Advice Column 2/17/2021

“I’m going on a date this Friday. I don’t go on dates often so I just want to know how to not seem like a freak.” -Anon
Dear Anon,
Dating, especially during the Pandemic, can be incredibly stressful for all ages. When you’re not experienced in the field and don’t know the best way to go about it, it can often be scarier than one might think. That being said, there are countless others in your position, and your date has the potential to go great with a little boost of confidence from individuals who went through the same thing.
For this question in particular, I turned to D.A. Marcyes, a sophomore on campus who recently proposed to his future wife. Marcyes went through the same fears on his first date with his fiancé, and had a few things to say about your predicament.
“My Advice would be that if your date is the right one, it will not matter. I was horrendously awkward on my first date with my future wife, and she just thought it was cute. I was awkward on quite a few dates actually,” Marceyes said in an interview. He went on to discuss the many times he thought to himself that she was the one for him, and how despite his awkward tendencies, she loved him all the same. 
“Just be your freaky, awkward self, anon. It’s all a numbers game. Eventually you will find someone who, to your complete bewilderment, loves you just the way you are,” Marcyes said. 
All this to say, don’t focus too much on seeming like a freak, because who knows what your future date will be looking for. It’s best to be yourself, stick to what you know, and remember that being a ‘freak’ is far more interesting than being normal. While it may have been a while since your last date, there are certainly others who have not been on any, and any experience is good experience. I wish you best in finding that perfect person to go on many more dates with.
Take Care,
The Blue Banner
“I’m trying to find more dining options off campus. Do you have any recommendations?” -Anon
Dear Anon,
I’m glad you asked, because I’m sure you’re not the only one interested in more options available for both on and off campus students. I turned to Dustin Abernathy, the Mass Communication video and Media lab manager, for some of his favorite places to eat off campus.
If you’re in the mood for breakfast options, Biscuit Head was the first thing to come to mind for Abernathy. Take out and delivery are both possibilities for Biscuit Head, which may be the better option when it comes to safety precautions due to the pandemic.
In the event that you are craving lunch or dinner foods, Abernathy recommended both Farm Burger and a local favorite, Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. Both of these restaurants are available for curbside pickup and no-contact delivery, just to ease the anxiety of eating out during COVID-19. 
Just remember to stay safe as you eat out, and keep in mind the protocols necessary for UNCA students and faculty. While good dining is a great way to spend time with friends and enjoy college life, staying protected against the virus is more important than the occasional fulfillment of foods. I hope you enjoy your search for more dining options in a fun and healthy way.
Take Care,
The Blue Banner
My suite mate has really bad hygiene. Wherever she walks the smell follows and the smell of her room seeps out.
Dear Anon,
I’m sorry you’re going through this, and while I’m sure it’s difficult to deal with a roommate that doesn’t adhere to hygienic safety, I can assure you that you are not alone. A 2016 study performed by Boise State Scholar Works found that 25% of college students deal with a problematic roommate at least once in their lives. These issues often reflect how your semester will go, which is why it’s important to try and solve the issue as best you can. 
In order to go about finding a solution, the first step would be communication. Nobody will get anywhere unless the issue is set out on the table for both parties to see, and that means telling your roommate exactly what you are dealing with, and how it makes you feel. From then on, if they are willing, a solution can be found with mutual respect and understanding. 
However, there is a specific way to go about communication. Dont single your roommate out; instead, look for a way to tell them what you will both do in the future to keep the place cleaner. For example, rather than saying “Can you keep the place a little more clean?”, it might be less intrusive and more respectful to ask, “We’re trying to keep the place cleaner lately, and could use your help if you’re willing.” That way, everyone is involved in the process, and nobody will end up embarrassed or defensive about their role in keeping your suite clean.
