Sex and the University: Learning Curves

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[Written By: Charlotte Dean]

We all have a past. Some people ignore it. Some people delve too deeply into theirs, and some never learn from it. With age we need to accept our past for its heavenly highs and for its painful pitfalls. There are moments and times I am not particularly proud of, whether it was going on a trampoline blind-drunk in wedge heels (and thankfully only breaking a small bone in my foot) to giving too much too soon to someone who wasn’t worth it. We need to consider our own ideals and opinions far more and this can begin with accepting our faults. When in toxic relationships we all have done things we regret, but as long as we ask for forgiveness and know we’ve done wrong only then will we be able to move on.

In my last article I wrote of how I needed to have a clear mentality and belief of what I wanted and in doing so, my standards gradually increased and I became more rooted in what I deserve. It just so happened that during this time where I had declared I would be celibate for six months (after Croissant left the picture of course), that someone reached out to me. I have known of him and his talented baking ability for a number of years but after a few instagram messages and flirty exchanges in his bakery he asked me out for dinner (in French).

At the beginning, Vanilla put in a lot of effort with me and showed me a lot of respect – perhaps due to the fact I knew him before we started dating. Although I’d like to think that somehow over the last two years of writing this column it’s actually not just the guys I’ve liked who have changed, but me making better choices, too. I’m finally realising, after having my own toxic relationships, that high standards are really what are required when choosing someone to go out with – and it’s not just based on having great sex or someone knowing exactly how to woo you, but someone who respects you and makes an effort and knows your worth.

The amount of guys I have spoken to about their heartbreak with their previous exes is astonishing and their lack of communication about their personal lives with their male friends is quite unhealthy, in all honesty. It doesn’t mean they should be open books if they don’t want to, but sharing is a way of not only venting but also having someone who could help with advice whilst being able to feel comfortable enough to break down to. I have been condemned in the past for being too sensitive, but what does that mean anyway? Because I cry probably a handful of times a week, or because I won’t be able to watch a baby grey whale being hunted by orcas? Allowing yourself to have feelings, to be open and wear your heart on your sleeve can be noted as being immature and incapable of self-control, but really, isn’t giving yourself the responsibility and chance of feeling the worst lows the epitome of maturity? We allow ourselves to be consumed with our studies and have several meltdowns in the library so why have we forgotten it’s okay to feel this way over a certain person? Apologies for being “intense” and “sensitive” are no longer required, why should we morph ourselves into that perfect ideal girl that would win the guy over? But, then again, it’s not about changing, it’s about knowing our own-self worth and respect and it shouldn’t be forgotten when we begin to fear someone pulling away.

I like to regard myself as an open book, but it’s important to remember that by telling people the ins and outs of your thoughts, it hands them over a power tool with it. When asking for advice one moment, they’ll think the next time you tell them a secret that you are seeking more advice when in actual fact you were only venting. It’s like a sugar addiction, once someone tastes power and control, they’ll keep feasting on the opportunity to share their opinion at every turn. Safe to say I have asked for numerous pieces of advice for dating, but for some reason with Vanilla, I haven’t really consulted anyone for any of it (well not as much as usual). Just how to make a vegetable Thai curry – that’s about it. Maybe it’s all down to how comfortable we feel with the people we date, or it could be that Vanilla is quite a bit older (not saying I am a panther but there is an age gap). All in all, I’ve come to the realisation that it is just me dating him, not some immensely articulate texter or ‘cool girl’, but instead someone who ends up revealing their weirdness within the first week of dating.

I’ve written and discussed about how common it is for someone to have commitment problems, but what happens after you’ve spent more than a couple of weeks speaking to someone and it’s going great but then you don’t quite know how to ask if you’re exclusive or not? If you are, does that mean you’re still just seeing or are you boyfriend and girlfriend? Countless aunties and sometimes even uncles have openly discussed how baffled they are by the fact our generation seems to have a cluster of stages in a relationship or for how long the pre-relationship time period lasts. They would say how they would know after only a handful of dates with someone whether we wanted to go out with them or not. They wouldn’t waste much time on the pros and cons, they would just appreciate the person and be completely decisive. Is it because we think we have more options? Or is it just that our standards have slipped and we have looser morals so we aren’t as desirable? Without sex, my relationships with guys progressed very quickly into having an “official status” – and it makes me wonder if it really is just a game where standards do have to be set in order to be officially official. Or will no one commit on personality and chemistry alone anymore?

