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After the Quiz...Real world dating advice from college students

Regardless of whether you’re a Genius, Dutiful, Decent or Deficient dater, you’ve taken our quiz, now take our advice (broken down below along the lines of each quiz question). You’ll also benefit from our inclusion of real world dating experience from college students who know (and know better).

1. Where do you draw the line? Would you consider dating:

It can seem appealing, especially in the beginning, not to have to venture beyond the people you’ve already connected with as friends to find someone to date. Think twice though before getting romantically involved with someone from your circle of friends or with someone close to your roommate. If it ends badly (and let’s face it, how many dating relationships end well?) you’ll lose more than just a boyfriend or girlfriend. You could end up with a very frosty relationship with your roommate or being frozen out of the group of friends you’ve just connected with.  Here’s what students had to say:

Date outside your friend group. Things get awkward when a group of friends gets too incestuous. Plus, dating someone outside the group means you get to meet his or her friends and add some variety to your social circle. Hannah

Do not date your roommate, or your roommate’s ex-significant other, or your roommate’s sibling, cousin, or current significant other. Dating ANYONE remotely associated with your roommate can blow up in your face. Rachel

You’re in a closed environment when you first get to college, and it quite often happens you’ll date someone in your circle of friends. When you break up, do not make the rest choose which one of you to be friends with. It will always be your ex. On the same note, prepare for that to happen, because it might.  Gerald

2. Dating Drunk? Is a party a good place to meet your next significant other?

If all you’re looking for is a hook up then partying is often the quickest path. If you’re actually looking for something more, alcohol is not your friend. Kathleen Bogle in her book “Hooking Up” found that most hookups end there but that the majority of people (even guys!) are actually looking for something more lasting. Here’s a little advice from the students:

Always stay in control of the situation – you don’t want to do something that you’ll regret the next day, or the next week. Classes and dorms are the best way to meet people you’ll be in constant contact with. Don’t be afraid to try the “homework buddy” trick. Even if it doesn’t help you in terms of relationships, you will benefit your grades and that person may become a good friend. Michael

Decide BEFORE you go out what your boundaries are but if you make rules like “I won’t make out with anyone sketchy,” guess what, you probably will because even the slimiest characters probably won’t blip your radar if you’ve been drinking. Laurel

Be open to new experiences, but don’t be afraid to listen and respond to that always-vigilant part of you which is always attuned towards self-preservation–physica​l, mental and spiritual. If something feels off to you, makes you feel unsafe or even just uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation. Katie

Go to a party with a friend you trust – the people you like to spend time with will probably lead you to other people who you will like to spend time with J

3. Being Yourself–what would you be willing to compromise on for someone you really liked/loved

Identity, being yourself, and not compromising who you are is a theme that seems to come up over and over again whenever we talk to students. It’s very easy to lose yourself and difficult to find yourself again in college. These students have some excellent cautions to offer:

Relationships work best (and last the longest) when both people are comfortable with who they are and act in the relationship as complete individuals. You need to have a strong sense of self-identity. College is a good place to cultivate that, and you can grow that self-identity through relationships with others – just don’t let the relationship become your self-identity. You can still be madly in love, want to hang out all the time, and still be two complete, independent people. Laura

I’ve watched a lot of my friends start dating people and become a different person because of it. Then for one reason or another, the relationship ends and they lose everything. So take your time figure out what kind of person you want to be first and if you end of finding someone who likes you just the way you are then maybe you could consider giving them a shot. Rory

Don’t start dating anyone right away- college is an adjustment. Realize that people come and go, so always be true to who you are, whether with friends or dates. Don’t expect someone to change for you or to love you because you say or do something they want you to do. Plan some boundaries in advance and stick to them. Moral of the story: Be true to who you are! Becky

If there’s one skill or personal attribute you should MASTER in those first few weeks or months, it’s self-awareness. For that matter, spend the rest of your life mastering that. The maturity to enter a significant relationship comes with understanding your own pitfalls, strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. Know what annoys you, what your values are and what you would never EVER compromise for any person, any job, or any grade. Jessamyn

4. High Fidelity–Would you date someone who is already involved or in a failing relationship?

If you’re interested in someone who says anything that sounds like, “I don’t have a girlfriend, but I do have a girl who would be really upset if she heard me say that.”, lose interest fast. Fidelity is a really difficult lesson for some people to learn and you shouldn’t have to be anybody’s test run. Be a person of integrity yourself and expect to be treated well in return. The person who cheats with you will eventually cheat on you.

