Your College Aunts Week 3: Breaking up and Locking it Down

Failed lockdown romance? Not again!

Another week of online learning and fatigue-inducing Zoom calls, another Your College Aunts column. As promised, this week we’re bringing you “Breaking up and Locking it Down” – so basically another column dedicated to relationships and love. Your aunts have tried their best to do some prep work for this column, with Leila getting more invested in the Gilmore Girls love triangles, and Amira reading about early modern contraceptives for her supervision essay- you really couldn’t be in better hands!

Before we dive into this week’s column, it’s time to make a few announcements. Firstly, the first podcast episode of term is out now! Entitled ‘Friends, FOMO and Gleb’s Dog’ it pretty much offers all of those things and more. Gleb and Leila contemplate your questions about motivation and living away from home, whilst mitigating against a few minor technical errors which come as the result of having to record a podcast on Zoom. Hey, at least we’re staying Covid-safe! So, once you’ve read this column, be sure to give the new episode a listen!

Secondly, the time has come for us to introduce our second podcast guest. She’s the brains behind the theme for the next two weeks, a Footlight and a fourth-year medic on the frontline, introducing… Fatima!

Finally, someone funny! (Photo credits: Leila Lawrence and Amira Nandhla)

Unfortunately, you’ve got to wait another week before you can hear Fatima’s hot takes on dating during lockdown. In the meantime, make sure you’ve listened to the new episode with Gleb:

On Spotify

On Apple Podcasts

On Google Podcasts

On your web browser 

On PocketCasts

On Breaker

On RadioPublic 

Enough podcast promo, let’s dive into those love problems of yours, shall we?

Q1: I want to break up with my bf but I feel like doing it during lockdown is the wrong thing to do 

Breakups. No one likes them, but more people need to actually do them. I’ve spent a long time advocating for the ‘dump him’ movement, both in my personal life and in this column, so I really don’t feel like I need to elaborate on this much further. Let’s dive in headfirst.

It seems pretty clear that you want to break-up, so the main question is: why haven’t you? I know, I know, you don’t want to hurt him, bad timing, ya di da. Hate to break it to you but, when it comes to breakups, there’s really no such thing as ‘good timing’ in the sense of trying to reduce the short-term potential for hurting feelings. You’re breaking up, of course, it’s going to be difficult. For a breakup to have good timing, it means breaking up when you want to and not dragging on a relationship that you’re unhappy in. You’re not saving the other person from hurt, you’re setting them up to resent you, and you’re not giving them what they want either. Yes, breaking up in lockdown may seem disingenuous and harsh, but if lockdown has made you want to break up, it probably wasn’t meant to be. Cut your losses and act decisively.

Q2: I want to start dating but I don’t really know how?

Been there. Probably still there. And the sad truth is: there is no simple formula for dating.

In the context of lockdown, the best thing you can probably do is enter the cryptic world of dating apps (reference the answer below for Tinder tips) and really just try and put yourself out there. If there was a clear, universal path for dating and getting into relationships, we’d all be following it. The main thing you can do is open yourself up to the possibility. Put yourself out there. Ask someone on a date. Try to speak to more people. All of these things are difficult in themselves, but giving yourself that little push to do them will not only help you start dating, but also help you develop as a person. I’m a strong believer that, at this age, dating is really about getting to know yourself, so don’t put pressure on yourself to make it any more than that. Keep it low stakes and enjoy the experience instead of trying to measure success.

In line with the classic Your College Aunts format, I want you to ask yourself a question: do you want to start dating because you genuinely want to date, or because you want more social interaction in your life? The second is a perfectly valid reason for dating, but remember that joining clubs and reaching out to old friends is another way of approaching this need. If you want some more explicitly practical advice and want to stay in the Cambridge dating pool, RAG Blind Date is always a shout. There’s no guarantee it will go well, but it might end up being a funny story nonetheless, and will certainly give you some experience.

Q3: I downloaded Tinder but I have no idea how to use it? What’s the protocol? 

Okay so straight off, Tinder is shallow.  As much as we might like to pretend otherwise, we are judging people based on how they look and this means that your first photo needs to be great.  90 per cent of your profile depends on that first picture, I have no corroborating evidence for this claim but, trust me, it’s true.  You also need to have more than one photo, otherwise, you are just going to be putting out a subliminal message that you are in fact a catfish who stole their pictures from some random’s Twitter profile.

So we have established the importance of pictures, but the actual images they show are equally important.  Smile, make sure you have good natural lighting and PLEASE make sure they aren’t blurry.  Another piece of advice I do think is important to take onboard is the no selfie rule.  A plethora of selfies on your tinder profile suggests that you aren’t very social and the only person willing to take photos of you is yourself.

Photos, in general, are a minefield and I could go on, but another important factor to consider is the bio.  We all need to take a blood oath not to write down clichéd stuff.  Singularly the worst thing I can imagine typing out is “looking for my partner in crime”.  Do you want to convey an image of unoriginality?  Do you really want potential dates to think you are so painfully dull?  Instead, use your tinder bio to posit a question, share a weird fact (but please for all our sakes don’t make it sexual) about yourself, or give an idea of who you are and what you like to do.  Something like “I had to quit gymnastics because my teacher said I was too clumsy” is cute. “I still need to see (insert blockbuster movie here); want to go with me?”  This provides a really clear entry point for conversation. The idea is to seem interesting to talk to; listing some generic facts and humble brags is not that.

When you match with someone it is completely fine to send the first message, but do not under any circumstances open with anything sexual.  Equally, please do not try to be clever, or overly familiar, e.g., “You look exactly like my next girlfriend.” Try opening with a question,  (“wyd rn ;),” doesn’t count).  Make it fun and a little out there like, “Do you prefer cats or dogs?” or “What’s your favourite food?”  Ultimately, just be yourself and make sure you convey an interesting and most importantly non-threatening image.

Q4: I’m in a fwb situation with this girl but I think she wants more. I know I don’t want anything serious but I also don’t want to hurt her. What should I do?

I feel like we need to keep this one fairly simple, as it really has an easy solution.

Have you had an honest and open conversation about what you both want?  You may be projecting and just worrying that she wants something more serious, but if this is the case, you both have incompatible goals and you should stop the sexual side of your interactions as soon as possible.  Ultimately, “I’m not feeling it” and “I’m not ready for a relationship” are perfectly valid reasons to end a relationship, if you feel you have to explain yourself.  It is much better and healthier to avoid a relationship you don’t want rather than get stuck in one that you aren’t into.

Well, that’s all from us this week…

The theme for next week is still “Breaking up and Locking It Down,”  so if you’ve got some love-based dilemmas bugging you, be sure to submit them in time for the next week, and you might even catch Leila and Fatima discussing your love life in the next podcast. So, get submitting, we know you’ve got questions so why not air them out anonymously?

If you haven’t listened to earlier episodes of the podcast, what are you doing? Seriously, it’s a remote term, what else are you doing with your time? And while you’re at it, you may as well give us a follow on Instagram (@yourcollegeaunts).


Your College Aunts x

Have any worries?

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

Want to be the next Fatima?

Did you ever find yourself listening to the podcast last term thinking that you could’ve added something interesting to the discussion? Well, here’s your chance to be a guest on the podcast! All you need to do is fill out this form proposing a theme for an episode and tell us why you think you would be a great guest. Go on, apply! What have you got to lose?

Featured image credit: Leila Lawrence and Amira Nandhla