When people think of college, parties, schoolwork and romance come to mind.
When I graduated from high school, I felt like I was finally in a place where I was ready to dedicate the time and commitment necessary to being in a relationship. I met a few guys who I liked when I went away. After a few months into my first year of college, I started dating someone who I thought could really make me happy.
At first, everything was going great. I finally felt like I had met someone who actually understood me and cared for me. He always walked me home after a date to make sure I got home safe. We could talk about anything, and it felt like we understood each other completely. It was magic.
Unfortunately, all that changed a few weeks later. We broke up. It turns out he was just like every guy I’ve met thus far in college: selfish and self-absorbed.
I had had crushes on a few other guys before I finally settled into that relationship, but every one of them seemed to have this similar way of thinking that I could not understand. They all believed dating was trivial, and that having feelings for someone was weak. They wanted to hook up with as many girls as possible, and didn’t care about who they were hurting along the way.
It was hard to pull apart and try to comprehend. That is, until one day. I finally realized the importance of each of these people in my life. One failed relationship and many crushes later, I came to the realization that all of the guys I’ve ever been interested in have taught me important lessons about life and relationships.
Here are the five things no one ever told me about dating in college:
1. Not everyone dates exclusively.
In high school, everyone knows everything. Relationships are rarely kept secrets, and couples become obvious when pairs walk hand-in- hand down the hallway. Since these relationships are publicly known, dating exclusively is never a question. It is simply established and assumed.
Once I got to college, each guy I was into made it clear that we weren’t exclusive. So if we were seeing other people, it would just be “whatever.” I wanted to simultaneously pull my hair out and scream.
Everyone says not to overgeneralize people, but the guys I’ve met in college have only wanted hookups. Most of them seem to hate the idea of any type of commitment.
It’s frustrating, and it can seem impossible to get through the never-ending stream of terrible guys. However, I’m optimistic that there are nice guys in college who do want relationships. They can’t all be the same.
2. Dating requires time management.
College is nowhere near as structured and organized as high school is. The day doesn’t start and end at the same time for everybody. Instead, people’s days begin when their first classes are scheduled, and they end after their last classes, meetings or practice.
There’s so much you can get involved in while you’re in college. Having a schedule that complements that of your boyfriend’s is nearly impossible. There will even be days when too much work makes it difficult for you to see each other at all.
You’ll get frustrated and feel defeated. But that time apart can make your relationship grow stronger. It will make your time together feel more valuable. It will get better as long as both people in the relationship try to make time for each other.
3. Some relationships will end up being long-distance.
When you find someone you really like, there is an instantaneous desire to constantly be with that person. College can be such a big, intimidating place that the opportunity to find someone who really understands you may seem like an impossible feat.
Unfortunately, not every guy you truly like and care about will always live in close proximity to your hometown. If he does, then you’re one of the lucky ones. When you meet someone you like while you’re away at school, it’s likely that neither of you will think about the summer that could separate you.
When summer seems forever away, it’s easy to ignore. But once spring kicks in and the final stretch of the year draws near, the pressure of your impending long-distance relationship sets in.
4. Don’t date anyone who lives on your floor.
This seems really obvious, but it can be a difficult rule to stick to sometimes. I have never participated in “floorcest,” but I have friends who have dated people who live on their dorm floors. Their horror stories have become my cautionary tales.
The awkward stares when you walk past one another in the hallway, and the dirty looks that get exchanged when one of you brings another person home for the night are not worth enduring. Just date the cute guy in your Spanish class. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.
5. Luxurious dates don’t always happen like they do in the movies.
In college, money is an issue for everybody. Most of it is spent on textbooks, classes and takeout. So, while your first few dates with someone new might be really nice, some of your dates will be much simpler, like sitting in the dorms while watching movies, for example.
For those of us who want a whirlwind romance similar to the ones we’ve seen on the big screen, it’s hard not to fantasize about magical dates where your potential new guy will sweep you off your feet with some huge, romantic gesture. This isn’t realistic in college.
Every date should be magical because of the person you’re with. Your happiness shouldn’t depend on whether or not your date took you to some fancy restaurant.
Just enjoy spending time with your guy. If you really like each other, you won’t need the backdrop of a restaurant to enjoy one another’s company.
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