Shocked and bewildered. That’s how I felt during my freshmen year of college as I watched my peers forego the remnants of the dating script they learned in high school. The first months of school were full of high school sweetheart breakups. What replaced these relationships was casual sex without commitment driven by a drunken party scene. The problem? Once students became invested in this scene, it was hard to get out, even when they found it unfulfilling and disappointing. This is the trap of hookup culture, a phenomenon fueled by the humanity in all of us; the drive for sex, but in this case, without commitment, trust, loyalty, feelings – just consent.
It seems to me and many people I talk to, that college students are afraid of dating. Students tend to follow one of two roads. They maintain an endless stream of “what ifs” in regards to romantic partnerships, always wanting something better than what they have. Or they remain afraid of the unknown life of commitment, hawking secondhand horror stories of unhappily anchored couples. Having survived college dating (despite the scariness) and now being happily married, I’d like to take a look back at some useful concepts that helped me get here.
1) Stop looking for “the one,” – that one person in the whole universe with whom you could ever be happy. That thought holds people back from good relationships, and ends in unsatisfied searching and in sadness. As in all things, if you find a good thing, keep it. Looking for greener pastures is only useful when accompanied by a measure of wisdom. Nobody is perfect. If people aren’t perfect, how can you expect your relationship to be?
2) Be intentional. It’s true fewer young people are “going on dates” these days – that’s why it’s so important. Being intentional means laying your cards on the table and making your romantic aspirations known. It can be scary to make yourself vulnerable when it seems like everyone else is playing games. But if something is difficult, that probably means it’s more worthwhile in the end. “Toughing it out” will mature you to where you need to be by the time you reach the end. You may also find it to be easier than you imagined.
3) Know who you are. As in everything you do, it is important to sort out the voices influencing your life that are not your own and find your own voice. This could take getting out of your comfort zone to do some lengthy reflection. But only then you will know what you truly want. Figuring that out and dealing with insecurities goes a long way towards conquering any fears about dating
I have found commitment in relationships generally merits respect from friends, coworkers, and family, even more so in today’s culture. Commitment is a way I have enriched my life, and I hope maybe this will encourage you to face your fears and pursue your romantic aspirations.