You know how everyone says you shouldn’t expect huge differences between senior boys in high school and freshmen in college? That they don’t undergo some magical metamorphosis in the summer sandwiched between graduation and orientation? Maybe my school is the exception, but “everyone” was WRONG. Getting adjusted to dorm life, insane amounts of studying, and office hour etiquette was way easier than getting adjusted to the sheer number of funny, mature, is-that-Ryan-Gosling-no-he’s-just-crazy-hot guys walking around. If you’ve seen Up, it’s analogous to how Dug, the talking dog, gives himself whiplash when he sees a squirrel. Now picture lots and lots of squirrels.
With all these Mr. (and Ms.) Rights on campus, it can be a tough call to decide whether or not to date your first year. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Pro: He’ll automatically be inducted into your friend group.
No matter how cool are the parties involved are, it’s awkward, difficult, and forced to attempt to smoosh your boyfriend into your existing circle. You have to constantly explain inside jokes to both sides, pick an appropriate level of touchiness (to snuggle or not to snuggle when around other people?), and generally try to make your significant other like your friends while trying to make your friends like your significant other. No small task—but if these relationships all grow at the same time, it’s not an issue.
Con: You might make fewer friends.
In college, the only resource more precious than time is tuition money. Dating soon after you arrive at school means a lot of yours will be going towards your boo-thang. This is especially pertinent the first year, because that’s when everyone is running around like crazy trying to fill the gaping void in their social life that opened up when they left everyone they knew. The reality is once people get settled, they’re no longer desperately hunting down friends like poachers trying to bag a rare species of antelope. You pretty much just missed prime hunting season.
Pro: You have a built-in support system.
I’m struggling to come up with anything that about the first couple months of life away from home that isn’t completely different from your old life. I’ll get back to you when I do! Keeping that “WTF is even happening” effect in mind, it can be nice to have some constancy and a ready source of emotional back-up. Last night I fell asleep hugging the stuffed hedgehog my friend made me, but I’m going to hazard a guess that a real, live person would be more comforting during times of struggle. (My hedgehog is always giving me the silent treatment. Rude.)
Con: You won’t develop as much independence.
Let’s pretend we’re all Pokémon. High-schoolers would be in Stage One—for those of you who used to watch the show (or who never stopped…) it’s like you’re Igglypuff, and then you come to college and you evolve into Jigglypuff. Major personality and ability changes, man. Suddenly, you’re more than fine with sitting by yourself! You go to career fairs! You can do crazy things with a crock-pot! You’re, like, almost an adult! But if you’re dragging around a boyfriend or girlfriend the way those neurotic moms at Disneyland drag their kids around on leash-backpacks, then you might not “level up” as much.
Unlike the questions on your Calc final, there’s no right answer to whether or not you should be in a relationship freshman year of school. Ultimately, it all comes down to the Sherlock Holmes questions: Who, what, when, where, and why. Answer those questions, keep in mind the pros and cons I’ve brought up, and you’ll do just fine.