Graduating college comes with the excitement of starting a whole new chapter of life, but there are also many new insecurities that may unexpectedly creep up on you, including figuring out how — or who — you may want to date in your early and mid-20s. You may be dealing with career insecurity, which is entirely normal and might come in all shapes and sizes: Perhaps you’re not working your dream job yet, or maybe you’re still looking for your first full-time position, or you could also be trying to figure out the professional and the person you’d like to be for the next few years.
As you’re swiping left and right and experiencing dating apps, your mind might also be worrying about your job situation, the future of your career, how much money you’ll make, the new city you’re moving to, and on top of all that, you might still be pressuring yourself to fall in love, meet the love your life, buy a house, and adopt at least two dogs. Yikes, that’s a lot! All of those insecurities can also affect your dating life, and that’s why dating and navigating dating apps as a recent college graduate can be so challenging.
Being perceived by other people is a huge part of dating, which might be difficult if you’re in an uncertain or insecure phase of life. The cherry on top of dating as a recent college graduate is that there’s also pressure — that may come from family, friends, and even yourself — to find your life partner in your 20s.
Dating apps can be an exciting way to meet new people and learn more about yourself.
Relationship expert Rori Sassoon, co-owner of matchmaking agency Platinum Poire and a frequent dating expert on Real Housewives of New York (Seasons 10-12), understands the pressure that recent college graduates go through while experiencing dating apps but believes that dating apps and websites remain a great way to connect with people and potential matches. “Dating apps can be an exciting way to meet new people, [but you] should not put intense pressure on yourself to settle down with the first match,” she tells Her Campus.
According to Sassoon, dating can be a great way to learn things about yourself, and it can be especially interesting in a new phase of your life when you’re trying to figure out who you want to be. Navigating dating apps can help you understand better the type of person you’re attracted to and why, how you’d like to be treated, and who you are in a relationship.
Julie*, 24, started using dating apps after she graduated college. For her, dating apps aren’t essential for her dating life, but it’s a great opportunity to meet new people. “[Dating apps] are very helpful, especially after college when you just work and work, it's cool to meet some people,” she tells Her Campus.
Mike*, 22, has been using dating apps since he was in college and, in his opinion, dating apps are a great way for introverts to experience dating. “I’m extremely shy and it’s not likely that I’ll start a relationship in an organic way, like meeting someone at a party or even at work,” he tells Her Campus.
Relationship coach Laurel House, one of eharmony's relationship experts, agrees with Mike that dating apps can be essential for some people. “Dating apps create an emotionally safe space to gently enter the dating space, then allow others to get to know them before fully putting themselves out there,” she tells Her Campus. “Particularly in this new COVID environment in which many singles feel nervous to physically connect, the initial emotional connection on a dating app is ideal. Plus, connecting on a deep emotional level first can create more rooted and enduring relationships,” House adds.
It’s important to use dating apps when you’re feeling confident in yourself.
Even though dating apps are a great way for Mike to meet new people, he really struggled with swiping through dating apps and going on dates as a recent college graduate. “When I was still looking for a full-time job, I felt very insecure about meeting anyone. I went out with guys who already had a job and it made me uncomfortable,” he says.
According to Sassoon, it’s important to swipe through the dating apps, and even answer your matches, when you’re feeling your best. “If you’re not confident in where you’re at in your career and life, then you may project a not-so-great version of yourself to others. You want to date when you're in a good place with yourself, meaning you are comfortable in your own skin. We all have different insecurities, though it becomes an actual problem when those insecurities plague our day-to-day lives and dates,” she explains.
House agrees and advises recent college graduates who are feeling insecure about their careers to use dating apps when they’re feeling confident: “If you’re feeling insecure, no matter how much you try to hide it, your attitude towards dating, as well as your dates, will be affected,” the relationship coach explains.
Almost every recent college graduate goes through career insecurity as soon as they graduate, since it can be such an overwhelming time. It’s important to share what you’re feeling with friends and, if you have access, with a therapist, too. Once you’re feeling better about your insecurities, even if they’re still there (because everyone has insecurities), dating and meeting new people can be a good idea. Just make sure you’re not accepting less of what you deserve just because you’re currently feeling insecure.
At the end of the day, dating apps are all about having a good time.
And what about finding a life partner in your 20s? Julie is currently looking for a serious relationship, but Mike is open to casual or serious relationships. And according to House, it’s okay to know what you want, but it becomes a problem when you take that pressure of finding your life partner into your dating experiences, making it more likely for you to settle.
While using dating apps, it’s important to have fun and have a good time with your matches. The right person will come at the right time. Recent grads "should remain optimistic, realistic, and enjoy this time period of getting to know themselves — and new connections,” Sassoon says.