Dating in college; your parents always ask you about it, your friends have engaged in it and you have thought about it. But how does one actually go about it? Or even better yet, should you?
Before analyzing such deep questions, I had to create a structured understanding of the types of thinking is involved in college dating. So let us pause for a second and think. Love is an intense thing. To dip one’s foot into the pool of dating while our hormones are higher than our professor’s bell curve can be an arduous journey requiring preparation. Or of course, it doesn’t have to be, and can just be something to dive right in to without thought, analysis or hesitation.
Like Nike says, just do it. Or, even better, don’t bother at all. Forget dating altogether and stick to the Snapchat Cosmopolitan pseudo-news articles that talk about dating rather than actually engaging in dating itself.
Those are the three camps of dating thought processes on college campuses: the Thinker, the Opportunist and the Waiter.
The Thinker is the one who romanticizes love and who tries but can never hold a consistent relationship. The Thinker says they grow in the aftermath of a failed relationship or love interest, but that is something that they tell themselves so that they do not cry themselves to sleep every night. We have been told, “There are many fish in the sea” way too many times. The Thinkers may listen to Kendrick Lamar, early Ed Sheeran and they can’t name two other songs besides “REDBONE” on Childish Gambino’s album, “Awaken, My Love.”
The Opportunist is the one that clashes the most with the Thinkers. They usually come in to college dating with only present concerns and with the mindset of, “This is college! This is the time of our lives where we need to experiment and figure out what we like.” They are not thinking about the long haul and are pretty good at separating the emotional and the physical aspects of love. They may listen to songs by Halsey, ‘70s psychedelic rock and any Drake album post-“Take Care.”
The Waiters, then, tend to hold traditional values on dating. They believe that dating, unless you are “the one,” is fruitless. Many Waiters have beliefs rather than experiences that shape them. They, unlike the Thinkers and Opportunists, see dating during this age as not worth it if the other person is not the one you will spend the rest of your life with. Regardless of their generalized title however, they still engage in dating, but do not have hope that it will be anything that will last past college. They may listen to the clean version of Lil’ Wayne albums, Clocks by Coldplay, foreign pop and Christian rock.
Now that I had established the basics, it was time my observations into practice. My findings were interesting but not surprising. As it turns out, we, as college students, are flexible. We transition from one camp of thinking to the other in a matter of days and this is natural. The Opportunist might become The Waiter or The Thinker, as was the case with 20-year-old Omari, and 20-year-old, Khari Bodrick. I was walking out of the gym when I decided to ask the two what their perspectives on college dating are.
“Socialize, date a lot,” said Bodrick with confidence at the front desk of the Kaplan Wellness Center. “I wouldn’t settle down right away,” Bodrick said, “cause you don’t wanna get into that situation where you see a girl that you date and settle down early and then you might see the actual love of your life later on in life.”
When it came to their future kids, both Omari and Bodrick said that they will teach their sons and daughters that this is a crucial time in their lives to date and get to know themselves.
But when I asked them about experiences they would like to share, they both laughed. “We are very, very, very known on the campus of UNCG. Ask the females about us,” Omari said with a smile on his face, “but we are changed men so we won’t say anything about that.”
The latter statement showed that the two used to be one way and have now changed to be a little more The Waiter, and a little less The Opportunist. Although their way of thinking is that of an opportunist, their actions of change have shown they do not practice their own outlook as frivolously as before.
Twenty-two-year old, Bryan Washington, however, had a different take.
“If you find who you’re looking for, go for it. If you think they are the right one, do it,” Washington said. He continued to explain that if you can date someone and balance your relationship with school, then you should go for it, but those words were tossed with not much belief behind it. Washington then said something that was key about the way he viewed dating. “My view on dating is if it’s not the person you intend to marry, then I don’t think you should go for it.” He exhibited beliefs of The Waiter, holding tightly to the view that time should be invested on people that matter and will be there for a long time.
Twenty-year old, KJ Craig, took more of the perspective of focusing on one’s self. “It can be fun but it is hard to make it serious. People should try if they hit it off with someone,” She said.
“Dating is fine,” Craig said, “being casual is fine, but you’re not going to find the love of your life, that’ll come later.” She persisted that the chances of someone finding “the one,” are very, very slim, and that it would be beneficial to focus more on yourself, planning your life and solidifying yourself as a person.
On the other hand, you might find the love of your life in college, like 20-year-old, Sarah Elizabeth. I posted some questions on the UNCG Class of 2020, to which she replied: “I met my now fiancé on my first day ever at UNCG under the stairs in the School of Music. Two years later, and we were dating and [are] now engaged to be married next year!”
On College dating, Elizabeth said, “[It] is extremely complex. Everyone is at a time in their life when they are ready to feel freedom and independence, yet still seek comfort from another person… Whether that be in a temporary sexual relationship, or [something] long term.”
Ultimately, college dating can be difficult; as all camps of thought would agree. Now, how we would all go about college dating is, in the end, unique to our experiences and beliefs. Some hold our beliefs closer to our hearts than others. Some of us go and date a lot while others wait. But there is only one way to find out where you stand: go for it. Try it out. You might never know what you find.