Your Guide to College Dating

Dating has been a hot topic throughout history (Jane Austen wasn't as successful as she was for nothing, after all), but that sentiment seems to be stronger than ever in 2023.

And while we wish we could say that dating difficulties are something that expires once you graduate high school along with the overly strict dress codes, we're afraid that dating in college can be almost more confusing. We'd never make you go it alone, though, which is why we've collected all your basics into this condensed guide to college dating—a 101 course, if you will. No homework or overpriced textbook required for this one, but you may want to take notes.

Are People Even Actually Dating in College?

Consider this your prologue. While most of us have heard that hookup culture is rampant in college, the reality is a little less black and white. Sure, a lot of people don't take dating seriously and focus a lot more on the physical things now that they have freedom from parents, but that doesn't speak to how everyone acts. Tons of people end up in serious relationships in college (some of which last for the long run), and tons of people also stay single the whole time. Both are totally fine! The beauty of college is that you have the ability to live how you like, so if you're someone who dates with intention and doesn't do the whole "casual dating" thing, that's 100% your prerogative.


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Also read about: 4 Signs Your High School Relationship Won't Last Through College


Where to Meet People

Now that we've got it covered that college dating can be more than just "Netflix and chill" hangouts on a crusty dorm couch, where are you supposed to actually meet potential partners? The answer is both simpler and more complicated than you may think: anywhere and everywhere. College is essentially the last time in life when you will be almost constantly surrounded by people of your same demographic, meaning the dating pool is a deeper one than you'll likely be able to jump into again. That means that you could meet someone anywhere from an app to the dining hall line when you're waiting for fresh chicken nuggets at 11PM on a Wednesday. If you're really trying to date intentionally, practice the power of networking by saying yes to events where you might meet new people or by joining clubs and activities based on your interests.


Also read about: 5 Tips For Dating In Your First Year of College


Going on Dates

College kids are notoriously broke, meaning going on the lavish dates of your dreams isn't always in the equation. That's okay, though, as college dates can be as creative or as traditional as you want them to be, so long as they meet your standards. There's a big difference between "hangouts" and actual dates, so make sure that your potential partner ticks the boxes for putting in effort (even if you end up doing a DIY picnic in the quad instead of going out to a nice dinner for your first date).

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'Talking' vs. 'Dating'

While this dilemma may have existed in high school, it seems to be so much worse in the world of college dating. A couple could be at the point of posting each other on social media and one of them might still say that they're "just talking." It's a frustrating reality to be in, which is why you should try to stick to your standards and be prepared to be honest about what you want. Don't pressure anyone into something they're not yet ready for, but respect your own wants, needs and boundaries as well by communicating where you feel your relationship stands and seeing if you like how they respond to that. On the other hand, if you're okay with staying in the "talking stage" then more power to you.


Also read about: How to Successfully 'Soft Launch' Your Partner on Social Media


Defining the Relationship

If making it past the talking stage is what you want and it seems like your partner does too, then you've moved onto one super integral stage—the stage of defining the relationship. In 2023, this is where a new concept comes into play: The soft launch. We've all seen it done before, with the subtle inclusions of a hand in the background of a picture or featuring two plates instead of just your own. Soft launching truly is an art, but it's one well worth mastering. It can help you start a conversation about the current status of your relationship as well, reducing the awkwardness of having the "will you be my boyfriend/girlfriend" conversation (although, that so-called awkwardness can actually be quite cute if executed correctly). At the end of the day, you shouldn't feel weird being honest with the person you're dating, so it might be better for both of you to just get the DTR conversation done with so you can go enjoy your honeymoon phase in peace.

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While this crash course on college dating may not have covered everything there is to know, we hope that it at least helps you feel a bit better about not having to navigate the challenges of it all alone. If you're ready to move on to the next course, earn yourself some extra credit by clicking HERE to read about some myths about dating in college that aren't always true.