Watch out. While dating in college is different than dating in high school, it’s also different than dating after college. So before you head off to the dorms expecting to be whisked off to a romantic dinner by a guy every Friday night, consider this: In 2001, the Independent Women’s Forum conducted a nationwide survey of 1,000 college women and found that less than half had been asked out on six or more dates during their entire time in college.
That’s not to say that men and women avoid each other all throughout college. It’s just that, these days, college dating doesn’t have strict rules like it did in the olden days or in high school. When you’re in high school and a boy likes a girl, he asks her to “go out” with him (they don’t actually need to go anywhere) and suddenly they are in a serious, deep relationship.
Not so in college. In college, there are very few dating rules, and this can be bewildering.
Keep these five tips in mind regarding relationships in college, and you can save yourself quite a bit of confusion.
1. Go out on a limb. Dating in college will require a bit more courage than dating in high school. In high school, you pretty much know the story on any guy or girl you are interested in. While making the first move is always tough, it’s easier when you know all about the person’s friends, old relationships and overall reputation. In college, you may have to take a chance on that cute, quirky girl in your art class without knowing anything about her. Or you may have seen that guy around everywhere for the past few months but know nothing about him … except that he is a total player, according to your best friend’s brother’s professor’s niece’s sister. The point is, you will know less about where these people have been and what they have been up to. The nice thing is, that means you have the same kind of mystery. Take advantage of this, and take a chance on a stranger!
2. Get creative when it comes to where you look for dates. In college, most people feel like getting dressed up and going out to clubs on a weekend is the best approach to finding a potential relationship. This is usually not the case. Clubs provide a loud, dirty, crowded environment where keeping up with the friends you came with is difficult enough you can forget about meeting anyone new. Instead, hit up the local bookshop one afternoon and see who you spot there you’ll already have a conversation starter if you are both interested in reading. Or ask the cute girl in your math class to a study session. And remember …
3. A “study session” can be a date in disguise. Because there are so few dating rules in college, don’t expect a guy to approach you out of nowhere and say, “You’re so beautiful. I simply must take you out to dinner next weekend. Wear something fancy.” Don’t assume that someone isn’t interested in you if they are just asking you to study or take a walk on campus. In fact, if a guy or girl is making the effort to ask you to hang out alone, it’s probably a good sign. Along the same lines, remember …
4. College kids have no money. If the guy you’re interested in wants to go out to dinner and a movie but doesn’t automatically pick up the entire bill, don’t be offended or disheartened. In college, the bills for many casual dates are split or picked up alternating. So if someone asks you to do something cheap, free or asks you to split the bill, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you.
5. Beware of getting too close too soon. Your new freedom in college is enhanced by technological advances that allow split-second contact at any time of day or night – and a 2am text message isn’t usually the recipe for romance. Just because you might be looking for a relationship doesn’t mean that everyone else is. There are plenty of college students who consider this a time to sow their wild oats, regardless of other people’s feelings. They probably aren’t bad people, but their intentions regarding you, sex and relationships might not be what you’re looking for. Be careful of getting too close with someone under the wrong circumstances, or you might end up in a situation you will regret.
Of course, like I said, college dating has no rules. That means that these five guidelines can easily be broken, bent and stretched. The biggest thing to remember when looking for dates in college is to be flexible and open to new possibilities. Or maybe just stop looking after all, that’s when many of the best relationships form, in college and beyond.