By: Beth Casteel
Unlocking their phone in the haze of yet another lecture, a student can be seen going through their apps until they stop at the section of their phone home to an ombre-colored app with a little flame designed in the middle. It’s the dating app Tinder, but you may have known that already.
Opening the app, profile after profile pops up, allowing the bored-to-death student to kill some time by swiping left or right on potential people of interest.
While at first glance it may turn a few heads, it’s really not as uncommon as one might think, especially in regards to the current dating scene. As Business Of Apps found in a December 2018 article on Tinder’s overall statistics for the year, the app’s general demographic include a core base of users between the ages of 18 to 24.
With many of its core users being college-aged, the whole idea of dating has seemingly been flipped on its side over the past couple of years.
Whether students are going out or staying in the comfort of their own homes, people are meeting their significant others, friends and potential dating disasters, in new and interesting ways everyday.
Anna Fair, who is a senior journalism and promotional communication major at Cleveland State University, recalled the time that they became friends with their friend group outside of the university. And, interestingly enough, most of the friendships inside their little bubble came about because of the dating app, OkCupid.
Recalling the memory, Fair explained that when they first moved to Lakewood, their friend and current roommates shared with them that most of the people in the group met after matching with one another on the popular app.
The strange sentiment that OkCupid was the app to make friends in Fair’s friend group was only further proven when Fair went out with their roommates one night and met someone in the group that they hadn’t before. That person, coincidentally enough, had matched with them on the app a while back.
“Our entire friend group has met on OKCupid, and it’s really interesting. I think that plays a part in how we look at friendships, how we look at our friendships and how we look at romantic relationships in general,” Fair said. “I mean, modern technology and social media affect our dating lives more than anything else. It’s through our social media that we really get to know what a person’s thinking and feeling.”
While social media and dating apps can be factored in as the new norm of a college student’s dating experience, that doesn’t mean it discludes any of the problems and heartwarming moments that come with the territory.
Dating, as we all know, can be as messy as it is great, so it’s important to be able to find ways to better understand the main challenges of being in a relationship.
According to Bruce Menapace, a counselor at the school’s counseling center, a common issue that couples can have are finding ways to better communicate with one another.
“In terms of expectations, we all come from different backgrounds. So we might have different expectations than our partner, and it’s important to realize that different expectations don’t necessarily mean that one expectation is right and something different is wrong,” Menapace said. “It’s that there is something that has to be worked out and agreed upon. And that’s the biggest part of having a relationship, relating and you’re finding ways to work out any differences.”
He continued on by explaining that in order to do so, setting boundaries in a relationship can be a key component to helping deal with some of the problems that can arise within a relationship.
He suggests talking to your partner to see what your needs are, during which time you can set up some downtime for yourself if you’re feeling as though things in the relationship are too much.
Under that same note, boundaries can also be used when dealing with a breakup.
“One of the biggest challenges I see in students coming in for counseling around relationships is that they don’t give themselves time apart, and they haven’t set boundaries. They expect to go from dating to just being friends that see each other regularly right away, and the human heart just doesn’t work that way,” Menapace said. “That’s a challenge that I see people face over and over again. So giving yourself some time apart and being OK not being friends right away. That’s very important.”
While nobody ever wants to deal with a breakup, it’s an occurrence that does happen. Lilly Blasko, a sophomore that is studying social work at Youngstown State University, found that practicing self-care and love, distracting yourself with friends or just talking it out and finding ways to cope with a breakup can be half the battle.
“My biggest piece of advice is to move at your own pace, and [find things to] fill that void,” Blasko said. “I tried to find things that I wanted to do, like pick up a new hobby.”
It’s also important to note that while dating can have its ups and its downs, knowing that you’ll be OK being alone is one of the best things that you can do.
“I’ve always been really caught up on whether or not I was in a relationship,” Adam Gunther, a junior engineering major, said. “It was only about last year where I was like ‘you know what, it’s OK to be alone, rushing it is only going to make things worse,’ and not even a week after I had that talk with myself, I started meeting people. So [I realized you shouldn’t be] too impatient [when it comes to dating,] it’ll happen.”
