5 High School Dating Rules that Don’t Exist in College

By Cassidy Williams

A few weeks ago I was asked by a guy to be his “girlfriend.” I was completely caught off guard. When my response was, “What is a boyfriend?” I think he thought my question was rhetorical. I was dead serious.

Twelve months ago I would have understood. Back in high school, the rules of the dating world were specific and clear. For some unknown reason, these rules disappear when you get to college.

College “dating,” if you can even call it that, is a confusing world of “things”, “friends with benefits”, and “we’re-gonna-pretend-that-never-happened”.

Photo/GIF persephonemagazine.com
Photo/GIF persephonemagazine.com

There are certainly pros and cons to both systems. I couldn’t tell you which I prefer because that would involve me understanding dating in college, which I don’t. What I do know is that in general the following high school rules rarely exist in college.

***(Disclaimer: these are merely observations and do not necessarily reflect my own experiences)***

1. You are friends before you start dating. 

In high school, the story was almost always similar. First, you met by sitting next to each other in class, maybe you were even in a group project together. He would ask for your number, you would start talking, and then eventually you’d make plans to “hang-out”. By the time you hung-out, you would both know a substantial amount about the other person’s interests and life. Then, you would start dating. Even the thought of this process in college seems strange. The whole thing typically happens in reverse.

In college there is a “hook-up first, ask questions later” mentality. Last names aren’t even particularly important.

2. You meet the other person’s family.

I have to admit when a guy asks about my family I am simultaneously confused and impressed.

In high school, you were practically forced to be introduced to the entire clan. You can’t exactly expect to hang-out in my basement without my mom wanting to get to know you.

In college, families don’t exist. Letting someone know that you have even mentioned them to your mom can make you seem “clingy” and “too-attached.”

3. The guy pays for you to hangout sober.

Especially on the first date, the high school dating world taught guys to pick up the check. The practice is a little antiquated, but it’s still a nice gesture that all girls appreciate. Sure, in college guys pay for girls all the time, but only if you’re talking about alcohol.

4. Random kind gestures are appreciated.

High school relationships were practically judged off how often the couple did nice things for each other. Good morning texts, flowers for no reason, going to a boyfriend’s game were all typical.

Photo/GIF from rebloggy.com
Photo/GIF from rebloggy.com

It didn’t mean you were “obsessed” or “too serious,” it only meant you actually cared about the person.

In college, revealing you actually give a crap can be the biggest mistake. Caring unfortunately equates to powerlessness. With every kind gesture you become a step closer to just being taken advantage of.

5. A relationship wasn’t official until it was on Facebook.

I loved that in high school it was easy to see who was with who. You always knew when couples broke up, so you could avoid awkwardly asking about how the relationship was doing. In college, everything is secret. Someone’s profile will still say “single” even though the past 10 profile pictures are all clearly with the same guy. Facebook stalking is a lot more difficult in college.

* * *

I can only speculate why this drastic change occurs. Maybe it’s because in high school we are so worried about conforming. Maybe it’s because in high school we actually feel like we have control over our life. In college, most people realize they actually have no idea what they want from life, and maybe it’s this confusion that transfers into the dating world. Of course there are the sometimes refreshing exceptions, but the general rule of college dating is that there are none.

Photo/GIF from www.moneyaftergraduation.com
Photo/GIF from http://www.moneyaftergraduation.com