A student's guide to sex, dating and relationships

A student's guide to sex, dating and relationships

On being a virgin, one-night stands, STI check-ups and long-distance relationships

One-night stands? Long-distance relationships? Walks of shame? Better listen up to veteran dater Alice White’s top tips for navigating the murky waters of uni love

Meeting People

They’re going to be everywhere, all the time. In the bars, in classes, in halls, with your friends, in your extracurricular activities, in your sports teams. They’re everywhere, hundreds of new people everywhere all the time. Like shaggable ants. Everyone looks good because they’re young and exciting. You’re young and exciting. I’m excited for you guys.

Being a Virgin

You might think this a terrible thing but, actually, this is going to be the best time of your life. You’ve made it this far and I wish I still had mine so I could use it as a weapon. You’re going to start growing out of those sexually-charged life-ruining hormones now, so the rush of ‘getting it out the way’ is over just as you’re being presented with a catalogue of interesting new people that you can approach more rationally. Are you going to commit to the moody bass player with the mother issues or the rebellious slam poet? Everyone at high school only got to choose between the person they used to play with as a kid or someone’s sister from the year above.

One-Night Stands

These happen. Drop a couple of drinks, save the money and get a taxi home the next day: don’t do the walk of shame. This isn’t a student thing, this is a how-to-be-a-respectable-person thing. You’ll probably want to get out of wherever you are in the morning immediately so you’ll have to just leave however you get up. People spot it a mile off. If you have to, keep your eyes to the ground when you walk into halls or, if you’ve got the confidence, do the opposite and high-five everyone you meet shouting ‘YEAH, I DID!’ until you get into bed to weep away your hangover.


Reputations don’t stick as firmly in university as they do in school. Times are changing. For example, women aren’t seen as ‘sluts’ if they blow more than two guys in a lifetime. The problem arises when you meet people who haven’t matured enough to respect other’s privacy. People will still talk about you and what you’ve done, but it doesn’t matter. One precaution you can take is in regards to sending dirty pictures of yourself. You put the effort into making something personal and accidentally send it to someone who turns out to be a moron. The same people who’ll gossip are some of the same people who’ll show their friends any naked photos you’ve sent them. Try out apps like Snapchat because bad things happen to good butts.


Let’s get something out the way: condoms. No one’s going to think that you’re not a grown-up for trying to avoid chlamydia. If they attempt to persuade you otherwise, they’re a piece of shit. I know plenty of people who were having babies at the time their friends were graduating so if that’s not what you want, do what you can to prevent it. Annoying lecture over (joking, it continues all the way through this).

STI Check-Ups

As a responsible, sexually-active human, you need to have them. It’s not you I don’t trust, it’s everyone else, which – to them – also includes you. Actually, no one is to be trusted. Even though you use condoms you should still try and get a check-up at least every six months if you’re changing partners regularly, or before you get involved with someone new. Also, if your partner does catch something, then you’ve got solid proof that it didn’t come from you. It’ll be your ‘winning arguments with lovers’ top trump card. Everyone knows how to use the internet to find information. In case you don’t, Edinburgh and Glasgow’s clinics are relatively close to university campuses and have drop-in clinics in the mornings. Be there sharp and be prepared to see people you know. It’s only uncomfortable if you make it so. You don’t have to talk to anyone and no one wants to talk to you. Just a quick raise-of-the-eyebrows then gaze back down at a Hello! magazine from 2008. Specific appointments get booked up fast, and in Edinburgh, you have to phone Chambers at 2pm on a Wednesday to book a time-slot of your choosing which usually turns into a frenzied, radio-style phone-in. Not the best but it might save you from getting up too early. Getting up early is your worst enemy.

Freshers’ Week Romances

Good luck with that. If you see it for what it is, no one should get especially hurt. You probably aren’t going to find the love of your life while parading around doing pub golf: that’s what makes the stories of those who do so incredible. There are many more opportunities to come.

Long-distance relationships

Hmmm … When my high school boyfriend went to St Andrews, you know how many times I saw him? Twice. If you’re not in love with each other, then why bother? Wait, who am I to stand in the way of faux love? Get yourself a student railcard and make sure you visit each other’s towns equally. Integrate with each other’s friends: but if you can’t, one of you might have changed more than you think. If you trust each other and enjoy the gap between the pair of you in order to get on with your own stuff, then you’re the only one who a long-distance relationship works for.

Not letting love get in the way of your education

All the stuff mentioned before is going to be great, but it’ll never be as rewarding as sticking with your studies. This isn’t some rubbish life lesson, it’s because I’m working on a new list: a list to tell you how to use your graduate status and possibly huge future salary to get more of this stuff, but better.

Call Sexual Health Scotland on 0800 22 44 88 for specific advice or Marie Stopes on 0845 300 8090 for pro-choice contraception and abortion advice.