For your specific issue, it would be best to come up with a few rules to set in place for what is expected of each suitemate each week. For example, one could take out their trash so it doesn’t make the suite smell, while the other could take on wiping up the bathroom or vacuuming a shared area. This is a way to get everyone involved, and keep the place cleaner than how it might be if only one person is expected to help out. If all else fails, and your suitemate doesn’t agree to the rules set in place, I suggest taking it to an R.A., who will then proceed with how to best go about solving your situation. Confrontation can be scary, but with the knowledge that your issue won’t be solved unless you take a stand, it can be a bit easier. 
Living with strangers is a tricky process, and won’t always work out the way you want. With a little communication and help from others around you, it’s possible to get the clean room you’re hoping for, and doing so without hurting anyone’s feelings in the process.
Best of luck,
The Blue Banner
I recently got over a bad breakup with a toxic ex, and I’m not in a good place right now. Any suggestions? -Anon
Dear Anon,
Toxic relationships are some of the worst and most confusing connections you may have with someone, so kudos to you for getting out of the situation. You made it out of a bad environment and that isn’t something to be taken lightly.
For this question, I consulted Lindsey Brock, a therapist in Asheville who helps young adults overcome breakups, find healthy relationships and get to know themselves better in the process. She recommended eliminating contact with your ex completely. This means throwing away your old pictures, gifts and any other memories you may have with them. This way, you’re not tempted to reach back out or rely on the old memories of your past in order to get the closure you deserve. 
 “When we go through a breakup, our body feels really similar to going through a withdrawal from drugs or alcohol.  Your body is literally withdrawing from all the feel good hormones that you felt when you were with this person (this happens even when the relationship was toxic or unhealthy!),” Brock said. 
Rather than using temporary items to feel that ounce of cessation, Brock suggested thinking more long-term about your needs. This includes sleeping, eating and living as best you can in a difficult and stressful condition. Simply keeping yourself in check and making sure you’re taking care of yourself is enough to get by until you can feel whole again.
“Stay busy at first if you need to just survive/get by, but don’t forget to make some room for feeling those feelings. You’re allowed to fall apart if you need to,” Brock said. Give yourself time and space to feel whatever you need to, and remember to keep as strong as you have already proven yourself to be.
I hope you find yourself in a better place,
The Blue Banner
I have a boyfriend but my ex told me he loved me… I think he was joking but girl what do I do? I’m all confused and I don’t know what to do.
Dear Anon,
As complicated as this situation may seem at the moment, remember to relax, take a deep breath and make decisions on your gut rather than your heart. Your ex coming out of the blue to tell you he loves you, joking or not, is a huge red flag when it comes to past relationships. It’s understandable to be confused when facing something like this, but I found an online source, as well as a local Asheville therapist, to give some insight as to why he may be doing such a thing to ease your complications and worries a bit.
First, he’s lonely and has nobody else to turn to. It’s likely you broke up for a reason, and it’s likely he is still feeling attached and holding onto the relationship that should’ve been over and done with. Moving on is hard, and it seems as though he is having trouble admitting it’s truly over.
Second, he needs to validate his self worth. This is incredibly common in those who have been in a relationship in their past but are single now, as they are suddenly let go from an environment that made them feel good about themselves. Remember, it’s your life, not theirs, and you don’t need to validate them or reply simply because they didn’t get their share of attention for the day.
 Lastly, they’ve been romanticizing the idea of what your relationship used to be. As I mentioned before, you broke up for a reason and that needs to be taken into consideration when dealing with someone idealizing what used to be. Remember both the good and the bad, so as not to fall into a rabbit hole of rose-tinted reminiscence. 
“Be sure YOU’RE taking the lead based on how YOU are feeling, versus letting his feelings for you call the shots. Be real with yourself about how you feel about your ex, unrelated to how he feels about you. Go from there,” Lindsey Brock, a local Asheville therapist, consulted.
If this is a common occurrence and your ex persists in the ‘joke,’ let them know exactly why it makes you and your current partner uncomfortable. It’s more important to speak out than forever holding your peace, and will likely scare them into stopping with the post-relationship confessions.  
I wish you and your current boyfriend the happiest of relationships,
The Blue Banner