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Dating in College: Expectation vs. Reality

Dating in College: Expectation vs. Reality

College is viewed in a completely different way before and after you attend. While kids and teenagers envision a place where they can run wild and free, adults look back at it as a valuable experience where they learned the necessary lessons to prepare for life. The reality is somewhere in the middle.

Dating has its own misconceptions, and dating in college gets even crazier. If you’re looking for real talk about sex, dating, and love in college, look no further. Here’s the perception and reality of dating in college.

1. Finding the One

Expectation: 

    Kids have this vision of a perfect person. They’re not looking for just any mate–they’re looking for that perfect soul mate. After hearing every set of parents discuss how they met and fell in love, kids have a perception that their ideal fantasy hook-up can and will happen.

    Reality: 

      Hindsight is 20/20. When adults reflect back on how they fell in love with their partner, they tell you an abbreviated 10-minute version of a story that took them 20 years (multiply by 525,600 to see how many minutes) to live through. They’re leaving out the parts where they desperately fantasized about celebrities or the popular girls in school. Real people are much different–keep your expectations in check.

      2. Sexting

      Expectation: 

        When you get someone’s number, you get excited, no matter how cool you try to act. You want to imagine the other person being equally giddy to hear from you. You start with some flirty messages, and the next thing you know, you’re sending nudes and suggestive texts. If they respond, they must be into it.

        Reality: 

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          Sexting is awkward. The least sexy thing I can do is play on my phone. Trying to replicate a sexual experience through text is a waste of time and it makes everyone uncomfortable. Save it for the date.

          3. Romance

          Expectation: 

            Now that everyone’s a mature adult over the age of 18, you imagine having creative and romantic encounters with mature college men and women. These are the cream of our nation’s crop, so they’ll have their act together and know how to treat you right.

            Reality: 

              College guys are selfish and ignorant, while the girls are clumsy and awkward. Nobody knows what they’re doing. They are all still just students, albeit older ones. Thirty-year-olds looks back at their college selves the same way college students looks back at their preteen selves.

              4. The First Kiss

              Expectation: 

                All the Hollywood movies make it look like the first kiss is the most important indicator of whether or not a relationship will last. So much pressure is put on that first kiss, and you want to see fireworks like you’ve always heard.

                Reality: 

                  You don’t realize how bad college students are at kissing until you kiss them. Kiss enough of them, and you’ll get better. Unfortunately, they’ll still try too hard to replicate what they’ve seen in the media and on the Internet.

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                  5. College Girls

                  Expectation: 

                    College girls are real women. These strong, smart, and sophisticated women must be like the ones on Sex and the City. You’re no longer dealing with the misguided and annoying teenage girls you grew up with–you’re in the big leagues.

                    Reality: 

                      These “women” may sound intelligent (and are likely quoting something they learned in their freshman Sociology class about how they are), but they’re every bit the same mess you are. They’re out of their parents’ house for the first time, and they’re learning how to act. It takes baby steps to maturity, and they’re not even close, no matter what some guy told them to get in their pants.

                      6. College Guys

                      Expectation: 

                        Tired of all those silly boys trying to lie their way into your pants, you’ve finally reached college–a place where you can date real men. These men are intelligent, witty, and sophisticated. It’s so refreshing to be surrounded by scholars and academics. Finally you can have an intelligent conversation with like-minded people who like you for your brains instead of your body.

                        Reality

                          The only thing worse than walking by those ignorant construction workers making cat calls at you is walking by a frat house. College guys are as sophisticated as a Twinkie. They may have ambition and all these great ideas, but they’re none of those things they say they are–they just aspire to be. The odds of them actually achieving these goals are slim, and they’re grossly unprepared to rise above the flock. Also, guys of every age are just trying to get in your pants; some are just willing to treat you like a human being to get there.

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                          7. First Date

                          Expectation: 

                            Dating is so exciting–from dinner and a movie to attending a festival or event, each date is an adventure that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Every detail has to be planned and perfect. You’re going to have such a great time.
                            Reality: 

                              A movie will set you back $20, dinner is another $50, and you’ll waste a quarter tank of gas traveling between the two. Everything costs money these days, and popular date ideas are even more expensive. If you’re lucky enough to have a job while in school, it doesn’t pay well. If you want to afford that lifestyle, you better start selling your plasma…or drugs…

                              8. Sex Life

                              Expectation:

                              couple bed

                                The colleges and universities on TV are filled with beautiful people attending huge parties and orgies. You may have left high school a virgin, but when you get to college, you’re going to get laid all the time. It’ll be exciting!

                                Reality: 

                                  You’re still you. If you lack confidence and common sense, you’re going to have just as hard a time getting laid in college as you did in high school. Your crush is dating a professor by the time you build the nerve to talk to her. If you’re lucky enough to hook up with someone, you probably sucked at it, and you’re unlikely to get a call back.

                                  9. The Morning After

                                  Expectation:

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                                    Having finished a wild night of passion, you just want to relax and lay next to someone. Maybe they’ll cuddle up a little bit, but not so much that you feel smothered. Who would’ve thought you’d bump into a successful music producer or investor at a party? You were drunk, but you managed to land a dime.

                                    Reality:

                                    what did i do

                                      Is this person male or female? What did I drink last night? It was a bad idea to snort coke off a stripper’s stomach. I gotta get outta here. Wait, I live here–I need to get them out of here before my roommates wake up.

                                      10. The End

                                      Expectation: 

                                        Maybe we’ll get married and start a family. If not, we’ll end things amicably and remain friends for the rest of our lives.

                                        Reality:

                                        hate everything

                                          Featured photo credit: PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com

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                                          Last Updated on January 15, 2019

                                          How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                                          How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

                                          Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

                                          In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

                                          Step right up, don’t be shy!

                                          Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

                                          The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

                                          Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

                                          Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
                                          So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

                                          A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

                                          Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

                                          Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

                                          When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

                                          Culturally Conditioned

                                          We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

                                          I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

                                          The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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                                          Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

                                          Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

                                          Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

                                          1. Broadens Your Network

                                          After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

                                          2. Improves Your Communication Skills

                                          I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

                                          Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

                                          3. Continually Learning

                                          So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

                                          Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

                                          4. Increases Self Confidence

                                          Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

                                          Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

                                          So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

                                          How to Talk to Strangers

                                          Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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                                          1. Say Hello

                                          Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

                                          Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

                                          Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

                                          2. Ask About Them

                                          Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

                                          You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

                                          As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

                                          3. Just Do It

                                          One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

                                          When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

                                          Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

                                          4. Don’t Take It Personal

                                          One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

                                          When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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                                          5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

                                          I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

                                          One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

                                          6. Detach

                                          A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

                                          Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

                                          7. Share Your Stories

                                          Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

                                          To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

                                          So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

                                          8. Give a Compliment

                                          Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

                                          When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

                                          9. Relax Your Body Language

                                          If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

                                          When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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                                          If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

                                          10. Practice, Practice, Practice

                                          Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

                                          Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

                                          After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

                                          The Bottom Line

                                          As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

                                          There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

                                          Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

                                          Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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                                          Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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