Link Love Wednesday: Go Away, Caillou

caillouHey there, readers, and happy new year! I hope everyone had a fabulous time celebrating with friends and family, and that you are all settling in nicely to 2015 2016. (I think it will take me until about March to get that right!)

The new year has been treating me well so far, and I’m looking forward to all the opportunities and adventures ahead. To kick things off, let’s dig into the first Link Love of 2016!

Things I’m Loving Lately

  • Aziz Ansari’s Netflix show Master of None. This show is incredibly accurate for twenty-somethings, and the episode about the crazy things that women have to deal with really hit close to home for me.
  • This amazing Whole30 compliant Thai Curry recipe. I’ve been making it at least once a week.
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Amazing page-turner so far!

What awesome links are you finding this week? Share your latest link love in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together

TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up TogetherA pop culture junkie through and through, I can’t help but have some strong opinions about the television shows I have watched over the years. From universally hated finales to unhealthy relationship pairings, even our favorite TV shows will disappoint us from time to time.

This week, we’ll talk about the ones that got away – the TV couples who should have been together when the series ended. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section below!

The Weekend Five: TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together

1. Dan and Blair (Gossip Girl)
Throughout Gossip Girl, both Dan and Blair experience their share of relationships. The Upper East Side’s Queen B begins the series in a long-term relationship with golden boy Nate Archibald, falls into an emotional on/off affair with bad boy Chuck Bass over several seasons, and even marries the Prince of Monaco. Dan, a writer and outsider from Brooklyn, falls for socialite Serena van der Woodsen (Blair’s sometimes-best friend), briefly dates Hilary Duff and begins to raise a child he soon learns is not his. Let’s face it: these characters have a lot going on.

At the start of the series, Dan and Blair come from very different worlds and have nothing but disdain for one another, but as the seasons wear on, we learn that the two actually have a lot of common interests and chemistry of their own. They form a very close friendship that eventually evolves into a brief relationship, but the writers quickly force a breakup because the two characters were never supposed to be endgame material. Blair ends up with the emotionally and physically abusive Chuck (who once traded her for a hotel), while Dan ends up with the aimless Serena. Moral of the show? Shared interests and the ability to have real conversations with another person are nothing compared to rocky relationships with emotionally unavailable people! (“Dair” was pretty great while it lasted, though, and it definitely made the show a lot more interesting.)

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2. Shawn and Angela (Boy Meets World)
Many of us grew up watching Boy Meets World and wanting the idyllic Cory/Topanga relationship, but to me, the more interesting couple was always Shawn and Angela. Shawn, Cory’s best friend, had a rough family life and difficulty staying in a relationship longer than two weeks. Angela was the first girl he really committed to, dating in high school and college, and his character grew a lot during that relationship. They part ways when she leaves for Europe to be closer to her father (which is a valid reason to leave), but the couple never really gets closure.

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TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together3. Rory and Jess (Gilmore Girls)
First, let me just say that I hated Rory’s Yale boyfriend, Logan. To me, he never really came off as a fantastic boyfriend, and I was happy to see that she breaks things off at the end of the series and leaves for her dream job (a positive portrayal of a young woman who temporarily chooses career over relationship). However, if Rory was meant to be with anyone, it was always Jess, Luke’s nephew. Although a troublemaker who doesn’t always know how to be the best boyfriend, Jess grows in his relationship with Rory and (much like Dan and Blair of Gossip Girl) the two have some very real shared interests. Both experience their highs and lows over the next few seasons, but Jess ultimately grows up, achieves some of his goals and becomes a better version of himself. In some ways, he and Rory are at a much more similar point in their lives by the end of the series. I’d like to think that after Rory fulfills her dream to work with Christiane Amanpour and Jess publishes his next novel, the two settle down and live a happy, drama-free life together.

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4. Jackie and Hyde (That 70’s Show)
I know that everyone is looking back nostalgically at Jackie (Mila Kunis) and Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) because of the actors’ real life engagement/pregnancy, but I always preferred the pairing of Jackie and Hyde. Although an unlikely pair, the two characters work well together on the show and develop considerably throughout the relationship. Things go downhill when Jackie demands an engagement and Hyde marries a stripper, but with the way the show was written, it all felt like a wild misunderstanding that would eventually be resolved. However, the writers never seemed to explore the relationship again, instead bringing Jackie and Fez together in a final season that felt a lot more like fanfiction than the actual show.

