The first time I ever fancied someone I was four years old.

Let’s be honest, that’s premature. And a bit weird. So you can imagine my surprise – and disappointment – when, first secondary school disco in full swing, I found myself in the girl’s toilets, totally consumed with fear at the thought of the night ending in my being someone’s girlfriend.

It wasn’t like Scar from The Lion King was even there (plot twist: I no longer fancy cartoon lions, but still love a black hair/ green eye combo). Or that anyone was showing the slightest whiff of interest in the glitter hair mascara fringe I was debuting that evening.

But, despite the sassy four-year-old inside me who was so desperate to be wifeyed back in 1994, the mere thought of anyone trying to snog, dance or really do anything beyond offering me their seat so I could rest my inexperienced platform-heeled feet was enough to make me fake illness and call my Dad to come take me home. Ah, home. I could eat Indian takeaway and watch Friends there, I could have a bubble bath, I could listen to The Killers and imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship without the scary reality of actually having to go through with it.

Needless to say, after that first school disco, it was obvious: casual intimacy intimidated me. And I ended up spending my entire teenage years single.

It wasn’t because I’d suddenly stopped fancying anyone – quite the contrary. I fancied everyone. At least it felt that way; but as I quickly learnt, my feelings were fickle. The second anyone paid any interested in me I was onto the next one, before they had a chance to fish out the alleged eyelash from my heavily kohl-lined socket.

On several occasions I was accused of being a tease or a flirt, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was interested in being in the relationships I formed in my mind – it’s just the reality brought so much pressure, and I was yet to meet anyone with the maturity and patience to match my timid curiosity. I wanted fun from a relationship and, from the looks of things, the real-life kind involved heartbreak, school gossip and the risk of everyone knowing the private things I only wanted special people to know.

It took me longer than I wish it had to realise that I wasn’t a tease, and I wasn’t frigid. I just didn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone who didn’t love me. It was as simple as that.

Of course I felt embarrassed about being what from the outside probably looked like a ‘late bloomer’. When you aren’t in love it always feels like everyone else is – but, honestly, this is just imagination talking. I have friends who lost their virginity aged 14 and friends who had their first kiss aged 22, there is no finish line when it comes to intimacy. There just isn’t. Adult life doesn’t begin with your first kiss. If you’re interested in that stuff then life will be littered with it, and you’ll have times when it’s happening a lot and times when it isn’t happening at all.

I’m a bit older now, and I’ve had a serious relationship. We made it work for three years, which doesn’t sound like long but considering the fact that we were broke, lazy students who wore the same Dominoes-stained joggers every day (him) and believed that jarred pesto counted as one of your 5 a day (me), it was a triumph against bad odds. That relationship had everything I’d thought up in my Killers bubble baths. He was loving and hilarious with a gorgeous face, and the first time we kissed I remember being surprised because I wasn’t thinking about when it would be over like all the regretful snogs before him.

It’s important to say here that I think prolific ‘relationship people’ – the types that seem to have loved a hundred times before they’re even legally allowed to drink – are sensational. In my experience they tend to be super open, to both rejection and love, because they come as a pair. Emotional gamblers, pursuing subtle flirtation with the conviction of some sort of intimacy gladiator. But, unless that comes naturally to you, you can’t force it.  As with everything in life, but especially your emotions, you’ve got to consider what you’re comfortable with.

A few days ago a friend asked when I was going to get round to dating someone seriously again and I felt that familiar pang of embarrassment – like FOMO with a sprinkling of shame. The truth is, I just really like being single. Not because I’m frigid, or want a different person every night, or have low self-esteem, or think I’m too good for that bloke who asked me out. I simply love being single because there is so much to love about it.

I don’t have to share anything; my money, my time, my bed, my pizza. I’ve got to know myself in incredible depth, because I’ve had to. I plan my weekends depending on what I want to do, I go to places I want to visit on holiday, I cook what I love for dinner every night. I know exactly what I’m lacking, and what a potential partner could give to make me a better person, but I also know that I’m enough. It’s a strong and sentimental statement, but it’s true. And I like to think this relationship with myself started during those relationship-less teenage years. I’m not scared of being single.

Ultimately relationships can be crazy, fun, sad, beautiful life experiences. But they’ve got to happen on your own terms. My advice would be: take the time to understand exactly what you feel comfortable with.

Because in the end, the only person you have to live with forever is yourself.

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Image: Easy A

There’s something super romantic-sounding about love at first sight, isn’t there? Your eyes meeting across a crowded room, knowing immediately that they’re the one for you. Or, if you don’t fall in love in that VERY instant, at least embarking on a whirlwind romance that sees you smitten within days, if not hours. It sometimes seems like only love of the fast, breathless, thunderbolt variety is deemed really, properly proper.

Well sorry, but we’re calling bulls**t.

There’s another way to fall. And it isn’t glamorous. But it can be totally awesome. The cosy pyjamas of the relationship world, if you will. We’re talking about when your buddy becomes your bae.

There are tons of benefits to being friends first, but let’s start with this lightning bolt: you probably actually like each other. We know: duh, right? But don’t try and tell us you’ve never considered going out with someone just because it’d look good. (“They’re in the year above and in a band for chrissake. I can totally put up with narcissism and a terrible sense of humour!”) But friends first = you’re probs dating a genuinely good human.

