College is widely regarded as that time of your life where it’s totally cool to hook up with random people and spend the next four years avoiding eye contact with them in dining halls. Nevertheless, college is also a great time to find meaningful relationships; after all, you can easily find people with the same interests through student activities and classes. Plus, you can have a meaningful relationship that isn’t marred by your whole high school’s memory of that time you peed your pants in the third grade.
Whether or not you choose a life of hook-ups, relationships, or nothing at all, college is the perfect place and time of your life to satisfy all of your relationship needs…and if those needs aren’t satisfied, there’s always your right hand.
The Hook-Up Culture
Hooking up is a rampant part of the college lifestyle, and if you’re the type of person who is more than content with short-term, sexual relationships, there is no shortage of potential.
On the one hand, college hook-ups can be great because they provide a frequent opportunity to meet new people and have fun. As long as you’re comfortable with such short-term arrangements, hooking up can provide all the fun of sexual relationships without the necessary commitments.
However, hooking up does have its downside. For starters, a successful hook-up is never a guarantee – you not only have to find someone you’re attracted to, but they also have to want to hook up with you as well. There is a lot of potential for rejection during those hours spent smoothly laying down the groundwork, and all of that perfectly-timed flirtation seems kind of pathetic if it doesn’t lead to sloppy sex on your futon.
There is also the potential of ensuing awkwardness. Sure, many people have no problem interacting with former hookups in a public setting, but others are less willing to play catch-up with someone they vaguely remember seeing naked once. Also, there can be negative social stigma attached to people who hook up with many others despite the fact that it’s 2012, very easy to purchase condoms, and who gives a shit?
Bottom line is: hook-ups are great as long as you’re one hundred percent comfortable with doing it. If you’re more of a monogamous type, then one-night stands probably aren’t for you.
Relationships can be awesome, terrifying, or both. Despite the fact that relationships are a mutual agreement between two people, the desire for relationships is purely individual – some people are ready for long-term commitments when they’re in high school while others won’t feel the need to settle down until they’re much older (we’re looking at you, Matthew McConaughey).
The great thing about college relationships is that, if you’re ready for it and can manage to find the right person, there’s a really good chance that you can make it all the way to the end. College is great for meeting someone special because never again will you be able to meet cute guys or girls in scenarios that guarantee you have something in common with them, such as a shared class. And simply choosing the same college is proof enough that you have to have something in common, right?
Statistically, college relationships tend to be more successful than high school relationships if you find the right person: at my college, for example, the marriage retention rate for graduating couples is something like 50%, which basically means that half of the people who graduate in relationships with one another will wind up together in the long run. That statistic is also crazy high and probably inflated, but I’m not one to argue with numbers since they can’t fight back.
And of course, we can’t forget one of the best perks of college relationships: lots of sex! All the time! Anywhere and everywhere! THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!
Of course, relationships are also a commitment: you need to be emotionally available and willing to only be with one person while you’re involved. These types of relationships certainly require more responsibility, so it’s better to only make this sort of commitment if you know you’re ready for it so that nobody gets hurt.
LDRs: The Worst of Both Worlds?
I don’t want to knock high school relationships – some people are super lucky in that they’ve found the person they want to spend the rest of their life with when they’re fifteen. Of course, most of those people are characters in TV sitcoms, but who’s counting?
To be honest, I’m not a huge supporter of the Long Distance Relationship in college. Sure, some people make it work, but of the hundreds of couples I’ve known throughout high school and college that attempted the LDR, only one of those couples made it. One. Out of several hundred. Happy college! And may the odds be ever in your favor.
Breaking off your high school relationship when you’re in college is not just about being single and hooking up with other people for the sake of having different experiences (although, that too is pretty important in the long run). The point is, college is that time of your life where you can finally break free of high school’s restraints (parents, retentive immaturity, Laguna Beach-esque drama) by learning how to become a human in your own right. Leaning so heavily on high school relationships is unhealthy because it keeps you in that high school mindset and can prevent you from growing and evolving as a person.
This is especially difficult if your significant other is also in college. If you both go away to school, you may find that you are both gradually growing up to be very different people. This is not so much a testament to how college changes who you are, but how college gives you the chance to discover new things about yourself that you may not have gotten the chance to find out in high school. Meanwhile, if your significant other is still in high school or is attending college locally, you may find yourself maturing past that high school state of mind while your boy or girl back home stays exactly the same.
When it comes to LDRs, if you’re okay with sacrificing your personal growth for a relationship, then go for it. But it’s a huge mistake to think that you’ve stopped growing as a person once you graduate high school. Again, it’s not impossible to make it work, but it’s better for you in the long run to end things, or, at the very least, to take a break so that you don’t jump into the college experience with limitations on what (and who) you do.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many of my parents’ friends divorce in their forties because they had thought they found their love in a high school relationship. Fast forward twenty years, and they now look back on their twenties wishing they had done it differently. Even if your high school sweetheart is the love of your life and you want to be with them, it’s still better to give yourself the chance to be single for a little while, even if it’s just so that you don’t look back on the best years of your life as a waste of your youth. Freeing yourself from an LDR while you’re young can ultimately help save you a lot of heartbreak (and money for divorce attorneys) in the long run.
If you’re not having much luck in finding someone to shack up with, whether it’s a short-term feat or a long-term relationship, don’t worry! There’s always celibacy!
Choosing to be single and sex-free can be great because once you put sex out of your mind, you can focus more clearly on the things that are important: spending time with your best friends, bettering your academic record, and perfecting your bounce shot in Beer Pong.
It doesn’t have to be a long-term thing either – say, for one night, you decide, “I’m not in the mood to try to hook up with someone.” Knowing this, there is less pressure to try to meet people and you can just kick back and enjoy an evening with your friends without having to deal with the pressure of bringing someone back to your tiny dorm room. Then, maybe, you decide the next night that you want to go back to hook-ups, and that’s totally fine too.
I was going to end this article with a joke about masturbation, but seeing as I’ve exhausted any potential sexual double-entendres, I’ll just leave this one to your imagination.