Let’s be honest. A lot of media portrayals about college life are far from what happens to most of us in our lives. Yet, the dramatizations continue to hypnotize us into thinking they are reflecting a typical reality. Since media is such an influential presence in our lives, it is hard to step back and not feel bad that we are not living in some fun or hopeful romantic comedy. We watch these stories and become nostalgic for lives we never lived. Yes, rom-coms are intoxicating, or at least comforting, even as we know they are not our reality nor, for the most part, anyone else’s reality.
The truth is, serious dating during college is not that common. I have more friends who are single than in anything like a committed relationship. Sociologists and economists are finding that students today are more stressed about debt from tuition and living expenses, and finding a job that will offer economic stability. There is the pressure of maintaining great grades, involving oneself in looks-good-on-resume extracurricular activities and staying healthy when you may not have access to a good medical insurance plan. With so many insecurities and uncertainties, especially considering a likely economic depression following the coronavirus pandemic, it makes sense that not many people are not in relationships.
Attending college is not as romantic as some films or television series portrays. The hours of reading and studying for quizzes and tests, combined with extracurricular responsibilities, networking for life after college, and sometimes working jobs, often make college life ugly, painful and exhausting. When you finally have a chance to breathe, you may want to be alone, rather than worry about someone else’s needs or feelings. College is also a good place for solitary contemplation and finding yourself rather than finding someone else, notwithstanding the old “Mrs. Degree” language from my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Maybe it is best to learn to love oneself before one inflicts oneself on another, who may have their own personal baggage.
Also, I think too many people will put importance on romantic relationships when platonic ones are usually the most constant relationships we have. Friendships are beautiful constructs since they are the epitome of choosing someone over and over, maybe even subconsciously.
As I have thought about this topic, I am reminded that college is about opening ourselves to new people and experiences, and personal growth and maturity. Whether you are just entering or nearing the end of college, do not worry about whether you should have found our soulmate. There are more important things to stress over. Trying to find “the one” is not one of them.