And even better, your attraction’s probably based on more than looks (although wanting to smooch them constantly is great, too). Maybe you’ve got tonnes in common, they make you laugh, or you admire their gaming skills. Whatever it is, things will probs be funner for longer because your feelings are more than just butterflies in your pants. Ruth, a magazine designer, has been with her boyf for four years, but they were friends for a year and a half first. “We had a mutual love of design and I found I could bounce ideas off him and really admired his way of thinking. His creative side was a big part of why I fell for him, and it feels nice to have some substance beneath the fancying. After all, looks fade eventually!”

And who’da thunk it, that whole admiration thing works both ways. So yep, if you’re dating your friend, they probably actually like you, too. The real you.

“We all have a ‘false me’ and a ‘real me’,” says Emma Gleadhill, a speaker and coach who helps young people manage their relationships. “In some social situations we choose to keep the ‘real me’ more hidden. But you shouldn’t have to do that with your partner. It takes so much emotional energy to keep being ‘the girlfriend’ instead of just being yourself. You should be able to tell your partner that you’d rather stay in and be ‘boring’ tonight, or you should feel comfortable even when you’re not looking your best. There should be an inner confidence that they accept the real you.”

There’s also the big T. And no we’re not talking about the fact you both love tacos. Or T-Swift. (Although surely they’ve got to be two of the best Ts, right?). “I guess the biggest thing was the trust between us,” says Ruth. “At the time, we were both involved with other people and so we really were just friends. But it was nice to have somebody to confide in who was outside of things. We’d meet for coffees, and over time we came to really trust each other. That meant that when we were single and got together, things seemed natural because we already had that foundation.”

As well as being a generally awesome ingredient in a relationship, trust is also super handy when it comes to funtimes of the sexy persuasion. “It’s easy to get swept along with things you’re not comfortable with because you want to keep the other person happy,” says Emma. “But it’s so important not to do that – to remember that you have power and control over your own body. Hopefully, if you’ve built up trust as friends, it’ll be easy to be honest with each other about what you do and don’t want.”

And when real life makes you want to kill each other / cry on each other / run away… fear not! Turns out there are skills you’ve already practised as friends that help you boss it as a couple, too. “Things like negotiation, discussion, collaboration and being supportive,” says Emma. “If you get those things right, you should end up with a relationship where you understand and complement each other, rather than where one person always leads and the other follows.”

We also reckon you’re more likely to try fun new things with friends-turned-heart-flutterers. No one wants to royally SUCK at rock climbing with some hottie they’ve only just met and haven’t sussed out yet. But the person who’s already seen you fall on your face ice skating, or forget your lines in the school play? That feels weirdly fine. Especially since they lay on the ice with you while you both died laughing.

But best of all, they can help you push yourself to new heights of awesomeness. “When we were friends,” says Ruth, “my other half would show me his design work and I’d say, ‘why don’t you try this instead?’ He’d do the same for me. It wasn’t about impressing each other. It was about challenging each other to think differently, and pushing each other’s limits. If I’d just started dating someone I think I’d have felt put out to be questioned like that. But with a friend, it was ok. We made each other want to be the best we could be. And we still do.”

#Relationshipgoals, right? So, if you’ve been having ‘Feelings with a capital F’ for a mate, but think you should be wait for some fateful earthquake with a gorgeous stranger, stop waiting. That cosy pyjama love could be one of the best of your life.

@LucindaEverett

Emma Gleadhill runs workshops in schools helping young people to handle their relationships.

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I’ll be honest, guys – I was a little bit embarrassed about writing this. Despite the fact I’m an actual grown woman who is supposed to have proper things to worry about (like… um, mortgages? Recycling? I still don’t know), I was reluctant to actually put the words down on paper (ok, screen) in case everyone laughed and pointed and the villagers turned up at my door with pitchforks and fire.

But yes, it’s true. I was a teenage snogging celibate.

I had what could *generously* be called my ‘first kiss’ when I was 11 – from my middle school boyfriend, on the cheek, barely a moist residue left – and smugly assumed that it would be the first of many kisses. Longer, wetter ones. I thought I was firmly on the saliva highway; the long road to Snogsville, tongue population: two. Little did I know it would be a full seven years before I actually achieved mouth-on-mouth contact, and then it would be when I was old enough to drink and vote.

There are many reasons it never happened, in theory. The main one: I went to an all-girls high school, and barely knew any boys. Our bin-sack uniforms felt fugly enough to send any potential bus stop snog partners running for the hills, and all my extra-curricular hobbies – ballet, amateur dramatics, hanging round in Accessorize trying on big hats – weren’t exactly spilling over with viable straight boys. Who was I going to snog? The caretaker’s son? The boy who worked in Co-op?

Also, I was fussy. While my mates went to parties and cheerfully got off with whatever friend’s brother’s cousin they could find as long as he was adolescent and doused in enough Lynx Africa, I shied away and quietly waited for The Dream Snog Situation to present itself. If I was only patient enough, I thought, a cross between Mr Darcy and Oliver Wood from Harry Potter would turn up on my doorstep with a pot of Carmex and a string quartet.

But they didn’t. The years rolled by, and I stayed un-snogged. It started to feel as though other people’s lives were one long tongueathon, only coming up for air every so often to tell me about it during assembly.

