Why is dating in college so hard?
If dating, in general, is already complicated, dating in college is the riddle no one can figure out.
I can’t count how many times I have walked by conversations about dating — or the lack thereof. But dating is an important part of our lives. It's the excitement we get from liking someone, from making eye contact in class with our crush or from starting from scratch with someone new.
Unfortunately, Gen Z has made dating even harder.
Our lives rely on instant gratification. We share a picture of our breakfast at a trendy place and we get likes a couple of minutes after we post it. And it isn't just “likes,” it’s approval.
Instant gratification has been our best friend, but in dating, it's our enemy.
Look at any healthy, long-standing marriage and think about the patience it took to build the life they have together. And no, it's not that I think my generation won't be able to build a life filled with successes, I just think many of us will have to do it solo.
Being in a relationship takes patience, which is something my generation lacks. Being in college only makes it worse.
With roughly 50,000 individuals from the ages of 18-22 in a single college campus, students at IU have an abundance of options.
The person you liked didn’t kiss you on the first date? Well, why stay if there are 50,000 other people at your school? And this is just IU. There are millions of people in the world who would kiss you on the first date, so why wait? Unfortunately, that is how many people in Gen Z think.
And gender doesn’t matter, it happens to everyone.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Having options is good at times. I’m behind everyone that has left their toxic relationship because they know they can do better. But at a certain point, having too many options begins to make things worse.
Option overload has been proven to be frustrating and distracting. We are more prone to experience regret when faced with so many options and are forced to choose one. It is worrisome to think how that might apply to choosing someone to have a relationship with. I can’t help but think regret is a big part of our generation not wanting to commit.
If there was a slogan for dating in college in 2023 it would be: Everyone is replaceable. And what makes it worse is everyone believes it.
Tinder is the new “we met at a coffee shop” and Hinge is the latest “we just talked and clicked.” Dating is now at the tips of our fingers. We no longer have to meet someone organically; we can go on our phones and swipe right on people’s pictures. This is all a part of Gen Z’s culture of instant gratification.
Let’s not forget about the phenomenon that has made Gen Z even harder to date: hook-up culture. Although this culture has been around for some time, our generation has increased its popularity, driven by our desire for instant gratification. Currently, 60%- 80% of North American college students have had a hook-up experience.
Hook-up culture requires no pursuing, no time and no commitments. Both parties get what they want from each other, and they proceed to leave. It’s like a bank transaction. You go to the ATM, you take money out and when you’re done, you leave. Hooking up without knowing one another for more than a couple of hours is like getting likes on a post, it happens almost instantly and it's gratifying. It’s instant gratification.
Dating would be easier if we all collectively understood and accepted that instant gratification won’t be part of the picture. It takes time and commitment to turn a one-time thing into a real connection. Here’s to hoping.
Maria Amanda Irias (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and psychology.