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TV Couples Who Should Have Ended Up Together5. Ted and Tracy (How I Met Your Mother)
Yes, readers, I am still mourning this devastating loss! The show How I Met Your Mother, in which Future Ted tells his teenage kids about how he met their mom, opens with the story of how Ted met Robin, a woman he immediately thought was the love of his life. We quickly learn that she is not their mother. Ted and Robin date for a few seasons, but have some fundamental differences that would affect marriage and children in the future, so they eventually split. Over time, we realize that Robin truly is not The One for Ted, and he finally lets her go right before she marries his close friend, Barney. At the wedding, Ted meets the bass player, Tracy, and immediately falls for her. During their conversations, we quickly see how perfect they are for one another – their pronunciations of “Renaissance,” their dorky shared interests, the many ways they unknowingly crossed paths over the years.

The writers do a great job of convincing us that Tracy is Ted’s soul mate, the one who made nine seasons of heartbreak all worth it. Then, after the characters meet, Future Ted reveals that Tracy died and that he’s in love with (now divorced) Robin again. The entire episode felt like a slap in the face and like complete regression of his character (and possibly an April Fool’s joke), but the writers stuck to the ending they had planned years earlier, ultimately disappointing their fans. After all Ted has been through, he deserves his happy ending with Tracy!

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What are some TV couples you think should have ended up together? Do you agree/disagree with any of the above?

The Weekend Five: Unhealthy Relationships on Television

As busy as I may be throughout the semester, I happen to be an avid TV viewer. I’m not ashamed of my silly television habits, and many readers will note that I love to discuss some of the fictional (and non-fictional!) characters in relation to my beliefs about dating, ambition and more. Today’s blog focuses on the less healthy relationships that have been recently portrayed on television, some of which are fan favorites, and my thoughts on each pairing. 🙂 Enjoy!

The Weekend Five: Unhealthy Relationships on Television

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1. Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl.
Don’t get me wrong… I used to love this couple (when I was seventeen). When the show first planted the idea of Blair, the scheming Queen B of the Upper East Side, and Chuck, the wealthy and womanizing bad boy, a part of me thought that the pairing was just crazy enough to work out. I enjoyed watching as their relationship developed, with both characters struggling to admit their true feelings for one another, but after the second season or so, things took a turn for the crazy. Chuck traded Blair for a hotel, hooked up with a character’s younger sister on the night he planned to propose, and even became physically abusive to Blair, who ultimately married and divorced a Monaguesque prince. A relationship this rocky is not worth the time or heartache; in fact, both characters thrive when they aren’t together. Personally, I believe that Chuck needs to go through a ton of rehab, and that Blair is much better off with Dan Humphrey, her best friend and intellectual equal. (As a couple, Dan Humphrey and Serena van der Woodsen are a close second for unhealthy couples!)

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2. Ryan Howard and Kelly Kapoor from The Office.This couple was hilarious to watch throughout the show’s run, but definitely not a “healthy” relationship. Kelly herself was one of my favorite characters while she was still on the show, probably because of her knack for the dramatic (ie: faking pregnancy or swallowing a tapeworm to lose weight), and Ryan’s pretentious behavior was enough to make you love to hate him. While Kelly constantly latched on to Ryan, Ryan only showed enough interest to keep her around. In fact, when Kelly moves to Miami, Ohio, with her new pediatrician boyfriend, Ryan moves there as well (seemingly to get her back). In real life, this kind of relationship would be troublesome, but on the small screen, Kelly and Ryan are one of the most entertaining unhealthy couples to watch.

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3. Belle and Rumplestiltskin from Once Upon a Time.
Okay, let me start out by saying that I really am pulling for these two to end up together. I think Belle is exactly what Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin needs to stay grounded and not let his powers overcome him. However, in its current state, the relationship could arguably use some improving. While Belle remains supportive of Rumplestiltskin and committed to making him a better man, Rumplestiltskin struggles to put his love for her in front of everything else. Once he finally changes for the better and isn’t so obsessed with making deals with every single fairy tale character who ever existed, I believe that he and Belle will make a great couple.