Everything else arrived that puberty had promised – periods, boobs, pubes, chin acne – but still no kissing opportunities, except boyband posters and the back of my own hand. At this point I became less fussy. I’d settle for a spin-the-bottle kiss; a dare; a guy accidentally falling on my mouth as he walked past in a corridor. Maybe CPR, at a push. I worried that everyone could tell, which would make me even less kissable. I felt like an old sandwich, marked down with a bright yellow sticker because it was past its snog-by date.

Then at sixth-form college, finally surrounded by boys after four years of basically being a nun in a navy jumper, I got so excited I immediately fell in love with about 10 at once – but because the only type of flirting I knew how to do was gazing seductively (read: staring creepily) at them across rooms, no snogging happened then either. Boys were more likely, it turned out, to snog the girl who actually had a conversation with them than the one who appeared to be trying to put a hex on them with her scary saucer-eyes from the other side of the canteen (important life lesson, write that down).

So that’s how I ended up 18, losing my kissing virginity as a university fresher. I would never know what it’s like to have that awkward teenage first kiss – the lingering snog goodnight on your parents’ doorstep, the hour-long, messy make-out sesh in the corner of a school disco, or the kind where your mates gather outside the cupboard door, giggling.

And you know what? It turns out that’s fine. Better than fine: nobody even gives a s**t! People are generally far too obsessed with their own hang-ups to really pay attention to yours (write that down too). There may not have been a string quartet, but there wasn’t any laughing or pointing either. The guy in question didn’t pull away in horror, yelling “what are you DOING?! THAT’S NOT HOW THE TONGUE BIT GOES.” And once it was done it was done; just like that, the issue dissolved into thin air. Not once in all the years since has anyone ever even asked about it. And FYI guys – not trying to sound like a snogging superhero or anything, but I’ve more than made up for lost time.

More importantly, I’ve never regretted not snogging anyone sooner. Honest. I’m glad I didn’t leap on the caretaker’s son, or the boy who worked in Co-op, or try to instigate spin-the-bottle in the sixth-form common room. Although I also have no doubt that if I had got off with every juicy pair of lips that crossed my path, that would have been fine and fun and hilarious too; just different.

Because here’s the real secret: it all evens out, eventually. Whether you have your first kiss at 13, 18 or 33, lovely though it will eventually be, practice never really makes perfect. Just spit. All you actually need to have achieved by the end of your teen years is to have a few good people around you, and a few funny stories to tell – and you can tell yours just as well (better, even) without someone else’s tongue in your mouth.

@laurenbravo

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Image: Hailey Hamilton

We all know that relationships rarely play out like they do in the fantasy movies we grew up with. I mean sure, sometimes a knight in shining armour might be willing to take you to the cinema or buy you some ice cream. But rarely will he fight off a dragon for you AND buy you a big, pimped out castle at the end of it all.

It’s as though we’re brainwashed from a really, really young age to believe that while crushes and love and relationships can be tricky and dramatic things, don’t worry, they’ll all end with a golden, shining Disney-worthy ‘Happily Ever After’. But that’s not how it works. Like, ever.

So to celebrate the normal, messy, sticky, happy, easy, arguing and boring-but-loving relationships that are much more real, we’ve collected together a bunch of our favourite movie relationships. The good part is they’re still romantic, they’re still nice to watch, they’re still dramatic sometimes – but most importantly, they’re not all dreamy, golden-hued and set in a fantasy land with two exceptionally good-looking straight people. Here’s to love!

Adele and Emma – Blue is The Warmest Colour

Adele and Emma prove that sometimes you do get that instant OMG-I’m-in-love magic moment when you first see someone. But you know what? No dramatic music played, no birds were singing, a halo of golden stars didn’t circle around their heads. It was just a very real, a very genuine and a very normal moment that was ignited by such a special look.

After that, their relationship develops and brings up all of the tricky stuff you experience when you first fall for someone really, really hard. Not to mention it’s Adele’s first relationship with another woman, so you get to watch how that plays out. Their relationship is lovely at times, beautiful at times, messy at times, sad at times, but it feels so real that we just can’t take our eyes off either of them.

Baby and Johnny – Dirty Dancing

Even if you’ve never watched Dirty Dancing (you totally should, it’s cheesy and ridiculous, but a classic) you’ll have seen that iconic over-the-head lift from it played out time and time again, especially in the swimming pool or by some very cocky people on a dancefloor. You know the one, right? The guy stands still and the girl jumps up into his arms. (Please don’t try it at home. Maybe just in water or on a very squishy bouncy castle.)

Dirty Dancing tells the musical story of Baby and Johnny, who fall in love at a summer holiday camp. Sure, it’s hardly a super gritty, realistic setting, but what we like about it is that their story is filled with problems and questions and road bumps, just like normal relationships. But that’s not to say you can’t inject some OTT dance moves into your next romance.

 

Jacob and Hannah – Crazy, Stupid Love

Speaking of crazy dance moves, one of our favourite ever rom-com scenes is in Crazy, Stupid Love in which Jacob (that’s Ryan Gosling’s character) tries to re-enact the iconic Dirty Dancing lift. We won’t tell you whether he succeeds or not.

Jacob and Hannah’s story is really interesting because they have to deal with a lot of stuff, like how they both acted in the past, previous relationships, family troubles and all of the things you’re not ‘supposed’ to think about when you’re filmically head-over-heels in love with someone.

