The Reality of Dating in College

A couple sitting together on the Marta train. Photo by Jonathan Borba on

After 19 years of living a single life, I spent every waking moment of May through July of 2021 with my first boyfriend. 

We were good friends for years and finally decided that we wanted more. These three months were arguably the best three months of my life. I was in a new relationship. 

It was summer. It was hot, and it was perfect. 

The dreaded month of August rolled around, and reality hit us both. We would be leaving for college: 8 hours, 15 minutes and 510 miles away from each other (cheesy, I know). 

I had no positive expectations for our relationship. How could you blame me? 

Going into college, the most repeated warnings I received were: do not take an 8 a.m. and do not get in a relationship. People always told me that the stage of life I was in at the time was the wrong time to be in a relationship. 

It’s the freshman year of high school, and you can’t get in a relationship! 

We’re only sophomores, and there’s no need to commit to someone that way. 

Junior year is the hardest year of high school, so you shouldn’t focus on dating. 

It’s senior year, and we’re leaving for college. Do not get in a relationship. 

That pattern continues into college.

I defied rules and got into a long distance relationship as a college athlete and with a college athlete. A terrifying predicament to be in emotionally. The truth is, there is no wrong time. 

College is the best time for dating. It’s real. Unlike high school, you’re not in an environment where you see your significant other every day. 

One of the hardest transitions from high school to college is mastering time management, which is also one of the most complex parts of being in a relationship. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. 

You’re building communication skills, learning about what you want, and growing from the experience. We are supposed to connect with people and learn from them, whether or not the relationship flourishes.

We can’t ignore the reason college relationships are out of style: hook-up culture.

We all hate it but somehow cannot seem to escape it. We are stuck in a cycle of uncommitted and usually unfulfilling sexual encounters due to our lack of honest communication. 

We overestimate our peers’ participation in hooking up, which averages two hookups per year, but we also over-emphasize our own experiences. 

Although we consider ourselves against it, we are more likely to discuss positive sexual experiences and avoid talking about bad ones, reinforcing our peers’ perception of our sexual behavior. 

The dissatisfaction and false realities of hookup culture are  evident. Why continue to let it consume us?

In opposition, when dating in college, you reap the benefits. You are less likely to experience feelings of depression and loneliness when you have a romantic partner to go through college. 

You also learn a lot about yourself in relationships while having emotional and financial support and guidance. Not to mention the sexual health benefits that come with having one partner.

Now, I am not saying you should throw away your plans of self-discovery and spend your college years seeking a partner. 

You still need to focus on yourself, but dating in college is fun. If the opportunity comes your way, don’t run from it. 

Building meaningful relationships is an integral part of our college experience. So go on that dinner, slide in that DM and start dating.