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4. President Fitzgerald Grant and Olivia Pope from Scandal.
Olivia Pope, the former communications director for the White House, has an affair with Fitzgerald Grant during his presidential campaign and long afterward. Although the President is married to someone else and expecting his third or fourth child, he just can’t quit Olivia. The two are so drawn to each other (although, to this day, I’m unclear on why) that every scene between them is extremely emotional and intense. Every time Olivia tries to break things off, Fitz does something crazy to win her back – for example, having his Secret Service men kidnap Liv in the woods so the two of them can have some alone time. His need to be with Olivia borders on controlling, and the fact that their relationship must be kept secret is enough to make it unhealthy. (Don’t forget – his wife is pregnant!)

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5. Victoria Henley and her mother from Cycle 19 of America’s Next Top Model.
As a huge fan of Top Model, I couldn’t let this one slip by! Victoria is a homeschooled girl who now attends online college, and she has never really been apart from her mother. Immediately in the season, she talks about her devotion to her mother, as well as the idea that she never wants to pursue a romantic relationship with a guy in the foreseeable future because her relationship with her mother is fulfilling enough. Now, I love my Mom and talk to her about nearly everything, but Victoria takes it to a whole new level, crying out “Momma!” and bursting into tears every time she rings up her mother on the phone. This attachment is a little scary, considering this girl is getting into her twenties and hasn’t formed a relationship of any kind with anyone else.

What TV relationships do you think are the most unhealthy?

The Weekend Five: Lessons Learned From Teen Soap Operas

As my not-so-crazy teen years progressed, so too did my love for crazy teen soap operas. Although a few of my friends categorized our favorite TV shows as dramas, deep down we all knew what we were watching: watered down, modernized versions of the stereotypical soap operas that we made fun of the older generation for watching.

Nowadays, these shows provide more for me than mere nostalgic entertainment; rather, each far-fetched plotline has something new to teach us. This week, we will uncover the deeper meanings behind some of these shows, and learn more about the true lessons that teen soap operas have to offer.

The Weekend Five: Lessons Learned From Teen Soap Operas

1. When you go to a benefit dinner, school dance or any other event that requires formal attire, you are asking for trouble.
Forget the fact that these fancy events seem to take place every week in your town, or the fact that your classmates all own enough evening wear to avoid repeating an outfit. In teen soap operas, whether you’ve gone to cotillion or a save-the-dodo-birds dinner, something bad is bound to happen. Maybe Tori Spelling will get totally sloshed at the prom, or perhaps two grown men will get into a fistfight over a financial dispute. Either way, it is best to avoid these events — it seems all drama will come to a head here.

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2. It is important for every combination of two people in your group of friends to date.
Remember that time when you were in high school and you thought that you and a certain lacrosse star boyfriend would get married? Meanwhile, your best friend dated a loner from the wrong side of town. One day, you fell in love with the lacrosse star’s completely immoral best friend, until he sold you for a hotel, and then you decided to date the aforementioned loner. Your best friend tried a relationship with the lacrosse star when things with the loner didn’t work out, but now her half-sister has gotten to him. Sound familiar? It happened on Gossip Girl, of course, but these dating patterns don’t end here! By this logic, you should take a page out of Blair and Serena’s handbook and date everyone you know.

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3. Every school assignment you ever receive will have something to do with a major theme in your life.
Whether your teacher pairs you up with someone you wouldn’t normally work with, or the book you’ve been reading for class utilizes some kind of symbolism that unlocks a clue to the murder you’re trying to solve, school is important. After all, it wouldn’t get so much airtime if it wasn’t!

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4. There are a lot of awkward ways to respond to an “I love you,” and chances are, you will use at least one of them.
The most common offender is a simple “Thank you,” to which your friends will later laugh and quip, “At least you were polite.” You can also opt not to say anything at all, or you could find an equally awkward way to reply. Teen soap operas teach us that we are all very likely to stick our feet in our mouth when it matters the most, but that we will also fix our situations with a grand gesture within a few days, and all will be right in the world again.