Psst… If you enjoy shipping Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, you obviously need to check out La La Land, where they’re dancing with each other all over again. But with musical magic!

Jamal and Latika – Slumdog Millionaire

You know how there’s always just a little bit of drama in Disney princess romances, like an evil step mum or a spiky spinning wheel thingy-ma-wotsit? Well, Slumdog Millionaire is an epic love story filled with challenges that are truly horrifying – but sadly a reality for hundreds of thousands of children growing up in the slums of Mumbai.

Not only does this make Jamal and Latika’s timeless love story even more edge-of-your-seat dramatic, but when they finally meet again (and again and again) we dare you not to cry your eyes out. It’s a tough watch in many ways, but proof that despite all kinds of hardships you can make it through. And hopefully meet up with your childhood sweetheart again at some point too.

Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley – Harry Potter Movie Series

From the very beginning of the Harry Potter movies there’s a special connection between Harry and Ginny. We like that because it’s the way a lot of relationships develop. Slowly. Quietly. Over time. Sometimes even over many years.

As well as that, you’ll often find you’ll get crushes on people in unexpected places, like on your best mate’s sister. And if you talk that through, it can be totally fine – or even magical.

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark – The Hunger Games

Fine, nothing about The Hunger Games is realistic. But what does feel really real is the icky love triangle Katniss finds herself in with Peeta and Gale.

A lot of romantic films would have us believe that we clap eyes on someone and that’s it. Done. We love them forever and ever and the alternative is a lifetime of heartbreak. But really feelings are a helluva lot more complicated. Like the fact it’s totally possible to fall for more than one person at a time. Sure it’s often a bit easier to figure out who you like the most when you’re not also trying to save the world and lead a revolution, but it still happens.

Chiron and Kevin – Moonlight

Moonlight won Best Picture at the Oscars earlier this year (trust us – they checked. A lot), so it’s a bonafide must-watch. Just make sure you have some tissues on hand, and whack on some waterproof mascara because it’s a proper, beautiful heart-breaker at times.

This intense and powerful tale certainly doesn’t unfold like a conventional love story. In fact the relationship with Chiron and Kevin is a million miles away from a dreamy romance, which is what has landed the movie such critical acclaim. Instead, it explores issues of race, family and sexuality throughout three powerful stages of Chiron’s life.

Juno and Paulie/Bleeker – Juno

This laugh-out-loud movie is all about two high school friends who have to deal with an unplanned pregnancy, as well as their confusing feelings for each other.

Sure that might sound really bloody scary – and they both get really bloody scared at times – but it’s great to see how two imperfect people can come together, accept responsibility and find a way to muddle through. It just goes to show relationships aren’t always sunshine and rainbows or riding off into the sunset. Sometimes you’re forced to face up to big, important, terrifying things. But you know what? You can always get through it, alone or together.

@BeccaCaddy

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Activating: relationship. Level: beginner. You got this, girlfriend…

1. I am in a relationship now.

2. I AM IN A RELATIONSHIP.

3. I AM SOMEONE’S GIRLFRIEND.

4. I must assume the role of girlfriend!

5.…what does that even mean? I don’t feel any different.

6. Is there a book on this? Do I put it on Facebook?

7. I haven’t even told my mum.

8. Is she gonna give me the sex talk again? Ugh.

9. Wait, sex. Do we have to have sex now?!

10. No, we don’t. We don’t have to have sex. We will talk about being ready for sex.

11.

12. Will it weird them out if I create a wedding Pinterest board?

13. I need to learn how to hold hands with someone in public.

14. I get sweaty palms, maybe I should carry talc around with me.

15. No, I’d smell like Nan.

16. Oh boy, introducing Nan. How do I explain Nan?

17. INTRODUCING PARENTS.

18. BEING INTRODUCED TO PARENTS.

19. RED ALERT, RED ALERT. EVERYONE TO THE BUNKER.

20. How long do I have before I meet the parents?

21. I will google a script.

22. THEY’VE TEXTED ME.

23. Hold on, I don’t need to freak out at that anymore, I’m their girlfriend.

24. I’M THEIR GIRLFRIEND.

25. Have we stepped up a level with kisses? How many do I put?

26. Or do I put none at all because it’s just implied now that I lov-

27. WHEN DO I SAY I LOVE YOU?

28. What is love?

29. I will google that as well, to be sure.

30. Shall I prepare an ‘I love you’ speech or just slip it in?

31. Oh jeez, sex.

32. This being in a relationship thing is more stressful than I thought.

33. How long has it been?

34. *checks * 10 minutes. I have been in a relationship for 10 minutes.

35. I think I have an upset stomach.

36. CAN I FART IN FRONT OF THEM? Who makes the first farting move?

37. What about pooing, can I poo? I poo a lot.

38. Thinking of them pooing is weird. Maybe it isn’t love yet.

39. Is that love?

40. 

41. Ew.

@louisejonesetc

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

A little friendly rivalry is one thing, but what happens when we find ourselves in constant competition with our girls? Whether it’s comparing school grades, clothes, Instagram likes, music knowledge or even Christmas pressies, this kind of constant pressure to compete can be exhausting and totally destructive.

