Dating in the digital era is a wild experience. For those leaving high school and heading off to college, however, it’s a part of the overall post-secondary experience and worth exploring.
Dating in college is a great way to have fun, meet new people, and learn about yourself. Here are some practical tips to make the experience a positive one.
Know Your Priorities
First and foremost, remember why you’re at school: to get an education. Yes, there’s so much more beyond books, lectures, and stressing your way through finals. However, the college dating experience should never become an obstacle to pursuing your education.
Keep this priority in mind if you find yourself slipping or struggling. Ideally, you’ll find a partner who also prioritizes their education and knows how to set boundaries.
Look for Red Flags
The downside of dating in the digital era is that people can present the image they want. The upside is that you have access to plenty of data to check on red flags. When it comes to modern dating, there’s no limit on digging into someone before agreeing to commit to a relationship. If you feel the need to do a deep dive into their social media history, sure. If you want to do a full background check in the District of Columbia marriage records, go for it.
Always trust your instincts when you start dating someone, and be mindful of other red flags, like subtle criticisms or the inability to take responsibility for one’s actions.
Look for Green Flags
We often discuss red flags in dating and relationships but rarely touch on green flags. Looking for positive attributes is just as important as being mindful of negative attributes— as long as you understand that a few green flags don’t overshadow the red flags.
Green flags can be summed up in feeling good as your authentic self when you’re around the other person— consistently, not in a negative cycle of abuse and love bombing. A person who communicates well, understands your priorities, and supports your independence is a green flag.
Learn to Speak Your Truth
College is a great time to learn about yourself. It’s also a time to find your independence and your voice. The dating experience is the ideal laboratory to apply your textbook self-awareness learnings.
Learn to speak your truth and be clear in what you want or expect, as well as what you dislike or don’t want. This invaluable life skill will carry you through dating, graduation, and the rest of your life.
Explore Your Options
While it’s important to know what you want from a relationship, it’s also important to explore your options. Dating can be as much a self-exploration as the meeting of new people. This is the ideal time to see what you like, what you don’t, and what you might want from a long-term partner.
Try Socializing in Person
If it’s safe to do so, get off the dating apps and try meeting people in real life. Yes, this has been challenging due to the pandemic. In many areas, however, life is starting to get back to normal. If you can safely attend gatherings and social events to interact with humans face-to-face, give it a try.
Prioritize Your Safety
If something bad happens to you while dating, it’s the other person’s fault. There’s no space for victim-blaming in modern dating. However, the unfortunate reality is that self-protection is the first line of defense against bad people.
When you go on a date, let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Meet people in public places until you feel comfortable, and always trust your instincts.
Know When to Take a Break
Finally, know when to take a break from the world of dating. If it’s starting to impact your studies or your mental health and well-being, take a step back, delete the apps, and focus on some dedicated self-love for a while.
With these tips, you can experience the world of college dating safely and happily.