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5. The most meaningful moments of your life should be scored with a delicate balance of indie and pop music.
One would think that the songs on the radio are the most important songs to play on a teen soap opera, but that isn’t always the case. Teens love listening to obscure bands they can brag about later on, so inserting songs by more mainstream-indie groups such as Death Cab for Cutie and Keane allows for a much better transition to ultimate hipsterdom. The next time you’re about to experience a first kiss, I dare you to turn on Somewhere Only We Know. The moment will instantly become more meaningful, and you will become slightly edgier.

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What have you learned from your favorite teen soaps?

Relationship Dependence: The Blair Waldorf Story

Upon first glance, Blair Waldorf of Gossip Girl may not seem like the perfect role model. After all, toward the beginning of the series, the icy Queen B of the Upper East Side is primarily known for her sinister scheming, her self-centered nature and her lack of regard for the middle class. She wears headbands as a status symbol and holds court with her minions on the steps of the Met.

But as the show progresses, Blair transforms into more than just a not-so-nice It Girl — not only does she show us her vulnerable side, but she reveals an intellectual, ambitious side of herself as well. She applies to Ivy League schools before ultimately attending NYU and Columbia, strives to become a fashion editor-in-chief and interns at a high-profile magazine in the city. Aside from Brooklyn’s Lonely Boy Dan Humphrey, Blair is arguably the only character in the series with real aspirations and a sense of purpose.

The only thing holding her back? Her heavy, often narrow-minded focus on the men in her life, especially during the past two seasons.

Whether it’s her tortured love affair with the nefarious Chuck Bass, her passionless engagement to a European prince, or  her slowly evolving friendship-turned-more with Dan, Blair’s relationships have completely taken over in recent episodes, essentially turning her into a shadow of her former self. Although her character has matured considerably, she has not focused on school or her dreams in more than an entire season. Instead, she regresses to a feeble little girl who depends on her on-again-off-again-boyfriend’s love as her only way to survive.

We’re all allowed to be a little irrational sometimes in the name of love, but when it consumes our lives so much that we have little else to think about, it has become a problem. We start to define ourselves by the relationships we enter rather than the collective experiences we have undergone and the goals we have set. We go from “Queen B” to “Chuck’s Girlfriend,” and we lose sight of our personal dreams and opportunities.

The real Blair Waldorf will stop at nothing to get what she wants… except when Chuck is in her life. This is not to say that we should avoid relationships at all costs or become completely jaded and cynical about love before we turn 30, but we shouldn’t sacrifice every original thought we’ve ever had just so that we can be with someone. Instead, we should pursue relationships with people who are just as ambitious as we are, who are entrenched in their own personal growth as well.

It doesn’t matter if you’re dating the bad boy, the prince, the bookworm, or the lacrosse captain. What matters is that you maintain your sense of self along the way and find someone who will support you even when your goals have nothing to do with the relationship. After all, aren’t you worth the effort?

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! You know you love me. XOXO.

According To The Movies, True Love Is…

In keeping with our romantic comedy theme from yesterday’s post, I thought it would be entertaining to poke fun at some more of the film and television relationships we love. Before I continue, I have to admit that a few of these come from some of my favorite movies, but I love being able laugh about them all. Without further adieu:

According to the movies, true love is…

  • Vowing to turn the nerdy girl into a beautiful prom queen until you give her contact lenses and a haircut and then realize she was beautiful all along. (She’s All That)
  • Finding the one who will rescue your cat in the rain after you let it out of the car during a tantrum. (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
  • Lying about your age to your English teacher and making him think the girl he’s falling for is a high school senior when you’re actually 25 years old. (Never Been Kissed)
  • Trading your girlfriend for a hotel, sleeping with her arch-nemesis, and then asking her to prove her love for you atop the Empire State Building. (Gossip Girl)
  • Losing your ability to speak and then realizing that you can still win the prince’s heart with your looks. (The Little Mermaid)
  • Getting engaged to your employee to avoid getting deported to Canada and then marrying him anyway because you bonded with his crazy grandmother.  (The Proposal)
  • Knowing that your sometimes-enemy and business rival is also your anonymous email pen pal, but still asking her to meet you for a date in the park. (You’ve Got Mail)
  • Getting on a boat to Paris with the guy who tried to ship you off there in the first place. (Sabrina)
  • Inviting at least 20 young women (mainly account coordinators, dental assistants and aspiring models) to compete for your affections on TV over the course of several weeks and enjoying romantic moments with each before deciding that your “real feelings” are for the girl that audiences hate the most. (The Bachelor)

What has the media taught you about “true love?”

