Relationship Advice for College Students

By L. Roberts on August 19, 2019

Going to college is an experience like no other, especially when it comes to dating. With the new semester just around the corner, students across the country are going to college for the first time as well as returning to campus as upperclassmen. If you’re heading off to college for the very first time, you might be nervous about what it’s like to date in college — is it different from high school? If you’re heading back to campus, there’s a chance you still have questions about what it’s like to date in college. From someone who’s not only dated in college but analyzed the relationships of my friends, here are my words of wisdom when it comes to college relationships:


1. Don’t hang on for too long.

When we’re in high school, we’re willing to put up with almost anything if it means staying with our significant other. The drama that comes from publicizing a break-up is enough to make any high school student want to crawl into a hole. But when you’re in college, no one keeps up with who you’re seeing or how long it’s been going on. When you and your main squeeze break up, no one really cares or even knows about it unless you tell them. With a much bigger population of classmates, you’re safe to date and break up with whoever you want. That being said, don’t hang on for too long. When you’re ready to stop seeing someone, nothing should stop you.

2. The pond is a thousand times bigger now.

High school dating is similar to a small fish pond, where all the fish try out dating pretty much everyone. But once you get to college, your dating world opens up to thousands of people. You won’t feel pressure to stay in your “social circle” like you did in high school. You’ll feel the freedom that comes with going out with anyone you want. It’s liberating to date in college. You get to know all kinds of people and figure out what will and won’t work for you.

3. Make a list of non-negotiables.

The one thing I can suggest as you move through college is to create a list of non-negotiables. I’d recommend dating around a bit first — figure out what you can and cannot deal with. You might decide you’ll never be able to date a smoker — so put it on the list. Maybe you want someone who’s driven in their studies — put it on the list. College is the time to be choosey, so make your list as long or as short as you want. Refer to it often. When things begin getting serious with someone, make sure you continue to hold yourself and your partner accountable. What are you willing to settle for? What aren’t you willing to settle for? Don’t get stuck in a relationship that’s not going anywhere.

4. Utilize the counseling center.

When couples get overly involved in college (which happens often), they begin struggling to make their relationship work. Whether it’s distance or lifestyle, dating someone in college is a lot closer to reality than dating someone in high school. If you both value having each other in your lives, you’ll want to utilize your school’s counseling center. Sometimes couples therapy gets a stigma attached to it — now is not the time to be judging yourself (or others) over attending counseling. Investing in yourself and your relationship means doing some digging into the issues you have. The only way to discover whether or not it’s a salvageable relationship is to uncover all the things that drive you nuts and work through it together.


5. Realize your own worth.

If there’s one thing I learned in college, it’s that other people don’t determine your worth. When the person you’ve been seeing for a while ends things, don’t allow yourself to feel worthless. Don’t even let your mind tell yourself you’re worthless. Your value should never come from other people. Approach dating in college with the attitude that you’re better without them. When someone doesn’t want you in their life, they simply aren’t worth your time.

6. Go on dates with several people

In high school, we all felt like we could only hang out with one person at a time. There was drama and jealousy involved. But when you get to college, there are so many people, you’ll have the opportunity to go out with people from every social circle. I’m not suggesting you let go of your values — I didn’t say sleep around. But college is the greatest opportunity for you to discover who you’re most compatible with.

Dating in college can be scary at first. Maybe a little intimidating. But if there’s anything about college dating that I want you to take advantage of, it’s the opportunity to get to know yourself. You’ll discover so much about what you want and need in life from dating while you’re in college. Take advantage of the chance you have to throw yourself into what you might not have been brave enough to do in high school.

In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her pup at the dog park and binge watching Netflix with endless cups of Hot Cocoa.

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