After spending four years in and out of high school relationships where the extent of dating is holding hands while walking each other to class and putting your partner’s name in your Twitter bio, you are now at a larger school with a new sea of faces and a spectrum of relationships. This is your roadmap to navigate three major categories that your new relationship is likely to fall into.
Keepin’ it casual
In his article, “Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review,” Justin R. Garcia of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University reports that, “a combined 81 percent of undergraduate respondents engaged in some form of hookup behavior.” Hooking up is a relationship with a partner without involving feelings; it’s typically a sexual relationship. Dating apps and social media are two popular places to meet partners. Intentions can be communicated without making things uncomfortable within a friend group or a classroom. Your friends at school will have their own friends and as long as tides are calm between you, your friends and your partner, there’s no harm in casual sex. Communicate to your partner that the situation isn’t working out and you would like to put an end to things. This can get tricky if your partner is present in your everyday life; however, without commitment, there isn’t much justification for bad blood as long as you do the respectful thing and communicate with them.
If you’re meeting a partner off of social media, let a friend know. Text them where you’re going, or who is coming over, along with an address and a screenshot of your partner’s social media profile. Keep your friend updated once an hour and set a time limit for them to take action if they don’t hear from you. If your partner is involved in your friend group, ensure all of your friends are alright with the relationship because it’s never worth throwing away a friend for just casual sex.
Deciding who to start dating
In his article “A Million First Dates” published in The Atlantic, Dan Slater shares a conversation with a friend, Jacob, where Jacob explains, “Each relationship is its own little education…You learn more about what works and what doesn’t…I’m not jumping into something with the wrong person, or committing to something too early.” Commitment in college can be scary, and it’s alright to not be ready to dive into a relationship with somebody. You go on dates, you hold hands and people know that, to some extent, you two are an item.
It’s a relationship without the pressure of a label or the intimidation that can come with commitment in your late teens/early 20s. Start a conversation with a person you’re interested in that sits near you in class or by discussing common interests in a club. Stay away from people you know because it can be tricky to have a partner in this stage in your friend group, because although there isn’t commitment, there are still feelings involved. Because feelings are involved, communicate them to your partner and be honest with what you want and where your feelings are at, and do what is best for you.This stage is the gray area of relationships and to ensure you and your partner are taking the same steps where it will influence your status, communication is key. Find a term that is well-known and establish terminology when beginning this relationship that is easy to explain to a wide demographic and is also comfortable for you and your partner.
It’s Facebook official
Cara Newlon of USA Today reported that a Facebook Data Scientist study released in 2013 found that about 28 percent of married graduates attended the same college as their spouse. Even in the generation of hooking up and dating apps, romance on campus is not dead. When you’re in a relationship, there is exclusivity with you and your partner, using concrete terms like boyfriend and girlfriend. There are intentions to grow with your partner and there is permanence in your relationship.
Relationships can begin in a plethora of ways, from friends to social media to meetcutes at Jimmy John’s. If you’re interested in someone, never hesitate to make a move and keep in mind that the worst they can say is no. If you want to end things, be honest, be open, and be kind. Remember that you’re only in college and you have time to grow independently and you’ll meet people along the way. If you attend school with your partner, you’re prone to run into them. Try to avoid people who live in your building in case things have a rocky ending. These are pivotal growth years, so to maintain your independence in your relationship and remember you don’t have to share all of your interests with your partner. Also, make time for your friends throughout your relationship. It can be easy to isolate yourself from people that aren’t your partner, but try to set aside at least a night a week for your friends.
In this generation, dating is more complex than it once was. There are a spectrum of terms and statuses your relationship could fall on. Although this culture is experiencing constant growth, at the core of any relationship lies communication and honesty, and with those two things in your pocket, you can navigate through any relationship.