Should I Date In College

Men's Dating

Should I Date in College? 5 Tips From a Dating Expert

Hunt Ethridge

Written by: Hunt Ethridge

Hunt Ethridge

Hunt Ethridge is the co-founder and CMO of the MatchmakingAcademy.com as well as senior advisor and board of directors at other firms.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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“Do it or don’t do it – you’ll regret both.” – Søren Kierkegaard

Truer words were never spoken.  No matter what you choose in life, there are going to be regrets. That’s part of the human experience.  However, only we can choose what type of regret it may be. For me personally, I would rather regret some things I did do rather than regret the loss of things I didn’t do. I don’t like the thought of missed opportunities.

College is all about making new choices on your own as an adult, sometimes for the first time. Of course, there is going to be a learning curve.  The good news is opportunities and experiences abound! It’s a great time to figure out who you are, what you like, and what you want.

Dating can be a big part of the college experience. Some college students have never dated, and others are transplants in a completely new city or country.  I am guessing if you are reading this, you may be interested in college dating. Or curious to know what it’s about and if it’s for you. So let me go through some tips, and you can ask yourself if you feel ready for it.

1. Say Yes!

The core tenet of improv acting is “Yes, and…”  Basically, you accept the situation and then add to it.  In college, you are going to be presented with so many new choices and experiences. Many of them will be a little out of your wheelhouse. However, each experience will add to who you are and will introduce you to new people.  

Photo of a college girl
College students have many opportunities to meet people and learn something new.

I recommend you say yes to as many invitations as you can, obviously safely and smartly. You never know if the open mic night might introduce you to a super cutie! College is a great time to expand your horizons and find out what you don’t know.

Come from a place of yes, instead of a place of no.  For example, “I don’t like snow and cold weather” is a fine opinion, but it could also be said, “I love the sun and warm weather!” It’s giving the same information, just from a more positive angle. If you’re accepting of most situations and come from a positive place, more interesting people are going to be drawn to you.

2. Say No!

Love and romance can be confusing! So can dating advice. The word “no” is a very important part of a younger person’s vocabulary.  I know I just said the opposite, but the “yes” is useful to figure out what the “nos” are.  Figuring out what you don’t like is just as important as figuring out what you do like. There may be times when you were interested in something, but it changed or you decided it wasn’t for you. Just because you said yes earlier, doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind and say no.

Learning how to say “no” in different situations is also a great life skill. As you are learning who you are, don’t let anyone else try to form you into their version of what they want. Stay true to yourself.  “No” is a complete sentence.  Don’t feel the need to justify or explain yourself if you are uncomfortable.

3. Don’t Let the Relationship Take Over

This is probably the first time that you have lived away from home.  Figuring out what you want to do in between your classes and extracurricular activities is a part of it as well. If you do start dating someone, you don’t actually have to leave each other’s sides, except to go to classes. You can have sleepovers, eat together, study together, hang out together, and basically spend all the time you want together. 

Photo of college couple
Many college couples spend all day (and sometimes all night) in each other’s company.

This can be a cool thing, but be careful not to let the relationship take over and consume other parts of your life and growth.

“I wish someone had told me that college relationships require a time commitment that is different than what you’d expect,” says one anonymous senior.  “It’s easy to fall into this pattern where you spend every second of every day with this person when you’re not in class because you can.  But your friends will hate you for it.”  

While it can be wonderful to want to be around your partner all the time, make time for friends, alone time, new hobbies….and your studies!.

4. Communicate Clearly

This is something that you read in just about every relationship article – because it’s important!  Anything that two consenting adults want to do is fine AS LONG AS the both of you are communicating effectively.  Everyone needs to learn how to express their feelings, wants, and desires. It’s also OK to ask questions.

Be careful making assumptions if it hasn’t been discussed.  When I was living in France, I kissed a girl on New Year’s Eve.  The next day people said, “So you and Ann-Claire are going out now?”  Uhhh…..  Because I didn’t communicate well, I was now in an uncomfortable position.

For some people, a kiss is a fun physical way to show affection.  For another person, it is the opening move on the pathway to a serious relationship.  Both of these paths are OK – just make sure you’re both on the same path!  I know it can feel uncomfortable or awkward to talk about things at the beginning, but it gets easier, and it makes any sort of dating or relationship more fulfilling as well.

5. Experiment

This is the best time in your life to experiment!  You can try new hairstyles, go by your middle name, adopt a whole new look.  And yes, one of the things you get to experiment with is dating!  You may have only been around one type of person or demographic your whole life. Now you have access to lots more!  Learn about and possibly date lots of different types of people. You may never know what you like unless you try.

Photo of young people taking a selfie
The college student life can expose a person to many new perspectives.

Once you feel comfortable with your “yes” and “no,” you’ve opened the door to experience all that is out there that you want to explore.  How comfortable you are and how far you want to push yourself is up to you.  But the more things you experience, the easier it gets to figure out exactly what it is that you want.

College Dating Is a Learning Experience

When it comes to dating in college, it is extremely helpful to have a clear idea of what you want. But also keep in mind the old saying, “Life is what happens while you are making plans.”  

Be ready to take whatever comes your way.  It could be great relationship material, it could be someone who can introduce you to new things, or it could be someone who teaches you about yourself. Good luck, and have a great semester!