Your College Aunts Week 6: Even More Lockdown 2.0

We’re back with advice ranging from how to get out of the friendzone, to how to properly friendzone someone, plus a little TikTok addiction to top it all off

CN: Mention of snacking

I won’t lie things took a turn this week. Leila’s in self-isolation and was feeling pretty unwell there for a minute, so we’re glad she’s doing a bit better now. Xanthe’s fine but does about 4 food shops a week just to have some interaction with the public, which is becoming expensive. The pair even recorded the third episode of the podcast over Zoom which, by the way, can be found here. This final stretch of the term is always somewhat of a slog, and this time it’s amplified by the state of the world, but fear not because we are here to shower you in the highest quality advice. Remember you can still submit questions hereand we will do out best to help! Alrighty, on to the questions.

Q1: My best friend is one of those blokes who never has a dry phone and every girl fancies. Often girls I’m interested in go for him instead, and I’m actually getting sick of it. How do I become someone who girls see as a potential boyfriend not just a mate?

Have been there myself and yeah it’s super annoying but I think before making actual changes to yourself, you need to change your mindset. A high school friend, who in this case was my ‘attention garnering’ friend while I was the sidekick, in response to me telling her how sick I was of never being looked at and always being passed up for our other friends said something along these lines to me “You don’t know how lucky you are that they want to be friends with you and they aren’t always after you”. Now at the time I wanted to punch her in the face, but 5 years down the line I do think she had somewhat of a point. Having friends of all genders is going to be a lot more valuable to you long term than a string of elicit hook ups with attractive women. Your glamourous image of your friend always having women at his beck and call probably isn’t the reality; quantity does not equal quality. If you were to swap lives, you’d probably enjoy the attention initially – who wouldn’t – but after a while you’d miss the genuine human connection and not being objectified. (yes women can and do objectify men too to an extent)

That said I do also think the problems of the “friendzone” and “nice guys finish last” also exist. So how do you avoid them? Firstly learn how to flirt, because some people (me) inadvertently throw themselves into the friendzone by flirting in a friendly way. Now I’m not suggesting just shouting “Wow you’re so hot” in their face; you’re a Cantab, I’m sure you can find more nuance than that. Just try and make it clear you find them attractive and interesting, and if you’re messaging, drop flirty hints. In a pre-corona age I’d also be able to offer advice on how to make sure your date is a date not a friendly hangout.

Besides learning to flirt, learn to back yourself. People who exude confidence and seem genuinely content with themselves are attractive. I don’t care if you’re quirky looking, people are drawn to positive, shining people. If you give off friend energy, women will accept it and auto-friendzone you. At the same time don’t come across as cocky and entitled. Just be comfortable in the knowledge that you are attractive and successful, you will find the right person eventually and for now you’re just doing your own thing, be that pursuing extra-curricular passions or smashing your degree.

Q2: I don’t want to go home for Christmas, I love Cambridge and have had such a good first term. Going home feels weird, having to return to my parent’s rules and home friends who I’ve lost touch with.

Same. Firstly you can try asking your college to let you stay an extra couple of weeks either side of the holidays (NPR request forms), however, if you’re a fresher, you probably won’t want to do that as all your friends will be going home, so as much as you love Cambridge it could be a lonely couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, you do just have to suck it up a bit. I would suggest having a chat with your parents about boundaries and rules because now you’re an adult who has survived away from home for a term, they should let you have some additional freedoms and actually respect you as an adult. That said when under their roof you are still their responsibility, which is why parents can be a little suffocating when you come home from uni. They are only like this because they love you, so just take a deep breath and accept it. You’ll miss some of those home comforts when you come back to Cambridge in January.

With regard to friends, part of growing up is drifting apart. I suggest you make contact with those people and go on some catch-up walks and test the waters. First-term at uni is stressful for everyone so losing touch is normal, but use the holidays to figure out if you actually want to maintain and regrow your connection or if you’ve drifted for a reason.

As much as you love Cambridge, there is a reason the terms are 8 weeks. Human beings are not designed to live like this, under so much constant stress. Yes, I do sort of love it in a masochistic way, but I also know I’d probably get physically so run down if this were a 12-16 week term. Go home and enjoy the break, it will make returning to Cambridge much more special in the new year. You’ll be refreshed and have so much catching up to do with your friends. Going home gives you time to relax and take stock so you can do better in Lent than Michaelmas.

