The Cavalier Daily
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Heart-to-Heart: Volume XII

The Life Section’s Love Columnists answer burning life and love questions submitted by the University’s student body

<p>Ask all of your burning (love) questions with our Love Connection writers cd-loveconnection@cavalierdaily.com.</p>

Ask all of your burning (love) questions with our Love Connection writers cd-loveconnection@cavalierdaily.com.

  1. How can I have respectful conversations about sexuality with friends or potential partners? 

Whether you’re wondering how you can better discuss your own identity with people, or looking to be more respectful in how you engage this topic of conversation with other individuals, I think that it is great to proactively seek ways of improving your comfortability talking about personal, delicate topics. 

For starters, a little bit of education before discussing with your friends and potential partners goes a long way in having meaningful conversation about possibly unfamiliar topics for people who are not affiliated with LGBTQ+ community. Misinformation is at the root of a lot of misunderstanding, and so I want to take a moment to encourage you or anyone else reading this who feels that they would benefit from University resources at familiarizing themselves with this topic to look into what the LGBTQ Center has to offer. The center provides a vast array of great external resources, as well as their own in-house workshops on anything from practicing allyship to primers on pronouns for those who are looking to get more involved. 

On a more personal level, the best way to have meaningful conversations when you are speaking about identity with friends and potential love interests is to proceed with empathy. It’s important to remember that sexuality and gender are fluid spectrums, that labels can change over time — and are not necessary for individuals who choose not to use them — and that personal definitions of and ideas on what it means to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community vary between LGBTQ+ individuals. Keeping these in mind when navigating the particular circumstances of your conversations and relationships can help lead to the most positive interactions as possible.

The best thing you can do is listen to your peers who are willing to share with you and ask questions where they are comfortable or when confused. Additionally, you should use mirroring and validating language when referring to other’s labels and identity. Overall, attempt to proceed with empathic encouragement and a genuine excitement and interest in sharing in these important conversations. 

  1. What does love look like at this age? 

This is a great question. Life changes a lot in your early twenties, and it can feel difficult to keep track of what is expected from you in a multitude of areas, be it academic, career or, yes, even love related. The good news, though, is that at an age where everyone is growing and maturing at such a rapid rate, the question is not what love looks like at this age but rather what love looks like for you. 

The most important part of determining what love looks is determining what you and your partner want it to look like. As long as you’re on the same page, the rest of the world’s opinion — and I know your peers, the media and the internet have very loud opinions — don’t matter so much. However, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble if you make sure that you and your partner, at least, have the same ideas. 

Some people in college are already planning futures. Love, for you, might look like a long term commitment. If you and your partner are ready for it, the prospect of moving to new cities and starting new jobs post graduation can be a little less scary when embarking on that journey alongside someone you love and see a future with. 

Others at this age are dating for the experience and the fun of it, looking for people to make memories with and grow alongside for only this temporary, transitionary period. The newfound freedom of college and the maturation allowed by your early twenties makes these fundamental years the perfect time to explore what you find fulfilling in both relationships and casual partners. It is perfectly reasonable for love to look like an exploration at this age, and if that is what works for you and your partner then love looks exactly as it should for you.

The best piece of advice I can give is this — do not go looking for the kind of love you are told or made to feel like you should expect. You cannot build a happy life around an image of love that is not yours, and I encourage you to instead be confident that you are on the right path — your own track — and instead pursue the love that blends seamlessly with the rest of your desires and ambitions. 

Heart to Heart is a regular column written by Life Columnists Katherine Schwartz and Jenna Onetto. To submit a question, fill out this form and our columnists will do their best to address it in an upcoming issue.

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