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Long-Distance Love: Five Tips for Maintaining a Long-Distance Relationship

by Jessica Gregory

Just because you’re far apart, doesn’t mean you have to be apart.

It seems to be that time again. Midterms are over and we’ve settled into our routines for the year. We’re juggling classes, work, clubs, friends, and, if you’re like me, a long distance relationship. How in the world can we manage to keep that alive?

I won’t lie to you: long-distance relationships are challenging, but with these simple tips, you can handle the distance (and have a life where you are!).

Get in Touch with Your Emotions.

The physical element won’t always be there, so you will ultimately be forced to convey affection through words, gifts, and body language through the screen. Being aware of how you feel and accepting it will help you be honest about your role in the relationship. Amp up the emotional connection to whatever level you and your partner are comfortable with— show them that you care and send hugs with your words.

Talk, Talk, Talk!

If “short-distance” relationships need communication, long-distance ones need even more. We’re in a day and age where smart phones and social media make communication a whole lot more accessible, so use them! Send short updates about your life via your chosen social medium as often as you can, ask about theirs, and don’t forget those cute heart emoticons from time to time. Communication will bring their life and yours together and will also help in maintaining honesty and trust between you two. And please, don’t forget that it is absolutely okay to have a disagreement with your long-distance S.O. It won’t automatically ruin your relationship—in fact, it can make it stronger!

Spend Time Together (Even if You’re Not Together).

Guess what? You can go on dates long-distance. Time differences can sometimes make this harder, but you can still do it. For example, watch the same movie either together or separately, then talk about it. Perhaps join an online chatroom together, compete in little game competitions (we all love a good game once in a while), eat dinner while vid-chatting, or pick a DIY project and compare results. Get creative! You may have to sacrifice some time with your friends to be with them, but it is a necessary sacrifice if you want to keep that flame going.

Remember that it’s YOUR Relationship.

So many people will give you well-meaning advice. So many people will throw statistics at you on the success rate of your relationship or ask you how you can handle the lack of physical contact or tell you exactly why you aren’t being “smart”. Filter those voices out, because listening to those who aren’t in your relationship has its limits. Okay, so they’ve been through it before, but their relationship, no matter how similar, IS NOT yours. Their relationship’s failure does not spell doom for yours any more than their success means the same for you. You can talk every day or once a week if that’s what your relationship needs. You can visit every month or once every two years if that’s what you want. The relationship belongs to you and your S.O. and no one else, so enjoy and spread the love!

Jessica Gregory is a sophomore at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing. She is in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend of three years who attends Virginia Commonwealth University.

Image courtesy of The Root.

How to Have a Great Valentine’s Day 2014

by Molly Scott

Make this your love boat.

I think it’s safe to say that people generally either love or hate Valentine’s Day. The madness of the “holiday” has already begun in most stores (proof: half of Duane Reade has been taken over by red and pink heart-shaped goodies). No matter what your opinion is, we’ve created a list of some things to do with your significant other, your friends, and other fun picks to make your February 14th the best it’s ever been!

Go out and enjoy it! Whether you’re going out with your partner or a group of friends, Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday night so get out and have fun. If you’re looking for a romantic location, TimeOut New York has come up with the best cheap romantic restaurants in NYC. The list includes: Corsino, El Quinto Pino, Esperanto, Kashkaval, Le Barricou, Mesa Coyoacan, Moustache, and Northern Spy Food Co.

Take a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry. Bundle up and take the 1 Train all the way down to South Ferry – the terminal is literally right there. It’s a free ride and the views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty are beautiful (and oh so romantic too). Check the schedule for departures.

Go bowling! This is a great activity for both a group of friends and as a couple. Some bowling alleys in Manhattan include Bowlmor, Lucky Strike, and Frames, and they have restaurants and bars too! Be sure to make a reservation ASAP though (they fill up quickly).

