A Freshman Girl's Guide to College Dating

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Say so long to your high school guys, and hello to college boys. As a freshman girl, eligible cuties seem to be everywhere, and guess what? They’re all looking at you. The attention can be fun, but when it comes down to it, the dating game in college is one that you’ll learn a lot about as time goes on—you might not be a pro right off the bat. To get started, Her Campus has put together a list of the DOs and DON’Ts of college dating. Who, you ask, knew there was such a science behind college guys, anyway? Aren’t they just a bunch of sex-hungry dudes? Well, maybe, but there might be a little bit more to it. Here are the guidelines of how to deal with the ones who are, and the ones who aren’t. Read ‘em and weep, girls.

DO make friends with the guys on your floor.

These guys will be super fun to hang out with once they get to know each other well, and you’ll be the cool girl who can get in on that action when you need a break from girl drama. On top of it, you might really connect with one of them.

DON’T rush into anything, though.

Hooking up with one or two of your hallmates within the first few days of school, however, is a definite no-no. When tempted to engage in “dormcest,” remind yourself that you’re going to have to face him—as well as everyone else on your floor, because they’re going to find out—for the rest of the year, no matter how good or bad your hook-up was.

DON’T write anybody off too soon.

Just because he’s sitting alone and doesn’t speak to anyone in the class doesn’t mean he’s a total lunatic. If you’re interested, all it takes is a slow pack-up-and-hang-back after class to initiate conversation.

DO go out to meet people.

Find out where the hot spots are each night of the week(end), and make sure to show up every once in a while. As a new student, you’ll get a feel for student life and get exposed to every kind of guy—frat boys, athletes, pre-meds, business students and artsy guys, too.

DON’T stay in talking to your high school boyfriend every night.

If you’ve broken up, there was a reason, and now is the time to move on. Your freshman year is meant for new beginnings, not dwelling on old relationships. Phone calls between Texas and Massachusetts won’t bring you back together—it’ll only keep you from meeting new people that are just beyond your dorm room door.

DO start off slowly if you’re not used to dating or just got out of a relationship.

Study hall or dining hall dates count, too! As casual as these settings are, it can be a great place to get to know a guy or meet someone new. Take it easy if you’re just getting your feet wet with the whole dating game, and don’t feel a need to rush into anything intense.

DON’T go out every single night.

A little mystery never hurt anyone… and it’ll do wonders for your grades, too. A mother’s wisest words—if guys see you going out night after night, how will they ever get to miss you? Show face as often as you can without being that girl that everyone expects to run into.

DO look around your classes for guys.

If they’re showing up for class at all, then you know they’ve at least got something going for them. And hey, maybe he’s even smart and organized enough for you to make him your “study buddy.” Study dates are pretty much the best dates most college girls can hope for within the first month or so of school (news flash: college guys are usually cheap).

Related: 7 Classy AF Dates That Won't Break the Bank

DON’T make him think you’re interested if you’re not just because you don’t want the perks to go away.

It’s not fair to the guy if you’re just not that into him, but you keep him around because he’s, like, obsessed with you. The puppy dog thing will get old after a while, leaving him feeling stupid/angry and you feeling unfulfilled, annoyed and guilty – not to mention that other guys you might actually become interested in will get the wrong idea.

DO engage in a random hook-up (safely), if you want to.

They’re part of the college lifestyle, and you can choose if you want to engage in them or not (certainly, you can avoid making out with the guy you’ve been dancing with all night if you’re just not that into it). It’s up to you to decide if that’s your style, but know that it happens and it doesn’t have to be scandalous or “slutty”—but just, in fact, kind of fun. As long as you’re not going crazy by swapping saliva with every guy you lay eyes on, random hook-ups can be fun and can lead to date parties, formals and maybe even a real date! If nothing else, at least you can get an exciting night or two out of them—just make sure to stay safe and keep your friends posted on your whereabouts.

DON’T count on them turning into anything serious.

Most of the time, dance-floor make-outs (DFMO’s) start and finish on the dance floor and only go as far as a phone number swap. Take these experiences for what they are, and don’t think he’s fallen in love with you simply because he’s been attached to your mouth all night.

DO accept invitations/initiations from older guys.

Attention from upperclassmen is surely a plus in any freshman’s book, because they’re seasoned. They know what’s up in this whole college world, and it can be quite nice to have a hot, older guy show you the ropes – he’ll let you know what parties are happening, bring you to date parties, introduce you to his friends and be a pretty face to show up in your tagged pictures on Facebook. That said, don’t feel the need to hook up with him purely because he’s “older and wiser…” because he may just turn out to be pretty stupid.

DON’T feel pressured to have sex.

