Navigating Life as a Single Woman in College

Photo credit: www.thissinglelife.com

College may be the first time in your life when you feel that you are fully independent; after all, you are living on your own and making your own decisions. College life can be fun, but there are added responsibilities: what you do now will define the trajectory of your life.

First: Maintaining your safety is important.
From parties to drinking, to guys and relationships, this guide will outline what you need to know about navigating this unique time in your life.

Commanding Respect from Men

You can command respect from a man simply by the way you conduct yourself. When you command respect, you put yourself in a position of power.

  • Whether you're looking for a relationship or even just a friendship with a guy, always command respect for yourself by your conduct, or the manner in which you behave.
  • This will make you empowered, may spark a relationship, and lower your risk of sexual assault.

If you are wondering, "How do I go about commanding respect from a college guy?" Consider these recommendations for developing your own action plan for achieving respect through your personal dignity, tact, awareness and joy:

  • Respect yourself. Show some dignified conduct.
  • Stand tall and upright when you walk around campus: pick your head up and roll your shoulders back.
  • Avoid answering your cell phone in the middle of the night.
  • For a text sent in the night like this one "Hey what are you up to? ;)" There is a chance that the text may have been part of a mass text to other women.
  • Do not immediately answer texts sent late at night. It is best to wait until the morning! Although it may be very easy to walk to the next residence hall and "hang out" with a guy late at night, behavior like this demonstrates a lack of self-respect. It shows the guy that his time is more valuable than yours; whenever he wanted you, there you were.
  • You do not want to be the social call he only texts late at night.
  • It is very unlikely that being on call like this will lead to a relationship or functional friendship. More likely the opposite.
  • Avoid getting physical until sometime after a friendship is formed.
  • Utilize your mutual attraction to negotiate a relationship that would work for both of you.
  • Discover his values and character before even considering if you are willing to get physical. Maybe his values or character clash with yours.
  • Recognize that sexually transmitted diseases are rampant, costly, and life changing. Many of them affect women worse than men, and can lead to a lifetime of infertility, inability to bear children.
  • Sporadic sex is unhealthy for the reproductive system. Just as an erratic diet (feast and famine conduct) can lead to anorexia, with sex it leads to hormone problems. See Dr. Cutler's discovery that opened the door to that knowledge: Sporadic Sexual Behavior and Menstrual Cycle Length in Women.

So take care, move slowly, size up the candidates and how respectfully they treat you. These clues help you discern better outcomes.


Tips on how to meet a good guy in college

College offers a rich opportunity to meet new friends, harness new and long-term relationships, and be involved in exciting activities. This may be the only time in your life that you are surrounded with so many single, intelligent candidates of such variety and availability. Consider seizing this opportunity - it is one of the gifts of a college education. Also keep in mind the possible dangers - you need to recognize both how to be safe and how to search through this resource all while you are engaged in becoming an educated woman who can function in the world outside this cloister! You have a lot to master. What a challenge! What a reward!

Recognize that the male brain is hard wired to think about sexual connection every few seconds. It seems to be nature's design to ensure survival of species. When you understand these biological principles of male sexual chemistry and brain processing, you can be better prepared to guide guys to court you. Their training, ethics, character building, and other overlays of civilized cultures will show you if they qualify for your time and your energy.

Start with places to go to meet guys:

  • Join an interest organization.
  • Many colleges have extracurricular club fairs twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. There are probably clubs for everything you could possibly imagine; so find a couple you like and get mingling!
  • Go to a religious center (H20, Hillel, Newman Center).
  • Getting spiritual through your college can be rewarding both for personal development and also to potentially form friendships and a relationship as well.
  • Take classes with a smaller class size when possible.
  • A smaller class provides a more intimate environment to get to know the students in your class. Friendships and relationships have been known to bloom in these types of environments.
  • Read Dr. Cutler's books: Searching for Courtship and Love Cycles: the Science of Intimacy for many more ideas.

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Navigating the Party Scene

The party scene can be a fun way to go out with friends, meet new people, and practice your social and flirtation skills. Think of it as a playground for developing your social and conversational skills. Here are some tips to navigate the party scene in a safe, healthy, and fun way.

How to Dress to Command Respect

  • You should understand the message that you are sending to men when you wear provocative clothing. Fashion trends today include wearing bandage skirts and crop tops, but you are in charge of what you wear.

  • Your safety increases when you take precautions. Be defensive, when necessary, in party environments to avoid unwanted sexual advances. Be conscious of the signals you are sending through what you wear and how you hold yourself.