Host a Galentine’s Day! On Thursday night, February 13, honor Leslie Knope’s brilliant idea of Galentine’s Day by celebrating your amazing girlfriends with a gathering that features tons of food! It’s a fun way to appreciate one another and take your mind off Valentine’s Day in general.

Go wild with the desserts and sweets. If all else fails (or even if it doesn’t), dessert is always a good idea. TimeOut New York also came out with a list of amazing NYC bakeries that carry delicious Valentine’s Day treats: Baked by Melissa, Jacques Torres Chocolate, MacarOn Café, Billy’s Bakery (a personal favorite of mine), La Maison du Chocolat, and Max Brenner. There’s also Mondel Chocolates only a few blocks away. Last resort – there’s a ton of candy and chocolate being sold at pharmacies everywhere.

Molly Scott is a junior at Barnard and Senior Editor of The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Love in the Time of iPhones: What Does Lulu Say?

by Rachel Furst

Are you on Lulu?

Launched early in 2013, Lulu is an app that allows women to rate men. The app connects to the user’s Facebook and other social media networks, uploading all males from those sources to Lulu’s database. The profiles can be found on the Lulu dashboard, where women can peruse through images of men rated by other women. The best part is that it is only for girls. Because the app connects through Facebook, anyone registered as a male on the social media site does not have access to the app. Essentially, Lulu is a secret sisterhood-society of sorts, with the intent of looking out for your gal pals by giving them an insider scoop on guys before actually going out there and trying them out yourself.

To create a review, you must first identify your relationship to the guy (while the identity of the rater always remains anonymous, other users will see that a ‘friend,’ ‘hookup,’ ‘crush,’ etc. has rated the guy of interest). Next, you are prompted to answer a series of quirky questions about appearance, humor, manners, sex, first kiss, ambition, and commitment. As the reviewer, you are supposed to select the answers that best describe your guy. Each answer corresponds to a numerical value that is later tallied. But before the score is revealed, you are supposed to select a series of hashtags, first positive (#AmazingCuddles, #SelfMadeMan, #EpicSmile, etc.) and then negative (#HygienicallyChallenged, #SketchyCallLog, #HitItAndQuitIt, etc.) that describe your man. After completing the whole review, your score is revealed: a composite of all the questions combined, and then individual scores for each section of questions – very much like the SAT/ACT if you remember those! At the top of the review is the list of hashtags. Other girls can either agree or disagree with your review, favorite a guy, and write their own reviews.

If the roles were reversed, would you be down?

Lulu, however, has received a lot of backlash as a sort of cyberbullying app. Let’s face it: if there was a version of Lulu for guys out there, us women would be pissed. We would declare it misogynistic, degrading, and hurtful. So what makes it okay for us women to use the app shamelessly?

Truth is, many women have berated the app for the service it provides and have decided to not use it, dismissing it as undignified. As a person who actually was serendipitously recruited to potentially intern for the app (an internship that I actually didn’t see to fruition for various reasons) I was enlightened to the app’s mission and the service they are trying to provide. When speaking to a representative from Lulu, she explained to me that many people misunderstand the true intent behind the app. The rep defended Lulu saying that the mission is twofold: the first being a system for women to illuminate the true character of guys so as to prepare a friend before embarking upon a relationship, and secondly as a way for the “underdog guy” to shine. What did she mean by this? She described him as the guy who is never able to get the girl because of a lack of confidence, and Lulu allows his friends to uprate him to generate interest, something that his shy nature would impede him from doing in real life.

But while this might be the intent of the app, has it been misused? Through personal experience I can tell you that yes, it most definitely has. A very good friend of mine is listed on Lulu. I noticed the horrible review he had been given, and completely disagreeing with what was said, decided to write my own review. Within a few hours of my (praiseworthy) review being posted, someone else gave my friend another terrible review. I couldn’t help but think that this person had a vendetta of sorts against my friend, and began to doubt the validity of the reviews on the app. Maybe the reviews were just a conglomeration of bitter hookups and ex-lovers who just wanted to bash guys because they felt hurt. While I was quick to jump to that conclusion, I couldn’t bank on it because there were guys with great reviews that had been written by hookups, crushes, friends, and others.

