What’s In A Date

The Real World
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I spend a lot of my time comparing how this ‘real world’ living stacks up to college life.  It has now been about 3 years since I was in college as an undergraduate.  It’s been a harsh adjustment in some ways. I still wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and panting from a dream where I walk into a final of a class I’ve never even been in.  I miss college.  Life was easy, government subsidized scholarships paid your bills.  Someone was always next door, ready to chat.  And it was much easier to meet eligible bachelors in your age demographic.

I think one of the most interesting ways I’ve found difficulty in adapting back to non-university life has been dating.  Aside from the fact that it is, indeed, hard to find someone to actually go on a date with, it’s also difficult to get used to the ‘real world’ concept of dating.

Dating in college is particularly interesting, in that to the untrained eye it might be entirely absent.  But to the familiar observer, it’s there, just in a much different form.

First and foremost, very rarely do dates start off with a boy dropping by to pick you up.  Most dates, especially first dates in college, involve coming in packs and meeting up at a specific party, bar, or function.  Girls come with a group of girls come with their crew, and you meet at said location.  Imagine my shock when I read Patti Stanger’s book and it said “Those who travel in packs never attract!” ..say what?!

It’s also important to mention that, due to a general lack of funds, most dates are more likely to be ‘hanging out’.  This means you probably meet at said party or bar, pay your cover, and get a drink before meeting inside.  Only after a few of these meet ups are you likely to be taken to dinner alone and have it paid for. Continuing with the general lack of funds theme, there is a lot of watching movies and TV in someone’s dorm or apartment.  Someone is usually invited over to watch a popular TV show or take in a rented movie. 

It’s worth mentioning the fact that the ‘hook up’ or having sex happens fairly early in a college relationship.  Aside from the obvious hormones that come into play when you pile a bunch of nearly teenagers in one place with late nights and open rooms…I think there is also a sense of security that comes about in college, whether it’s right or not.  You tend to live in a smaller bubble, you trust fellow students more easily, and the real world inhibitions toward quick-sex generally fly out the window.  I’m not sure what an average waiting period is for sex in college, but I’m going to guess that it’s at least half of what someone ‘in the real world’ might consider a good idea. 

Real world dating seems formal, in my opinion.  It is very much about networking, then getting together after meeting at a restaurant or bar in order to chat more.  There is no casual time of meeting up somewhere, mingling together with a group, and then choosing whether or not to hang out alone in the future.  It may take months for you to meet a prospective partner’s friends.  So a lot of the ‘get to know you’ time is spent one on one, which I feel is really pressured. 

Real world dating also has that awkward ‘when to have sex’ question that seems to be a lot more casual and relaxed in college.  Real world sex seems to dictate that you wait longer, which is great with me, but I actually think the fact that you do wait and have to determine when its right makes it potentially more awkward.  It’s a game of timing, and I hate playing games like that.

I guess college dating is just casual. Or maybe it’s just what I’m more accustomed to.  I am sure I can get used to dating in the real world, because I don’t honestly see that changing much in the near future. This is just another instance where I feel ill-prepared for the real world. College dating, to me, is more comfortable.  It takes a lot of maturity to date in the real world, it seems.  Maybe it’s just a learning curve and eventually I’ll get there. 

Do you see any difference in college vs. real world dating? Do you prefer one or the other?


4 thoughts on “What’s In A Date

  1. Pretty sure we were lost at birth. My post today is about Patti Stanger’s love advice, too…and that whole travel alone thing? Man, that sounds intimidating.

    Real world dating is most definitely different than dating in college. In some ways I like it—I appreciate an actual dinner date instead of hanging out on some nasty couch watching a movie. But the whole timing thing, with sex, meeting the friends and family, having the talk…ugh.

    I’m still single in this real world, I too graduated 3 years ago, so I still have some figuring out to do.


    1. I missed a lot of the college dating scene because I was in a serious, committed relationship the entire duration of my college career. However, I observed a lot of dating and disgustingly enough did date a little bit during that time. I hate to give it the old “I missed out on my prime years” excuse, but sometimes I feel like if I had taken the time in college to live out the reality, I’d be more appreciative of the “real world” dating scene now. But as it stands, I find it stifles me a bit, as well as intimidates me. All of it seems SO serious. When in reality, it probably isn’t serious.

      It’s hard to explain what I mean. That’s for reading!
      The Blonde.

  2. Ive been working fulltime for 6 years though only finished school in 2008 (did grad school part time while working full time). I have friends who are married and have kids.

    I can say that I didnt really find the undergrad “dating” scene all that healthy. I mean, people got married, etc.. but now Im starting to see the fallout. My ex’s ex-bf recently got divorced. From what I hear through older friends, divorces being to occur between the 5-10 year mark. They also remind me that the goal isnt to stay married, but to have a happy marriage where both people are fulfilled. Ive learned from experience that just because a couple seems happy from the outside, doesnt mean they actually are. You have to learn to find the differences and develop close friendships with people to really find out the truth. I recently dated a girl who was supposed to be married last year, and then found out her fiance was addicted to pain killers for the last 2 years (they dated total for 5). She called the marriage off. She told me stories about how things between them were not right but how when people were around, it was natural for them to look okay which made every think they were doing great. Again, good on the outside, bad on the inside.

    My observations are the following: be open to change, but decide (and own) what you want. For example, I see lots of marriages around me that are okay, but there are a few couples I know very well that really have a marriage that I admire. I spend my time talking and getting advice from them. Dont do what the crowd does unless that’s really what you want. Once you figure out what you want, I think the hardest part is over.

    You can always change your life it if you dont like it, but take responsibility for it. Not in any moral sense per se, but in the sense that you’re a human being who has value and its up to you to put yourself in situation where you’re growing and become the person you want to be.

    Also, there are good guys at bars, there are jerks at bars, there are good guys at church, there are pushovers at church, there are good guys at work, there are power hungry men at work. I have yet to find a “best place” to meet people… or maybe I have, its called life.

    1. Recently a couple I’ve known for awhile, who appeared pretty well off on the outside, filed for divorce just a week after their 5th anniversary. Indeed, there are no guarantees.

      I guess what I’m trying to convery here, is that despite my age, and the fact that all my friends are marrying and/or having children, I am finding myself ill-prepared to look seriously at marriage. And “real world” dating, that is dating not in college, seems particularly serious. I know that it isn’t, but that is my perception at the moment. The first sign of serious causes me to run screaming in the other direction. But that is something I am actively working on, as hard as it is for me. I used to be on the fast track to serious, but not so much anymore.

      Interesting thoughts, thanks for sharing!
      The Blonde

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