Dating can be a challenge at any age, but college is an especially tricky time. As young men, there are a lot of mixed messages from potential partners, peers and society that can make you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. Whether you’re preparing to enter college soon or want to learn how you can stop repeating the same mistakes, here are the top five biggest dating mistakes college men make and how to correct them.
An All-or-Nothing Mentality
Young people tend to enter college with a fantasy in their minds of how they think the next four years should play out. They become so heavily invested in their expectations of others and themselves that they ultimately fail to embrace and learn from opportunity around them.
You may think that a relationship has to be a certain way in order to be acceptable, or that you have to be hooking up in order to fit in. The truth is that no one has to do anything they don’t want to, regardless of what their friends, frat brothers or anyone else says.
A big reason so many college men miss out on great dating experiences is their inability to notice and accept opportunity that differs from their expectations. These standards are so rigid that they become demands, and they ultimately do far more harm than good for anyone.
Refusing to Commit
If you know you aren’t interested in a relationship, that’s fine, but playing ping-pong with another person is both immature and dissatisfying. If you tend to choose partners who will chase you the more you draw away, then bait them with affection and attention when you’re in the mood, you’re never really going to come out on top.
This tendency is easier to cultivate when you rely solely on completely free dating sites to meet people; college is filled with plenty of partners you can meet in-person, and it’s important to balance apps with real-world opportunity.
Relationships should be trusting, open and transparent from the beginning. College men are laying the framework for the rest of their dating lives; the habits and beliefs you form now will be harder to shake in your late 20s and 30s. Be upfront and honest about what you want, and have the confidence to respectfully accept the other person’s response.
Focusing Too Much on Others
Insecurity can cause us to feel like our entire self-worth is rooted in another person’s approval. When you enter any type of potential dating scenario, that feeling is magnified because we desperately want the other person to want us back.
Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword. Let’s say they do like you back. Chances are you’ll always be doubting their sincerity and fear that it’s only a matter of time until they realize what a loser you are and decide to move onto someone better. This is a breeding ground for jealous, insecure behavior that will ultimately push your partner away.
On the other hand, believing that you don’t have anything truly good to offer another person will cause you to settle for people who treat you “less than” or avoid dating altogether. The best thing you can do to help yourself is first acknowledge that you are insecure and then start making steps to build your confidence outside of the dating scene.
Getting Your Act Together
College is all about self-discovery and life experience; you’re going to meet plenty of people, maybe fall in love and probably get your heart broken more than once. Remind yourself that this is all a growing process, but don’t use that as an excuse to make deliberately unhealthy choices.
Focusing on developing yourself will allow you to better understand what you want out of dating, what type of people you’re attracted to and what type of values you are not willing to compromise.
It can be hard to avoid peer pressure and not just take a “hit it and quit it” approach to dating, especially when hook-ups and one-night-stands are so easy to achieve nowadays. But try to steer clear of these scenes; physical pleasure is only one aspect of dating, and if you invest too much of yourself into shallow, emotionless encounters, you’ll pay for it later when you realize you really do want to find a good person to share a committed relationship with.