No, we can’t be certain that what all guys are looking for is sex, but that’s definitely a part of college hook-ups. He might want it and he might even ask for it, but if you’re uncomfortable, it’s not up to you to give it to him. Know your boundaries and ask him—whether you know him well or not—to respect your boundaries. If he doesn’t, walk away.

DO avoid those guys that hook up with your entire group of friends.

There are always the guys that have no qualms about coming in between a group of girl friends just to get some action. He has no problem with hooking up with each one of your friends by jumping from one to the next. He might have no idea that what he’s doing is hurting your relationships with your friends, but it’s up to you guys to stop him by cutting him out of the equation.

DON’T get too attached to said upperclassmen.

He’s graduating sooner than you are, and he knows it. Upperclassmen usually aren’t in it for the long haul when they seek out a freshman girl that they’d like to hook up with. Just because he’s lent you a bunch of attention one night, don’t assume that he’ll be chasing after you for the rest of the semester.

DO be open to going on dates with anyone.

That is, of course, presuming that dates aren’t obsolete anymore. While a lot of guys don’t even have the courtesy to take a girl out for dinner – or even coffee?! – there are some who like to kick it old school and go for the dinner and a movie. If you’re looking for companionship of any kind, there’s no reason to refuse a casual invitation to lunch or dinner.

DON’T expect him to take you out to fancy meals all the time.

But at the same time, know that college culture is changing, and going out on the “dates” we see happening in movies or the ones we hear about from our parents simply doesn’t happen anymore, for the most part. These guys are most likely on a budget, so fancy dinner dates aren’t always an option. There’s nothing wrong with a nice fro-yo in the quad, though!

DON’T count on finding a boyfriend right away.

Keep in mind that as many hotties as you see on a regular basis, most of them aren’t right for you. It’s about finding the right one that’s interested in having the same type of relationship that you are, no matter what type that may be. Also, be wary of becoming BF-GF with someone on Day 1 of orientation. Do some exploring before you settle on one guy to get hot and heavy with right away.

DO start a relationship if you find someone special.

Maybe you’ll find him on day one of classes, or maybe it’ll take until senior year for you to realize that the guy you’ve been friends with all along suddenly seems like he’s ready to take the plunge with you. But if it feels right, don’t hold back, and find a way to make it work.

DO know that people move on quickly in college.

Hook-ups last for any length of time – you can be attached to one particular guy for several months, or only for a matter of days and it can still be considered “hooking up.” Go figure. At any rate, don’t be surprised if a guy has eyes for you on Thursday and then you spot him spitting game to another girl on Saturday. Don’t get jealous or crazy and be that girl who slaps him in the middle of the party. Instead, try to figure out what he’s interested in before you hook up with him, so you know what to expect from him after the fact.

DON’T hold back if you want something more out of a hook-up.

If you silence yourself, you’ll only end up unhappy and wasting your time. He may not be taking your relationship as seriously as you wished he would if it started out as a random hook-up. If your feelings intensify and you want to take it to the next level, let him know and don’t make him guess. If you’re afraid of scaring him off, leave your feelings on the table and the situation open-ended. This is his relationship too, and you don’t wish to monopolize it, so ask him what it is that he wants out of it. Chances are that otherwise he won’t just guess that you want to be treated to romantic dinners and you’ll just end up getting frustrated and angry.

DO try to meet guys without a gaggle of girls surrounding you.

While girls’ night out is always one of the best nights of the week, do try to distance yourself from your pack of besties for a little bit each night. No guy wants to approach you if your six best friends are by your side eyeing him with those girly judgmental glares.

DON’T get left places alone or go home with a guy you don’t know…and having made out with him all night doesn’t make him any more familiar.

If you do manage to separate from your girlfriends for a few minutes, keep in touch with them to make sure they’re not leaving the club/bar/party without you. It’s risky to leave with a guy you’ve just met – especially if one of his friends who “didn’t drink tonight” is driving – even if he seems genuine. Exchange numbers instead, and stay with your girlfriends.

College will open doors for you in the way of the dating scene, but it always helps to take things slowly and be wary. Stay grounded and always question people’s intentions, while making sure that your own are as clear as crystal. Your future boyfriend is out there somewhere, whether he’s sitting next to you in class or isn’t even enrolled at your school. And you’ll find him, too... you just may have to kiss a few frogs first and have a lot of single and mingling fun.

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About The Author

Lauren Kaplan is a senior majoring in English and Dance at Emory University. She is originally from New Jersey, and has loved living in Atlanta for the past three years. Lauren thinks most fondly of her two favorite places - her childhood camp, Camp Wayne for Girls, and Margate on the Jersey shore - from which she has derived a love of friends, family, and the beach.

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