Dating in college. It’s easy to say that it’s one of the hardest things to navigate in our young adult lives. From dating apps, to hookup culture, to simply not feeling ready, many college students feel lost when it comes to finding love. For this episode, Offbeat investigated the dating pool at the University of Maryland, asking students about their green flags, what they think makes romance so unattainable and some advice from our taken Terps. Also featuring an alumni Terp love success story and a representative from the CARE office. Don’t worry, there’s still hope!
You can find us on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. A full transcript for this episode is below.
MEGAN BARNES VO: We’re two weeks out from Valentine’s Day, and February is officially winding down. In our last episode we heard from students about the general dating culture here at UMD. Today we’re going to dig a little deeper. Dating can be tough, and our team spoke to sources that told us what is unique about the college dating experience, especially in the modern day.
Hi, I’m your host Megan Barnes and welcome to Offbeat by The Diamondback, a podcast about all things weird and wonderful here at the University of Maryland. Without further ado, join us on a deep dive into all things dating in College Park.
KIMBERLY CLOPP: I feel like toxic is a great word to describe a college dating scene.
JULIA BISCHOFF: Have you guys been on any dates around College Park?
JENNIFER GARCIA-HERRERA: Unfortunately.
LAUREN MONNIG: Men are crazy.
TRISTEN STALLWORTH: Everyone on campus, I feel — well not everyone — but most people are not mature enough to handle a real relationship.
CAILIN BLESSEY: At first like no. I was newly single, like before I came to college so I was like, ‘No, I need some time off.’ But now I am kinda like ‘Oh maybe.’
AYOMIDE AWOYERA: I am single.
GRACE KPETEMEY: Oh okay, and how do you feel about that?
AYOMIDE AWOYERA: Ehhh, you know, I am grateful.
MEGAN BARNES VO: But why do some students feel this way? To find out we sat down with Grace Fransler Boudreau, coordinator for outreach and assessment at the CARE to Stop Violence office. She gave us some insight into why dating now might be more perilous than during other times in life.
GRACE FANSLER BOUDREAU: Because from 18 to 24 now, not everyone is in college. But that is a stage of young adulthood where you’re more likely to be living away from home for the first time, maybe more likely to not be under as much supervision from your parents. Also, it may be your first time really having relationships that are romantic or sexual. So I think dating is very new at ages 18 to 24, and you may not know what a healthy relationship looks like. Or alternatively, what relationship violence looks like just because you haven’t had as much life experience.
JULIA BISCHOFF: So for students around campus, what would you say is important for them to know about dating in college?
GRACE FANSLER BOUDREAU: Absolutely, so in general, some things that are important for folks of any age to know or any stage in their life is that relationships should be about an equal partnership. There should be strong communication, mutual admiration and respect, and you really feel like you can be yourself. You would never want there to be an aspect of it seeming transactional or conditional, and you wouldn’t want to be walking on eggshells around your partner.
GRACE KPETEMEY: What would you say are some like red flags?
EMMA MCGRAW: Definitely if you’re caught like lying to me in any sort of situation, even if it’s not a big thing, like lying just means that you had the intent to not want to be honest with me. So it just means that you truthfully weren’t caring about my feelings in the first place. And I see so many, not like abusive, but you see so many red flags and in my friendships relationships, my friend’s relationships. And so lying is a big one.
TRISTEN STALLWORTH: With online dating, we kinda turned it into a competition and like, we put what we believe to be our best selves out there, but it’s really just a false self. None of it’s real, but we’re having fun. I think online dating makes it seem like we’re really a bunch of pixels. But we’re not, we’re all human beings here.
GRACIE PERRY: I think red flags are like control things, but I think sometimes they can be hard to recognize. And I think green flags are definitely like asking you how you feel and wanting to know how you perceive certain situations because we all have different experiences.
GRACE FANSLER BOUDREAU: I think the most important thing is that a healthy relationship should make you feel good. It should encourage you to bloom, it should encourage you to grow, it should bring positivity into your life and of course, it shouldn’t hurt.
CAILIN BLESSEY: I feel like a lot of people are very focused on themselves, so it’s hard to find that. Which is okay, which is good, that’s what you’re supposed to do. The people in relationships are really happy but you have to find that specific person that wants exactly what you want.
