Dating in Chapel Hill: An Analysis from a College Girl

Date: noun. A social or romantic appointment or engagement; verb. Indicate or expose as being old-fashioned

I start off this post with the definition of a date because many college-aged individuals may not be aware of what a real date is. I say this not with disdain or contempt- but let’s face it, dating isn’t a trend that many college aged kids have caught onto yet. We often times put dating hand in hand with our careers: something that will begin post-grad.

This mentality has left us having to plan “coincidental” bar run-ins with people we want to get to know better. Planning a coincidence is entirely too much work, but actually going on dates feels formal and intense for a bunch of 18-21 year old kids. Because of this, really any action you take when approaching someone of the opposite sex can rub the other person the wrong way depending on his/her own set of standards. I can only give you input from what I have experienced throughout college, so lets look into a few situations, and weigh the pros and cons of various dating methods.

Which activities constitute a “date” is as confusing to us college students as our calculus midterms. I have had guys ask me to coffee, which I consider to be a half-date at best. This is because at this age, guys rarely ask to get coffee just to talk about life and get to know you better. It always seems to be in the context of collaborating on an assignment or discussing some subject you two have in common where your input would be helpful.

Lets say a guy comes right out and asks you on a “coffee-date” (which like I said just doesn’t really happen- so we’re keeping this hypothetical), I think as a college student this is the best of all the choices. Dinner feels like we’re pretending to be 30 years old. Coffee feels casual, yet it’s an environment where you can really get to know one another- you’re forced to talk and you’re both sober (hopefully).

Another facet to dating is that, I don’t consider anything to be a date unless the guy pays. We are in the South, and I would argue that chivalry isn’t completely extinct yet. The guy pays while he is courting the girl (whether that’s via coffee, dinners, the bar, or a combination of these things). Once a guy and a girl have entered into a real-live relationship, that’s where paying becomes negotiable and the girl can pick up her own tab at times. This brings about another reason why coffee dates are great- a latte won’t break the bank.

What is much worse, however, is asking a girl to get a drink. If a guy asks me to get a drink, two thoughts immediately pop into my head. The first is that the guy clearly doesn’t have the balls to communicate with me without the liquid courage a good beer or five can provide. The second is that I assume this guy has an underlying hope that I will get drunk enough to hook up with him at the end of the night. This second thought is enough to guarantee that my answer to drinks will always be an immediate no.

So now we get to dinner. I have been on many dates with guys I was already in a relationship with. Dinner is one of those things you do after you’re committed and completely comfortable with one another. A getting to know one another dinner, however, is completely different. After going on two dinner dates my freshman year, with older guys of course because what freshman would ever, I wrote off the date thing entirely. I sat in my chair, shifting uncomfortably, ordering a salad over the chicken fingers kids meal I truly wanted. The guy would talk about careers, maybe politics, or sports if I was lucky. I typically had to consciously remind myself to stay focused on what they were saying and smile instead of concentrating on how much I wished I were a turtle and had a shell to shrink into. All of this being said, for 18-20 year old me- dinner dates were a no no.

Here I will advocate for the lunch-date. Once again, the casualness of the lunch hour takes the pressure off. I don’t have to get as dressed up, and there is a feasible escape after the lunch hour is up- people have things to do during the day. Alcohol isn’t a factor, and a lot of the times, even the restaurants are less formal.

Whether the lack of dates is because a person just doesn’t enjoy dating or if it is because they are unfortunately never asked, a shocking 1/3 of college seniors have been on fewer than 2 dates. Compare that to 72% of college seniors, who have “hooked up” by senior year. In this statistic, hook up is defined by a one-night-stand.

Now this next statistic really might horrify you- as it should. I am sitting here doing an analysis on the different forms of dating in the hope that we can all find a common ground on how to do it. I am pro coffee and lunch date, but maybe dinner is your thing. A shocking 1 in 4 college students, I repeat, 1 in 4 college students has an STD. If anything, I think finding a way to get to know one another aside from planned bar run-ins might have its perks for our general health and well being as college students. Would you dare to disagree?

The college dating scene remains an enigma to us all- especially those of us trying to sift our way through it. As a college senior, I can only hope it becomes simpler post-grad. Until then, you can find me at a coffee shop perhaps meeting my next boyfriend, but certainly not at the bar entertaining my next one night stand.

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