  • Consider wearing more modest clothing that will make you feel beautiful, as it decreases chances of unwanted attention.

  • Mystery is an important ingredient in the science of attraction. Avoid over exposure. Leave some of your body up to the imagination!

What to wear

  • Wear clothing that expresses your style without showing too much skin.
  • It's all about balance! If you are wearing a shorter skirt, pick a less revealing top and vice versa.
  • Opt for your favorite pair of jeans instead of the short cut-off shorts.
  • Also consider wearing a graphic t-shirt or a tank top from a recent concert instead of a crop-top. This may act as a wanted conversation starter in place of unwanted attention at your chest or behind.


  • Choose safe places to go. Avoid dangerous ones. If a certain fraternity house or group of people has a bad reputation on campus, recognize why.

  • Go out only with people you trust.

  • Know where your girlfriends are and make sure they know where you are when you party.

  • Plan your escape route as you enter the scene, so you will be ready if you need to get out quickly.

  • Never leave a party alone in the dark or with someone you don't know when you have no escape route should you choose to leave. This leaves you very vulnerable.

  • Save your Campus Security number into your speed dials in case of emergency.

  • Avoid going into a bedroom with a guy you barely know. Rape and gang rapes really happen! Even the President of the United States has taken the issue before the public. Read Here

Alcohol Safety

  • Pace yourself and know your limits. And don't get close to drunken men who may not have self-control right then.

  • Don't put your drink down.

  • Don't want to drink when you go out? Carry around a water or soda so that people aren't constantly offering you alcohol.

  • Alcohol or other drugs was a factor with 75% of the men and 55% of the women in reported acquaintance rapes on college campuses. Be conscious of the people around you and protect yourself and others.

Hook up Culture

  • Although hook up culture exists in colleges, it can offer short term excitement for long term pain.

  • Recognize that a hookup for a night can mean an STD for life.

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Avoiding Sexual Assault in College Party Situations

As a freshman in college "the red zone" begins with your Orientation Week and ends after Thanksgiving Break. During the red zone, you are at a significantly higher risk of being sexually assaulted. Protect yourself against this risk by following some of these rules of thumb.

1. Avoid the appearance of sexual availability to a man with whom you have not yet become friends.

2. If you can't answer these questions, you do not know him. So be very cautious about any suggestions that you are "available" since you have not yet pre-cleared him for safety.

  • Does he have sisters? Does he like them?
  • Does he understand that your willingness to share a kiss does not imply your willingness to go further?
  • Does he actually like women or see them as sex objects to be used and discarded?
  • Can he remain courteous when his wish for further intimacy is met with a clear 'no thanks just now'?
  • Is he interested in what you say?
  • Are you interested in his world-view?

3. Be aware of your surroundings in any situation. If you notice something that doesn't seem quite right, immediately remove yourself from the potentially dangerous situation. Many women who have been assaulted recount in retrospect, "I had a weird feeling about the situation, but I decided to just ignore it". Always trust your gut.

4. Practice using and then carry safety tools. Put them where they can be quickly and easily retrieved in a time of crisis.

5. Take any seminar your school offers on preserving your safety and pay attention! Learn what safety tools they recommend: a cell phone? Pepper Spray? LED flashlight?

If you are sexually assaulted: conduct yourself with courage.
Go directly to the police rather than going through campus police systems if you are sexually assaulted. In the summer of 2014 the news stories kept revealing that college authorities had failed to serve the victim correctly. Many students that have been sexually assaulted have found that pressing charges against the perpetrator through their university was damaging to their life and ineffective. They risk embarrassment, ostracism or worse. And they risk the perpetrator walking away free of charge. If you go through the off-campus police, then you will have a real investigation that is documented. Although this choice will lead you into a more thorough and time consuming investigation, you are more likely to see justice served. And just as important, your courage will help other women avoid the same bad experience.

The Federal Department of Education is working to improve the campus judicial system, which on many campuses is letting athletes and other "assets" to the university get off guilt free for crimes that deserve jail time. Know that the system simply isn't up to par yet and protect yourself.

In summary: First and foremost be aware of surroundings and take precautions to avoid sexual assault. If sexual assault has already happened report it to the police.

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Social Media and Dating Apps: the good and the bad

Should online dating be used to try and find courtship? Know what you are dealing with. IPhone and Android Apps such as Tinder and Badu are good examples.