The icing on the cake with Vanilla was the literal cakes – that is, getting a handful of free cakes along the way, and learning that he was having his cake and eating it too kind of guy early on (better late than never I suppose). I can’t pinpoint what exactly ticked him off into the “not interested in me anymore”- category and pushed me away, but I no longer blame myself. I had to consider losing gluten-free cake along the way, but I chose to end it because shouldn’t we all be with someone who, despite a busy schedule, wants to see us and is 100% committed to us? They should be courteous and meet you to have an adult conversation and say what they’re feeling. Instead guys, more often than not, hide behind the screen rather than plucking up the courage to face confrontation and upset. I guess it ended how it began, and God knows the rest started that way too.

I’ve come to realise that having high standards and expectations is a good thing. Too much time and investment can be given too soon to someone without getting the same amount back. For so long I forgot what having standards felt like, it doesn’t mean I think I deserve my own Prince Harry but it’s only right that we all learn to expect better from people. I don’t want just nights in watching TV in someone’s bed just because that’s all they want to do – everyone deserves a bit of excitement when dating someone and a change of scenery. Dating is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? It doesn’t mean we have to act spoiled and that it’s our way or the highway – you also have to respect someone’s work schedule (which may be hard) but feeling that you deserve respect will give you more, genuinely. If this still does not happen, then well, as my friend who we’ll call Arty says about guys like that: “he’s in the bin!”

Another common trait with guys I’ve found is that once guys have sex they immediately pull back and give less effort and respect. I understand a slight element of chase and “reward” (which makes them sounds like dogs) has been taken away, but this is quite an immature process. A message for the guys reading this, it doesn’t mean you’ve won her over, that now she’s the one who’s keener than you and that she won’t have other offers elsewhere. She might say she doesn’t like sleeping with several people at the one time, but if you haven’t made anything official and you stop putting in effort, she’ll move on. Sex can make people feel incredibly attractive and powerful but also disposable and used – this can be from being underappreciated after it by guys when they either ghost you or clearly show they value your timeless. Even if you wait a couple of dates, weeks or even years to sleep with someone you’d think that both of you would be mature, regardless of your age. As Carrie Bradshaw said, “isn’t delayed gratification the definition of maturity?” But she forgot to mention after sex, the chemical imbalance between the man and the woman and how guys more often than not are less interested after the deed is done. No matter how compatible you feel with someone, women will feel that the guys appreciate them less than before due to guys constantly getting away with things – especially when we excuse the behaviour by saying “that’s just what guys are like though.”

Once a guy stops making as much effort, warning signals should trigger you to think, is he really worth it? Some girls will wonder what is wrong with them and why they’re un-loveable to guys – when really it’s the guy’s fault for not being able to see their luck and respect you, even if it’s just to do the adult thing and tell you they’re not interested anymore because of such and such. It seems to me they continuously think that the girl is head over heels as messages might come through quicker than usual and they might think we’re being extra-nice. In fact, we’re just nice people and not falling for any more games – we thought you were interested in us too and things were progressing equally.

One of the many things the last four years has taught me is to know your own self-worth, and having a huge amount of self-respect and love is the key to a happy life and love life. l never won fuck-boys over as I wasn’t cool, and that’s still the case – but thank goodness as at the end of the day you want someone who can be consistent with their feelings towards you. If someone else thinks I’m special to them, that’s a bonus, but I’m not going to melt away if someone isn’t going to show me I am. I have more self-respect after all, shouldn’t I? If Vanilla hadn’t stayed too chilled for my liking, then maybe I could have seen him being special to me. I was ready for him to add a flake and some raspberry sauce to the mix, but again, some people can’t raise the stakes at the same pace as me – and if they can’t commit to you fully then it’s time to move on to the next. At least there’s plenty more flavours still to try and cool me in the heat this summer.


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