Toto, We’re Not On Campus Anymore: Navigating the Confusing Dating Game Post-College

June 14, 2012  |  


As a recent college graduate, throughout this year that I’ve been out in the real world, I have had to deal with the normal transitions that any college student faces post-graduation. What do you do with your life? What are your options? Can you afford it? I always used to say that college is a perfect little bubble where nothing is real and you are untouchable. Everyone has their ups and downs but for the most part college is a great experience. When you walk across that stage and realize that the real world is waiting for you everything changes, from bills, to lifestyle to even dating. Dating out of college can be difficult because you are to approaching the game with a college mindset. It may take a minute to wrap your head around the new dating rules of the real world, and for some it can be hard to adjust. Here are a few differences between dating in college and dating in the real world that I’ve found so far:

The Thirst is Gone

In college, especially freshman year, it seems like it’s quantity over quality. Everyone talks to everyone because you are in a brand new environment so you are just trying to test out the waters. You may be talking to three guys at a time, and it is nothing serious. Both guys and girls are very open to talking to new people, so everyone gets a chance. In the real world though, it is not that easy. People in the real world don’t have the same drive to want get to know everyone that they meet. They already have their group of friends and associates and are cool with that. In college you can walk in a bar and make four new friends and end up dating them all, while in the real world, unless you came with your girls, you might be spending the night sipping on your drink alone in the corner.

Opportunity Doesn’t Always Come Knocking

College is the land of endless opportunity when it comes to dating. Even if you are not looking, there is always a friend of a friend who you think is fly or is interested in you. There are enough cute dudes who you  can meet while in the dining hall, or while pretending to pay attention in calculus. In the adult dating world I find that opportunities are not as readily available. It is not as easy as they make it seem on sitcoms sorry to say. Trying to balance work alone takes hours out of your day, so it is easy to fall into a routine (the sitting in front of your TV eating ice cream routine for instance). You can go months without meeting a potential mate.

Numbers Are Not Always Exchanged

In college everyone exchanges numbers. Because everyone is on the same page of trying to get to know one another, it is damn near customary to exchange numbers after having a conversation. Even if it doesn’t work out, you always can say you made a new acquaintance. I have realized that in the real world, just because you talk to someone for more than 10-30 minutes and have pleasant conversation does not mean that at the end of it, he will ask you for your number. It could just be a situation where you simply had a nice exchange, or where he found someone to talk to while his friend macked on another young lady and that was it. And sometimes, even when numbers are exchanged, that doesn’t mean you will get a call.


Signs Can Lie…

In college you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out if someone is interested in you. The signs are pretty obvious. You can get used to feeding off signs from another person and use that to gauge your own reaction and interest level. This is not so in the real world. You can be at a bar and exchange flirtatious pleasantries and at the end of it he might simply say, “All right, well, have a good night.” You might have felt that all the signs were there, but in the real world, just because someone is being social doesn’t mean they’re trying to take things further than throwing about a few niceties while sipping martinis.

Indeed, dating post-graduation can take some getting used to. College romances just seem easier to manage, but nothing lasts forever. The whole point of college is to one day prepare you for the real world and all the experiences that it has to offer, and that doesn’t just mean career and educational experiences. It’s a bit awkward at first, but eventually, everything gets easier–including dating.

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