Wham, Bam, Thank You, Ma'am: Looking Honestly At Relationships After College

By , Columnist

In college, relationships are like speed dating without the bell.

Close living proximity means you get acquainted with people significantly faster than you would in almost any other environment.

Close contact through shared classes or extracurriculars multiple days per week means that you quickly get really familiar with people.

Finally, bonding over keg stands and beer bongs means that your comfort level with these familiar people suddenly goes way the heck up.

Suddenly, six weeks feels like six months and you’re making crazy decisions, 98% of which you end up regretting.

I’m not going to deny dating was fun in college, because it certainly was. But I’m starting to believe that moving on from that amusement park of academics and alcohol also means that we need to start looking at relationships differently.

Just because you see somebody regularly doesn’t mean you actually know them.

This is one of the problems I ran into, even when I was still on campus: familiarity doesn’t equal knowing. Being familiar with a guy, I knew a bit about his tastes in music and movies, which subjects he excelled in, whether he was a jerk when he’d been drinking. But knowing him - and I realize now that I rarely knew any of them - I’d know what freaked him out in life, what kind of ethics he followed, and what kind of man he really was. That kind of knowing takes time that you just don’t put in on campus, and it’s completely worthwhile.

Alcohol-dominant environments aren’t exactly great relationship-starters.

Parties were fantastic places to meet and get to know guys. Even post-grad, I’ve met plenty of guys in bars. Guess what? Not one of them has been right for me. That’s probably because I like going out on the weekends, but I’m not a wild child, I don’t drink like a fish, and I’m not in the market for one-night stands. Though you didn’t always have that option in school, once out in the world you need to start shopping for relationships in environments that suit you; that way, you’re more likely to start a relationship based on common interests… over and above booze and hormones, that is.

Pacing yourself can be quite rewarding.

Slow kisses, slow dances, and slow-starting relationships are the best. And while the first two are easy to master in a dorm or on a frat house dance floor, figuring out how to pace yourself in a relationship after college is tough. Chances are you’re dating someone brand new, so take the time to really get to know them over dates that don’t necessarily include an end-of-evening bedroom stop.

If you take a few weeks (or a few months, if the spirit - and the self-control - move you) to build up some feelings for the new guy, and let him start to care about you, you’re also building up tension and anticipation for a first time together that’s probably going to be even better than if you had given in on the third date. You’re also minimizing the chance of getting physically involved with someone who doesn’t meet your standards.

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Emmie Scott is an English major-turned-marketing exec, with a passion for writing, humor, sharing knowledge, and "pink drinks." After hours, she started Are Toe Rings Professional Attire?, a blog for college grads and twenty-somethings looking to find their way through that daunting labyrinth called…

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