Sure, in the right dosage, a small amount of competitiveness can be a great way to motivate, but it’s important to make sure that’s as far as it goes. Remember, relationships are meant to make you feel great about yourself, so if the fundamental nature of your friendship is beginning to get you down it’s time to stage an intervention. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Professor Tracey Vaillancourt, who has researched competition in women, says there’s a big difference between positive and negative forms of envy and it can sometimes be difficult to work out which is which. Here’s how to spot a competitive friendship gone wrong…

Do they put you down?

This is a big giveaway and a massive no-no. If someone is putting you down you’ve got to put a stop to it immediately. You don’t want to put your confidence and self-esteem at risk, ever. You want friends that are proud of you, regardless of whether you came first or last in the sports day race.

Do they support you?

This is super important. Are they there for you when you succeed? Overly-competitive friends struggle to be happy for you when you’re doing well. Pay attention to their reaction when you tell them something good has happened: do they rush over with a congrats card when you ace your piano exam? Or do they try and turn the conversation to them and their achievements? These telltale signs are not to be ignored people.

Do they compare themself to you?

Ever heard the saying “comparison is the death of joy”? We think Mark Twain’s onto something. (He probs had a competitive bff, too.) If you’re friend is constantly comparing themselves to you in a negative way then maybe it’s time to create a bit of distance between you. Nobody likes a negative Nancy and you certainly don’t need a friend who uses your downfalls as a way to bring themselves up.

So, how do I deal?

Competitiveness often stems from insecurity. It’s important to remember this when you’re trying to mend an overly competitive friendship – especially if it’s someone important to you.

Obvs, when you’re at school doing the same subjects or you’re close and enjoy the same hobbies it’s natural there is going to be some competition, but it’s important to know how to deal with competitiveness to make sure it doesn’t effect your confidence and more importantly your happiness.

Focus on yourself

In a competitive friendship, the person who has lower self-esteem can easily become the target. Girl, start being more confident in how amazing you are. You don’t always need to shout about it but make sure you remember all the things you’re good at – however small. The more self-assured you become in yourself and your capabilities, the less affected you’ll be by petty competitions.

Girl power

One of the best things about having a tight squad is being able to confide in each other. Talk to a friend you trust and see if they’ve noticed the competitive behaviour too. If it’s a big fat yes, it might be time to address the problem head-on. When confronting the person in question about this sensitive issue take tips from clinical psychologist Melanie Greenberg. She says: “Speak your truth without blaming anyone. Explain why you want things to change, what outcome you would like – for example, to be happy for each other as a group, stay positive. And take your ally with you.”

Positivity is key

This is something that applies in all aspects of life: choose love not war. Instead of getting sucked into a competition try to ignore the negativity and support your friend when she boasts about her latest achievement. Hopefully she’ll learn from your glowing example.

Take a time out

If your friendship still doesn’t improve, maybe it’s time to have some space. It doesn’t need to be a dramatic split like Brad and Jen, just simply sitting at the other end of the lunch table or spending less time with them on the weekends is enough. Surrounding yourself with people who are happy for you will instantly make you feel better. Follow your heart. If competitions are getting you down, do something about it. You deserve the best. Stat.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

How many times have you stalked a couple on social media? Whether you’ve known them for years, or found them through your best friend’s cousin’s dog’s postman’s niece? Trawling through a couple’s social media history is a brilliant way to procrasti- I mean, super interesting. You’ll find you can probably filter them into these eight categories…

The ones in the same room-ers

mindy

@girlfriend101: @girlfriend102 Pass the remote.

@girlfriend102: @girlfriend101 It’s literally right next to you.

Their phones have taken over so much of their lives that they can no longer communicate physically. They’ve forgotten how to. Everything is done by @-reply. You know in WALL-E where the future humans are stranded in those chairs? Basically that.

The LOOK HOW GREAT THEY ARE-ers

look-how-great

Where they get their money from is anyone’s guess, but they’re constantly buying each other lavish presents and splashing them all over social media. Yes, yes your boyfriend’s wonderful. He is good at buying stuff. We all know. But just think of the clear-out you’ll have to do when you eventually break up. Effort.

The meme taggers

happy-gif-56b472ee7a1fa

It’s all they do. It’s their life, it’s their Bible. They tag each other in memes. Everything is relatable. They are peak internet.

The Snapchat streakers

taylor

Much like your nan telling you that one day the wind will change and you’ll be stuck frowning, soon these Snapchatters will have the dog filter permanently plastered on their faces. They’re obsessed with showing their bf/gf their every sight during the day and the heart emoji is cemented next to their name to prove it…. UNTIL IT’S NOT?! WHO THEY HELL HAVE THEY BEEN SNAPCHATTING? Which brings us on to…

The popcorn gatherers

popcorn

You don’t really have any care for these people, but their drama is too good for you to ditch. They love to air their dirty laundry publicly on every social media site (just in case you missed it elsewhere) and break up on Facebook at least once a week. It might be worth keeping a tally.

The subtweeters

maths

Much like the above but instead of being explicit about their drama, these couples like to be cryptic. Who was that dig directed at? Why has one of them had a terrible day and the other is ‘thinking about who’s really important in life’? It’s the modern crossword. It would save a lot of time if they just stepped up a level to ‘popcorn gatherers’ and were a bit more direct but, hey, it gives our brains a workout.