Students’ perspectives on dating in college:
On dating apps/social media:
“If you like somebody, you [can use] social media to creep a little bit, you [can] find out a lot about their interests and [see what their] friends group [is like] and you get to [see if you have any] mutual friends. But, I’m also conflicted because I have used Tinder before and I know it’s ‘the dating app’ but I just go on dates, I don’t look for a relationship or whatever. It’s pretty cool to meet new people. You can find friendships or [in that same note] you could find toxic relationships. So [having the ability to] find out more about the person [by seeing their] Instagram and Facebook, is weird, but I think it’s also pretty cool in a way.
But I also like the old fashioned way [of dating], like just hanging out meeting. So for dating apps, I think they can be faster because they try to speed things up [whereas using the] traditional ways, you’re just really slow. You’re really getting to know somebody [in that sense]. So I personally like [the traditional way] better because I think if you’re going to go super fast, I don’t think it’s going to work out that great, but it really depends on your match.”
-Chau Tang, a senior journalism major
On relationships in college:
“When I think about dating in college, it’s definitely different from dating in high school. Like, my first thought is when you begin a relationship in college, it’s supposed to be long term, that’s when you’re looking to actually look for someone you want for the rest of your life. I feel like it’s more serious than anything else. Like in high school, it’s just little crushes and whatnot, but then here, it’s like, ‘OK, time to settle down.’ [On that same note,] I think the most important thing [to remember about dating in college] is not to dive in headfirst, which a lot of people tend to do.
My situation is kind of easy because I live in the dorms and my boyfriend lives down the hallway. We’re both on the same page where school comes first always and then we can come second, but we just know that we’re both here for our education, not to just hang out and have fun all the time. Plus, the relationship I’m in now is very chill and laid back, and I feel like that is healthier and a lot better, especially for us being two college students trying to get through classes, while trying to manage our own stuff and still having a good time together.”
-Alyssa Tirabassi, a sophomore psychology and healthcare major
On LGBTQ safety, acceptance:
“In the last couple of years, as the presence of the LGBTQ [community] becomes safer on Cleveland State’s campus, the dating will become safer too, because it’s always kind of a hit or miss. Like, hey, is this person going to be OK with who I am? Are they really OK with it or are they just trying it on for size? These are all questions that we deal with, and that’s what I dealt with a lot [when I was] in high school. On campus, I feel like it’s OK. It could be better, but it also could be worse, and I’m very aware of how much worse it can be, and I guess it’s just better to what I’ve experienced at other schools.
For the LGBTQ community, there’s always the threat of when you’re going out, especially with online dating because you never know. There’s always this worry about when you’re getting intimate with somebody and when you’re coming out to somebody because a lot of times, it’s like the second coming out. There’s always the chance that they’re going to react badly…which does lead to the safety concerns, and that’s why there’s so many classes about consent and what to do if you’re in a bad situation.”
-Anna Fair, a senior journalism and promotional communication major
On breaking up, moving on:
“So I’ve been through my fair share of breakups, and obviously, breakups suck. They are the worst feeling in the world…probably. My advice on how to get over it is don’t pay attention to timelines. It seems like a lot of people [focus on the idea that] ‘oh, if you dated somebody for this amount of months, you should be over it in half the time,’ and that’s [not accurate]. You should move at your own pace. Don’t listen to all that because everybody heals at different times and at different rates.
I think, when you’re going through a breakup, I know it sounds cliche, surround yourself with friends because when you go through a breakup, it can feel like you’re missing a limb or something because [that routine of talking to this person is gone]. If you’re feeling up for it, hang out with friends because the best way to process it, I think, is through talking and self-reflection. You should utilize other people in your life, so don’t be afraid to vent because your friends want you to be OK. And, at the same time, if you’re out with friends or family and you start feeling sad, it’s OK to go home and just be alone and cry. [It’s all about finding a good mix of the two].”
-Lilly Blasko, sophomore (at Youngstown State) social work major
On campus resources:
The Counseling Center:
The Counseling Center has office hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments can also be made from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You can schedule an appointment by stopping in their office (1836 Euclid Avenue, UN 220) or calling, 216-687-2277.
LGBTQ+ Student Services:
Cleveland State’s LGBTQ+ Student Services “provide resources, support, and educational programming” for students in the LGBTQ+ community. They have office hours Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also contact them by emailing email@example.com.