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The 21st century and all its wonders have changed the ‘dating’ world irreparably. The art of approaching someone in a bar or a coffee shop has been lost to make way for the challenging task of sending a friend request and matching on Tinder. Whilst the ‘Sex in the City’ days of messages on the answering machine and “I’ll pick you up at 8” have been replaced with text messages and posts on Facebook walls. Dating, like every experience at university, is different for everyone. However one thing remains constant for most students: the pressure.
Being at university and being surrounded by friends and housemates often means that doing what you want to do has been replaced by what you think you should do, or more importantly what your mates say you can’t do. The direct, ballsy approach to dating gets watered down due to the fear of rejection. The fear of rejection is amplified because of the small community nature of campus life. Being rejected outside of the university bubble is bad enough, but in the outside world the chances of running into the person you hit on in a bar are slim. Whereas the chances of bumping into the guy you flirted with at Sugar Wednesdays on the Spine is not a question of “if” but rather, “when”? You can also be certain that the day you do stumble into them will be washing day, so you will be wearing trackies and a pyjama top, and your alarm won’t have gone off that morning so your hair will be resembling a tropical fruit atop head.
This diluted approach to dating has led to an overwhelming amount of people skipping the dating phase all together. The cinematic depiction of dating is that you go out on multiple dates in order to get to know someone. Now this process has been eradicated in favour of in-depth text conversations restricted by multiple social requirements. For instance, if you receive a text, you place your phone on the side and wait a respectable length of time to reply because god forbid you should appear needy or desperate.
As date fright sweeps campus, singletons are left with two options. The first being the prolonged one night stand. This involves awkwardly exchanging phone numbers on the morning after in the hope that you have made a meaningful connection with the person you have shared your bed with. This is successful for about 1% of people and can only work for the incredibly secure; for the rest of us the doubt and constant questioning is too much and pollutes the relationship with insecurities. The second option is to date someone you already know. This could be from around campus or from your course but more often than not it is your housemates or neighbours. Again I use the term ‘date’ very loosely, the reality usually involves one bottle of Lambrini too many and a drunken kiss followed by the conversation that consolidates an agreement not to tell the rest of the house until you “know what this is.”
Basically dating at university can end in one of two ways, humiliation and embarrassment or a relatively serious relationship. However very few actual dates take place on the path to these destinations. Maybe the recipe for a healthy dating life is to be a little more courageous, ignore the thirty minute minimum reply rule, stop listening to the advice of others and go after what you want.