What we’re looking for
Our goal (whether you're meeting us for coffee or submitting a thoughtful form online) is to identify specific strategies, words, and tools that have helped you better navigate dating and intimacy in college (phrases you’ve used, tools you’ve found, rules you’ve created for yourself, etc.). We’ve been talking to lots of cool humans like you, and we plan use the tools and advice we collect to create content that will help young people be more confident, safe, and true to themselves in the following areas of their lives:
○ Physical Intimacy
Our hope is that this document will help you consider which experiences you’d like to focus on, as well as provide you with some questions to help you process and articulate advice you have for others.
Questions to Consider
○ What was the situation?
○ How did you experience and process the situation?
○ What did you learn (about yourself, your environment, the situation, etc.)?
○ What do you wish you’d known beforehand?
○ What would you suggest to others who might find themselves in a similar situation?
➢ How have you learned to care for your physical and mental health?
➢ What specific strategies have helped you care for yourself or care for others?
Topics to consider:
○ Mental Health
○ On a spectrum, do you feel your anxiety is mild, or at times, debilitating? When does it typically arise?
○ Do you feel that particular things tend to trigger your anxiety?
○ How do you feel your anxiety affects others? In what ways have you learned to communicate your anxiety to others?
○ What are some tools you use to cope with your anxiety?
○ Have you noticed any side effects from your anxiety? How do you cope with or treat these?
‒ Body Image
○ How have you learned to be comfortable in your own body? Is there anything you’ve done in particular that really helped you get there?
○ Do you have strategies that have helped you feel more comfortable when you want to be intimate with someone?
○ In what situations do you typically feel the least confident? How have you learned to empower yourself in these situations?
○ What makes you feel confident/in control/powerful/happy/content? Is there anything you or others have done that has boosted your sense of self?
‒ Validating and processing your feelings
○ What feelings tend to make you uncomfortable?
‒ What do you associate with [feeling from above]?
‒ How do these associations affect your response to this feeling?
➢ How do you understand yourself?
Topics to consider:
○ Identity & Social Constructs
‒ How do the following identities & social constructs affect you in the dating and intimacy space?
○ Race (self-identified vs. perceived/assigned)
○ Socioeconomic status
○ Nationality/place of upbringing
○ Mental health
○ Family dynamics
○ Professional/Personal Goals
○ Political Ideology
‒ What resources (people, experiences, organizations, texts, etc.) helped you discover and find community around these identities?
○ Personality & Defaults
‒ Attention & Validation
○ How do you understand (and communicate) which kinds of attention / validation are the most important to you?
○ How do you know when you’re relying on others for validation?
○ What are some good ways of validate others?
‒ Love languages
○ How have you come to understand (and communicate) the kind of love that’s the most meaningful to you?
○ What do you do if you and someone significant in your life (partner, family member, close friend) do not show love in the same way?
‒ How have you navigated this in the past?
○ Core Values
‒ Past experiences
○ What past experiences have been formative to your development in the dating and intimacy space?
‒ How do these experiences affect you now?
○ How do they make you feel?
○ How have they shaped your decisions?
○ In which circumstances do these experiences typically affect you?
‒ What are your goals right now?
○ How do your goals influence what you’re looking for in the dating and intimacy space?
‒ What kind of people, environments, or experiences are most fulfilling right now?
○ How do your past experiences influence what you’re looking for in the dating and intimacy space?
‒ How do you feel when you’re in/out of your element? What are the signals?
‒ Do you tend to trust your gut?
○ In what circumstances?
○ Why/why not?
‒ What are some examples of positive/negative outcomes from trusting your gut?
‒ Have you developed any rules that help you navigate situations where you don’t
trust your gut?
‒ How do you stay safe when you approach new experiences?
‒ What are the core values you won’t compromise on?
‒ How do you test your own boundaries?
‒ How do you process/learn from mistakes?
➢ How do you effectively communicate with others?
Topics to consider:
○ Theory vs. Practice
‒ Are there situations/conversations where you often fail communicate what you’d wanted to?
‒ What tools have you developed any tools that help you say what you need to, even when it’s not very easy to do so? Do you know anyone who has best practices that you find inspiring, useful, etc?
○ Communicating Clearly & Sustainably
‒ Have you developed any tools that help you communicate clearly with others and ensure you’re on the same page?
‒ Do you have any tricks when it comes to communicating with someone effectively and consistently over time (like with a partner, for example)?
○ Goals & Expectations
‒ How do you recognize the goal of the conversation?
‒ Have you developed methods that have helped you understand your own (or others’) expectations before getting into a conversation?
‒ How have you learned to communicate using non-verbals?
‒ What non-verbal signals should you look out for while communicating with
○ Tough Conversations
‒ What are some tough conversations you’ve had in the past? Have you learned anything about how to navigate them?
‒ How do you recognize when you (or someone else) is feeling hurt?
‒ How do you communicate your hurt (be specific!)?
○ Tough Times: Supporting Others / Being Supported
‒ How do you ask for help?
‒ What tactics do you use to show friends you support them?
