Dating (especially while you’re young) is hard. Starting off in college is also hard. Combine the two and trying to date during your first year in college? You guessed it: even harder.

However, just because dating as a freshman in college is difficult doesn’t mean that it can’t still be fun, exciting and all the great things that dating should be. To make things a little easier for you, we’ve collected a few of our top tips for dating in your first year of college, below!

1. You Don’t Need to Date the First Person That shows Interest In You

College is a big bad world that feels so completely new, especially if you come from a smaller town or high school where you knew or at least recognized most everyone. That can make it feel like suddenly, no matter who you were before you started college, suddenly you’re a small fish in a big pond that’s ridiculously hard to navigate on your own. You’ll also be around tons of new people who are young and attractive just like you are, so you just might find yourself in unfamiliar settings where you want to latch onto the first person that shows you interest right back. Easy as it may be to do exactly this, try your hardest not to. Or, at the very least, think long and hard about how much interest you have in the other person, not the other way around. In college and beyond, you don’t need to date someone just because they want to date you.


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Also Read About: It’s Okay to Have a “Type” in Dating


2. Try to Make Your Dates as “Real” as Possible

Meaning: “Netflix and chill” does not equal a “date.” Just because you’re in college and can barely afford your next cup of ramen noodles doesn’t mean that you have to settle for dates that are below your standards. We’re not saying that you need to ask that cute guy or girl from your econ class to take you to the nicest sushi place in town for your first date or anything like that (they’re probably just as broke as you, after all), but you should make sure that they at least take you on date—you know, one that doesn’t involve their dorm room couch.


3. The Dating Apps Will Tempt You, But You Don’t Need to Use Them

Tinder and Bumble and Hinge, oh my! If you’re 18 by the time you head off to college, you’ll technically be old enough to download and use dating apps. However, while these technological temptations may seem like the perfect way to hack dating during your first year in college, most adults in the dating pool will tell you “not so much.” First of all, there are risks to using an app to meet people. Then, there’s the downright awkwardness, in addition to the thought that you might be getting catfished. If temptation does get the better of you and you end up downloading one (or a few) of these apps, there are a few key tips you should follow:

  • Always Google someone first
  • Always meet someone in public
  • Tell people where you’re going on the date
  • Be careful of what you tell people over the apps/what you have in your profile

Or, as a pro tip, you could always use the app the way many college students do—to match with that cute person you always make eye contact with during class/passing across campus that you never had the courage to speak to in person.


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4. Set Personal Boundaries

Perhaps most importantly, you need to know yourself and what you’re comfortable with when it comes to dating, both emotionally and physically. Don’t ever let anyone pressure you into doing anything, even if it’s just opening up about something you’re not ready to do yet. Have specific boundaries that you set with the people you date, and be clear about them especially if someone comes close to crossing them.


5. Remember That You Don’t Actually Have to Date At All

And finally, to round out our list of tips for dating during your first year in college—you don’t actually have to do it at all. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being single, and in fact, it’s actually pretty great (especially during a time as volatile as your first year in college)! Being single gives you the freedom to get to know yourself better, learn what you look for in the people you might want to date and, of course, actually focus on school. You’ll have plenty of time for dating after your freshman year and once you join the “real world” post-college—you know, when you might actually be able to afford those nice sushi dates.


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Also Read About: How to Get Really Good at Being Single


Still anxious about dating? Yeah, that’s normal. But if actual anxiety is part of what’s making you feel that way, click HERE to read about our advice for dating with anxiety.