The vomit-inducers

mute

The only thing worse than couples fighting publicly on social media is couples who actually love each other. They check in together everywhere from Nando’s to the dentist, post kissing selfies with every heart emoji every damn day, and hashtag every soppy status with #love #truelove #loveofmylife #couplelife #relationshipsgoals #soblessed… ugh, sorry, I can’t… I’m gonna… oh God… *retches*

The ones that make you question whether they’re still together-ers 

modern

And finally, the couples who are too chill for social media. Yeah, they’re together, but they make you work for proof of their existence. You’ll be honoured with a viewing of a collage of their goofiest selfies on each other’s birthdays, maybe, and they tag each other in the odd meme. But otherwise, you’re kept on your toes. And while you’re seven months deep into their Instagram, they’re hanging out IRL.

Who are the real winners in this scenario? Hard to say.

@louisejonesetc

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Image: Hailey Hamilton

At first you think you’re going mental. This is the stuff of Housewives, Pretty Little Liars, Enid Blyton books about boarding school. People do not steal people IRL –  I mean, they sometimes do in a criminal sense, but not in this way: this slow, insidious abduction of a friend’s affection, attention and lols. As kleptomania starts with the odd lip balm, friendship stealing begins by sharing coloured pens in geography, sniggering over penis diagrams in biology, swapping notes — just low key, friendly stuff. Yet you can’t dismiss that nagging feeling that something, something, is not right.

She’s stopped Snapchatting you. Sure, you see her story, but the personal snaps of her cat attacking Cole Sprouse on the telly? They’ve disappeared, along with your privileged two-second reply rate and tags in memes. The connection’s failing — and you assume at first the problem’s your end. You shift position, reach a bit higher, like you do when your signal’s dying. You make an effort at asking questions, bring up the funny times you’ve shared and lend her your joggers. Then it hits you: you are being, slowly but surely, acquaintance-zoned.

It’s a shitty feeling. I’m not going to pretend otherwise — but we have all been there and, if we’ve not been, we will be at one point. This is no fluffy platitude: I offer it as evidence that no one, but NO ONE, is worth any more or any less than you. Just as you are being robbed, so you will one day be robbed, by someone who wants you so badly they’ll take you away from someone else. Indeed, I’m prepared to bet that one day you too will see someone you want to ‘steal.’

And believe me, you’ll steal her. Because the thing with friendship stealing is, there is no such thing. Better to call it friendship recycling. Someone might steal your bff, but if she’s allowing herself to be taken, why hold on to her? If she was fully committed to you, she’d be more mindful of the hurt her neglect is causing — or maybe she would welcome you into her new friendship glow. Don’t write her off too soon — we can all get sidetracked now and again, especially by something as new and shiny as a friend-in-waiting — but equally don’t bend over yourself to please her. Instead, try exploring new pal-stures: finding friends who recognise your value and are ready to earn it. Your old bff will be back the moment she sees you don’t need her so much any more — of that, I am 95 per cent sure.

Neediness is unattractive in anyone, unless it’s your literal baby. Relationships which become too dependent, be they platonic or romantic, are hard to maintain. They become stifling. It is probably more healthy for bffs to ebb and flow, growing away from each other, making new friends and — hopefully —growing together again as more rounded people. Bees fly a long way from their queen, but what they bring back with them makes both her and the hive stronger. Unlike the bees, though, you won’t die if in the end you do lose each other and decide to move on.

So think twice before complaining – not least because nothing sounds more petty than ‘she’s stealing my best friend’, however legit the feeling is.  Seize the chance to make new mates for yourself, or invest in some fledgling friendships that could grow. Don’t compete with your mate’s new girl: smile, and enjoy sitting with new people. If nothing else, it’s good practice for university and the workplace. In the words of my grandmother, who at 81 has some friendships under her belt: make new friends, keep the old — one is silver, the other gold.

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Ah, love. It’s a tricky bastard. Love means a million different things to a million different people, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if what you’re feeling is true love, intense like, a raging crush or just the first twinges of indigestion.

But sometimes, you just know. Shakespeare had his summer’s day, Jane Austen had her country dances… and we have the moment you decide to share your Netflix password. Here are some 2017 signs that you’re probably, definitely, in love.

1. You let them take the stamp for your coffee on their loyalty card.

2. You actually put your phone down when they talk to you.

3. You offer them the last slice of pizza.

4. …then they say, ‘No, you have it.’

5. You agree to see La La Land for a second time, even though musicals make you want to punch things.

6. Even Snapchat knows you’re together and puts two pink hearts next to their name.

7. You can share a tent at a festival in August for a whole four days and still be speaking to them at the end.

8. They let you practice everything you learned from Dr Pimple Popper on their chin.

9. You’ve felt a strange and overwhelming urge to give them your wifi code.

10. There are more strips of adorable photobooth pictures in your purse than actual cards or money.

11. Every meme they tag you in actually makes you laugh, not just like to be polite.

12. You have Instagram notifications turned on for them, even if they’re a six-nearly-identical-blurry-selfies-at-once person. Even then.

13. They are the very first person you WhatsApp “SNOW!!!!! ❄️☃️❄️☃️” to when it snows.

14. And sad faces to when it turns to rain three minutes later.

15. You know their exact Starbucks order, and recite it faithfully even when it’s embarrassingly long.

16. You look at them the way everyone looks at Beyoncé.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

Whether your dream bedroom is pretty and pink like Betty’s in Riverdale, or sleek and chic like Serena’s in Gossip Girl, we’ll bet there’s one thing you definitely don’t want in it – your sister.

