College Life Thoughts: Casual Dating

I’m going all Carrie Bradshaw on you.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you purchase through our links. Please read our full disclosure here.

You told him he could have all your favorite songs and entangled thoughts. He could tell you about his most boring days or play with your hair if he wanted. You wanted his voice, his dreams, his stubbornness, his morning kisses (and midnight ones, too), his stories, his worries, his passion, his tenderness, heck, his everything. But as the great philosopher Jagger once said, you can’t always get what you want. And an after-dawn-only affair, it turns out, was not what you wanted or needed. Not when you actually liked him. 

In the game of “I love you. – Neither do I”, sometimes we find ourselves on the wrong side of the barricades. In college, it happens every day. Let’s take a deeper look at casual dating in college:


I am usually first to defend the casual libertinism and debauchery that happens among the young and free these days. But when I got involved in a casual relationship of my own, my tune changed. 

“This is why we cannot have nice things, fellow students,” I thought, “It is because everyone is after instant gratification.” My ego was bruised: how dare he not be interested in my mind and soul, but go after my body alone? I don’t even work out! (Is it because I don’t work out?) I thought I was quite magnificent, but it turns out I was just another one of his booty call numbers. Then time passed, as it always does, and after my feelings faded (as they don’t always do), I gained a better understanding of him and the college hookup culture.

Maybe I am magnificent. Maybe I am not. Maybe I am beautiful, smart, funny, interesting and maybe not. It doesn’t matter. He is allowed to feel however he wants to feel, and that includes not feeling romantically about me. He will meet a girl someday (a giggly curly philosophy major, an alcoholic, or a model?) and fall madly in love. He will want her everywhere and everything will be different with her. All the awkwardness of mornings with others, all the boredom and the longing for freedom will fade away.

Truth is, we are all looking for a “you changed it all” story. You saved me. You made me understand. You are my present and future and morning kisses (and midnight ones, too). You are the one I want to run away with. You started the revolution, colored my life, bewitched me, seduced me. You. They passed me by, they couldn’t sing, but you are like an evil siren in the ocean. They were fine and we had a good time, but your eyelashes are so long, they deem the past just prologue. 

Our hookup culture, then, is not based around the cynical bitterness of a been-there-done-that person. Instead, I think, it is all about the maximalist’s refusal to settle. We realize falling in love is not guaranteed and in the future some of us will end up with people who are simply “good enough”: nice enough, comfortable enough, whatever. But for now, we are not weary of the wait for head-over-heels love. All of this college dating is merely biology; the magic is hiding around the corner. 

We have the world to meet, and years ahead of us. Therefore, we refuse to accept anything but lust and romance and everything there is to desire with someone. Who wants just a person for the long haul? Who wants a person, not a danger? A person, not an anchor? A person, not an excitement? A person, not a muse? A person, not a drug, a craving, a catalyst for metamorphosis? Or a fever, crush, collapse, a dance turn, a fight, a smirk, a hundred things together and apart? And after all this, just a person? Who wants that?

We still have our ideal Disney couples to aspire to. Or just get a dog. That’s better.  (Credit)

We are confident and egotistical enough not to seek our soulmates right now. Unless we get accidentally hit in the gut by love, we are fine with being alone with our ambitions, ideas, friends, victories, and failures. For now. For now we don’t need the comfort of an anchor or the strength in holding hands. Not to say that we are heartless. We do want it all, but at the same time we have the courage to acknowledge that having it all is a rare thing we are willing to wait for. 

In slightly altered wise words of Michael Buble, “we’ll give so much more than we get…we just haven’t met them yet.” Before complaining about dating in college, we need to realize, as painful as it is, that maybe we are just a person to someone special to us. Maybe it is a good thing, too. If we want to give a lot more than just the physical, we deserve someone who “looks at us like maybe we are magic” (F. Kahlo). Someone who likes us as a whole, someone who wants us in his or her arms and mind and reckless plans. Someone who listens and remembers. Someone worthy of our worlds. 


Could it be that hookup culture is actually maximalistic and romantic? What is dating like in your college and how would you like it to be?

3 thoughts on “College Life Thoughts: Casual Dating”

  1. I’m in graduate school (specifically law) and the culture is very much the same, perhaps even worse because so many of our colleagues are married and many feel the need to rebel against that and remain in the mindset that we are still in high school/undergrad. Not to say you shouldn’t have fun and casually date, but I think it really is important to find yourself rather than find someone else to make you “complete.” On the flip side, I have found so many people are now completely unwilling to commit, which is frustrating for someone like me who, if I connect with someone, has more to offer than just casual-ness. Overall, dating is still as confusing, crazy and wonderful as it has been for basically forever.

  2. i had a long term boyfriend in college – and to be honest i’m not sure i would recommend it. we broke up last year and it was devastating to me as i was insanely in love with him, but it also made me realize that i let myself get too comfortable in college. because i had this relationship, i didn’t feel the need to push myself to make friends, to find new things to do, etc. not that this happens to everyone but it’s just a thought. i think college is a good time to work on casual dating because it should be about finding yourself, not someone else.


Leave a Comment