Dating in College 101: Practical Dating Advice for College Students

Why is dating in college so hard? It doesn’t have to be! Follow our guide on dating in college for all the best dating advice for college students.

A lot of college students ask, why is dating in college so hard? And it’s a tough question for us to answer. 

At first glance, it seems as though dating in college would be a breeze because everyone is around the same age, sharing similar life experiences, as they enter this new stage of life, simultaneously working toward their career goals. 

However, this is also a wonderfully exciting and confusing time in college students’ lives. After all, they’re still figuring out who they are and what they want, which can make dating messy, awkward, challenging, and sometimes unsuccessful. 

If that seems to describe your love life in college thus far, then it’s time to check out our dating advice for college students. We offer some helpful tips on how to start dating and set some expectations to help you navigate the college dating world. 

Love Yourself

While we might call this dating advice for college students, we actually prefer to call it dating advice for anyone. No matter your age, it’s crucial to love yourself before you can love someone else or let them love you. Only once you respect, honor, and cherish yourself can you really contribute to a healthy relationship. 

Therefore, if you’re wondering how to start dating during your college years, begin by dating yourself. Focus on appreciating yourself and celebrating everything, from your flaws to your accomplishments. Exercise, eat healthy, treat yourself to a spa day, and pamper yourself with flowers, chocolates, and gifts. As you learn to love yourself, you’ll be able to open up the space in your heart for someone else. 

Reflect on What You Want at This Stage

Who are you, and what do you want in a relationship? There’s a good chance you don’t know the answers to those questions yet, and that’s totally normal right now. After all, college is the place to go to start exploring and figuring out the person you want to become. 

That said, if you’re interested in dating in college, it’s important to reflect on the things you do know about yourself right now. For example, maybe you don’t want to tie yourself down to one person at the moment. Or maybe you’re not ready to get intimate with the person you’re seeing. Setting those boundaries for yourself and staying true to them will help you navigate the dating world, without compromising your standards.

Think About Your Values

As you start figuring out how to start dating, think about what values are most important to you, so you can seek out those who share those same ideals. For instance, perhaps you have strong religious convictions or political beliefs. Or maybe you want to date someone who is career motivated or has strong family values. Once you have a better idea of what beliefs and viewpoints guide you, you’ll have an easier time dating with intention and attracting others who think similarly. 

Discover Who You Like

Dating in college is all about getting to know yourself, what you want, and what you like. It’s ok to explore your sexuality, create relationships, break off relationships, and, yes, kiss some frogs along the way. In fact, there will probably be a lot of frogs, as you’re still figuring out yourself. As long as you’re being safe and respectful and not breaking too many hearts along the way, let college be the time for you to date and experiment. 

Remember, Everyone is Experimenting, Too

Why is dating in college so hard? Well, you’re not the only one experimenting. Some people are still waiting on their first kiss, while others are having hook-ups every other night. And some are looking for their forever person, and others are all about serial dating right now. 

Dating in your 20s can be complicated because everyone is doing their own thing, which can make it tricky to find someone who is on the same page as you. Don’t worry, though, people will eventually come around, and you’ll find those who align with your preferences. 

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others 

Maybe your college roommate has had a long-term boyfriend for three years, while your longest relationship lasted three weeks. Or perhaps your lab partner has done things in the bedroom you’ve never even heard of before!  And you know what? That’s their prerogative. There’s nothing wrong with you—or them—you’re all simply at different stages. 

Now, as tempting as it might be to start comparing yourself to other people your age, don’t do that to yourself. Their escapades have nothing to do with your dating journey, so stay in your own lane and focus on what makes you happy. 

Try Out New Activities and Hobbies

One of our favorite pieces of dating advice for college students is to get out there and try new things! Try out for the swim team, join the drama club, learn to fence, and volunteer in the community. All of these opportunities will put you outside of your comfort zone, introduce you to new skills, and provide you with a whole new group of people to get to know. 

Not only will feeling happy and feeding your soul make you more attractive to others, but engaging in different activities is a great way to meet like-minded people who may be compatible with you. 

Be Open to Different Dating Strategies

You’re young and beautiful, so why not take advantage of all the dating opportunities right now? Try online dating, give matchmaking a try, and agree to let your friend set you up on a blind date! Between going to mixers and meeting friends of friends, there are so many different ways to approach dating in college. If you’re eager to find love, put yourself in positions where there’s a chance you’ll meet other singles. 

Keep Your Safety in Mind

As much as college can sometimes feel like living in a bubble, protected from the rest of the world, dating in college can be dangerous, especially when drugs and alcohol are involved. 

Even if you think you know and trust your date, take the appropriate safety measures, like telling your roommate your location, using contraceptives, limiting your alcohol consumption, and having an exit plan. It’s ok to let loose and have fun, but your safety should always be top of mind.

Use the Buddy System

If you are going to parties or bar hopping with the hopes of meeting potential partners, use the buddy system. Go out with at least one other friend and keep an eye on each other. Check in with each other, and don’t leave without telling each other who you’re with and where you’re going. In doing so, it’s important to trust each other’s judgment—if your friend has a bad feeling about the person you’re seeing, maybe hold off and wait to make plans when you have a clearer head. 

Understand the Signs of a Toxic Relationship

Especially if you’re new to dating, it can be difficult to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship. Even if there isn’t any physical abuse in your relationship, it can still be abusive or toxic. If your friends and family members are expressing concern about your situation, heed their warnings. Listen to what they’re saying and consider if there’s some truth to what they’re noticing. 

If you start to recognize red flags in your relationship, it’s important to remove yourself from the situation. If you feel trapped or worried for your safety, alert your loved ones and consider contacting the authorities.  

Don’t Forget to Focus on Your Studies

Not to sound like your parents, but at the end of the day, your studies should be your number one priority. Don’t let the stress of dating or the distraction of relationships get in the way of your academic success. Sure, it’s great to date and meet new people, but you’re attending college to further your career—not your love life. 

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