Dating in college: yes? no? how?

Movie pitch: Two actors well within their twenties play teenage students who lock eyes across a classroom and know instantly that they’re meant to be together forever. Sound familiar? Anyone? Bueller? That’s because it’s the plot of nearly every book, movie and TV show geared toward young adults. I would know, I have a Netflix account and horrible taste in television.

But let’s back up for a second. Since the dawn of time (that might be a little dramatic) — but for a very long time, people within our age range have been led to believe through scribblings on a bathroom wall that true love happens instantaneously and is pure and simple and without breakups ending in ice-cream-induced comas. However, we in the real world, know that before love, marriage and a baby carriage, comes awkward first dates and cringe-worthy attempts at flirting.

Love off the screen requires time and a lot of hit or miss. Now, where does that lead us? Well, for starters, to some unsolicited advice from a well-meaning peer, aka yours truly.

So, onwards and without further ado, my first piece of advice for dating in the real world is to deactivate your Netflix account. Just kidding. Could you imagine? But, in a more serious tone, tip number one is to take dating less, well, seriously.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from drawing unrealistic expectations from fictional works, it’s that it’s just not a good idea. Ever.

Now, I’ll take one for the team and share that my first real experience with dating ended because we both took ourselves and our “relationship” too seriously and instead of having fun, which is what dating should be all about, we made each other miserable.

Cue the ice-cream-induced coma.

But, I think I touched on something important there; dating, especially in college, should be fun. College is the time for self-exploration in every sense. While yes, we are figuring out things like what we want to study and what potential career path to follow, a lot of us are still figuring out who we are as individuals, including what we might look for in a potential partner. And the only way to figure these things out is yep, you guessed it: hit or miss. Ah yes, messy, complicated hit or miss. The only way to survive this particular era of real life is to take it on with the complete knowledge that it will probably suck sometimes, and the best approach is to not to take it too seriously (see what I did there).

So, the bottomline? We all need to stop preaching this idea that everyone in high school and college are all finding soulmates on the first try. This concept just sets up all us gullible creatures to disappointment and confusion. While garbage television about two lost souls finding each other is entertaining, it is not to be taken as real life. Real life takes time, and that’s OK. If you’re not finding luck or dating just isn’t your thing, that’s OK. Use this time to focus on yourself and your schoolwork because you are your priority.