The struggles of dating in college

The struggles of dating in college

Danielle Zukowski

College is a really strange place to be. We’re just a bunch of late teens and twenty-somethings at a relatively similar place in our lives. Many are just trying to figure themselves out. A lot of us are confused, yet also so sure that our third major change is the absolute right one. We promise, this time.

We’re making dreams and mistakes. Trying to experience some new things, take some chances and sometimes regretting it later. But it’s not just us; we’re not alone. We’re thrown in this huge community of freedom, regret, indecisiveness and spontaneity together on the way to getting a degree.

This intention to get a higher education creates one thing: a massive dating pool.

Love and lust are constantly on the minds of college students. Study groups are a great place to find a potential mate. The gym is a great place to find a potential mate. Person at the cafeteria could be a potential mate. Everyone is the same age, and we’re all neighbors. We are all here in this chaotic state of stress and liberation.

Anyone you meet at any time has the potential to become a huge part of your life. That person you pass every day while walking to your class in the Lake Halls could one day become a friend or more.

It is so fascinating how people go from being a stranger, to sliding into the secondary friend group, to infiltrating the primary group. Someone, right now, is out there that you don’t even know exists, but soon you will know their face and their name. All of a sudden you can’t imagine your life without them. Who did you used to text and call? Used to hang out with? Could there have possibly been a life before them? Soon you’ll be eating tacos with them every Tuesday, pretending to watch TV on Fridays, sitting at the same table in the library for hours trying so hard to cram for the next exam and creating all the little traditions that make up a relationship.

Going away to college allows all these possible run-ins and meetings that will somehow lead to something more. There’s always some event that tests friendly boundaries. Maybe someone sets you up on a date, you “study” together for the big midterm or the fairly new but ever-so-popular Netflix and chill. Somehow you go from an acquaintance to lover. Even though college is such an easy place to meet people to date, so many students have ditched old methods of meeting potential lovers in favor of Tinder.

Tinder is basically online dating but seems to be much more socially acceptable. It seems to have grown in popularity significantly at GVSU. It functions in a “hot or not” manner with a brief introduction but can be narrowed down to people that actually go to your school. Often, you’ve never met these people but every once in a while you might have a Facebook connection: friend of a friend or even more remote than that.

Sometimes you even come across a familiar face. And that’s the really intriguing part of the dynamic. One of my friends loves Tinder. She is always telling stories of meet ups: sometimes awkward, sometimes surprisingly fun. Sometimes she recognizes someone on campus or they end up being in one of her classes. What happens with these encounters outside of text? Will the connection survive when it can no longer hide behind a keyboard?

It’s so interesting that so many people use this app when we are surrounded by so many opportunities in real life. Have we reduced everything we do to the immediacy of technology, even a relationship? Can this very personal intimate connection be made from a few swipes and a bio of limited characters? Are we missing out on better potential mates we were too quick to judge? Perhaps this is just the new norm for college dating.