Agony Aunts: Trinity College Dublin Edition

The Sex and Relationships team tackle the questions plaguing the minds of students

Q: I don’t know if there’s anything more between me and a friend, or if they just see me as a friend.


Ria: For me, not knowing whether or not something more exists is scary. I regret every situation that I left without knowing for certain if it was more than just friendship between us. It leaves me overthinking my interactions and each move that I made. My advice is to address the situation, but that’s so much easier said than done. There have been times that I’ve felt this way with someone and I didn’t address it at the time, and I regret that now in retrospect. Honestly, I would actually rather hear to my face, “I have never seen you as more than a friend,” than never know whether something more could have been. Better to be hurt with the truth than live without knowing!

It can be really humbling to be told that someone doesn’t like you like that, and it will sting in the moment, but at least then you will know. On the other hand, they could turn around and agree with you, confessing their hidden love that they’ve been suppressing this whole time. It is definitely worth the risk regardless of their response. If you’re worried about being rejected and the awkwardness that might ensue, consider this: if they make things weird between you both, are they really your friend?

The hard part, however, is bringing it up. That is even harder when you attempt to bring it up sober (which is always advised). My advice here is to mention it in a light-hearted way rather than taking a serious approach. Unless of course you’re a serious person by nature. You could make a joke about the two of you getting together, or a joke about fancying them, in order to gauge the dynamic. 

Q: I just started college and have been going out with my boyfriend for a few months now. I don’t know whether it’s best to go through college with him or to break up and have the experience of being single in college.

Cat: The first thing that I have to say is that, in my opinion, being single is overrated. The world of singledom is brutal and often heavily romanticised. Do you love your boyfriend? If so, it could be crazy to break up with him while there are no obstacles impeding your relationship except ideas that society has planted in our heads about what our college years should look like. On the other hand, if you were truly happy in the relationship, would you even consider breaking up? 

The main thing that you need to ask yourself is what it is that you want from life right now. Do you think that being in a relationship would prevent your realisation of this version of your college life? Or do you want to be single because of the bizarre notion that we should all be sleeping with as many people as possible while we’re in college?

The other thing to remember is that, even if you enter college now still in the relationship, that doesn’t mean that you will be in the relationship for all of college and won’t get to experience single college life at a later stage. It can be a great thing to enter college in a relationship, and valuable lessons can be learnt through this. But if you think that it might be a good idea for you to break up, maybe I would consider the idea of taking a break before breaking up definitively, and seeing how you feel towards your boyfriend and about your life in general during this period. If you find that you are happier with the life that you are living whilst single, it might make sense to  make the breakup permanent. 

The bottom line of my advice would be not to throw away something good because you fear that you are missing out on something else the grass is always greener on the other side.”

The bottom line of my advice would be not to throw away something good because you fear that you are missing out on something else the grass is always greener on the other side. Don’t compare your internal experiences to the external experiences of others. If you are able to grow whilst in the relationship, there may be no reason to terminate it.

Q: I’m a fresher in college and I’m still a virgin. I feel like everyone else around me has already had sex, and I feel like I need to too soon, before it gets too embarrassing that I haven’t yet.

Cat: The first thing you need to know is that there are more virgins around you at this age than you might suspect. Everyone always assumes that those around them are having sex, but I can tell you with no uncertainty that in first year of college this is definitely not the case. Consider it this way: most people will not want to openly state that they haven’t lost their virginity. It is only as we get older and more time passes since we sleep with someone for the first time that we become comfortable admitting how old we were when we lost it. 

As you progress through college, I seriously doubt it will matter to you exactly what age you were the first time you had sex. So, without sounding patronising, my main piece of advice would be that there really is no need to rush it. You deserve to be comfortable enough with the person whom you are losing your virginity to tell them that it is your first time. If you are not happy doing so, then they are likely not the right person. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make your first time perfect it won’t be, and you’re almost inevitably going to look back on it and cringe, or laugh, or curse the person who took it because things ended badly between you.

You are likely never going to feel entirely ready either, because when we do anything for the first time we are taking a step into the unknown, and that is often somewhat scary. (But also, it’s not as scary as you might think it will be). The idea that you should lose your virginity by a certain age is utterly unfounded, and the right time and age to do it is different for everyone. Ultimately, I would say to have sex when you want to, not before you want to, and only if you want to. 

Q: I recently broke up with my ex, but now that I’m single, I can’t help but wonder whether he’s actually the one for me, and whether I should get back together with him.

Ria: The first thing I’ll say here is the importance of trusting your gut. If you’re having doubts, you need to acknowledge that and consider why you feel that way. Usually when there’s a doubt especially a recurring one then you should know in yourself that something’s not right. You obviously broke up for a reason.

The safety blanket that goes hand in hand with being in a relationship is no longer wrapped tightly around you.”

Another thing that people don’t often address is how scary it is to suddenly be single, especially while in college. All of the people you once walked past meaninglessly now catch your eye, and it can feel vulnerable and exposing. The safety blanket that goes hand in hand with being in a relationship is no longer wrapped tightly around you. Despite this discomfort, it’s important to remember why you went through with the breakup and to try and value time on your own before rushing back into something on the basis of being lonely.

That being said, there’s no shame in getting back together with someone if you can’t stop thinking about them. This has to be someone that you know well, so would it be worth having a chat with them to see if they feel the same way? Or would that leave you going in circles, uncertain of your feelings? All in all, spend some time reflecting on how you feel within yourself now that you’re single compared to how you felt in your relationship. I would advise writing these feelings down and weighing them up before you make any concrete decisions.