Your questions answered by our Views Editors.
I’m going into my first year now and I’m still a virgin. I always assumed I’d just lose it to a randomer in Freshers’ Week and get it over with, but obviously with the current situation that’s looking a bit impossible. I’m really stressing about the idea of possibly even going into my second year a virgin if things don’t get better in a years’ time. Should I risk my health just to get it over with? Should I even care this much?
Emily: First of all, there’s no shame in still being a virgin by the time you start uni. A lot more people than you think have sex for the first time at some point in their university years – it’s a pretty toxic social stereotype that all teenagers are getting it on after they hit 16. Having said that, I don’t think it’s helpful to tell you that you shouldn’t care that much about being a virgin, saying it won’t actually change how you feel. I understand that feeling of just wanting to get it over with so that it’s no longer a big deal, and I think the narrative that we should all wait to have our first sexual experiences with someone special can be equally toxic. I personally lost mine to a guy I’d rather not remember, in circumstances I’d rather not remember, only to get into a very long term relationship with someone I genuinely love a month later – but I still see no reason I should have waited.
You’re right, this year does pose more of a challenge with the lack of social opportunities and the risks to your physical health. But it looks like we’re going to have to live with restrictions for a while now, and I just don’t think casual sex is going to be on pause for that long. In any year you should be careful sleeping with strangers, as there needs to be a certain level of trust there anyway regarding sexual health and the use of contraception. So provided you’re extra careful in these same ways, I don’t think there’s any harm in still trying to pursue sex. It might be a case of joining dating apps and talking to people longer beforehand to instill a mutual sense of trust so you can both make sure you’re not potentially exposing yourself to the virus; or maybe even identifying people on your course or societies you’re involved with who you can strike up a casual friendship with and then throw in the added possibility of sex – although granted, these things might have to wait until the rules allow for you to visit other households. It will take more work, but it’s definitely not impossible. Plus you get the added kink of shagging in a face mask.
Should we shame people for meeting in groups or other people’s flats? We keep hearing about flat parties in Murano, but many non-freshers I know are meeting in groups at people’s flats, pubs, and large groups at Kelvingrove. I feel uncomfortable with this, but feel bad saying anything directly to them.
Hailie: Circumstances have changed a little since this was first submitted, with Murano now in lockdown and the introduction of a temporary ban on students visiting the local! As frustrating as the situation is, I don’t think shaming people would have made too much of a difference. There is a temptation to call people out for acting irresponsibly in the midst of the mayhem – one which I’ve occasionally succumbed to – but how effective can this be? If you approach the situation ready to shame, the likelihood is that you’ll be met with anger or disinterest; people are aware of the rules, and (perhaps annoyingly) you alone can’t force them to comply.
You are, however, well within your right to feel uncomfortable. It’s a right kick in the teeth to see the locals flaunting the rules in Spoons while you sacrifice your social life for the sake of public health. If your friends are the ones ignoring the current guidance, then I would suggest calmly explaining that you aren’t comfortable with how they’ve been acting and assert boundaries. It is important to be honest with the people you care about, even if that means having a tough conversation or two. You may not be able to change things, but they’re more likely to reconsider their behaviour if you avoid confrontation and frame it in a way that reminds them to consider other people, people like you.
Stay safe and keep doing what you’re doing; you’re doing the right thing.
I’m in second year and still haven’t made any uni pals beyond the mutual Instagram-liking of people I did a presentation with last semester.
With COVID pushing social interaction to the side, I don’t know how I’m going to develop any real relationships, platonic or romantic! I’ve joined some societies in the hope that’s a catalyst for future friendships, but I’m just very unsure…
Emily: There’s no denying things are tough right now – it’s an unideal situation to not be able to go out and physically meet people. But at the same time, you need to remember that there’s no rush to meet your best friends, even in second year. I didn’t really meet my “people” until I was in 4th year – by that I mean that I did have friends dotted about the place who I went on nights out and for drinks with, but it took a lot longer to find an actual group of mutual friends I fully gelled with and would speak to about anything, like I had at school. University is a process, and it’s really unhelpful that all of the portrayals of students in popular culture show them as finding friends immediately and having all of their big experiences with those same friends. That just isn’t the reality for most people.
At the same time, I understand that you might be lonelier than usual and want to make friends to see this big, bizarre year out with. Meeting people at society meetups, or even in your online classes, is a good place to start. I know online socials are hardly an ideal place to foster long-term connections, but just think of them as the first step of the process. Once you’ve gotten an in with someone through this it’s much easier to then start chatting to them individually online, which will give you a much better idea if you would gel well as friends IRL. Then once you think you’ve found someone (or a few people) who you actually get on with, take the leap and ask them out for a drink – think of it as a friendship date. It may seem weird, but honestly we could all do with taking a leaf from the world of Tinder/Bumble/Hinge dating for romantic and friendship reasons now that it feels like the pause button has been hit on those “real world lives” technophobes and traditionalists used to go on and on about. I know it’s scary, but in these weird circumstances we live in you just aren’t going to get anywhere with people if you don’t put yourself out there. If it makes you feel better, remember that if it doesn’t go well you literally never have to see these people again – that is the one upside of an online semester!
No, it isn’t ideal, but Covid will pass. And since you’re in second year, you’ll know that it wasn’t even particularly easy to meet firm friends in normal circumstances, when pubs were open past 10pm and you were staggering home together from HIVE in the wee small hours. It requires a little extra work, but you will find people. And if none of those end up going the distance, so what? You have 2 more years to keep meeting people at uni – and you’ll get to do that in much more normal circumstances than these.
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