The Struggles of College Dating as Told by a Single College Girl

The holidays are coming and going at a rate that is sure to give you whiplash, which also means that it’s cuffing season. Time to grab a significant other and tie ‘em down faster than you can say “I love you,” right? Being “on-the-market” can be thrilling and even a breath of fresh air, but dating in college is easier said than done. Sure, at a school with 40,000 students, it should be a breeze to lock down a lover, and it would be easy if people still went on actual dates. There are many issues to be experienced in the college dating scene, and I reached out to some single college students to get their perspectives on the greatest struggles they face.

Father Time is a b*tch

Timing was the greatest offender and was most-often referred to as the cause of detriment to relationships and dating in college that I received for my poll. One person said, “finding someone at the right time, like not right before one of you graduates, is the biggest struggle.” So, let’s say you find someone that makes you happy and by the grace of some higher power you make them happy too. What happens when you come face-to-face with the idea of spending summer long-distance, because what are the odds that you’re both from the same area? Or, even worse, one of you is graduating this May and then you’re both left to analyze the emotional cost-benefits of your significant other moving away for a job. Is it worth it, or is it better to dive back into your Tinder profile? Another college student replied to my poll with: “If it’s long distance, don’t try it.” So, I’ll let you mull over that one.

To swipe right or not to swipe right?

Speaking of dating apps, there’s a hot debate over the role of apps like Tinder and Bumble in the college dating bubble. I know people who have met on a dating app and totally hit it off. For example, my sister and her long-distance boyfriend have been together for well over four years after simultaneously swiping right on Tinder. But for many, Tinder is used as a precursor to hookups, more commonly referred to as the dreaded “Netflix and chill.” According to some of my poll responders, dating apps provide “instant gratification to feed narcissism.” Speaking from personal experience, Tinder consists of carefully-curated profiles with pictures of people posed in just the right angles and is used for an instant self-confidence boost when you’re feeling bored and lonely. Sure, you may come across a diamond in the rough and work up the courage to meet up with a match, but most of the time you’ll engage in conversation that’ll fall flat after just a few gifs and quirky pickup lines.

“What should I reply?”

To add to the struggles of messaging over digital dating apps, college dating is made even worse by the dependence on the immediacy of texts and instant messaging. We no longer communicate fully developed thoughts or feelings to each other. If a boy sends a heart emoji, does that hold the same value as him saying “I LOVE YOU?” I think not. What about the rules for waiting to text back? You wouldn’t dare respond right away because that would seem desperate, but don’t respond after exactly 10 minutes on the dot because then it’ll be obvious you were holding out. Also, don’t even think about adding a third “y” to your “hey” and if you add one-too-many exclamation points, it’s social suicide. If you want to play the game, you have to play it right.

We’re all broke

Everyone always says dating in college is so much fun because you get lots of free meals paired with some stimulating, intelligent conversation. Well, I’m here to tell you that we’re all broke and, while we may both crave intelligent conversation, I can guarantee that neither of us is looking to foot the bill at the end of the night. Dinner for one is already enough of a strain on my bank account and – spoiler alert – I’m not paying.

Everybody in the club getting tipsy

In college, the club scene is always a good time. A night out with friends cures almost any problem, and maybe you’ll find a cutie and fall in love – NOT. One of my poll responders said that “It’s so hard to meet people outside of drinking” and I’m going to be straight up here: the clubs are not where your true love lies. A surprise visitor grinding on your backside to “Mo Bamba” under the influence of flashing strobe lights and a few tequila shots isn’t a love connection. Sure, it’s a great way to get out there and meet new people, but don’t expect that boy from Saturday night to remember you when you see him walking to class on campus Monday morning.

Though the college dating environment can often come across as bleak, jaded and just not worth the work, there’s always the option of marrying your career and adopting a lot of cats post-undergrad. Seriously though, don’t throw in the towel too soon. There are plenty of fish in the sea – or something really condescending like that.

All photos courtesy of Unsplash.