Male and female students juggling school work, part-time jobs, sports teams, community service and socializing are hard-pressed to make standing Friday night commitments with a date. If you're interested in getting past the hookup stage and forming a real relationship, learn how to identify potential mates and how to make real relationships work.
Classifying Your MateThat cutie from your psych class asked if you could study together for the upcoming test. When your study date arrives, he doesn't show any interest in your personal life, where you're from or what you do. It's all business until you're through studying. It's late, and he asks whether you want to see his room. The stage is set for a hook-up and if you're hoping to transform his affections to a relationship, you're deluding yourself. Someone who is interested in dating will show interest in you by asking questions about yourself and will want to hangout outside of bedroom hours.
Now, that guy from your history class who caught your basketball game, complimented you on your moves and wants to know if you can study together has much more relationship potential, because he is trying to get to know you. If he brings snacks to your study date and asks personal questions, he might just be a keeper.
As a student, your best bet is to date other students. That cute server at your restaurant job won't be free Monday afternoon when you're free and may not understand when you blow off a planned date for group work.
Getting SeriousYou've seen your study-date partner a few times, and while you haven't defined the relationship yet, he's taken you to dinner off campus and brought you a gift of Christmas flowers. You've given him an ironic tee as a birthday present and introduced him to your besties. For the relationship to succeed, both of you will need to make time for each other, but also be understanding of each other's commitments. When you need to travel for basketball games or he needs to prep for student teaching, you'll have less time to hang out. If he complains about this, he isn't respecting your commitments.
Signs it's Time to Call it QuitsYou met in history class, and now it feels like that's all you have in common. He likes Shakespeare and wants to teach high school English; you like politics and want to work in government. When your so-called relationship becomes a place to complain about school and do homework together, it's basically a friendship without physical affection. Likewise, if you see him once every couple weeks because it's the best you can do, neither one of you is prioritizing the relationship and it will naturally fade out.
If you're in university, how do you find time to date? How do you make sure you prioritise your studies over dating, but at the same time, give yourself the freedom to enjoy the company of your peers? If you've worked out a balanced formula please share this with us.
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Jeremy is a college professor from California who specializes in creative writing.