Dating After University: It’s Different, It’s Fancier, & It’s Way More Serious

Dating After University: It’s Different, It’s Fancier, & It’s Way More Serious

If you recently graduated, a whole lot of things are about to change: you might start working full-time. Halls living is no longer an option. Friendships will work differently. And yes, dating will change, too.

How much dating will change after graduation will depend on a lot of things: the age you graduated, if you’re moving somewhere new after graduating, if you lived on campus or at home, if you attended university full-time, or if you’re starting a new job. For me, dating after college was a whole new world — but I had attended university full-time, lived on or near campus all four years, and attended university from ages 17 to 21. In the first six months after graduating, I got my first full-time job, moved from Boston to New York, started going to bars that weren’t full of uni students, and got on dating apps. Suddenly, my dating pool got much bigger — and much older. But there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how graduating will change your dating life.

In fact, the only rule when it comes to dating after college is that there are no rules. Dawoon Kang, co-founder and co-CEO of the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, tells Refinery29, “I wish I’d known that there are no rules in dating. That I didn’t have to wait for a guy to ask for my phone number. That I didn’t have to hold hands, kiss, or sleep with someone by a certain number of dates. I didn’t have to wait for the right time to say, ‘I like you — and can we be exclusive?’ Dating is personal and it’s just about figuring out what feels right for me and sticking to that.”

We talked to five people about what they wish they’d known about dating after uni.

There’s A Bigger Dating Pool

“It’s actually a lot easier to date (at least in my opinion) since there’s a bigger dating pool, and therefore less of a chance that you’ll run into a person if things don’t go well. I also found it easier to go on dates with someone who had no preconceived notions about me — didn’t know my course, who I hung out with, which clubs I was in — and won’t assume they ‘knew’ me.” — Elissa Sanci

Dating Takes More Effort

“I wish I’d understood that dating after uni happens a lot differently than during. It takes a lot more effort, obviously, because it’s not necessarily a given that you’re always surrounded by your peers and people who are into the same hobbies and passions as you, so it does take more time and energy to go out of your way to find people.

“I wish I could have told myself sooner to get involved with more activities and hobbies outside of work, whether that’s classes, joining groups or communities, or attending LGBTQ-themed nights. At first, I resorted to dating apps and it made dating feel more difficult. Organic communities are something that you already kind of have naturally in college, but post-college, it’s your responsibility to create opportunities if you want to meet people.” — Elly Belle

Communication Gets Better

“It wasn’t until after college that I learned two people in an exclusive relationship can be friends and that communication is the most important part of the relationship process. In college, it was just months of not knowing what we were and being afraid to have that conversation. You’d see your FB in public and they’d pretend they didn’t see you.

“Now, I enter into relationships and communicate my wants and needs from the start. My first ‘relationship’ out of college is a non-romantic, polyamorous sexual relationship and I went into it knowing what to expect. I can talk with the person I’m sleeping with openly and I’m not living under a cloud of doubt.” — Devon Preston

Dating Gets More Serious

“After uni, there is generally more intention for partnership and fewer feelings of ‘is this all going to implode come graduation day or any other arbitrary time marker?’ For me, dating in uni felt like it was in this pre-real-adulthood bubble with no real future to it.” — Maya

Dating Feels More Formal

“Dating in uni was casual — there were no strings or pressure. Hanging out with someone in their dorm room was ‘dating.’ In my twenties, after university it was meeting up for a drink or coffee. Now, it requires a formal dinner — which takes a lot of energy to dress up versus wearing sweats in college and jeans in my early 20s. The requirements have gone up. I would only seriously date someone who I have things in common with, not just based on physical attraction like I did in university.” — Lisa Stardust

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