If I had a dollar for every time someone told lonely little me that “college would be my prime” in my pre-college years, I would have been able to pay my tuition up front.
Now, I am a senior in college and have finally learned a thing or two about the dating world. In my case, I had never even been kissed until my sophomore year of college and jumped into the dating world with no clue what I was doing. But in just a couple of years, I learned fast just how cynical my dating mindset could become.
Now I realize that everyone’s dating experience is different, but I have collected my thoughts on why college dating has made me cynical.
1. It’s a huge time commitment:
It’s no secret that college students are very busy people. We have classes, homework, jobs, extracurricular activities, you name it! If you and your significant other’s schedules are not perfectly balanced, it can cut into time spent with one another. In my case, I am a double major, with two jobs, and am involved in the theater department, so all of my evenings are taken up with rehearsals. By the time I was done with all of this in the evening, my boyfriend would have his homework done and would want to spend his free time with me, but I needed that time to do my homework. Hence, it wasn’t fair to either of us and that took a toll on our relationship after a while.
Not only is it a time commitment on your academics, but college relationships can be overbearing. In college, you are more likely to see your partner every day and many people feel obligated to spend all their time with their partner or include them in everything. Needing alone time suddenly becomes a selfish thing, and that can lead to resentment over time.
2. We want adult standards, but we still want to be young and free:
In general, we come to college because we want to better our future. In addition to this, once we reach college age, it becomes necessary to keep in mind our long-term plans. Suddenly, if we are in a relationship, then our partner must now factor into our plans (and we have to factor into theirs as well!) The problem is, we don’t know how to seamlessly incorporate another person and their happiness into our lives.
The scariest thing is, one we reach college age, things like engagement and marriage are no longer taboo and people can feel pressured into big commitments without thinking through the sacrifices that come with those commitments.
Since being in college, I’ve been with a guy who wanted all the perks and behaviors of dating without the actual title of “relationship” and I’ve had a boyfriend who naturally assumed we would be moving in together without ever discussing it with me. I’ve been to both extremes, and both left me unhappy and frustrated. Communication deteriorated, and so did the relationships.
3. We are taught to be selfish:
I’m not saying that we are all selfish people, I am merely saying that college encourages us to be selfish: and it’s a good thing! Think about it: we are here for a degree that will better our own future, to bring about a life that will make us happy, and to develop our own personal skills. There is nothing wrong with that.
The conflict comes when your ambitions meet your partner’s ambitions.
Sometimes it all works out and you and your partner can both follow your dreams, making it work to stay together. Other times it comes down to choosing your dream companion or your dream. In my case, my chosen profession of wanting to pursue the arts will take me far from my home state and far away from the dreams of the people I’ve dated.
In the end, my philosophy was “I would never ask you to give up your dream for me, so please don’t ask me to give up my dream for you.”
This is still my philosophy and I am alone.
But here’s the thing: I am happy.
If there’s one thing that I am grateful for in my experience of college dating, it is how much I learned about myself. I learned how to spot behaviors in myself and other people. I learned how I dealt with rejection and how frequently the phrase “I love you” is tossed around. I learned not to waste my time or other people’s time with false hope. I learned not to deny my true feelings for the sake of hurting my partner’s feelings and I learned that the truth is far easier to live with than regret.
Will I ever find someone that I want to spend my life with? Who knows. Maybe I will, and that’s wonderful. Maybe I won’t, and that’s still just as wonderful.
So, while college dating may have swayed me to cynicism, it has reminded me that the longest relationship I’ll ever have is with myself. And I plan to make it a beautiful one!
Stay forward-thinking, Ladies!
West Virginia Wesleyan College’s productions of Into the Woods and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photography credit Dapper Dewey Photography.