Dating in College?!


“What’s dating like in college?”

My senior girls looked earnestly at me over their lunches. There’s no denying that having five guys in your year at school doesn’t play in your favor.

“Not so great,” I said, and regretted it immediately.

I scolded myself because I knew the door I’d just opened wouldn’t be closed easily. They wanted to know why – their eyes crestfallen, their hopes dashed by one sentence.

I prefaced everything with: “Well, you know things didn’t end well for me, so my opinions are skewed – I’m sure if I married someone I dated in college, I would have a very different view.”

But as I think about it now, hours later, I wonder if this is true. Because even if I had married someone I dated in college, that wouldn’t change the fact that the whole thing was quite awkward and oddly polarizing and much more work than I ever thought it should be.


I told them I went to a small Christian college.

I told them I loved it there, but that there was a strange social construct around dating. That you don’t date, actually, but you have a boyfriend. That going on dates wasn’t really something you did. You either were in a relationship or you were starkly single.

That some girls could have guy friends, but lots couldn’t.

That I was never once asked out on a date, but somehow found myself “dating” two boys over my four years.

That there was pressure from people immediately.

That I didn’t know any better.

That there is such a thing as a good relationship. And a bad relationship. And somewhere in between.

That even though I praise God for sparing me from a terrible choice, it doesn’t change the fact that I had been wooed (or wooed myself) into thinking it was the right choice.

I told them all this over lunch, in the senior lounge, them leaning across the table.

They’ve been waiting four years to date, college beckoning to them, claiming to be full-to-bursting with attractive, single, emotionally mature young men.

And I said, “The thing is, girls, you’ve been waiting four years to date, but when you get to college, you realize they’re all the same boys.”

They’re all the same boys.

And yes, there are winners. There are awesome young men who know what they want and will treat you well.

But they’re just a few months removed from high school. Just like you.


When I was sure I’d bruised their hopeful hearts forever, I tried to make things look less bleak. I told them about my dating experience since college – how I’ve been on dates and not felt pressured (Is he the one? Who cares?! I’m in my twenties and I’m figuring out who I am and who I want to be with! It’s a first date, darn it!). I told them it’s been a lot better, that I’ve filled my coffer with story after story – some good, some bad, most hilarious – and that even if their dating lives in college aren’t all they thought they would be, there’s hope.

I did not go into detail (trying to keep some boundaries), but I wish I could’ve told them how dating in college seems to be more about who you think you’re supposed to be instead of who you are. At least it was that way for me. I might have told them that I’m happier than ever, and regardless of what my future dating brings, I know I am a better person for giving it a try.

They’re sure to at least have good tales to tell me when they visit in the summer.

I should’ve told them to start a blog about it.


[Dating for Dummies photo: ZacVTA]

[Czech Couple photo: Ard Hesselink]

[Seville Couple photo: BMP]

Can men and women be friends?

When I was fourteen or fifteen, my father told me at breakfast one Saturday morning:

“Men and women can’t be friends. That’s just the way it is.”

I don’t remember what prompted this black-and-white statement, but I DO remember getting angry.

“Catherine, one will always want more than the other,” he went on, his voice softening a little.

I probably said “I’ll show you!”, or something else really mature, and proceeded to call one of my guy friends to play hacky sack or get pizza.

Since then, I’ve been pretty determined that my father was wrong. I’ve had a number of friendships with guys, and even though only a few have rivaled my female friendships in terms of emotional intimacy, these men have been just as dear to me. Friendships with guys look different, but, I thought, that’s just because we do different things together. Only on very rare occasions do we talk about our feelings – most of the time we play wiffle ball, touch football, a raucous game of foosball, or drink a beer by a bonfire.


I’ve watched my guy friends date, new girlfriends circulating in and out, me trying to keep my distance long enough to determine if this one’s gonna stick. Weddings are coming up, the girlfriends (now fiancees) are just as dear to me as their guys, and I’m so excited to be part of their lives.

But my father’s words keep echoing in my mind. Men and women can’t be friends. There’s still something about this that doesn’t feel quite right. A little part of me wonders: Am I missing out on a beautiful, romantic love because I’m investing too much in my platonic relationships? Am I giving too much emotionally without expecting more?

Should I really stifle one kind of love in hopes of finding another kind? That doesn’t seem right, either. Friendship love, according to C. S. Lewis, is often even stronger than that of the romantic persuasion. To say otherwise would undermine all the female friendships I’ve enjoyed and grown from for so many years.

I don’t feel like I’m any closer to an answer. Most of my guy friends will never read this, and if some do, they’ll probably be the ones who’ll understand. Maybe these friendships will truly be able to transcend whatever silliness goes along with most male-female friendships, and this caring will teach me how to better care for someone down the road.

That’s what I hope, at least. Or, to quote my father again (he’s getting a lot of airtime these days):

“Maybe you’re over-thinking it.”