A huge dating pool, no midnight curfew, and some life experience under your belt make college dating an odd limbo between high school puppy love and real world relationships. But be warned: No matter if you’re the guy who can’t commit, or you’re the girl who’s looking to get her MRS. degree, college dating can go very, very wrong. Learn your lessons on college dating before it’s too late – your relationship status will thank you in the end.
Lesson #1: Don’t give up an opportunity for a significant other.
Even if you think you found “the one,” don’t give up an opportunity for them. Turning down an internship so you can spend the summer with your boyfriend could jeopardize your future (Remember when Lauren Conrad said “No” to Paris? She regretted it.). Likewise, you’ll regret skipping study abroad. Only in college will you have so many great opportunities. Take advantage, and look out for yourself.
Lesson #2: Don’t lose friends by spending too much time with your significant other.
In college, your parents aren’t monitoring how much time you spend with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Your friends don’t always want your significant other tagging along, so make sure you carve out friends-only time. Remember, if things go south with your relationship, your friends are the ones who you’ll still have. Don’t lose them by always ditching them for date nights.
Lesson #3: A lavaliere won’t matter post-graduation.
Ladies, no matter how important getting that coveted Greek-letter pendant seems, you won’t wear it much after graduation. Yes, it’s cool wear your boyfriend’s fraternity letters, get a candlelight, and have a secured invite to all his frat events, but don’t date for letters. Getting lavaliered should be a sign of true commitment and a precursor to engagement – not a sign of social status.
Lesson #4: Summer breaks are hard.
So you’re dating someone from another city, and you won’t see them much over the summer. If both parties aren’t totally serious about the relationship, I recommend calling it quits before heading home. Before summer, discuss expectations and talk about how much you’re going to communicate. If each person doesn’t put in the same amount of effort, someone will get hurt.
Lesson #5: Make sure you’re “real world” compatible before getting engaged.
Getting engaged during college works and can be a good thing. However, if you haven’t spent significant time off campus with your boyfriend/girlfriend, wait to get engaged. College life is nothing like real-world life, and a different kind of relationship growth happens outside of college.
Lesson #6: It’s not a good thing if most of your time together is spent drinking.
You know those party couples who drink together only on nights that end in Y? Don’t let your relationship turn into that, unless you love constant drama. Alcohol can make insincere feelings seem real, and real problems seem insignificant. If all you have in common is a love for partying, the relationship is probably an unhealthy one, in more ways than one.
Lesson #7: Don’t sign up for future classes with your significant other.
Consider the fact your relationship might end before signing up for future classes with your significant other. It can be mildly to severely awkward being in class with your ex, depending on class size and content. If you ignore this advice and end up in class with an ex, avoid sitting across from or next to them. And for goodness sake, show them up with a better grade!
Lesson #8: Dating someone who is not the same year as you is hard.
Before getting serious with someone who’s not your year, consider the future when one of you isn’t in college anymore. The student may have to sacrifice some fun weekends at school, and the grad will have to deal with their significant other’s crazy college schedule and late nights out. It’s the responsibility of the grad to make sure the student doesn’t miss out on college experiences.
Lesson #9: Your significant other shouldn’t become a third roommate.
If your roommate says they don’t care that your boyfriend/girlfriend is over all the time, they’re either lying or they have a thing for your boyfriend/girlfriend. Talk to your roommate about visitation hours and expectations before having your significant other over all the time, and never leave your roommate homeless at night. The last thing you want is a disgruntled roommate — remember, they have access to all your belongings.
Lesson #10: Run into your ex gracefully.
In the real world when you break up with someone, it really could be that you’ll never see them again. College is a different story. After a breakup, your campus will seem a lot smaller, and you’ll see your ex everywhere. There’s no need to revise your schedule or walk a different route to class, though. Look your best and take a friend with you if you’re nervous about running into them. However, stalking and planning run-ins is not advised!
I’m no relationship exert, but I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of college relationships. Know that happy endings do exist – at my alma mater, Hanover College, over 20% of alumni are married to each other!
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