10 Things You Need To Know About Dating In College (Before You Actually Go)

There's a certain image that comes to mind when we imagine what college will look like: ivy-lined walls, constant hip, edgy parties to attend, a casual 4.0, a stellar internship, true love — you know, the basics. The disparity between what you imagine college to be and what it is in reality is of course not the same for everyone, but it almost always exists.

We're coached about a lot before we leave to head off to undergrad, but it's mostly to do with grades, loans, commutes, and program offers. While we can naturally infer it will be an incredibly exciting time for our personal lives, we're completely left dry on a few serious topics that need to be discussed — namely, what dating in college really looks like, and how extraordinarily difficult it can be.

The truth is that attending the same school as an ex is very different when you also live on campus together. Emotions are inherently heightened by all of the stress and demands that are on you already, and for many people, marriage is on the mind (for better and for worse — ha ha, get it?). You have the ability to let the relationship all but take over your life, and if you're not careful, it will. The list goes on, but the point is that a college relationship is something you have to be more prepared for than you assume. Here are a few things you need to know:

You Will Think That You Have Met Your Soulmate At Least Once

It's not the breakup that will be devastating — it's what the breakup means. You will assume the first person you fall in love with is "the one," because of course they are. They were waiting for you all along. The antidote is to try not to get too attached to any one outcome (easier said, I know).

College Relationships Are A Lot Easier To Get Into Than They Are To Get Out Of

It's incredibly easy to change your Facebook status and commit to spending every day with someone, and it is incredibly difficult to have to separate from them and realize that your entire social life is now up in the air — not to mention the fact that while the wound is still fresh, and even just stepping outside can be anxiety-inducing. (If you don't think it's that extreme, my friend, you have not walked the walk.)

It's Tragically Uncommon To Be Asked On A Formal "Date," But That Doesn't Mean You Need To Settle For Being Treated Like That

Funds may be low, but that does not mean you have to settle for dating someone who won't so much as actually ask to take you out. It doesn't have to be fancy to be formal... but if you desire something more legitimate than just "chilling," demand it — and if it cannot be met. move the hell on. If someone doesn't like you enough to offer a gesture like that, they don't like you enough to actually date you.

Word About Who You've Been With Sexually And Romantically Will Get Around – Be Mindful Of This, But Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Let It Stop You Out Of Shame Or Guilt

Yes, the campus is smaller than you think, but no, you do not need to adhere to the social conditioning that tells us that surpassing a certain number of sexual partners is bad, wrong or damning.

Be Respectful When You're Having Sexy Time

... Particularly of your roommate. The truth is that it's an extremely awkward thing to try and navigate, but it's even more awkward to be on the opposite end of the situation (you'll see... oh, you'll see).

A Lot Of People Will Be Getting Engaged — But Nobody Is Judging You For Not Doing It

It may even begin to feel as though there's something wrong with you for not being coupled yet, and that is honestly just a product of your confirmation bias hitting the fan. Commit when you know it's right, not when you're afraid or feel left out.

It's A Time When Many People Explore Their Sexuality, And You Don't Have To Be Afraid To Do That

At the same time, be open to the idea that the way people identify may change — and so may you — more than once. This isn't abnormal, per se, just that it can come as a surprise if you're not prepared for it. You don't need to have an existential crisis every time you realize there's another layer of your sexuality you have yet to explore. All you have to do is at least be open to understanding yourself a little more.

Living On The Same Campus As Your Ex Is Extremely Difficult – Especially If They Move On First

You may think that you've seen the worst of it, going to high school with someone you used to date, but that is really nothing in comparison to actually living on the same campus as them. You could be in the same classes, you may see them at lunch, they'll be at the parties you want to go to — heck, they could be in the same dorm room as you! It's absolutely nothing like just going to school with an ex. There's a lot more than meets the eye, so tread with as much caution as you can.

If You Are Not Careful, Your Relationship Will Become Your Entire Life, And It Will Not Be Sustainable

When you're finally out from under your parent's supervision and you're free to do what you want as often as you want, your relationship can easily become your number one priority if nobody else is there to keep you in check — after all, it definitely seems to be the best thing in your life when the semester gets stressful...

You Need To Remember Why You're There

... But your relationship is not the only thing in your life, nor is it even the best thing in your life. You are there to get an education, and that is what you are spending an exorbitant amount of money on — whether your own or someone else's. Respect yourself and whoever funds your schooling enough to put it first.

You have the rest of your life to date. You're only in college once.

Images: Giphy (4); NBC