○ How do you decide how to respond to someone who’s sharing their experience? How do you know whether to commiserate, be honest, give feedback, etc.
○ Mainstream Communication Mediums
‒ In Person
○ What strategies have you developed that help you better communicate in person?
○ What topics do you find hard to communicate about over text? / What topic areas do you often miscommunicate about?
○ What do you do when people don’t text you back?
○ What areas/conversations are off limits for you over messaging services?
○ What are the worst messages you’ve sent/received?
○ What are the best messages you’ve sent/received?
‒ Social Media (Healthy vs. Unhealthy)
○ Do you have recommendations for using social media in a healthy way?
○ How should you engage with the following kinds of relationships on social media:
‒ Long-distance friends / partners
‒ Potential partners
‒ Close friends
○ Have you learned from any particularly memorable experiences on social media?
‒ What was the experience?
‒ What are your takeaways?
➢ How do you begin, sustain, or end a relationship?
Topics to consider:
○ Early Stage Relationships
‒ Dating / talking to someone new
○ How do you carry yourself in relationships that aren’t clearly defined?
○ How do you recognize and communicate the kind of relationship you want to have with someone?
○ How to go on a first date // get to know someone?
○ Have you done or said anything in the past that has helped set a good precedent in a new relationship?
○ What are your go-to conversation starters?
○ How do you flirt over text?
○ How do you flirt in person?
○ What are signs that they are into / not into you?
○ How do you establish whether it is appropriate to flirt (interested/available/in the right environment, etc.)
○ What are absolute turn-offs / no-no’s?
‒ Unwanted Attention
○ How do you signal to someone that you’re not interested in them?
‒ How does this change based on circumstance: party, date, class?
‒ Are you subtle or direct with these signals? Why?
○ What do you do if someone keeps bothering you, despite clear communication?
○ How do you keep yourself safe in a situation that is not going the way you would like?
‒ How to progress things
○ What are your non-negotiables? How do you hold to these when navigating a new relationship?
○ How do you know when you // your partner are ready for the next step?
○ How can you check in with your partner before moving things forward?
○ What do you do if you have an intimacy boundary that is different from your partner’s?
‒ What do you do to make sure that pressure is minimized and the person with the boundary is still in control and comfortable?
○ When have different boundaries proven to be a real problem for you?
‒ How to set boundaries or end things
○ How do you communicate that your needs and wants are different than your partners?
○ How do you create space when you feel that is necessary or healthy?
○ How do you de-escalate things when you hope to remain friends with a
partner you have been intimate with?
‒ My needs and theirs
○ How do you balance your needs and the needs of your partner?
○ How do you decide when to compromise?
○ How do you take space from your partner? What practices do the two of you have for this?
○ How frequently do you check in with your partner to make sure you’re both feeling ok?
‒ What are the biggest changes that have affected your relationship with a partner or friend?
○ How did you communicate about them?
○ What challenges did you and that person have to work through?
○ What are some positive ways that you coped individually or together?
○ What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
‒ How do you support a partner who is going through a tough time?
○ What questions do you ask?
○ What actions or resources do you recommend your partner take in order
to deal with their situation // problem?
○ How do you understand when you’ve taken on too much and need to take a step back?
‒ How have you dealt with changing needs in a relationship?
○ What were your tactics for expressing these needs?
○ How did you accommodate the newness and set new expectations?
‒ What do you feel you bring to a relationship individually?
‒ How do you feel traditional gender roles influence your behavior in a relationship?
○ Do you find yourself taking on roles that are traditionally attributed to a particular gender role? If so, how does this affect how you experience and think about your relationship?
○ When do you tend to move outside of your perceived role, and what effect does that have on your relationship?
‒ Have you ever felt like you had more/less power in a relationship?
○ What were the signs/how did you know?
○ When did you first notice the signs?
○ How long did it take you to acknowledge the signs? What was the tipping point?
○ How did the person with more/less power tend to behave in social settings?
5. Physical Intimacy
➢ How do you ensure you feel good when you engage with someone physically?
Topics to consider:
‒ What role does non-verbal consent // body language play in intimate settings?
‒ What, to you, are the signs of “enthusiastic, verbal consent”?
‒ How do you show or not show consent in physically intimate settings?
‒ Have you ever felt frozen in response to an unsafe or uncomfortable intimate situation?
○ If so, what do you feel would have helped you?
‒ How do you communicate to your partner that you want to try something new?
‒ How do you determine that both you and your partner are comfortable trying the same things?
‒ What do you do when your partner wants to try something that you do not want to try?
○ Elements of Intimacy
‒ How have you learned what elements are important to you in intimate scenarios? (ex: do you like to be spoken to? Hear sounds/words of affirmation?)
○ How do you bring attention to your specific sexual preferences?
‒ How do you have a conversation about them?
○ When you feel uncomfortable or something happens that doesn’t feel good, how do you navigate those feelings in the moment?
○ Please let us know if there are any resources (experiences, organizations, texts, etc.) that have helped you understand or overcome aspects of these issues!
○ If there is someone that you think would be interested in contributing their stories, etc. please encourage them to reach out to us!