Dating is tough. Like, way too tough. And being in college doesn’t make it any easier. Girls play hard to get and boys don’t call you back. When you finally score a date, it doesn’t always go well and that can be awkward. Let’s face it, you don’t want to run into them at Starbucks in between classes and have to pretend everything is fine because it isn’t.

If I’m lucky enough to get a date with someone I think I could be really into, I know for a fact my brain is going to be running a mile a minute every second of every day. Why? I couldn’t tell you, but I can absolutely show you. When I meet someone, there are a few things I tell myself to keep my head straight and calm the natural worries we all encounter. So here we go, me to me, and now to you.

1. Keep it casual on the first date.

Cafés and coffee shops are okay for the first date, especially since you’re both in college and most likely struggling a bit. It also doesn’t put a lot of pressure on your outfit. You don’t have to look like an adult for this. You can wear jeans. You love wearing jeans.

2. You can sleep with them if you are feeling it, girl. It’s okay to want what you want as long as you’re safe.

Are you allowed to go back to his apartment? What will his roommates think of you? Wait, no, it doesn’t matter. You’re an independent woman. You’re just having fun, and that’s okay. Plus, it’s a good thing you shaved your legs.

3. No matter what happens, they may or may not call you back.

It’s alright because a second date wasn’t promised. It’s okay if she doesn’t like you. You like you, and that’s all you need. She’s probably seeing someone else and you don’t need that drama in your life. Don’t worry about it.

4. If they do call you back, it’s also ok if they aren’t trying to jump into a relationship right away.

Don’t freak out too early. Let things go slow and don’t take it personally. It’s college and that’s more the norm than it is the exception of the rule.

5. If they tell you they want a relationship then let them prove it.

Alright, they all say this at first, right? You’re gonna let her be a bit confused for a minute. She just likes the idea of being in a relationship. She’ll take it back.

6. If (or when) they fail to prove it, move on.

Ha! You were prepared. He took it back. See what happens when you listen to me? Don’t worry about it too much. He wasn’t worth it. It’s time to get over it already.

7. Let their failure help you, not scare you.

Just because she wasn’t all that great, it doesn’t mean they’re all alike. If someone else comes along, keep an open mind. Also, look at the bright side: at least you don’t have to shave for a good couple months. Smile!

8. If you find someone else, let the last one guide your judgement.

You have to learn from the last time, because it’s the only part that makes this whole dating thing worth it in the end anyway.

9. If it lasts, let it last.

It’s going really well, dude. You’re having fun, right? I think she is too. I mean, you haven’t had “The Talk” yet, but that’s okay. You don’t have to define this yet. Also, don’t forget to shave tonight. You should write that down.

10. Keep your options open.

So what are you gonna do if this doesn’t work out? You’re not gonna get too bent out of shape, and you’re going to keep dating. I feel really good about this, don’t you?

11. You’re allowed to fall in love.

I know that you’re like, really frustrated right now, but you’ve got to relax. You just saw him yesterday. This is what love is like, so get used to it! It doesn’t mean you’re going to get married, but it does mean you get to feel wonderful. Enjoy moments like this. It’s nice to see you happy.

12. You’re allowed to settle down.

I know you’re nervous, but it’s okay. They say not to settle too young but screw ‘em. You’ve come a long way, and you love her, right? It’s okay. Remember to breathe. Try not to get a house that’s too small. Remember our claustrophobia.

13. I’m so proud of you.

Dating is so challenging, and you did it even when you were scared.

In the end, you’re always going to have yourself. So even if the dates relationships don’t end up working out, it’s all okay. College is about finding out who you are and who you eventually wannabe. Wasting your golden years isn’t going to help you. So, choose wisely, and maybe you’ll find “The One”. But until then, it’s okay to keep dating, keep learning and most of all, find a version of “The One” inside yourself too.

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