Dating in College: A Freshman's Guide

Between the various apps out there, all the different people available, and the unique personal tastes of each individual, these days, dating is as complicated as ever. Guys and girls alike have to navigate the ebb and flow of new relationship butterflies and post-breakup heartache, all while preparing for exams, being involved on campus, and finding themselves.

It's a lot to take on, especially as a freshman. If only there was some sort of class for dating in college... considering there's now a course for pretty much anything.

Actually, you don't need to sit in another lecture to learn about dating! The best way to understand the way dating works - in college or at any point in life - is to learn by doing.

If you're not sure how to get started, here are a few choices many freshmen face when they start to figure out college dating.

Entering College in a Relationship vs. Single

What if your first semester is right around the corner and you're already in a relationship? Or if you just came out of one and you're ready to meet someone new?

These are two entirely different ends of the dating scale, and they each have many variations. Let's take a closer look at each.

Coming Into College in a Relationship

Some couples go to the same college, some go to different ones in the same state, others have more distance between them, and then there's the matter of when one person goes to college and the other is still in high school.

If you're in one of these situations, the main thing to remember is to take on college dating by doing what's best for you. This is not to say to be selfish or just break things off right away. Rather, it means to find the balance between keeping your relationship alive and well and feeding your own interests.

You may find you and your partner have different lifestyles when you go to college, especially if you're doing some sort of long distance relationship. Or, you may find not many changes between the two of you as everything else does.

Either way, the best advice you can take is to stay true to yourself through it all.

Arriving at College as a Single Person

Staying true to yourself applies when you're in a relationship as well as when you're single. Coming into college single can kind of feel like you're a kid in a candy shop without supervision - there's so much to do and try, which goes beyond dating.

As exciting as it can be to stay up however late you want and come and go as you please, it can make dating a lot more complicated. You have to balance encouraging a new flame in addition to all the other activities that catch your eye. Not to mention, it's hard to know how you really feel about a person when so much of your life is exciting and new.

Going Steady or Taking Things Slow

Speaking of how you feel about a person, remember college campuses are home to all kinds of students. Some people will be a few years older than you while others will be younger - and the levels of maturity are all over the place.

More so, it's a little harder to tell who a person is right away. Think about it: in high school, you know of a person before you actually know them. You see them with certain people, take a few classes with them, or understand their basic interests and character through word of mouth and their reputation.

The thing is, reputations don't follow high school students to their college campuses. Instead, everyone gets a fresh start which means you're all getting to know each other at the same time.

Some people rush into things right away. They think they know someone and want a relationship with them before it's even time for midterms. This could end up well or it could crash and burn because the two people didn't take enough time to understand who the other is.

Then, there are those who couples who clearly have a mutual interest, but prefer to take things slow. These people tend to balance their dating life a little better with their overall college adjustment, and they set a better foundation for their relationship, too. Such cases won't always end in happy endings, but it's better to break things off with someone you're casually seeing than to get a new boyfriend/girlfriend every week.

Being Public or Keeping Quiet

The final piece of freshmen dating advice to consider is how public or private you want to be about your relationship.

Again, think back to high school. It's common for young sweethearts to display their affection for each other all over the place. They post on social media all the time, walk each other to class, and spend a significant amount of free time together.

College isn't really like that. It takes a lot more to reach the "Facebook official" stage of the relationship or to even call mom and dad and tell them you've met someone. It's like all of a sudden, everyone takes dating more seriously.

On the other hand, though, there are people who think dating in college is a free for all to meet a bunch of people. They make it known commitment isn't their strong suit and they just want to casually date.

Whether you want to be committed or experiment a little, though, it's best to keep your business more private than public. This allows you to cherish what you have with one person or at least to keep yourself from making your new reputation a bad one.

An Interesting Alternative to Dating in College as a Freshmen

Here's a thought not many people consider when they come to college: not dating at all. There's much to enjoy about being single in your freshmen year.

This allows you to focus on building an entire community of close friends and good people around you rather than spending all of your energy on one person. Plus, choosing to hold off on dating in college allows you to get a feel of how different it really is by looking at the people around you.

Take a second to notice who is hooking up, breaking up, and settling down and how fast it all happens. Then, you can make a better decision about what you really want.

For more college tips on everything from dorm life to Greek life and finals week, click here.

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