The Friday Five: Popular Book Cliches

As I work to complete my 50 Book Challenge of 2011 (in which I’m lagging a little behind, so feel free to send me book suggestions!), I often begin to group some of the books I read together. Because I’m a fellow writer, this isn’t always the nicest thing for me to do, but I can’t help but pick up on the similarities I find between genres. These similarities come up for all age groups, but many of the clichés I’ll bring up are especially prevalent in the young adult books. Some of them are common among particular authors.

This is in no way meant to be offensive. Each of these books/categories has its own place in my heart, and I appreciate all of the hard work that each author puts into writing and publishing his or her writing. Without further adieu, let’s discuss five of the common book formats and clichés that the literary world runs into.

The Friday Five: Popular Book Clichés

1. The Meg Cabot.
Meet Awkward Girl, whose photo would be displayed next to “Self-Deprecation” in the dictionary if there was such an entry. Sometimes she’s actually fairly normal and popular, while other times she’s a total clod, but regardless of how the rest of the world sees her, she generally describes herself in negative terms. She tries to avoid attention, but somehow attracts it nonetheless. Awkward Girl is your every-girl, someone you definitely went to high school with and who is surprisingly abundant in personality and wit, but who also finds herself in bizarre situations. She generally pines over someone slightly out of her reach and has some offbeat interest that sets her apart from the majority of her peers. As a reader, you have difficulty deciding how you feel about Awkward Girl and whether or not you’re rooting for her — on the one hand, you can kind of relate to her, but on the other hand, she complains way too much.

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2. The Fashionista Manual.
Usually taking place in a glamorous big city (New York or Los Angeles, for example), The Fashionista Manual contains just as much designer name-dropping as it does actual substance. The characters are usually petty, immature and vengeful, but also extremely attractive, with enough disposable income to go wherever they want, buy whatever they want and do whatever they want. The main character is usually female, with a coterie of frenemies who sort of idolize her, as well as a main rival and a dream guy. As both a book series and a TV show, Gossip Girl is notorious for this, but Zoey Dean’s The A-List series is another huge culprit, and Lise Harrison’s Clique books appeal to this market for younger audiences. If you want to look like an intellectual as you sip your coffee and read a book in Starbucks, The Fashionista Manual is not for you. Bring this book to the beach instead for some guilty pleasure reading.

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3. The Pseudo-Victorian Romance Novel.
After thoroughly researching this genre (or rather, reading the summaries of these books with my mom and laughing at the absurd plotlines), I have The Pseudo-Victorian Romance Novel down to a science. The Pseudo-Victorian Romance Novel consists of three parts: an innocent young woman who holds some sort of power over men that she might be unaware of, a devilishly handsome rogue with an impressive title and an infamous reputation, and a healthy combination of sexual tension and “unbridled passion.” To create a proper Pseudo-Victorian Romance Novel, sprinkle the following buzz words throughout your novel and summary: rake, russet curls, ravishing, wicked, irresistible, desires, scandal, etc.

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4. The Utopian/Dystopian Trilogy.
This collection of novels takes place sometime in the not-so-distant future, after America as we know it has failed and somehow our world has become something entirely different than what we live in today. Book 1: Our hero/heroine, a semi-obedient but still somewhat rebellious character, discovers some horrible government conspiracy. Book 2: The hero/heroine becomes even more exposed to this conspiracy and learns some of the darker secrets behind it, beginning to break some serious rules and become part of some greater rebellion. Book 3: The protagonist is now past the point of no return, so he or she leads some epic battle scenes and undergoes major character development. The ending is ultimately bittersweet, with the bad guys sort of getting defeated, but the general gloom of the war looming overhead for the years that follow. (Both The Hunger Games and Uglies series are excellent examples of this!) A more stretched-out version of this can occur in larger book series, or it can compress into one dystopian novel, but this is the formula for such a genre.

