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Dating In College Versus The Real World: 8 Differences

By Emyli LovzApril 24, 2019Strategy
dating in college versus the real world

Nowadays we’re not hit with culture shock when we learn that our neighbor or new roommate is a woman. But in college, we were taken aback. There were taboos associated with cohabitating or sharing a floor with people of the opposite sex. But our universities didn’t seem to care, so we didn’t mind either. These were youthful days full of new friendships and novel sexual experiences. We were surrounded by single, autonomous, like-minded people our age. Sparking up a relationship was easy when you were living in a colony full of potential mates.

Though as the lack of cliché posters on our walls suggest, times have changed. Cramming until the break of dawn has ceased and so have many of our collegiate dating habits. There are stark differences between dating in college versus the real world.

College: Hookup Culture

A 2010 study found that 91% of college students felt that college was dominated by hookup culture. Hookup culture is an environment that promotes short-lived sexual encounters that don’t translate into meaningful long-term emotional relationships. The one nightstand is a classic behavior associated with hookup culture. It makes sense. Chances are you attended a school with a student body of over 10,000 students. This means that within a one or two mile radius there were approximately 5,000 potential mates. This statistic doesn’t even take into account the thousands of students that attended neighboring colleges. All in all the mating pool was rather high. Students were like-minded, single, full of sexual vigor, and ready for a friendly romp.


In college you were constantly exposed to new people. Getting to know potential partners wasn’t something you had to work for. It’s the combination of exposure to potential mates and the concentration of single people your age that created such a vibrant hookup culture. While students admit that hookup culture permeates collegiate life, the act itself might not be as common as we think it to be.

According to a General Social Survey, 28% of men ages 18-29 has no sex in 2018. That number has more than doubled since 2008. The average age that someone graduates college is 24, meaning that a large portion of those not having sex are students. Regardless of what those students choose to do with their sex lives, it can’t be denied that hookup culture still exists.

College: Sexual Exploration

Families, friends, and high school social circles have been left behind. Kids have broken free of their social routines and yearn to explore. This exploration is a manifestation of internal desires. The liberty, obscurity, and myriad of sexual suitors conflate to offer students a ripe environment to test the waters. Prior to college, kids were leery to have sex with multiple people or reject monogamous relationships. High school didn’t allow for sexual liberation. To sleep around would make you a pariah. Despite wanting to explore, highschoolers often did so by engaging in monogamous relationships. This changes in college.

Once students walk through the quad for the first time they come to a realization. They see students slack lining, throwing the disc, talking identity politics, and realize that they’ve entered into a landscape full of diverse personalities. While still young we seek to figure out the type of person we’re attracted to. This can only be done if various people are interacted with on an intimate level. Exclusive relationships aren’t conducive to sexual exploration. Women in college were less likely to slap a label on a relationship than they are now.

College: Is This Even A Date?

If you’re name isn’t Olivia Jade Giannulli you likely didn’t have money in the bank while attending college. This means that should you ask your chemistry partner out, you two most likely won’t be hitting up any fancy off-campus restaurant. There’s a major difference between dating with and without money. College students aren’t going to spend money on going to a movie or fine dining. All the sources of entertainment can be found on campus. Dating in college versus the real world means going to the mess hall for dinner while surrounded by hundreds of peers is the closest most students came to a proper date.

Dating in the real world involves spending money and brainstorming date ideas. More mental and financial work are invested into creating dates in the real world. That being said, post-college dates don’t have to require spending astronomical sums of money. Following a MegaDating philosophy means spending no more than a combined $10 on your first two dates.

Dating In College Versus The Real World: The Inebriated Halo

Psychologists talk about the halo effect as a tendency to gauge someone as better than they are in one area because of a non-related aspect of their character or appearance. For example, thinking that someone is beautiful might positively effect your perceptive of their ability to lead or their intelligence. Though when you’re drinking, your impression of the other person isn’t altered as much by their character as it is by the amount of alcohol you have in your blood. This is the case no matter how old you are. However, most of us can admit that we drank more often and more heavily in our college days than we do now.