So I guess my advice is to proceed with caution. Don’t believe everything you see and read on Lulu, but don’t dismiss everything either. Think of the app as a loose guide to understanding your love interest, but by no means make any real decisions based on it. At the very least, Lulu makes for a fun activity when you’ve got nothing else to do—it’s especially fun to read “Dear Dude” which are questions submitted by other women and answered by men. The one thing that I do ask, ladies, is to please not be petty. If you’re feeling ill will against a guy for breaking up with you or not calling you or whatever the case may be, cool off, reevaluate the situation later to see if you’re justified or not, and only then create a review. After all, you’d want the same treatment if the roles were reversed. Amiright?

Rachel Furst is a junior at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Lulu and flickr.

Barnard’s New Overnight Guest Policy

by Zoe Baker-Peng

This new policy seems a bit of a throwback…

Barnard’s new overnight guest policy, introduced at the beginning of the semester, caused quite a stir among students. The previous overnight guest policy allowed a student to have a maximum of two students stay the night with no time limits. While that may have been too lenient, the new rules strictly state: “any individual may be hosted as a guest in the Barnard residence halls for no more than three consecutive nights and no more than six nights total in any 30-day period”. The new rules are a remarkable change from the once relaxed procedure and are not widely advertised – even some of the RA briefings seemed unwilling to discuss the policy in detail. Students’ complaints range from the implications of “slut shaming” (students who have used up their six nights will be denied further overnight guests) to the suggestion that we are suddenly being closely monitored and “parented.” I spoke to Dean Hinkson via an email interview to understand the reasoning behind the new policy.

The most popular rumors explaining the change focus on Barnard clamping down on energy costs (e.g. your guest taking showers for which they aren’t paying) or that a student had her boyfriend living in her dorm room. Dean Hinkson stresses that neither of these rumors are true. She says, “there was not any one specific situation that triggered this change. This new policy was put in place because we have heard repeated concerns and complaints from students during recent semesters about their discomfort with guests staying in their suites or rooms, and Barnard’s previous policy was extremely lax in comparison to our peer institutions.”

The overnight guest policy is now the same as Columbia’s policy. That seems like a sensible solution in terms of university cohesion, but there are significant differences between Columbia and Barnard. Firstly, Columbia’s policy is rarely enforced and secondly, Columbia is a coeducational institution. If Barnard’s policy is not strictly enforced then potential issues will obviously not be a problem. But are we being penalized as an all-women’s college? The guest policy will primarily affect students who are in relationships and who often bring their girlfriend/boyfriend back to stay the night. If we take the scenario of a relationship between a Barnard student and a Columbia (or any other college or university) student, it seems unfair that their nights together are limited while a relationship between two Barnard students or two Columbia students is not.

Dean Hinkson says that “it is important to keep in mind that this policy is not intended to regulate student’s lives or relationships”. While that may not be the primary purpose, the policy cannot help but do just that. Six nights in a month for overnight guests seems like a tough crackdown on Barnard’s part; we have gone from absolute freedom to chalking down our remaining free nights.

…but maybe it will alleviate tension between roommates?

Dean Hinkson adds, however, that “there are students who might have trouble being straightforward about discomfort with frequent guests, as well as students who might feel that any guest for any length of time is an imposition. These can be sensitive matters for roommates or suite-mates to disagree about, and the policy intends to help students navigate these situations and arrive at resolutions that are fair and reasonable.” These are serious issues and it is imperative that Barnard creates a safe and welcoming living space for all students. For many students, the all-female dorms create a secure and open environment, and guests can disrupt the equilibrium that exists between roommates/suite-mates/dorm residents.