Tinder is a "dating" app in which you create a profile with up to 6 pictures and provide a brief description of yourself. Then you select an age and location range and view profiles based on that range. If you "like" a guy on tinder and he "likes" you back, it is a match and you can begin messaging one another.

The great thing about this app: it's quick, it's easy, it's fun, and most importantly, you can Tinder anywhere.

The bad thing about this app: Because Tinder is almost solely based on appearance, it is used as a medium to find quick, easy hookups.

How to Navigate Tinder if you're looking for a relationship: Ignore/block all pick up lines and inappropriate messages. Only "like" people with descriptions that seem attractive to you and have some substance to them. Engage in conversation over the Tinder messenger and accept dates to public places such as cafes for coffee/lunch. If you choose to go on a date with someone from Tinder, plan an escape route should you want to leave in a hurry. Never meet up with a new candidate in a place you cannot freely leave.

Reservations about this App/any online dating medium:
Attraction is based on more than just looks and banter. Biology plays the pivotal role through our pheromone signals. Body chemistry is the silent partner. And you can't tell if you will have chemistry with a person until you meet in person. So avoid spending a significant amount of energy and time into talking to a person just to meet up and feel disappointed.

Want to know more about pheromones? See: Our Pheromones and Sexuality: The Current Research On Human Pheromones and Their Role in Sexual Attraction.

*Many have been hurt by Tinder, but many others are in committed relationships because of this app. If you use it, do so with discretion. Conduct that broadcasts self-respect is a practice that leads to safety at the beginning. *

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Dr. Cutler recommends that whenever you are meeting somebody for the first time or for a first date, arrive independently with separate transportation so you can leave in a hurry if necessary. For more information about how to be safe on first dates see Chapter 5 in her book, Searching for Courtship.

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Maintaining a Positive Attitude through Adversity
By Developing Integrity and Courage

It can be challenging to maintain a positive attitude if things aren't going your way. Here are some tips on how to keep yourself in good graces.

Take responsibility for your choices. Resolve to learn from error. Practice resilience. Do not weigh yourself down by blaming other people and having hatred within you. Move on!

Coping with Loneliness

Students often feel lonely. Try a shift of mindset. Think of time alone as an opportunity. As positive solitude. A time to take a break and ready yourself for your next task. (For more information on how to cope with Loneliness see chapter 2 of Dr. Cutler's book- Searching for Courtship)

Practice your Religion - Get Spiritual!

Spending spiritual, quiet time in community can fulfill your basic human need for interaction, while enhancing your spiritual being. This will develop your well-being and positive attitude.

For more information on getting spiritual and enhancing your qualities of integrity, which readies you to search for courtship, see chapter 2 of Dr. Cutler's book- Searching for Courtship.

Another way to maintain a positive attitude is to follow a social media account that will bring uplifting spurts of positivity into your life. These can be accessed through church websites and many other resources.

The Power of a Positive Attitude when searching for a relationship

  • It helps to nourish a realistic but optimistic perspective. Remember that love makes you vulnerable to both joy and pain. To become more positive, focus on the great aspects of your life every day. Count your blessings!

  • A positive attitude makes for a radiant, attractive person. Very few people want to spend time with a mopey negative person- because it feels bad to be around them! You get what you project. So cultivate a right spirit within yourself.

Stuck in a dry spell? Use this time to improve yourself.

  • When stopped at the edge of a raging river, do something constructive, like building a raft. Use this time to improve yourself. Educate yourself during this time alone.

  • Look into new interests and pastimes.

  • Consider the interests that others enjoy. Even just a simple Google search can get you started. At the very least you'll become a more interesting, well-rounded person. The more you know, the more you can share, and the easier conversation skills will develop.

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Tips on living with Roommates

Roommate Agreement
To prevent chaos later -- when you set up shared living it helps to agree on some rules to follow. Make sure to put all of these agreed-upon rules in writing while you are still friendly with those that you live with. This practice of negotiating and putting it in writing will help develop your skills with male candidates for courtship too.

Things to consider:

  • How will you handle situation in which extra people are invited to move in? i.e. one of your 'significant others' moves in over the course of a lease?

  • How will you pay for cleaning supplies/food?

  • Cleanliness: make a chore chart

  • Establish a policy for overnight guests

  • Talk about a noise curfew

  • Document the credit card that is on file for the utilities and rent- agree on a day that these must be paid by every month.

  • Put into writing any other concerns you have (for example- cleanliness preferences, guests allowed on school nights)

  • And if your roommate is your significant other: Establish what will happen if your relationship (or in the case of living with friends, your friendship) ends.


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