Dating for college students. Now that is a million dollar idea.
When I was about to fly the coop to embark on my big four years, my mom basically had one, single piece of advice for me: Don’t get into a relationship.
Yeah, even my mother said it.
But me, the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve and feels every conceivable feeling within the human psyche (and deeply, too) found that adage just a little bit difficult to execute. I met a boy, I started spending time with him, and then seven months later he told me that he couldn’t commit to a relationship because “I’d want to spend all of my time with you, and I don’t think I could handle that right now.”
Then he ghosted me.
Since then, the trend has fought valiantly to survive.
About a week ago, another ending with a boy who was worth it to me. It started out casual—as I’d originally intended it to be—and then the feelings crept up. This boy had made it clear to me at the beginning that he was not interested in a relationship, so I knew that it would be best for both of us if I forced myself to move on. But before we parted ways, he said something that struck me harder than I’d anticipated.
“After my last relationship, I conditioned myself to not feel things past a certain point for anybody,” he told me. “I just can’t be in a relationship in college.”
It was that word, “conditioned,” which rocked me. Is the prospect of a relationship or feeling deeply for someone so taboo, so unnatural in college that boys (and some girls) feel the need to physically train their hearts not to reach that point?
I was, as the kids say these days, shook.
I don’t think it’s fair to rob yourself of a potentially life-changing experience chiefly because it’s not socially acceptable at this stage of life. Of course, to each his own, but the taboo is pandemic across all university campuses.
Has it always been this way? Why is it this way? College is conceptualized as the time when you’re supposed to experience everything (you have the rest of your life to be shackled up, so why settle down now?). And I get it, I do. A relationship is not easy. A good friend puts his arm around you and he’s suddenly coming on to you. A girl snapchats you a couple times and you’re a cheater. Jealousy runs rampant in every relationship, and it’s amplified in the college setting…but what if you meet the person of your dreams, and you let her slip through your fingers because of a social expectation?
Love is an extraordinary, enveloping, radiant miracle. Some people find it ten times in their lifetimes. Some find it once. Some never find it.
I’m not advocating for you to jump up and go searching for a relationship in college; that would be just as intense as advocating that you don’t.
What I want for you is the freedom to feel. Society has already taken enough happiness from our generation.
Don’t let it take your heart too.
Shayne Jones is a junior studying journalism.