OPINION: The expectation to find ‘your person’ in college

Rose Donnelly, Commentary Editor

The expectation to find a partner is placed on us when we are merely in middle school. When attempting to navigate the social sphere, having a significant other is considered social currency in our society. If you are alone, you are deemed to have something wrong with you or you must simply wait longer than the rest of your peers.

Coming into your teen years, the social norms say that if you don’t find a long lasting relationship in high school, your time to shine will be in college. Why do we have this expectation to always be in a relationship? It seems to stem from an overall notion that if you are alone, you must be lonely… right? Wrong.

Contrary to popular belief, this notion of not being whole without a partner is utterly false. While it might be nice to have that relationship, you can still obtain the same mutual respect in a friendship. Your worth isn’t dependent on being in a relationship.

It’s difficult to meet people and date in college. If you are here as a stepping stone to graduate school, medical school or even law school the pressure to achieve great things academically comes with a cost: your time. Time is the most valuable thing in college; the time to finish homework, eat, study and interact with your peers is precious.

So, how do you interact with people your age and attempt to navigate the labyrinth of the dating world? Dating apps. But due to how we have contextualized Tinder, Bumble, Grindr and Hinge they are deemed as tools to solely initiate hookups. The whole system is rigged against you.

According to the Pew Research Center, 48% of 18-29 year olds in the U.S. have used a dating app, with 17% being in a long term relationship or married. The consensus being that most of your peers use dating apps.

Let’s take a step back and think about the growth you will experience in your early 20’s. You are becoming a fully functioning adult, learning how you will adapt to new responsibilities and commitments. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the rational part of your brain doesn’t fully develop until the age of 25.

Why should someone be pushed to find a partner when their brain is still developing? The “ring before spring” culture needs to stop. Stop telling people that they will find “their person” in college. Parents, grandparents and extended family need to stop asking “are you seeing anyone?” at every family event.

College is a time to figure out who you are, and not necessarily who you are going to be with. Enjoy this time, indulge in your academic pursuits. You deserve happiness and to be in an environment that supports you to better yourself, and not constantly push you to find your life partner.

If you want to try going on dates, don’t let the stigma of dating apps deter you from exploring all of your options.

Commentary Editor Rose Donnelly can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @RoseDonnelly_.