Photo by: Giorgio Trovat
The world of dating is confusing, especially when you’re a student. Balancing school work with personal time commitments, making time for friends and family, and trying to kindle a new romantic relationship can be a tough endeavour.
Here are some tips that I’ve picked up over the last four years of dating as a university student:
Don’t Ignore the Red Flags
Sounds obvious, right? Maybe the red flags are minimal at first, or you write them off as being unimportant, but at the end of the day, red flags are red flags. It’s easy to put blinders on to things like someone not listening to you talk about your goals, telling you small lies repeatedly, “love bombing” you, neglecting to answer your texts until 3 a.m., or even smaller incompatibilities. But, at the end of the day, if something bothers you – even minimally – then chances are it will catch up to you in the long run, and oftentimes be a lot more painful to deal with.
Here’s where the importance of good friends becomes especially critical. If you doubt something that someone said or did, ask a friend for advice. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to take said advice or act on it, but sometimes we need to hear another person’s opinion instead of just opting to ignore the red flags.
Embrace Different Relationship Dynamics
Just because you’ve probably been told your whole life that relationships have to look like a monogamous heterosexual couple who ends up getting married, does not mean that all relationships look like this. It’s important to embrace different relationship dynamics if you feel that the stereotypical relationship box doesn’t check your wants and needs.
If being in a “situationship” or casually seeing someone fits better with your needs, then there is nothing inherently wrong with that as long as communication is prioritized. Similarly, if you feel you want to try out another form of non-monogamous relationship dynamic, like being polyamorous, then go for it. Many students – especially those in their undergrad – have more freedom and fewer social constraints to being able to test out different relationship interests.
Contrary to popular belief, relationships can look like anything you want them to, and as long as you are prioritizing your own needs and communicating that with your partner(s), there should be little-to-no harm. To avoid harms, like those caused by social standards and potential emotional risks, try taking some time to read up on non-traditional relationship styles before going out and trying them.
Remember: while you might be able to have fun along the way, you’re ultimately in university to learn and potentially foster a future career. Going on late-night dates or introducing someone – especially someone with high communication needs (A.K.A a clinger) – can derail your personal goals. Like ignoring the red flags, when you become interested in someone, it can mean that you overlook a few extra late nights or take-out meals, but ultimately this can result in long-term harm to your wellbeing, especially when you’re already living a student life.
Beyond this, fostering a relationship with yourself, whether it be sexually or mentally, can enable you to know what you need from a partner down the line: a vital part of maintaining a healthy relationship. On a similar note, you may notice that you don’t actually need a relationship with someone at all, but are able to live a single life happily.