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5. The Sarah Dessen.
I will be the first to admit that I grew up on Sarah Dessen novels; her work was my inspiration when I was in middle school and in my early years of high school. I still admire many of her works (some more than others) and think that every girl should read This Lullaby, the one novel of hers that does not conform to the model I’m about to share with you. Although I have a soft spot for some of her books, most seem to contain the same elements: An introspective girl as the main character, one who has very little personality but is fairly neutral toward everyone and everything, is dropped in a new location where she doesn’t particularly want to be. There she makes friends with people who are generally more outspoken and interesting than she is, as well as a boy with a unique past and a fresh outlook on life, and a mother hen figure to make up for her own broken family and stilted relationships with her parents. The book as a whole is usually tied together by a different theme — restaurants, college basketball, music, jewelry-making, you name it — but the types of characters don’t vary all that much by book. Often the main character gains a greater insight through some sort of project she is reluctant to undertake, and gains a better appreciation for friends and family along the way.

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What are some of the common types of books you’ve read? Feel free to share yours in the comments!

The Anti-Prince Charming Takes The Stage

Regardless of how cynical we claim to be, most of us want to find that one person who can sweep us off our feet. We might consider ourselves too old to believe in fairy tales, but we can’t deny that once upon a time, we dreamed of a happily ever after with our Prince Charming. By Disney’s standards (especially the early films), he was actually kind of perfect in every way — handsome, kindhearted and adventurous (if not a little bit superficial, sheltered and one-dimensional, but that’s another post altogether!).

However, there came a point in our history when we began to steer away from the traditional Prince Charming and instead gravitate toward his questionably-intentioned brother, the black sheep of the family. We no longer wanted that nearly effortless love story, but rather something darker, something with more depth. Compatibility and contentedness took a backseat to passion (often a euphemism for “nonstop arguing”) and extreme ups and downs. We now asserted that the perfect relationship required a lot of struggling in order to really be the right relationship… if you weren’t constantly questioning yourself, then you were obviously doing something wrong.

The Anti-Prince Charming has his own charm, but it doesn’t come in the form of carriage rides and the acquisition of glass slippers. The source of his allure can be a bit harder to place, but he has us convinced right away that if we aren’t in love with him now, we will be soon. The struggle throughout the relationship makes it even more exciting for us.

More than ever, we can attribute a lot of this to pop culture and what we’ve learned about relationships from an entertainment standpoint. Just look at this season of Gossip Girl — powerful queen bee Blair Waldorf has just gotten out of a relationship with the dangerous hotel heir Chuck Bass and is trying to regain some happiness through her work at a fashion magazine and through strengthening her presence on the Upper East Side. Healing from the breakup, she finds potential in two other young men: Dan Humphrey, the sarcastic and funny outsider from Brooklyn with whom she shares far more interests than she realizes, and Louis, a handsome prince from Monaco, whom she is also overwhelmingly compatible with and who has asked her to marry him.

Maybe I’m just partial because of my love for the Monaguese royalty (marry me, Pierre Casiraghi!), but when Blair considers leaving Prince Louis for Chuck, my heart just sank. When Chuck, of all people, tells her she deserves to be happy, she replies, “Chuck, that’s not the most important thing. People don’t write sonnets about being compatible or novels about shared life goals and stimulating conversation. The great loves are the crazy ones. L’amour fou.”

While I agree that compatibility isn’t the only ingredient to guaranteeing a happy relationship, I can’t support a relationship built on instability and games, even if that relationship is fictional. I’m all for working through the challenges and growing because of them, but when a relationship is based on only a chase and a few grand gestures, it’s time to end it. You can’t argue that it only hurts because you love the person so much, because anyone who actually has that power over you and is worth the time would never continue to hurt you.

I’m not saying you should forgo all conflicts and ignore someone who has flaws (because, let’s face it, we’re all flawed in some way), but maybe we should reconsider the Prince Charming we deserved all along… or at least, the more humanized version of him. Don’t pursue someone with the mere hope of rescuing or changing that person. Find someone who makes you happy most of the time and brings out the light from within you. Tweet this!

