Nowadays, most recent high school graduates don't head off to college with the concern that if they don't find someone to marry by the end of senior year, they'll be considered a failure. If you head back home for the summer after freshman year with a declared major and a roommate for next year who you mildly get along with, consider yourself lucky.
As Americans increasingly wait until they're older to get married, the idea that you have to find your future spouse somewhere within a sea of fellow classmates is fading away from many students' top priorities. Today, the average age of first marriage is 27 years for women and 29 for men (compared to 20 and 23 in 1960), meaning most are out of undergraduate school by the time they tie the knot.
The difference between college students' dating lives in the modern day versus that of their grandparents' is becoming increasingly stark. Of course, some people do meet the person they're eventually going to get hitched to during their college years, but most don't. So the first lesson for those who are worried about dating in college, proposed by a current sophomore who arguably has next to no knowledge about dating in college, is to not stress out about it.
Living in the dorms freshman year is comparable to bunking at summer camp — a sexually frustrated, belligerently drunken summer camp with some studying to worry about on Sundays, that is.
During the mess that is the first year of college, most students probably stand witness to just about every type of relationship on the spectrum. There are the relationships people haul in from high school, whether they are of the long-distance or open-relationship fashion. Then there are the newly found hookups that isolate angry and tired roommates to the hallway or a nearby friend's room for the night.
Finally, every once in a while, you might find two teenage lovebirds in a long-term relationship. Whether they met living in the same building, at a dirty bar one night, or in English Comp, they have been together for roughly a year or so.
But no matter the nature of the particular label you decide to use with your significant other, that still doesn't guarantee that you're going to have a flawless relationship free of hardships and idiocy.
Figuring out that nobody really knows what they're doing while trying to navigate college relationships is on par with the realization that your parents are real, mistake-making people. But most just decide to carry on and hopefully affirm the theory that you weren't one of the mistakes they made.
Nevertheless, college is a time to live and learn and make the dating mistakes that teach you both about yourself and what you want out of relationships in the long run. It's not a time for taking things too seriously — no matter how many times your grandmother looks across the table at you during holiday dinners, dropping those subtle, passive-aggressive, "You're next," hints.