Work on spine development. By this I mean: don’t sabotage a relationship by cheating or general bad behavior so the other person wouldn’t possibly want to stay with you. Have a spine, if you are unhappy, end it sooner rather than later. Don’t stay with someone “’cause we see each other all the time and it would be super awkward if we broke up”. You are selling yourself short and missing out on a lot of new people and experiences. Monica

5. From a distance: Long distance relationships

Advice from a student who ended up getting back together with her high school sweetheart: Many people go into college with a high school relationship. It takes honesty and trust and a whole lot of patience to make a long distance relationship work. It also takes a certain amount of fate. Don’t feel they are doomed just because of the stereotypes placed on long distance relationships. Don’t assume they will work just because you can’t picture life without the person. Before I went to college my mom told me, “if you meet a guy you think you might like, go on a date with him. Even if it is just to find out that the person you are with is really the right one. It doesn’t have to be to see if the new person is better.” You have to let the other person live their life. Be patient that they have other friends, and be sure to make your own friends. Don’t spend hours talking to your significant other while watching your college years disappear. Get to know other people and be open to possibilities. Jane

6. Gotta Date? Which statement do you agree with most?

It’s okay to be single. Don’t date someone just because you get along okay and you’re lonely. You’ll be unhappy, he or she will be unhappy, and see #3. College is about discovering YOU and finding out who YOU are, and often that means being single and figuring out more about yourself on your own. Hannah

My advice would be don’t push yourself. Only you know when you are ready for a relationship and there is no shame in saying that school and other activities are more important to you at the moment. Get involved, make friends, have adventures, and when you are ready the right person will come along. Jane

DO NOT take dating in college as the ultimate pressure time to find marriage material. Too many people take dating in college as an always serious venture with the biological clock ticking. The truth of the matter is that it says nothing about you if you did not date a lot in high school and it still says nothing about you if you do not instantly date someone in college. —Ryan

7.  New and Exciting?  When I begin a relationship, I…

When I was in college, I found that getting involved in activities on campus allowed me to cultivate friendships outside of my relationship, so I wasn’t spending all of my free time with my boyfriend. I was on staff at the school newspaper, and it was there that I formed many of the friendships that I still have today.  Meredith

8. No guts, no glory? What do you think about taking dating risks in college?

You should (and especially guys here) never just sit around waiting for something to happen if you think there is a possible of having found the right person. There is a degree of bravery to dating. At the end of the day, even if he/she said no, at least you tried and if it hurts, it won’t hurt forever because there are way too many other great things to do in college to get hung up on one little bump in the road.  Tom

Crushes, relationships, flirting, and dating are FUN, and that’s GOOD!!! This is a VERY exciting time, and no matter what advice anyone gives, you’re going to develop emotions and feelings for other people, and it’s okay to explore those emotions in a healthy balance with the other obligations you have in college! It might even be ok to join clubs and go to parties with the intention of making some new friends or “meeting someone” per se. Just remember to make it something YOU enjoy.  J

Get involved with things you might not have thought you would usually get involved with. That way you might reaffirm your career/major choice or you might discover something totally new that you love. Be an initiator. College is the time to try out “the new you.”; if you were an introvert in high school, it’s time to try extrovert. Don’t wait to be invited. Invite others, everywhere–to the store, to dinner, to your room—especially in the first week. Don’t be shy, and realize that everyone is looking for friends. On that note, don’t feel rejected if one group doesn’t work out. It’s a process. Jane

If a guy has the guts to ask you on a date, and you don’t feel like your safety is in question or you have a truly legitimate reason for saying no, say yes. Not being romantically interested in him is NOT a legit reason. It could end up being awesome or you’ll at least have a good story. And it’s the same deal if a girl asks too. Say yes. Reward brave behavior. Hannah

Here are a few last words from our students, advice that was just too good not to include. On the subject of:

Communication & Technology For some absurd reason I thought high school relationships would be different from college relationships in terms of the pitfalls of poor communication. In this day and age of constant facebooking, texting, and phone apps…make some time everyday for REAL communication. Go on a walk and talk to each other. Set real boundaries and expectations and, more importantly, be on the SAME PAGE. Dating your phone will leave you only with your phone. Jessamyn

Desperation Never let yourself be is a situation where you are desperate for something–socially, academically, or relationally. Always keep options open and know multiple resources are available to you–friends, advisors, professors, RAs, campus police, health care facilities, university support organizations–for any given situation. Bryan

Being Yourself One of the most important things to remember in dating is to not lose yourself. You should always be you and if the person you’re with really cares, they should be okay with the ‘you’ that you are. Tom

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