But sometimes you don’t have a choice when it comes to sharing a room, and it can be pretty frustrating. No privacy, conflicting sleep schedules and having to live among all their junk does not make for harmonious sisterly love!

Sharing a room is not ideal, but it’s also not impossible. These top tips will help you keep the peace.

1. Remember it’s not forever

First things first, no matter how annoying your sister is and how much you feel like screaming every time you’re in your room together, remember it’s only temporary. One day you’ll have your very own room and you can do what you like with it. You could start a Pinterest board to plan exactly how it’ll look – it’ll give you something to focus on when she starts snoring again or after you’ve tripped over her shoes for the millionth time.

2. Don’t be petty

It might be tempting to literally draw a line down the middle of the room but that just makes things awkward for everyone. Agree that you’re both allowed to move around freely – within reason, of course. Sprawling across her bed because yours is covered in laundry isn’t cool.

3. Schedule some private time

Privacy pretty much goes out the window when you share a bedroom, but it’s important you get some time to yourself occasionally. Try striking a deal for some regular ‘me time’; perhaps she could watch her favourite TV show in the lounge each week, while you could take the dog for a walk on a designated evening?

4. Share and share alike

Set some ground rules for sharing your stuff. It’s probably a bit unreasonable to flat out refuse to lend her any of your clothes, because chances are she’s got something you’ll want to borrow, too. Agree that any borrowing requests must be made with plenty of notice – no sneaky pinching!

5. Keep it clean

Living with a slob is a clean freak’s worst nightmare – but it’s not much fun living with someone who has tantrums over mug coasters, either! Try to keep your mess to a minimum, and schedule some time once or twice a month to give your room a good clean together, so you feel like you’re putting in equal effort.

6. Respect each other’s sleep schedules

Sleep deprivation is horrible, and if you’re not getting to sleep early enough or you’re being woken up too early, you’re going to be tired, cranky and miserable. Decide on ‘quiet hours’ – say 10pm until 7am – where you both make the effort to keep noise to a minimum. Ask your parents to pick up some low wattage light bulbs the next time they do the weekly shop too so you’re not blinding each other if you need the light on in the night.

7. Make your space your own

You’re probably never going to agree on a décor theme, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put your stamp on your area of the room, whether that’s draping fairy lights around your headboard or putting a funky rug down beside your bed. There’s loads of shared-room interiors inspo Pinterest to get you started.

8. Get your parents onside

Chances are, your parents aren’t super happy about you having to share a room either, simply because they know it’s going to result in arguments now and then. But at times it’ll feel like they don’t care about your situation – after all, they chose to share a room. But if something is really bothering you and you’ve already tried talking to your sister, speak to your parents about it. Keep a cool head and explain that you’d like their help in sorting out the problem. It’s much harder for them to say no to something if you’re reasonable about it.

9. Remember it’s no fun for them either

It’s easy to focus on how much it sucks for you to have to share a room, but your sister probably isn’t that happy about it either. Next time you’re about to lose your temper with her, take a deep breath and try to remember that you’re probably just as annoying in her eyes. You’re both in this together, which means sometimes just letting things go.

10. Enjoy it

Sharing a room with your sister can be a right pain, but it can also be a lot of fun. You’ve got someone there when you’ve had a bad day, someone to chat with late into the night and someone to have a giggle with 24/7 – you’ll never feel lonely. Make the most of it – you might miss it one day!

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Hailey Hamilton

I am a sucker for romance. I have watched pretty much every two-and-a-half star romantic comedy there is. I’ve pined along with Elizabeth for Mr Darcy, even though I still think he’s a grumpy arsehole. I’m the first person my friends call when they have a new crush because I know all the right moments to ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’ at their story. 

So it wasn’t exactly surprising that in the early years of being a teenager I fancied my friends’ older brothers. Not just one of my friends’ – I fancied ALL of their older brothers.

I didn’t discriminate on anything so trivial as age or appearance or sexual orientation. If you were my friend between the ages of 10 and 15 and you had an older brother, I fancied him. There is literally no exception to this rule.

I went to an all girls’ school from 12 to 15, or what I refer to as ‘The Oestrogen Years’. While other girls in my school would go to dances on Friday nights and meet boys, I went to debating and ate chips in the park with my teammates. On the bus home from school, other girls would flirt with the boys at the back of the bus, while I would sing loudly along to 90s songs with one of my friends.

I was scared of boys I didn’t know. My tongue would go thick in my mouth and I would end up shouting at them by mistake.

But my friends’ brothers? They were boys I knew. I saw them on a semi-regular basis, but never had to spend time with them one-on-one, which as far as I was concerned was the ideal amount of interaction.

My friends would drop crumbs of information about them – they liked maths, they went to see the new Star Wars movie, they were allergic to yoghurt – that I would feverishly collect with the same enthusiasm most people reserve for actual hobbies. I would use these pieces of information to adapt my daydreams of our eventual relationship to ones that included Yoda or excluded Yeo Valley.

Naturally, I had elaborate fantasies about how our relationship would go.

I imagined watching a movie, something funny and probably featuring Owen Wilson, when his arm subtly started edging closer to mine. The completely wonderful and secret kissing, where our teeth would never, ever, knock together. The conversation with my friend who would give me her complete blessing because she knew I was excellent and her brother was excellent and she wanted us both to be excellent together. Obviously.

