Real World Advice from Real Women Like You

We asked a group of college girls to share their thoughts, tips and experiences on staying safe, especially in uncomfortable situations, and on building healthy relationships.  They told us that most girls really want healthy relationships, but often don’t know what to look for. 

Here’s what they told us: 

…On Staying Safe

Keep the numbers of your university and local police in your phone.

  • Share your location:  
  • Tell a friend who won’t be at the party or place you’re attending where you’ll be.  If you’re not back when expected, your friend can find you and work to help you (especially if you’re intoxicated).
  • Let a friend know when you’re Ubering or traveling by yourself.

Watch out for each other: 

  • If you see a guy cornering a girl or making her uncomfortable, go over to her and pretend like you’re best friends.  The best way to get her out of the situation is to tell her someone is looking for her and walk with her to another part of the location.
  • If a girl has been drinking and a guy is pushing her to drink more, the best things you can do is try to sit her down and get her to drink water, as well as putting yourself between the guy and the girl as a barrier.
  • Be a friend:  Offer to be both a sober monitor at parties and a designated driver for your friends or others who reach out.

…On Healthy Relationships and Spotting Red Flags

Look for a guy who is willing to talk to you about more than just what he wants to do later, and who is genuinely paying attention to you and interested in you as a person.  Red flags for guys who are not like this (but may try and mask it):

  • If they only text you, or they refuse to call or meet up, they are usually interested only in getting in your pants.
  • If they make you text them first all the time, they aren’t interested in you.  Boys aren’t confusing when they’re chasing after you as a person.
  • If everything you say turns into a way for them to flirt or hit on you, they’re not listening.
  • Guys who hide you from friends and family aren’t serious and don’t have good intentions.

Know what a “date” really is:  when a guy asks you out for dinner, a movie, etc., and has no intention of sleeping with you afterwards.  A guy with good intentions will offer to pay on the first date because he sees the value in being with you, and he will come up with ideas for activities that you feel comfortable with.  Red flags:

  • Guys who ask you out over text or code it with “hanging out”
  • “Netflix and chill” is code for “Don’t text him back”

Look for a guy who respects your boundaries.  It’s a given that temptation arises in relationships.  It happens.  The best thing you can do is lay out your boundaries for him, make sure he acknowledges them, and avoid placing yourselves in “tempting” places or situations.  Red flags:

  • A guy who continues to push, or gets angry, after you say “no”
  • A guy who appears to feel entitled to your body at all.  You are ALWAYS allowed to say “no”

Jealousy is controlling.  If a guy cares about you, he will not be jealous of casual male friends in your life who respect you.  Good guys will hear you out and approach situations with other guys lightly and with trust in you.  Trust is key, and trust goes both ways.  Red flags:

  • If he tries to cut you off from male friends, it may be an early sign of emotional abuse in a relationship. 
  • Guys that are controlling tend to place the blame on you and will gaslight you.  Gaslighting is persistent denial where he tries to push doubt in you and make you question your memory, your perception, and your sanity.  It is an effort to misdirect the conversation/argument and/or delegitimize you.  Common gaslighting phrases are:

“I trust you, I just don’t trust him”

“Why do you keep saying things like this?  I don’t want to hear this again.”

“You’re making this stuff up.”

“You’re too sensitive.”

“You’re going to get upset over something so small?”

  • His actions don’t match his words.  There’s a difference between cancelling a date because of a legitimate family emergency or an unavoidable situation, and simply flaking out because he doesn’t care about your time.  If his actions aren’t aligning with his words 90% of the time, throw him out.  There’s no point keeping someone around who promises you the world but can’t buy you a sandwich!