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?