Forbidden Love: The Ezra Fitz Syndrome

As a loyal viewer of more television shows than I have time for, I often root for the more difficult character relationships: the nerd and the cheerleader, the queen bee and the bad boy, the best friends who are clearly in love but don’t want to shake things up. There’s something about the struggle, the built-up tension, the entire situation that makes us anticipate that first step toward becoming a couple. Of course, there’s one unconventional pairing that’s starting to become more common: the teacher/student relationship.

I may be open-minded, but for some reason, I am completely appalled by this trend. Just today, in fact, as I caught up on Pretty Little Liars and Skins, I witnessed two of these couples — Mr. Ezra Fitz and Aria, as well as Chris and Tina. In the past, Serena Van der Woodsen of Gossip Girl and Prudie of The Jane Austen Book Club, among many others, have been guilty of this as well.

Although I think it is completely inappropriate to be romantically involved with someone who controls your grades (as well as someone who preys upon much younger students), a lot of other viewers don’t seem to agree. Ezra and Aria are a fan favorite as far as Pretty Little Liars pairings go, and the show sympathetically displays the challenges they face as a couple. What scares me is that young girls will see how perfect Ezra is on the show, and suddenly feel that it’s okay to get involved with a teacher. We see these situations arise in the news all the time and the thought disgusts us, so why do we condone it on TV?

Many people argue that the law shouldn’t use age to discriminate against love, and I understand the argument; I have taken sexual behaviors classes and understand the discrepancies in ages of consent. However, regardless of how old each party is, I disagree with the idea of students dating one of the teachers, especially in middle and high school.

This is more of a rant than anything else, but I do wish pop culture would stop glamorizing this!

The Freshman 15: College Relationship Tips

With pink and red decor filling the shops, jewelry commercials dominating the airwaves and delicious chocolates hitting the shelves, it is easy to see that Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day, depending on your perspective) is here. No matter where you go — work, school, lunch, the grocery store — you can’t completely escape this holiday, whether you like it or not.

Regardless of any romantic entanglements this year, I though that this month would be the perfect time to address college relationships in this month’s Freshman 15. Whether you’re single or taken, these tips will help you navigate any college relationship. Tweet this!

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The Freshman 15: College Relationship Tips

1. Don’t force a relationship out of nothing.
I see this happen to college students quite often. A boy and a girl who consider each other somewhat attractive wind up in a compromising situation that leads to some kind of hook-up, and the next day, feel obligated to call it a relationship. Maybe it’s a guilt thing; if things work out, they can later say it was “love at first sight,” that they looked into each other’s eyes and just knew. Or maybe this is just their way of following one of those romantic comedy misconceptions — the idea that a random hook-up will ultimately become your soulmate. It happened to Emily and Oliver in A Lot Like Love, it happened to Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and it happened to Blair and Chuck on Gossip Girl. The truth is, although these types of relationships seem ideal in the movies, that isn’t always the case in real life. Don’t force a relationship out of thin air; accept that some attraction is fleeting. (Editor’s Note: Don’t deny chemistry, either. If you already liked the person and you happened to end up in the aforementioned compromising situation, don’t write things off completely if there might be something there.)

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2. Never trust too easily.
Let’s face it – not everyone has the best of intentions. One difference between high school and college relationships is that in high school, you have a smaller pool of potential boyfriends and girlfriends, and it is likely you have known most of them since you were kids. Therefore, even though people change over time, your judgment in choosing a significant other is probably better because you have known these people for a while. In college, however, you are often thrust into a completely new social circle, and because of this, you don’t know much about the true character of that cute guy you met in the dining hall. You don’t need to be completely paranoid, but be careful when you place your trust in others. Don’t open yourself up to someone who doesn’t deserve it.

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3. Avoid comparisons.
Chances are, you and your significant other will probably tell stories about exes from time to time, and that is totally normal. However, don’t go on too much about your past relationships. There is a reason those ended, and if all you ever do is talk about all the nice things your ex did, your current significant other will probably either feel inadequate or annoyed.

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4. Keep some things to yourself.
Although your friends are probably thrilled for you, they don’t need to hear every last detail about how much you love your significant other or how the two of you spend every second of the day. This is a real life case of “Don’t kiss and tell!”

