Valentine’s day can be difficult to navigate for both those who are single and people in relationships. Dating can seem risky, and there are many aspects that can deter people from getting into relationships. These can range from compatibility issues to larger issues.
“Talking about the risks of dating makes it sound like if you go to dinner with someone you might get raped, so instead of giving tips on how not to get raped, we like to focus on teaching people how not to rape,” Molly Wieser, Title IX coordinator, said.
One way of educating people on dating safety is by looking at what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy. With dating there is potential for problems, and it’s important to identify the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship early, Wieser said.
People sometimes think that a couple can’t tell if a relationship is healthy or not until late into the relationship, but there are actually warning signs that can show up as early as a first date, Wieser said.
“If you’re watching a sitcom and there’s a scene of a date, and the date talks too much and orders all of the food, you know it’s a bad date,” Wieser said.
Being respectful and making decisions together, even small decisions like what to order at a restaurant, are indicators of a healthy relationship, Weiser said.
If a person spends all of the time on a date talking about themself and never asks about the other person, that’s a red flag as well.
“If it’s all about the other person on a first date, chances are the relationship is going to head in that direction too,” Kendra Gallegos Reichle, coordinator of the Student Wellness Initiative, said.
Respecting each other’s space is also important.
A common problem that comes up is cell phone grabbing, Wieser said.
“There’s so much physical nonsense that goes on in couples involving phones,” Wieser said. “Like asking ‘who’s texting you.’ Even though I have curiosity about who they’re texting, I should have the confidence in myself and in them to see if someone’s being present in our relationship.”
Another larger issue that couples can face are issues of sexual assault. One of the most common forms of sexual assault happens when couples pressure each other to have sex, Wieser said. Negotiations on when or if to participate in sexual activity can complicate things.
“If I get a maybe or a not so much then I’m drawing a hard boundary,” Wieser said.
On Valentine’s Day in particular, some people can feel pressured into sex after receiving a nice gift.
“There’s never any implied consent no matter how much someone spends,” Gallegos Reichle said.
If Valentine’s Day is not something you want to celebrate, it’s good to make a plan for how you’ll spend the day. One of the things FLC’s Wellness Peer Advisory Council suggests is taking time to do self care.
“Self care isn’t just taking a bubble bath and drinking a glass of wine, it’s also indulging in something you’re passionate about”, Gallegos Reichle said. “Setting boundaries is self care, and you can set the boundary, that no, I’m not going to do anything on Valentine’s day.”
The main focus of the day should be self love, Gallegos Reichle said.
If something goes wrong on a date, FLC does have options to help someone through the situation.
Durango’s Sexual Assault Services Office offers legal and emotional support, Gallegos Reichle said.
The Counseling Center, which offers all students four free sessions a semester, can also provide an outlet for those who have experienced sexual assault, Gallegos Reichle said.
One of the best ways to keep a Valentine’s Day date from going wrong is to plan ahead, Gallegos Reichle said.
“It’s super important for people to know in advance is what their values are and what they want, because when it comes to risky behavior like sex or drinking, planning ahead is better than not having a plan at all,” Gallegos Reichle said.
This relationship spectrum is a quick, easy way to test if a relationship is healthy or not.
If you would like to meet with someone to talk:
Molly Weiser, Title IX Coordinator
Schedule an appointment at https://www.fortlewis.edu/care
Peer Support System
To set up an appointment email
Call to schedule an appointment