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Hooking Up: How to Make the Switch to College Dating

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In terms of the timeline, there’s not much separating your senior year of high school from your first year of college. In fact, there’s usually only ten or twelve weeks between the day you walk across the stage to grab your diploma and the day your make your way into your first college classes as a freshmen. But when it comes to dating and relationships, these two worlds couldn’t be any farther apart.

On one hand, you’ll probably be ready to say goodbye to all of the childish spats and petty drama that likely dominated much of your dating life in high school. But on the other hand, you might not yet be prepared for some of the curve balls that college relationships can throw at you.

Whether you make your first serious long-term connection or fall into a string of casual flings with people you meet at parties, college dating can be whole ‘nother ball game. Here are some hints from the relationship experts to help you survive the ups and downs of college dating, from your first year to your last.

* Adjust to the college dating culture. Many college freshmen say that the switch to a more informal, group-oriented social scene was surprising to them. On most college campuses, one-on-one dinner-and-a-movie dates aren’t very common these days. Instead, be prepared to go out with a group. Afterwards, couples may pair off for some alone time – but it’s not a sure thing. Just be flexible and go with the flow, rather than trying to impose your high school experiences on your new college friends.

* Ditch the drama. The most important rule of college dating is to take an easygoing, laid-back approach to relationships. Leave the gossip, rumor, innuendo, and ugliness of high school drama where it belongs – in the past. You’re an adult now, and if you’re like most college students, you won’t have the time or mental energy to deal with that kind of silliness.

* Behave ethically. Whether you’re interested in a long-term relationship or a more free-spirited approach to college dating, always endeavor to make ethical choices. Don’t lead someone on or misrepresent your intentions just to get what you want. Always treat others the way you’d want to be treated, and try to keep your karma account running in the black.

* Make sure you’re both on the same page. The biggest source of problems in college relationships stems from a lack of clear communication. No matter what you’re in the market for, make your objectives clear from the get-go. For example, if you get a sense that your partner is looking for a long-term relationship when you’re just trying to live it up, take the first opportunity to clear up the misunderstanding. That way, you’ll avoid hurt feelings down the road.

* If things go sour, don’t take it so hard. Sooner or later, one of your first college relationships is going to fizzle out. If things didn’t go exactly as you planned, take heart. Just brush yourself off, vow to view it as a learning experience, and get back out there. Don’t worry — you’ll have plenty of time to get it right before you graduate.

How do you think college dating will differ from high school relationships? If you’re already on campus, what part of the college dating scene was most difficult for you to adjust to? Tell us all about it in the comments.

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