College Dating 101


Photo credit: Ren Rader

illustration by Ren Rader

Going into your first year at Trinity, you will likely find yourself caught in college dating culture, either through your own experiences or your friend’s drama. I am sure that socializing during COVID-19 is markedly different from usual social life on campus, but I am equally sure that dating culture will be kept alive through apps and social media. Whether you want to date casually or seriously, here are things that I think first-years should consider before dating at Trinity.

  1. Focus on building and maintaining strong friendships first. Spending your time and attention on one person might narrow your social life. Having reliable friends and an emotional support system is key to having a good time.
  2. Tell your friends about who you’re talking to, even if you plan on seeing them casually.
  3. Try to make clear distinctions between your friends and more-than-friends.
  4. Set standards for what you want out of the relationship, and don’t change the bar for anyone. Setting clear standards and meeting your own needs is looking out for your future self!
  5. Figure out your priorities. You have limited time and attention span to spend between socializing and studying. If there is a negative correlation between the time you spend with someone and your GPA, you may want to reflect on your time management.
  6. Be cynical. Meeting people off campus can feel liberating, but it can be dangerous, so carry pepper spray. Never keep yourself in uncomfortable situations.
  7. On the flipside, talking to people on-campus might mean you’ll struggle to avoid them in hallways if things end badly.
  8. Be aware of manipulative behavioral patterns such as sexual grooming.
  9. Be transparent, but don’t overshare your business because word spreads fast.
  10. You don’t owe anyone anything.
  11. Be careful about giving second chances.
  12. If someone says they’re “not good enough for you,” they aren’t.
  13. Taking an emotional break is good sometimes. Everyone needs time to process how relationships impact their lives. Spending a summer being single is also refreshing.
  14. You are also capable of toxic behaviors.
  15. Research birth control. Hormonal changes can mess with your mood and behavior.
  16. When going out, always share your location with someone who’s staying in that night.
  17. Communicate hookup plans with your roomie early on.
  18. You only have four years here, so shoot your shot.
  19. Everyone has an emotional cap, so create and respect boundaries.
  20. Have protected sex. Health services also has STD testing services.
  21. Trust your gut.
  22. Match the energy you are given. If someone is giving you 50% effort in the relationship, give 50% back.
  23. Never settle for less. Being lonely sucks, but rebounding is a never-ending cycle. Comfort in being alone is rewarding in the long run.

Expanding your social circle and exploring your sexual and romantic interests can be a very liberating, enjoyable time at college. I hope that this year’s freshmen find meaningful connections through these very challenging times.