fear of your partner leaving you if they find out what you’ve done?  UGH I know this stuff has some merit but I really can’t talk about love and fear without thinking about Donnie Darko.

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion

So let’s take this into pop culture, shall we. Recently to the horror of all those Twihards, Kristin Stewart admitted to cheating on R-Patz (nose wrinkle) with the MARRIED director of Snow White and the Huntsman. However she only admitted to it after some photos of her and director Rupert Sanders surfaced. Stewart regrets it, Sanders regrets it, lots of tears all around. But neither of the offenders came clean without the pressure of being found out, which makes their admissions completely fear based. Double fail for this shady lady.

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

Why Are You Having Sex?

There are a lot of reasons to have sex.  Same action, different intent (or reason), different result.  Sex can be simple or it can get really complicated.  When deciding to have sex, make sure it’s for the right reasons, otherwise the complications add up quickly.

Why have sex?  That is a good question.  Hopefully you decide to have sex because you are in love with someone and want to take your relationship to the next level.  Maybe you decide to have sex because it is fun.   There are many good reasons to have sex, and it doesn’t matter how often.  Even more promiscuous people can be having sex for the right reasons.  In fact a lot of promiscuous people tend to be safer, have more satisfying experiences, and have a sex-positive outlook on life.  Why?  Because they are confident about their decision to have sex.  It is about doing what they want, not about feeling obligated or trying to please someone else.  People who are confident also don’t need to have sex to feel attractive.  They can go out with their friends and not feel compelled to end the night in bed with someone else.  They have standards that they don’t lower just for the sake of sleeping with someone.  Sex isn’t an integral part of their personality – it’s essentially one part of their life that they enjoy.

The decision to have sex should be about you, not about impressing someone else or making someone else happy.  If you feel like you can’t say no, or you don’t have the right to say no, then you are getting into risky territory.  This is your body, and emotional and physical health you’re talking about here.  You should be making the decision to have sex because it is what you want. However, I find a lot of people hop into bed with someone they’re not even attracted to because they feel obligated to have sex.  This could mean there is something in your brain telling you the only value you have is sexual, or that people will only like you if you have sex with them.  You may also feel incomplete if you’re not having as much sex as other people around you.

Stop and think about your choices.  Remember that you actually DO have a choice to have sex.  It is also okay to decide not to have sex.  There is no rule that you have to hook up with someone because it’s Friday night.  If you have friends who think something is wrong with you because you went home alone, then you may want to examine the type of friends you keep.  The key to all this are the words “have to”.  You don’t HAVE TO do anything.  You can stay home and read a book on Friday night or you can go out and have sex with someone if it makes you happy.  Again, the key is doing what makes you happy.  In college it can be easy to get caught up in doing what you think other people would approve of.  Trust me, it is way more important to do things you approve of.  You have to live with yourself when you wake up the next day.  If you are okay with your choices, then don’t let others judge you or push you into doing things that make you feel uncomfortable.

Also, think about your choices after a night of drinking.  Maybe you make good decisions about sex when you’re sober.  You tend to have sex when it pleases you and wake up with no regrets.  However, is it the same after you’ve been drinking?  I meet with many students who only regret their sexual decisions after a night out drinking.  They didn’t intend to have sex, but find they always end up in someone’s bed after downing a couple shots.  Examine your behavior and make some different choices if what you’re doing isn’t making you happy.  If drinking is causing problems in your life, you may want to figure out how to change this pattern before it becomes even more complicated.

Having sex out of obligation, peer pressure, or only while drinking may be the result of something as serious as sexual trauma, a consequence of dangerously low self-esteem or a desperate desire to fit into the “hookup culture” mold.  If you aren’t having sex because it’s fun, pleasurable or as a way to connect to someone you love, then you need to examine why.  Whether you should seek therapy or whether it’s an issue you can work through on your own or with friends, don’t continue to indulge in behavior that isn’t good for you.  Remember, having sex for the wrong reasons is never going to satisfy you or make you feel good about yourself.