Dating in college isn’t easy. This seems counterintuitive—you’re surrounded by peers all the time when you’re in college. You’re living near each other, in the same classes, studying in the same libraries, and sharing meals, yet it’s easy to feel more disconnected from other people than ever during this time of your life.
You can’t simply look up someone’s address or phone number and give them a call.
Dating in college tends to require a more subtle approach, and it’s often tumultuous even if you are able to make the initial connection.
There might also be more of an emphasis on hook-up culture than you’re interested in, while things like romance aren’t always a priority.
So what can you do? The following are six tips for dating if you’re a student.
1. Put Yourself and Your Education First
While you might be open to meeting someone when you’re in college, you have to remember to put your own needs and your education at the top of your priority list. You shouldn’t feel like you have to change yourself to date anyone. College is full of interesting people that you can eventually meet, which feels intimidating, but if someone is asking you to change in any way, don’t settle.
If you start dating someone and they want you to put them before your education, again, don’t settle for this.
You’re in college for a reason, and if you have a partner who’d rather you choose to be with them or go on social outings even though you’re a full-time student, it’s going to become problematic. You’re likely to look back and regret not putting your needs and your education first.
2. Be Safe
When you’re in college, there are a lot of new risks that you can experience. Before you date anyone, vet them online and look into their background.
You also want to realize that abusive relationships might not look like what you would expect.
For example, you might experience emotional abuse or manipulation in relationships. There could also be gaslighting, and all of these are just as abusive as anything more overt.
College is a time to learn and grow, and you can start to identify red flags in relationships before the problems become more significant. You can also develop more confidence to ensure you’re getting what you deserve in relationships, even if it means leaving something behind.
3. Talk About Expectations Early On
As mentioned, some people who are in college aren’t interested in dating or a relationship. They might be interested in experiencing the hook-up culture, and that’s fine if that’s what they want. If it’s not what you want, though, you need to get on the same page.
It’s okay to talk about these things early on. Have a conversation about your expectations if you’re looking for more.
4. Try to Avoid Dating Where You Live
When you’re in college, you’re sharing living spaces with other people, including when you’re in the dorm. You might be surrounded by other single people, and you could be interested in them but think carefully about dating where you live.
If you date someone that lives down the hall or in your building, you do have to consider what could happen if things go south. You’ll probably have some very awkward encounters.
Look elsewhere, like your classes, or consider dating people from other buildings.
You also want to be very careful about spreading any rumors when you date in college because they move around quickly. You don’t want to get a reputation as someone who kisses and tells, and it can be hurtful to the other person.
5. It’s Okay to Break Up with Your High School Boyfriend/Girlfriend
Your high school romantic partner might have been the perfect person for you at one point, but things have changed. Long-distance relationships are extremely hard to deal with, especially during your college years when you’re finding your own identity.
You could be optimistic as a freshman that it’ll work out, but you quickly realize that things like trust and jealousy are very problematic in long-distance relationships, as is miscommunication. Don’t feel guilty for ending an old relationship as you move into a new phase of your life.
6. It’s Also Okay Not To Date
Sometimes, the best piece of dating advice is that it’s okay not to do it. Don’t feel pressured to date if you’re not interested or feel like you’re not ready, or want to explore other parts of your life. You have years ahead of you to date if you don’t think this point in your life is right.