Getting an Education on ABC’s of College Student Dating

By Meta J. Mereday


According to a survey conducted by Knowledge Network, the prevalence of violence and abuse regarding college student dating is higher than initially reported.

The survey entitled, Liz Claiborne Inc’s Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll highlights glaring statistics that over 40 percent have reported experiencing violent or abusive dating behaviors. In addition, approximately 20 percent have reported actual physical or sexual abuse or threats of physical violence. 

While the importance of self defense is crucial for women, neither sex is immune to abuses in the college student dating arena as men have to be able to protect themselves against any false charges of “date rape” not to mention conducting themselves in an honorable manner when it comes to approaching a potential love interest.

            In order to provide a positive experience for the college student dating scene, we have developed tips to use as “food for thought” before taking the plunge. 

By reviewing dating sites and various blogs, we have comprised some tips that can work for males and females. Ideally, these dating strategies will open the eyes of young people who can enjoy their overall college experience – safely.  

The experts all agree that college students should always tell someone where they are going.  Even with all the available smart technology, if someone is injured or stranded, it helps having a person entrusted with details.  Also, establish a regular check-in with that person to make sure that all is well throughout the date.  No one is trying to invade privacy. It is about saving lives.

Another tip involves “strength in numbers” and traveling with another couple. If two guys are meeting two girls, there is a built-in buddy system and a ride home in case the date does not work out and using public places to meet are ideal for safety.  

College student dating has taken on many new dimensions with more and more people using social media to establish “hook ups” increasing the potential for risky behavior and interaction with unscrupulous individuals. 

Thus, it is vital for new couples to consider moderation in the use of alcohol – if at all – and to think twice before using any drug enhancements to “have a good time.”   Just be you – it is healthier that way.

The tip about avoiding drinking, dating and driving is extremely important considering the major personal devastation that is caused by excessive use.  The findings from  the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholisms (NIAAA) College Task Force report shows that college students, in the age range of 18-24, who drink contribute to an estimated 1,825 student deaths, 599,000 injuries, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.

It is also important to keep an eye on your drink, even if it is water, at all times to make sure that nothing gets slipped into it.  It is not funny, it is dangerous and real life is not a television movie with all happy endings and quick fixes.

Next, it helps to carry cash.  College student dating is a two-way street and chivalry may still exist, but both men and women should be able to “foot their own bill” if necessary.  There are levels of dependency that can be created that can also be very unhealthy in relationships. Remember, this is college and the cost of education is steep, so money could be tight on both sides. Having an understanding for each other’s pocket is a good sign about the character of the person.

Finally, and this is very important, follow your gut and not the crowd.

 A major issue with college student dating is peer pressure whether it is “performance pressure” or “acceptance pressure” and both can lead to dangerous situations or unpleasant futures.  

For males, it could mean making sure that you “score” every time with a female; and for females, it could mean being accepted by being seen with the sports hero or most popular male  using any means necessary.  In either case, this is not a competition and the stakes are too high to play games with people’s lives.

By taking time to get to know the person, pairing up with friends in public places to increase comfort levels and having your own funds and maintaining contacts with trusted associates, the experience for college student dating can be the rewarding activity that it was designed to be.

Bottom-line, many long term relationships were a result of college student dating, but the main reason to attend college is to get an education.

Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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