The freedom you’ve been dreaming of for your whole life has arrived. No more curfew, chores, or bedtime. You’re in a new place, surrounded by new people. Some are viable future partners. But with any freedom, comes responsibility. How do you know where to begin when it comes to college relationships? Whether you’re in a relationship or looking for love, we have the tips to keep you sane in the dating game. Read on for the freshman guide to dating.

In a Relationship

You found love in high school and despite going to different universities, you’ve decided to try out a long-distance relationship. We’ll be honest, the odds are against you. But every once in a while, you’ll hear a success story of lasting love. If this is your situation, here are three tips for loving college life while still engaging in your relationship.

Don’t Avoid Going Out

You’ll be tempted to stay in and have a nightly hours-long phone call catching up with your boo. Don’t. Yes, it’s good to call and text with your S.O. throughout the week, but you need a life of your own and a chance to make new friends and memories outside of dating. If you do decide to forgo going out for a virtual date, you could risk ruining new relationships. You could also come to resent your partner for making you miss out on fun events.

Meet New People

You’re surrounded by potential new friends. Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you can’t go on a few friendship dates. Join new clubs, go to college-supported events, strike up a conversation with a person next to you about an assignment. You may meet someone who is your next BFF.

If you Break Up

College is all about discovery, in education and your personal life. You may discover your relationship isn’t right for you. The end of anything hurts, but you have plenty to learn and explore around you. College is a rare world where you almost constantly have opportunity to experience something new every day. Take advantage of it!


You’re single and ready to mingle. Which is perfect because college is like a live dating app. The number of stories we’ve heard about significant others meeting in classes, dorms, or clubs is innumerable. Fun fact, I introduced at least two of my friends to their long-term partners in college. 10 years later, they’re still in love. Here’s what you need to know if you’re ready to date.

Be Safe

Safety first! It’s a well-known stat that nearly one in four women and about 15% of men in college experience sexual assault. Many freshmen arrive with pepper spray on their keychains. Also, some campuses have emergency phones every few feet that can connect callers with help in case they need it.

Rules of thumb

Despite sparks flying at a party or bar, avoid bringing a strange person home with you or go home with them. Don’t walk alone at night. Many dorms have study rooms so that you can have late night study sessions from the safety of your building. Some campuses have a group that will send someone to accompany you home.


Remember, yes means yes. Verbal consent is important before any sexual experience. Make sure you’re comfortable with that person and communicate if you feel like they overstep. Keep in mind that consent can be taken away at any time. Always remember that alcohol can decrease inhibitions.

Sexual Health

It’s no secret that sex education in school can be lacking. If you’re looking for more information before heading off to school, check out the Patty Brisben Foundation For Women’s Sexual Health. Also, research birth control. Condoms are always a great idea when getting intimate with a new partner. Not only do they decrease the chance of pregnancy, but they also protect from STIs. Many campuses will have a wellness center that can give you more information.

Have fun!

Don’t succumb to the pressure of cuffing season (during fall semester when you decide to date someone so you have a person to cuddle with during the winter months). Now is the time to meet new people and explore campus. Go out, host a movie night with your floormates, tailgate, form a study group. The options are endless!

Keep an Open Mind

You may have had a “type” in high school, but no more. Throw all preconceived notions out the window. Your new fling may be standing right in front of you. Don’t write anyone off but also, keep in mind that it’s ok to not find a date right away. Don’t settle. The person who lives just down the hall may be convenient. But if you have any misgivings, don’t feel like you have to date them. Now is the time to find yourself, not just a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Go Slow

You’re in a new environment. Take your time to not only get to know the people around you, but also the vibe of the campus. It’s easy to immediately settle down with someone right away but keep your options open. Also, communicate with your potential partner about exclusivity. You may think you’re on the same page, but it’s always best to double check.

Avoiding the Dating Scene

Take a break from the dating drama and just settle in. College is all about finding yourself. You don’t need a man or woman to determine your worth. You’re wonderful just the way you are. And if you feel like you need a little loving but don’t want to worry about a relationship, you always have a buzzing friend who can keep you company.

Tori Tromblay

Tori Tromblay

Special Projects Producer
Tori Tromblay (she/her/hers) is a book enthuisiast, cat lover, and Cincinnati native. She graduated from Ohio University with a degree in journalism. After traveling to New York, D.C., London, and Tulsa, she settled back home, where she lives with her husband and two cats. She has worked for Pure Romance for two years and loves to learn and teach about sex education.