I imagined the declaration of love that would make me weak in the knees. The eventual Loss Of Virginity. The wedding, where of course my friend would be my maid of honour and make a hilarious, yet deeply moving speech about how we were meant for each other.

I’m almost certain these boys had no idea I existed. A fact that one of them confirmed when I did eventually kiss him, a few years after I emerged from my obsessive bubble.

“When did you start fancying me?” I asked, hoping he would reveal that he had been pining for me for years. That my obsession with him wasn’t one-sided, but rather completely requited.

“I dunno,” he replied. “When you got hot?”

Yep, he was a regular Casanova. This answer was also unhelpful in a myriad of ways.

Firstly, it implies I wasn’t always hot. Which is obviously false. Secondly, even if I wasn’t hot (which I was), my personality is rockin’. How dare he overlook my passion for US politics, my weakness for videos of unlikely animal friends and my admirable loyalty to both of these topics throughout all the years he’s known me? Thirdly, it gives me no clear time line. Lastly, it was wildly unromantic and not at all like the script I had prepared in my head.

Being in love with your friends’ brothers can be difficult. Especially when you’re in love with eight of them simultaneously. And in real life, it might not work out anything like in your head. But hey, a girl can still dream.

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

You’ve been chatting online for a while, and now you’re ready to take things off-screen and into reality – eeek! Loads of people make IRL friends and relationships through the internet and social media so meeting in the flesh is nothing to be worried about, but it’s normal to have a few nerves (ok, a lot of nerves).

So here are a few pointers to make sure your first meeting goes as smoothly as possible.

1. Do a bit of online sleuthing

Ok, chances are you’ve already stalked their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (but of course you’d never admit it ‘cos you’re cooler than that, right?), so you’re definitely up to speed with their life online. But before you agree to meet, do a little research to make sure they are who they say they are. Do you have any mutual who could vouch for them? Do they have pictures with friends, or are they just solo selfies? We’ve all seen Catfish – never underestimate the power of a reverse image search!

2. Get your friends’ opinions

Your mates know you better than anyone, so they’re in a pretty good position to judge whether or not your crush seems like a decent match for you. Admittedly they’ve only got the same online intel as you, but fancying the pants off someone can make you blind to red flags, so it doesn’t hurt to get another opinion. Plus, your mates being clued up about who you’re meeting is always a sensible safety precaution.

3. Meet in public

This is pretty obvious, but worth repeating! Even if you’re desperate to check out their games collection or they offer to whip up a storm for you in the kitchen, make sure the first time you meet is in a busy public place, preferably with a friend nearby. If everything goes well they can cook for you next time, right? If they’re a decent person they’ll totally understand, so be wary if they’re weird or pushy about meeting somewhere private.

4. Keep it casual

Don’t make a nervy time worse by adding a stressful or potentially embarrassing activity (abseiling! Karaoke!) into the mix. Going for a walk in the park, grabbing a coffee or catching a movie are all pretty failsafe ideas. If you really want to take the pressure off, you could suggest a big group meet-up involving your friends and their friends, too.

5. Dress like yourself

If you feel uncomfortable in what you’re wearing, it’ll show – and you want to feel as relaxed as possible, right? Wear layers so you’re prepared for whatever the weather might throw at you, and think about leaving the killer heels at home. You don’t want to spend a (potentially) romantic walk in the park cursing your newly-forming blisters.

6. Have an escape plan

Make sure you’ve got a friend on standby, ready to send the ol’ OH-NO-THERE’S-AN-EMERGENCY text, in case you want to bail early. Or, if you can’t quite bring yourself to do that, tell your date that you can only hang out with them until a certain time because you’ve got to babysit or do family stuff afterwards. That way you’ve got a ready-made escape plan, but if you’re having a good time and want to extend things, you can just pretend you’re not needed at home after all.

7. Take cash with you

It just makes everything more convenient. You won’t have to waste time looking for a cashpoint should you need one, and it saves the hassle of splitting a bill across two cards. Plus, if you want to leave in a hurry you can just chuck your share of the lunch money on the table and scarper.

8. Manage your expectations

It’s really easy to build up an imaginary picture of your crush based on what they’re like online, but they might be totally different in real life. Go into your date with an open mind – that way you won’t be too disappointed if they’re not exactly how you’d hoped they would be.

9. Don’t rush into anything

It takes time to get to know someone properly, so even if you’ve been chatting online for months there’s still a lot to discover about your crush – and a lot for them to discover about you. They’ve never seen you when you’re hangry, you’ve never seen them when they’re feeling blue. Even if your first meeting has gone really well, you don’t need to jump into a relationship just because you’ve known each other for a while online. Take your time. If they’re the one for you they’ll respect that.

10. Be yourself

The beauty of the internet is that you can curate your online persona however you like. We’re all guilty of taking a thousand selfies in order to get the very best angle, or carefully ‘gramming a cup of tea next to the bath to make it look like we’re having a lovely night in when we’re actually bored out of our minds with nothing else to do. A little bit of artistic license is a given. But when it comes to real life, let your crush see who you really are, not who you think they want you to be. You’ve got to be yourself, because in the end, it’s exhausting being anything else.

@Rachel_England

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.