Dating in college is waaaayy different from dating in high school.
That transition from 12th grade to freshman year is a biggie – it forces you to call all kinds of things into question, and dating is no exception.
When I moved far away from my family to start my new life as an underclassman, it took me a while to find my feet. The beginning can be a little rough for some people – it certainly was for me – but within a semester or two, I felt like a pro.
The dating game took me a little longer. How do you play the game when the rules have changed so drastically? In high school, you had a crush, and maybe that crush had a crush on you, too – so you dated. It was that simple. In college, things are much more complex. I wish I had an older friend to explain to me the transition that was occurring – how peoples' mindsets were different from high school, how college relationships usually worked.
Luckily, as someone who's done her time and come out the other side, I'm here to be that friend for you. :)
Here are 5 things you NEED to know about dating in college – believe me, if you can get these straight, they'll make your life a whole lot easier.
1. People are looking for different things.
In high school, looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend was pretty standard. In college, this seems to have changed for many people: suddenly, people were looking for hook ups. Not everyone, of course; different people want different things. But suddenly, once I got to college, friendship with benefits became a way more standard way to do things.
When you feel yourself starting to develop feelings for someone, the first thing you should figure out is what they're looking for. You might have a huge crush on a girl and want her to be your girlfriend, but she may only be interested in something casual.
Accept that the game is going to be different. Suddenly it's... way more of a game, actually. Acknowledge that you might have to play the game if you want to get in on the action. And if you don't like the game, don't worry – plenty of people are still looking for boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. You might just have to dig around a little more to find them.
2. Relationships are less about who likes who, and more about timing.
It used to be so obvious: she likes him, he likes her, so they date. It was that simple. But as you transition to a more adult style of relationships, with college as a sort of halfway point, you'll find that feelings aren't the only things that matter anymore.
There's timing – is that person ready for a serious relationship? There's convenience – does it even make sense for you two to date right now? There are suddenly a lot more people in the picture – your friend groups get involved, his ex lives in the building next to yours... things are a little more complicated.
And there's always the relationship that's super amazing right before the year ends, but then you come back in the fall (or worse, you graduate) and things just aren't the same. Listen, it's okay. These things work themselves out. Check your ideals at the door, and understand life isn't always as neatly packaged as you'd like it to be – but know that the best people make a point of staying in your life, while the people who aren't worth your time show themselves to the door. And that's for the best.
3. When it rains, it pours.
You've had a three month dry spell, and you're wondering why you can't seem to connect with a SINGLE decent guy, try as you might. Then, out of nowhere, three separate guys ask for your number in one night and suddenly you've got more man than you know what to do with.
DON'T PANIC! It's just one of those weird universal truths: when it rains, it pours. When one person pays attention to you, you start getting a little swagger in your step and people take notice. Juggle as best you can, and enjoy.
4. Friendships are what last.
It's easy to get caught up in the college love scene, but remember: friendships are what last. For some reason, people feel like they need to meet their soulmate in college, because they're afraid they won't meet as many people after they graduate. That just isn't true! You meet tons of people after college, through mutual friends, at work, through moving to a new city and trying new things... don't put any pressure on your personal life in college. Simply have fun, and spend most of your energy fostering FRIENDSHIPS, not chasing romantic relationships. If they're meant to be, they'll happen. Don't sweat it if they don't: cherish the people who matter in your college experience. :)
5. Know what you want, and stay true to yourself.
Your years in college are precious; enjoy them to the fullest. Yes, lots of people want to party, or hook up, or have meaningless sex, or get drunk or do drugs or whatever it may be. Lots of people also want to study, get good grades, find cool summer internships, join clubs, test their limits, have a serious relationship, and learn as much as they possibly can. And plenty of people want to do a little of both!
Bottom line: you aren't weird, no matter how you want to spend your college experience. Figure out what you want, and don't let anyone dictate that to you. If you want to hook up with people, try it. If you know you're not interested in casual and you want to hold out for something serious, do that. Stay true to yourself, chase your passions, and have fun learning about the world and yourself. That's what college is for! :)
@Luci546, been missing you, girl! But I know you're working hard and dedicating time to the things that need it. ;) I hope your time at college has been going super well, and that you've been having a blast. I dedicate this card to you :) <3