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5. First impressions will only take you so far.
Yes, first impressions are important in many scenarios, but keep in mind that things can change over time. For example, at my freshman orientation at college, the guy I thought disliked me and was too cool for me wound up becoming one of my best friends. Conversely, there have been times when I met people and thought we would be close, and they ended up disappointing me. You have to be receptive to the way people change, and be open to the fact that some people may surprise you (in good or bad ways).

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6. Go on dates.
This may sound obvious enough, but so many people forget about dating and end up sinking right into a married couple routine. Comfort is great, but in your late teens and early twenties, do you really want to lose all sense of romance? Hanging out in a dorm room all the time can get boring really quickly. Don’t let that happen to you while you are still in college!

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7. Avoid U-Hauling.
In the past, I have cited U-Hauling (or the phenomenon of a relationship moving way too quickly, to the point where you have practically moved in together after a few weeks) as one of the major problems of college relationships. In general, college relationships tend to be accelerated forms of adult relationships — especially when you’re in the dorm rooms — because your social lives begin to meld into your home lives. Early on, it’s likely you will run into each other getting groceries, doing laundry, taking out trash, completing chores, etc. If your significant other’s parents are in town, it is also likely you will meet them regardless of how long you have been dating. While many of these things are inevitable, it is important to maintain some semblance of mystery in the relationship. Don’t spend every waking moment together. (Editor’s note: I would like to credit my friend Jen for introducing me to the whole U-Hauling concept. Her blog entry about it was pretty informative!)

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8. Don’t neglect your friends.
You only have so much free time, so it can be difficult to distribute it equally between your friends and your boyfriend or girlfriend. However, you have to keep your friends in mind — even when your significant other is a temporary fixture (which, chances are, he/she is), your friends are a more permanent part of your life, and if you ignore them completely in favor of “love,” they might not be as willing to take care of you if and when your relationship ends.

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9. Don’t go in with the intention of “fixing” someone.
No one is perfect, but if you go into a relationship knowing exactly what you want to change about the person, then maybe you shouldn’t go into that relationship in the first place. You cannot control other people, and you should never strive to.

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10. Make time for yourself.
Ultimately, you should be your biggest priority. While it is good to spend time with your significant other, you shouldn’t spend all of your time with him or her. It is important to spend some time alone, focusing only on yourself. You have plenty of time to worry about others.

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11. Mind games are only for players.
If someone is playing the jealousy game with you, it is time to end it. Sure, other people may be attracted to you or your significant other, but flattering as it may be, it shouldn’t matter. And you shouldn’t bring it up in the relationship every chance you get. There is never a reason to try and make someone jealous; if you feel the need to play games, then maybe your relationship isn’t working out.

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12. Be careful about letting friendships develop into more.
Although pop culture would lead us to believe that our best friends are our soulmates, we have to be a little more discerning than that. While we may be compatible and comfortable with those people, the state of the relationship completely changes when you try and turn it into something more. If you don’t stay together, then you may be sacrificing a friendship completely by dating that person. The relationship may be wonderful, but you have to distinguish that before you do anything to alter the course of that friendship.

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13. Don’t place all of your self worth in the relationship.
You are worth more than simply who you are with. A relationship can be great, but it isn’t everything that makes up who you are, and you have to remember that. Regardless of whether or not you are with someone, you still have a lot to offer, and your happiness shouldn’t hinge entirely on how one person feels about you.

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14. If it didn’t work out the first time, it probably won’t ever work out.
There is always that one couple who breaks up and gets back together nearly as often as they change outfits. (Think Sam and Ronnie from Jersey Shore.) Regardless of how they feel about each other at the time, the underlying problems are always there, waiting to cause another scene. When you break up with someone, you have to do so knowing that you will not get back together with that person, especially if they commit one of the major deal-breakers: verbal or physical abuse, cheating on you, etc. None of those things are okay, and you should never accept them by returning to the person who wronged you in the first place.

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15. If you aren’t in a relationship, worry about something else.
There are plenty of perks to being single, and even if you do have someone who catches your eye, you should direct your energy toward other things: keeping your grades up, getting involved in things you love and bettering yourself as a human being. Work on accomplishing your goals that don’t focus entirely on other people.

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What are some of your tips for college relationships? Comment below with your own advice. If there are any other topics you would like to cover in future Freshman 15 articles, please let me know!