college: (n) an educational place where you're expected to discover who you are, figure out the path to take for the rest of your life, make life-long friends, and, of course, meet the person you're supposed to spend forever with
College is full of so many expectations about so many things -- one of them being dating. Dating in college is supposed to be sophisticated coffee dates at the local Starbucks, casual sushi dates full of get-to-know-you questions, late night adventures around campus full of deep conversations. Right? Is this not what every chick flick and popular romance novel has taught us?
Dating in college is not [typically] any of those things.
Instead of all of the dreamy dates that you've been conditioned to expect, you can [9 times out of 10] expect "Netflix and chill" -- a popular term for casual hookups with no expectations other than sexual favors. Friends with benefits, "Netflix and chill", bed buddies -- whatever you want to call it, "hookup culture" is the norm in college. This means that instead of dating or being in a romantic relationship, people often get together with no strings attached.
If "hookup culture" isn't your thing, it's very easy to feel like the odd one out. It can be extremely confusing to tell if someone actually likes you or if they're just interested in sex. This can be even more difficult if you don't expect the college dating scene to be so centralized around hooking up.
Sure, everyone knows that college is a lot more free as far as experimentation, partying, and sex, but does anyone expect 90% of dating to be hooking up? I know I didn't.
college: (n) an environment where you're expected to find yourself through experimentation, testing your limits, and doing things you would never do if you weren't in college
If you ask me, this is where dating in college became so complicated. I may be here to find myself, prepare for my future, and meet the person I'm supposed to share that future with, but the truth is that a lot of college students just aren't interested in that. College students are here for the academics, obviously. Most college students are also here to party hard before they have real, adult responsibilities. Most students are here to do things that are only justifiable by the fact that, hey, you did it while you were in college. Most students are here to have way too much drunken, drug induced fun while they can, because four years is all you get.
College students are so wrapped up in this idea of being free, wild, and roaming -- living to the fullest with nothing tying them down. People want time to do the things that they have to do and the things that they want to do. Most of the time, relationships are last on their list of priorities. But because people don't have time for relationship commitments, they like to have fun, college students like to be wild, and they also really like sex, hookup culture is now extremely popular.
Hooking up with people does not make you a bad person. Sure, there are bad people that are involved in hookup culture, just like anything. But a lot of people with great grades, good intentions, and huge goals are into casual sex because they're so busy trying to make their way in the world. Relationships take time and effort, and most of the time, people want to expend that time and effort on other things.
college: (n) a setting where its common to hookup [to have casual sex] because romantic relationships are too time consuming, too much work, and/or just not a priority
College is busy. Between balancing academics, extra curriculars, work, and friends, relationships often fall last on that list. Hookups come from that incessant, nagging urge to have a special person in your life, but not wanting to commit to the labels that relationships come with. Once you label something, there are expectations, and a lot of people just can't commit to that.
Hookup culture is so relevant now that there is even an app geared toward college students for casual sex. Tinder is a mobile app that finds people in your area, based on your location as well as theirs, who are interested in hooking up. Profiles of people in your area are sent to your feed, and you can then either swipe left [deny them as a match] or swipe right [accept them as a match.] If two users mutually swipe right, they become a match and are then allowed to chat. Although some people use Tinder as a way to meet people for the sake of meeting people, or just for the ego-boosting fun that comes with it, most people use Tinder with the goal of hooking up in mind.
Casual sex is so common in college because it's what works for people. People don't want to commit to a relationship when they know that they aren't going to be able to put an effort into it. With hooking up, there is way less pressure to be in a relationship, especially because you know your "partner" is thinking similarly. There isn't any shame in this; as long as you're having safe sex and you feel comfortable in the situation, then keep doing what works for you.
It's important to remember these things about hooking up though: it can get awkward [when you're no longer hooking up but you run into each other], it can be a danger to your health [STDs], and it can be surrounded by judgement [i.e. "slut shaming", which is the act of demeaning women for their being sexual.]
college: that insane, confusing, stressful, amazing time in your life when you just might be lucky enough to find someone who wants to be with you just as much as you want to be with them
Everything that's been said up to this point is true: dating in college is not popular, relationships are even less popular, hookup culture is the norm, and people just don't want to commit. However, there's still that 10% of college students who want to find their soulmate and settle down.
You will meet amazing people all the time in college. You will meet a lot of people who you could see yourself having a future with. Most of those people generally won't reciprocate that same vision. But one day, totally out of the blue, you'll meet someone who wants exactly what you want. When that happens, all the frustration, annoyance, and dissatisfaction that you felt until then will be totally worth it. It makes you appreciate your newfound significant other that much more.
So even though finding love in college is actually way harder than you would ever expect, it's totally possible.