The policy will mediate between “roommates [who] sometimes do not see eye-to-eye on this topic” and “students [who] aren’t comfortable speaking with one another about those concerns.” This is, of course, important, but is it the best way? One part of living in college housing is learning to adapt to new situations and figuring out how to solve the difficulties of sharing a living area. Conversations between students that result in negotiations are an important part of understanding how to deal with conflict and differing opinions. While Dean Hinkson makes clear that “the policy intends to help students navigate these situations and arrive at resolutions that are fair and reasonable,” it also strictly controls students’ choices and decisions.

Students do need guidelines and introducing a lucid policy is a good idea. As Dean Hinkson says, “this policy is about providing the Barnard community–both students and administrators–with a consistent structure for addressing and resolving issues related to any non-resident visitor including friends, family members, and significant others.” Perhaps the maximum of six nights needs to be re-evaluated. When I asked why the policy stated six nights rather than fifteen days out of thirty or even just a week, Dean Hinkson explained, “Based on what we’ve heard from students, a week or fifteen days is not a reasonable amount of time for roommates or suite-mates to accommodate a guest.” Yes, maybe a week or fifteen days is too much time when the nights are consecutive and, in this light, the three consecutive night maximum seems fair enough. But a total of six nights out of thirty could seem pedantic.

Whether or not this is an issue that affects or bothers you, it is important that Barnard students are aware of changes in policies. Dean Hinkson says that “as with any policy on campus, it will be reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis,” so if you feel strongly about the new changes, contact Res Life or your SGA representative and get your voice heard.

Zoe Baker-Peng is a sophomore at Barnard and Managing Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Images courtesy of Barnard College Archives and Barnard College.

Dear Diana: I’ve Never Been Kissed

When the time is right, you’ll be ready. Believe that.

Dear Diana,

I’m 19 years old and have never been kissed. Nothing ever worked out in high school, and I’ve managed to make it to this point in my life without kissing a boy, having a boyfriend, or being in love for the first time. I was alright with it, but recently some of my friends have started to “hook up” in all definitions of the term and I’m starting to feel left out, especially when they talk about all the stuff I’m missing out on. I know it would be easy for me to find a willing participant because this is college, but I don’t want to just throw away these milestones because I feel like I’m behind schedule. I also want to wait for someone who really cares about me, but I’ve found it hard to meet guys (even just for friendship) because I’m shy and nervous and ashamed about my lack of experience. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who hasn’t been kissed, and it makes me feel unwanted and unlovable, like it’s never gonna happen for me. How can I reconcile my lack of experience and morals to find love (in a hopeless place)?


Dear Never Been Kissed,

I think one of the ways college is so different from high school is that so many people around you are at different stages in their life. For some of us, this is our first time living away from home while for others this is just the next stop in a series of dorm rooms. Some of us have had strange high school experiences and are all too familiar with that feeling of not quite fitting in, while others were valedictorians, prom queens, and captains of the tennis team. We’ve all took slightly different paths to get to where we are today, so of course that means we’re going to have slightly different experiences. It’s completely natural that there are going to be things your friends have done that you haven’t, and yeah, ok, maybe that includes making out with a few people along the way. But that doesn’t make you weird, and it definitely doesn’t make you unlovable. It simply means that things haven’t aligned for you in the right way yet, and that sometimes all it really does take is time to meet the right person. And you’re not alone. I know it feels like everyone around you seems one step ahead, but the truth is there are people just like you at Barnard, and they’re normal too, I promise. You’re right to think that these are important milestones in your life that you don’t want to rush, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to. That schedule? It doesn’t exist. We barely manage to follow our class schedules, how can we be expected to follow a schedule for life? You’re allowed to work at your own pace and in your own way, and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

And if that doesn’t help, and you’ve been told it all before, try thinking about it like this: if we continue to compare ourselves to others, the rat race never really ends, does it? We’ll be concerned about who gets a job first, who gets married first, who has kids first, who publishes first, who makes the most money, who divorces first—You see my point? If we allow the pace of others to dictate the way we live our lives, we’ll be out of breath in no time. So, do yourself a well-earned favor. Put some blinders on and, as one of my best friends always says, you do you.


Have a question for Dear Diana? Click Here.

Image courtesy of SparkNotes.