“Of course I love tacos and arcade games and late night gelato runs!”

I was in the middle of a counseling appointment, recounting to my therapist my newfound appreciation for dating. After ending a pretty serious relationship I had decided to put myself “back out there,” or whatever that means, and casually date. It was all so fascinating, the whole dating thing, and I realized I was meeting so many new and interesting people from all walks of life. Everyone was looking for relatively the same thing- a connection- but just to varying degrees. What my therapist said next really stuck with me.

He said, “Yes, you are meeting so many new people, that’s what college is for.”

Now, though I possess the spirit and energy of an 18-year-old I am far from it. College feels forever ago and as I sat there chewing on his words I couldn’t help but get a little sad. I don’t regret my college dating experience in the slightest, if I’ve learned anything as I’ve gotten older it’s that nothing, not a single thing, is wasted in God’s economy; however, if I could go back and do it again I would change some things. Ultimately, here are a few things I wish I would’ve known about dating in college:

Dating Will Only Get Harder

Not to be one of those doom and gloom boring adults but it’s true. I wish someone would’ve fully explained to me just how much the dating pool would shrink after college. After graduation it’s likely you’ll end up being the youngest person in the office. You could work in a place where you’re all girls or all guys or everyone else is married. Basically your weekday will probably consist of going to work, maybe exercising, cooking dinner, watching Netflix and then doing it all over again. It doesn’t leave a ton of room to meet new friends, let alone potential dates, as the sphere of human beings you interact with and encounter dramatically shrinks.

In college you’re exposed to a wide variety of people- different backgrounds, interests, passions, majors, etc. Take advantage of all those social activities! Meet as many people as you possibly can and use your free time to connect with them. I know how annoying it is to hear, “You’ll never have more free time than you did in college” but trust me, it’s true! Go to the functions, the events, the mixers, the weekend trips and make the extra effort to engage with as many people as you possibly can. Some of them could turn out to just be great friends but there’s also the potential for more.

Casually Date

I wish someone would’ve told both college guys and college girls that it’s okay, no even preferable, to casually date in college. There’s a tendency for dating to start in one of two ways: either two people who swear they’re “just friends” end up finally committing to a relationship or two people exclusively date right from the start. There’s little room for something in the middle and that something is called casual dating.

Guys, ask girls on dates. Girls, say yes. There’s something to be said about practicing the art of dating. If a guy does his due diligence to ask you on a date help your future sisters out and say yes to reward that good behavior. Look at your left hand- one date does not equal any type of commitment! You’re not obligated and you certainly don’t need to guilt yourself into saying yes to another if you didn’t enjoy yourself.

Treasure your time in college to discover more about the people around you, what you’re looking for, and most importantly to learn about yourself along the way.