Q3: I told someone that I’ve been seeing that I like them a lot but I’m not ready for a relationship right now. Over lockdown they’ve been messaging me loads hinting that they still expect we will have a relationship in the future. How do I friendzone them without making them mad?

Oh dear, the classic “I-really-like-you-I-promise-but-I’m-just-not-ready-for-a-relationship.”

Firstly, I think you need to decide whether you actually mean what you’re saying – is it that you genuinely like this person but for whatever reason, you’re not in a space for a relationship OR is that you like this person, but you don’t like them enough to date them? Honestly, the difference matters. From experience, I can tell you that it’s best to be honest here. We often try and emphasise to people that we like somewhat (but don’t want to date) how much we like them, thinking that this is a good strategy to avoid hurting their feelings. Well, let me tell you for free, all that strategy does is confuse them and give them hope, which appears to be what has happened to you already. It just complicates the situation and makes you hurting them way more likely.

Onto friend-zoning, what I like to call: a necessary evil. I think you’ve got to remember that the only thing that you can control is your own actions, not how they are received. If this person really likes you, the likelihood is that being properly friend-zoned is going to make them feel a whole spectrum of negative emotions, especially since it appears that they have kept some hope surrounding a future with you. Therefore, I think you’ve really got to prepare for the worst, but comfort yourself with the knowledge that this route is still better than your current awkward situation.

Most would argue text isn’t the best medium for somewhat brutal news but I think, in this case, it will suffice. I’m not here to draft your friendzone message for you, but some key points to cover are:

  1. … the fact that you’ve noticed that they still have hope for a relationship with you, but you know that this is not something you envision
  2. … perhaps space for an apology in case you have actually been leading them on
  3. … that you know this is not easy news and therefore understand if they want space/a break from talking
  4. … if you do genuinely want to be friends with them, mention this, but make it clear that you understand that they may not feel the same and this may not be the best path for them

And finally, a few DON’TS:

  1. DON’T give them any hope of a romantic future with you
  2. DON’T compliment them or praise them in a way that has romantic connotations

This may seem harsh and quite prescriptive, but I think it’s necessary. Maybe that’s coming from a place of projection from me but, regardless, it needed to be said.

Q4: My snacking addiction is out of control. I literally go into the kitchen 15 times a day since I don’t leave the house, and I just munch while watching tiktoks. My housemates are also angels and bake all the time. How do I curb my sweet tooth!!!!

Wow. How relatable.

Before I go any further, it’s important to note that there is nothing inherently wrong with snacking, especially when you’re hungry. The problem here more appears to be using snacking, alongside Tiktok, as a means of procrastination in a way that is potentially unhealthy, and so that’s how I’m going to address this question. I’m very reluctant to encourage actively trying to restrict your food intake, as I think that can have more negative consequences than the snacking itself. If you really think that this is a serious issue for you, I can only genuinely rec0mmend therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which can be provided by your college or the University Counselling Service, is definitely a good port of call for getting to the bottom of such issues. Don’t be afraid of reaching out in this way, it’s literally a sign of strength.

I think with everything going on right now with our whole worlds being, you know, turned upside down, it’s unsurprising that some of us are resorting to constant snacking or TikTok out of boredom. I think the problem is when these things become mundane parts of your daily routine, as opposed to things that are actually enjoyable. That’s not to say ‘don’t snack’ or ‘don’t use TikTok,’ it’s really more to say become more aware of when and why you are doing these things and if there is something underlying your new habit. For example, are you going to the kitchen 15 times a day in hope of socialising with your household and using snacking as an excuse for this? Thinking in this way might help you find some solutions that work for you.

In more general terms, I think it sounds like you need some routine in your life – and this is coming from someone who seriously lacks it herself. I would recommend blocking out time for work and play respectively, making sure that during the work-time you aren’t using your phone, especially not to scroll aimlessly through TikTok… boy, have I been there. This kind of separation will actually make it more enjoyable to use TikTok, as there won’t be a feeling of guilt, and you’ll feel more like you’ve actually earnt it. It’s all about that balance.

On another note, it sounds like you might need to get outside. Staying in all day isn’t good for anyone, so try to incorporate at least a daily walk somewhere into your new routine. That little bit of exercise and fresh air can honestly do wonders for you.

Well, that’s all from us this week…

If you haven’t already listened to our podcast, what are you doing? Seriously, we’re still in a national lockdown,  what else are you going to do with your time?

Want some more Lockdown content? Take a look at last week’s column.


Your College Aunts x

Have any worries?

Here is the link for next week, submit to your heart’s content.