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A People Pleaser’s Guide to Setting Boundaries

Ah, Valentine’s season. The season of Hallmark cards and wondering why my forty-five year old HR manager, Janice, got me a CVS bear (was I supposed to get her chocolates or something? I don’t even know her kid’s names). It seems Cupid thrives on confusion. I know your feed is riddled with self-love tips that you probably aren’t going to follow. So here instead is some advice born from the core message of Valentine’s Day, also known as ‘running at full sprint away from your fatherless youth and impeding loneliness to any and every warm body you can find’.

Listen, we know you’re going to catapult into a minimum of four social distanced Hinge park dates in the dead of winter because sitting lock-jawed through the steamy sex scenes of Bridgerton with your sex-positive mom has rocked you to your core. I’m not here to shame you. The Duke could get it. I’m here

like a “fun mom” at a high school party, saying “if you’re going to drink, I’d prefer you drink the stuff I bought you.” So since we’ve both decided to make bad choices, I’m going to establish some ground rules so that you don’t end up engaged to a junior accountant from Milwakee who thinks The Outback Steakhouse is an appropriate place to propose.

Remember when “The 36 Questions That Leads To Love” came out and every first date you went on over the following two years featured questions about dying suddenly and four minutes of staring into each other’s eyes? This is your new first date bible. I want you to severely comb through this list on every date you take like it’s a true or false Scantron, and you really need to pass high school chemistry. If even one of these statements is applicable to you, you must change your name and book a one way ticket to Mykonos.



  1. Middle school “wasn’t that bad” for them.
  2. They call themselves an entrepreneur or “self-starter”
  3. They are really into biking.
  4. They order a Vodka Redbull.
  5. They call their parents by their first names.
  6. They look like a white rapper.
  7. They really like La Croix.
  8. They use the word “hella” and aren’t from the Bay Area.
  9. They won’t watch Survivor Season 35 with you.
  10. Their favorite SNL cast member is Beck Bennett.
  11. They have a podcast with their alcoholic friend Dave.
  12. Their celebrity crush is Ruby Rose.
  13. They’re suuuuper into Grey’s Anatomy.
  14. They haven’t cut their toenails since Obama was in office.
  15. They make any of the following haircut choices: a bleached buzz cut, purposely too short punk bangs, a mullet (on a straight man), and a Charlie Sheen spiked look.
  16. They prefer the Glee cast cover of “Tell Me Something Good” to the original.



“But Emily,” you say, “How do I turn off my Pavlovian dog response to getting horny for bleached hair?” Distraction is key, my friend. Here are some impeccable qualities to look for instead:

  1. They played a team sport growing up but didn’t continue playing in college to pursue other interests.
  2. They know how to put together a tapas board.
  3. They are kind to the waiter.
  4. They don’t have a “Sex Playlist.”
  5. They prefer audiobooks to podcasts.
  6. They have at least one off-beat celebrity crush like Raven from Teen Titans.
  7. If cast in Midsummer Night’s Dream, they’d play any character that’s not Hermia.
  8. They let you order for yourself.
  9. They prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate.
  10. They know how to navigate public transit.
  11. Their favorite Mamma Mia dad is Harry. Sam is absolutely the wrong answer.
  12. They “just never got into the true crime craze”.
  13. They describe their exes respectfully (or not at all).
  14. They like Paris Hilton and dislike Perez Hilton.
  15. They were Team Edward.
  16. Their favorite Zac Efron movie is High School Musical 2.


There you have it. The night is dark and full of terrors when it comes to dating. I hope this list can help guide you in your ventures. And remember, if his name is Braxton, swipe left.

–Emily Powers, Content Creator

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