Dating in College. It’s Weird.

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May 2016 will mark the 12th anniversary of my college graduation (Jeebus, when did that happen?!) Although my college days are in the rear view mirror, there are some things that still are fresh in my mind – namely, what it was like dating as a university student. I dated a bunch of different people, had my heart broken a bunch of times and learned a lot of important stuff along the way. These were formative years. While I don’t regret my college dating experiences (ok, maybe I regret a few…) and I kind of wish I still had the hair volume of my early 20’s, you couldn’t pay me to go back to that era of my life. So, when custom-essay.ca asked me to share my thoughts about my college dating, I gladly stepped up to challenge.

Here’s a few reasons why dating in college can be challenging.

Time constraints. 

College students have no time to date properly. I went to a really academically challenging and competitive university. I also typically worked 20+ hours a week.  Dating wasn’t high on my list of priorities. Instead, I was focused on getting good grades and making money. When I had free time, I wanted to go out with my friends and party (read: drink my face off.) If I met someone while I was out with friends, cool. If not, that was OK too. I’m sure college dating is really different now that there’s apps like Tinder, but back then, I would much rather be out with my friends (where I could meet people organically) or working on my Linguistic Anthropology paper than trolling online dating sites for a potential soulmate. In other words, my priorities looked something like this: dating < school work, money, partying, sexy times with hot people I met randomly (in that order.)

Although I used to complain that most of my romantic adventures never amounted to real relationships, I honestly don’t think I could have handled the time and emotional investment that having an actual boyfriend would have required.

Lack of options or access. 

The first time one of my closest friends came to visit me at school, she scrunched up her face and asked, “what’s up with the guys here?! Why does everyone look like they’re vying for a spot on the Fortune 50?” She had a point.

I want you to imagine the ultimate party school (crazy keggers! Dorm parties! Football games! Greek row!) Now imagine the complete opposite of that and you’ve got my alma mater. I think we had a hockey team, but everyone was too busy studying to go watch any games. My school was big, anti-social and nerdy. The male population generally fell into one of three categories:

1) The above mentioned group: Izod shirts, Docker khakis, a copy of the Wall Street Journal or the New Yorker conspicuously peeking out of their Cole Haan messenger bag.

2) Suburban commuter students that looked like their mom still bought all their clothes at Eddie Bauer and maybe even cut their hair.

3) Guys who looked borderline homeless: greasy hair, torn jeans, pyjamas in public, multiple coffee mugs dangling from their MEC backpack. I once saw a guy wear a bathrobe to class. A bathrobe. 

In my four years of undergrad, I only met 3-4 guys at school that I was actually attracted to. I briefly dated one of them (and by “brief,” I mean we went out twice.) The rest of my love interests I met through housemates, coworkers or while partying at underground clubs with my friends.

No one really knows how to date. Not really. 

A few years ago, New York Times writer Alex Williams, wrote a piece about “The End of Courtship” which blamed all of the usual suspects (smartphones, technology, online dating, hook-up culture) for the death of modern romance. As she writes, “Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.” 

While I don’t disagree with Williams, the fact that traditional dating is lacking in your 20’s isn’t anything new. I can count on one hand the number of times I went on a “real date” in college. Not only does the average 20-something not have the disposable income to wine & dine each and every one of their love interests, there’s also a good chance that they haven’t learned how to date in this way yet. In college, the best dates were usually the most casual ones. The times I did go on traditional dates in college that involved wine, a fancy dinner & roses, it always felt forced and awkward. It wasn’t until I was out of university and dating guys who were a bit older that I started to go on “real dates” that were actually enjoyable – chic bistro & all. So, a note to the college students: if you’re after the latter, dating does get better with age.

Hook-up culture is a thing. 

People like to pretend that hook-up culture is also a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s not. College is a time to experiment with all kinds of things…including sex. I know I did. Similar to the women in Kate Taylor’s New York Times article (“Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too“), I saw my college escapades as a cost/benefit kind of situation. I wanted to get the maximum return, for the least investment. Like the girls interviewed in Taylor’s article, I was super busy and the people I was interested in were also super busy. Dating in the traditional sense wasn’t really a thing. Instead, it was easier to seek out casual relationships (i.e. a friend with benefits) that allowed me to skip ahead to the good stuff – sex and cuddling – without the emotional investment of a long term relationship. This kind of arrangement worked for me until it didn’t.

Sometimes, hooking up sucks. 

When you decide that you want more than a casual relationship, the college dating scene can be a really lonely place. It can also hurt like a hell when you develop feelings for the person you’re hooking up with, only to find out that they just want to keep things casual. True story.

Everyone is trying to figure out who they are. 

I think the biggest challenge of dating in college is that everyone you meet is still trying to figure themselves out. That’s not a bad thing – after all, that’s what college is for. Unfortunately, even if you think you have a clear idea of who you are and what you want, a lot of the people you try to date don’t. I can’t tell you how many times I was broken up with because the other person “just needed to find himself/go to India on a vision quest/join the Peace Corps/Do Ayahuasca” or all of the above.

While it’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of dating in college, it can also be a lot of fun. I’m grateful for all my college year hook-ups and romantic failures. If I hadn’t had these experiences and been dissatisfied with many of them, I never would have learned what I really wanted and needed out of my relationships.

What do you think are some of the challenges of dating in college?

This post was brought to you by custom-essay.ca. All opinions are my own because that’s how I roll. Image credit: The Little Things.