The inebriated halo makes her seem funnier, more profound, and more physically attractive. There’s no question that drinking influences connections. In college, alcohol had a stronger impact on the creation of relationships. Social gatherings revolved around alcohol and relationships were often formed while both parties were intoxicated. The dating in college versus the real world was a boozy ride. Parties and other social events were more likely to be the setting of a date night as opposed to a movie or romantic dinner. But as we age, we move away from the alcohol. Now we date in settings stripped of the temptation to imbibe. Sobriety allows the other person’s true characteristics to present themselves, rather than having her image tainted by a couple shots of Fireball.

In The Real World: End Of The Social Carousel

During our schooling years, making friends was a natural process. Rarely did we think twice as to how and where we would find people to hang with. School was always the answer. We were surrounded by copious people our age who shared the same beliefs at us. But after we graduated, this social structure dissolved as we were thrust into new social settings. The work environment isn’t full of diverse personalities nor is it as receptive to building friendships as the collegiate setting. There are less eligible women living on your floor and group activities that expose you to new people. Now that you’re in the real world, you’ve got to work to form new social circles.

You can always mine your friends for women to date, but even if you’re a social butterfly there are only so many connections your friends are able to make. What other social channels can you tap –other than work and friends- that will allow you to meet new women? Here are a few ways you can meet eligible women after you’ve graduated college.


Social Circles

In The Real World: Romantic Relationship Shift

There is no magic number. Not all women that leave college at 22 immediately want to settle down; some do, others don’t. In fact, there is a global trend of couples waiting longer than ever to settle down and start a family. There are various reasons as to why men and women wait longer to enter into a serious relationship. For women, that reason generally has to do with their professional lives.

Just decades ago women were expected to lean on their partner for financial support. This lead to a trend of marrying young. That isn’t the case any more. Women and men have never before been so financially equal. The days of the breadwinner of the family without doubt being the male have come and gone. This new generation of women is more determined than ever to create impactful, lasting professional careers. Even if that means putting their romantic relationships on hold.

What that looks like for you is that women in the early-mid twenties might choose their professional life over you. The hookup culture we saw in college doesn’t come to abrupt stop once you don a graduation gown. Don’t be surprised if women aren’t ready to commit until they’ve got their professional lives figured out; and even then who knows if she’ll be ready. This isn’t to say that women can’t juggle a relationship and a career. It just means that more eligible women will keep their dating applications open into their late 20s.

If you’re fearing that a social shift is taking place where women are now refusing to settle down, well, you’re right. But don’t fret, women still find themselves settling down before their biological clock runs out.

In The Real World: Digging For Gold & Power

In college, everyone knew you had no money. If she spent time with you, she did so because you were more charming and mature than the other douchebags in your class. But once you finally put that degree to work, other more shiny features start sparkling. Sneating and gold digging are age-old dating habits that men have mistakenly encouraged. Luckily there are ways to avoid these material-lusting sirens.

Use MegaDating to avoid those interested in you for their material gain. The MD blueprint stipulates that the first date should last no longer than an hour. The second date has no time limit, but must also be free and active. Going on only these types of dates ensures that you’ll deflect women looking to use you for your financial power.

In The Real World: Pairing Off Syndrome

You noticed it after you graduated school. It seemed like you were the only one in your friend group to not get married. This isn’t the case, but it feels that way. Social media posts have a way of highlighting landmarks. We see these highlights and assume that everyone around us is going to Paris, adopting a dog, or getting married. Seeing this makes us feel insignificant. It creates a pressure that makes us feel the need to get married.

As we’ve discussed, people are now waiting longer and longer before settling down. The average American male gets married at 29.5 years old. In 1960, the average age was 20. We’ve seen the age of the average married man gradually increase as the years go by. No doubt this trend will continue. If you’re a man over 30, don’t feel the need to rush into a legally binding relationship. Approximately 25% of women in their 30s aren’t married and that number is growing.

Dating in college versus the real world isn’t an easy adjustment. The biggest obstacle men face is meeting available women they’re attracted to. Outside of work and friend groups it might be difficult to find single women. The good part is, there are single women out there waiting for you. The problem is finding out how to meet them. This is where I come in. If you want to make a splash in the dating pool, book a New Client 1-on-1 Skype session with me and let’s talk.

During our session we’ll discuss your dating history, diagnose any of your current issues, co-create an action plan, and if there’s a fit/need – we’ll see if my 3 month coaching program could help you reach your dating goals faster!