MEGAN BARNES VO: These budding relationships come to students in a variety of different ways. From dating apps to chatting in the bar to mutual friends, there are so many different ways to meet people on campus. In fact, a survey from 2017 showed that a shocking 70 percent of students use dating apps. On top of this, the American Psychological Association states that 60 to 80 percent of college students report participating in hookup culture as of 2022. However, 7.6 percent of students regret participating in the first place.
HAILEY JOHNSON: I think it’s really important to not fall to the pressure necessarily, like what’s going on around you. It’s totally fine if you want to partake in hookup culture or not. Just make sure that whatever it is is something that you want to do, because at the end of the day, if you’re forcing yourself to do something that you’re not comfortable with, eventually you’re going to end up with a lot of regrets. So just be careful, stay true to yourself and you know, if you make mistakes, it’s OK.
TRISTEN STALLWORTH: Everytime that something has happened, the girl is always adamant that she does not want it to be serious. It feels weird at first, but then it’s like eh … whatever. And like the two times I tried to go for something serious, you know, I had my heart shattered into a million pieces. Which, you know, is the tragedy of the game. It is what it is.
MEGAN BARNES VO: But there are plenty of college relationships that have survived. Jason and Casey Scott from Dorchester County are just one example of a UMD love story. They met in college in 2001 when Casey was a freshman and Jason was a junior. They had a few mutual friends, which helped them get to know one another. But things looked a little different around here when they went to school. Students used to have to wait outside the ticket office for games. This was the spark that they needed.
CASEY SCOTT: It was the Terps’ last year at Cole Field House. And it was a year that we won the national championship in basketball. So there was a lot of hype and everyone wanted tickets to home games for basketball. And back then to get a ticket you had to take your student ID and camp out and wait in line. And you just went to the box office and they gave you a ticket … it was the very last home game of the year was against UVA. We were still in the ACC.
JASON SCOTT: Last game in Cole Field House ever.
CASEY SCOTT: And it was big. And and I really wanted to go and I was in bio lab. It was three hours long and I was like, ‘I’m leaving because this is not gonna get in the way of me going to this last game.’ Screw the medical degree, right? So I get in line and I’m behind all of my friends and I’m by myself. And you could get two tickets with your ID and Jason said, ‘Well, why don’t I come back to your part of the line? We’ll get four tickets together.’ And so we spent that whole night like talking and, you know, flirting. And I think we’ve been together ever since.
CASEY SCOTT: Those shared experiences that a big campus with sports can really bring people together.
MEGAN BARNES VO: Now the two have been married for 10 years and have some wisdom to impart on UMD students of today.
CASEY SCOTT: We used to communicate on instant messenger.
JASON SCOTT: Yeah, that was it. There was no text messaging.
CASEY SCOTT: It wasn’t like unlimited, you know, like you paid per call … so like you live by that campus phone.
CASEY SCOTT: Facebook was created while I was in college and when it started you had to get a Facebook account, you had to have an at “edu” email address and so it was really campus specific. And I remember, like my junior and senior year friending people on Facebook and being like, ‘Is this is this just the new Myspace? Like, what is this? Like is this OK?’ So yeah. I think just the communication … you didn’t know necessarily where people were at every any given moment.
JASON SCOTT: Communication would be easier today. That’s the very simplified version of that.
CASEY SCOTT: And dating apps weren’t popular.
JASON SCOTT: No. I feel like you can go on social media and learn a lot about a person before you ever meet them or say you meet them or go on a date or something and then you can learn a lot about them on social media or through Google or through whatever else. Back then, I mean, there was, there was no really searching around to learn about someone.
CASEY SCOTT: Or to make assumptions about someone ahead of time that maybe weren’t true, you know? You really did have to talk to the other person face-to-face and read their facial expressions.
MEGAN BARNES VO: Let’s make one thing clear: UMD students haven’t given up all hope when it comes to dating. They just have certain things they’re looking for.
DONGGEON KIM: Every relationship is different, but as long as you put in the effort it works out in the end.
EMMA MCGRAW: Well, definitely as an upperclassman now, it definitely gets a lot harder to manage a relationship just because I have an internship, an on-campus job, plus my classes. And so, my boyfriend also has two jobs that he does plus his classes, so i feel it was definitely easier when we were underclassmen, freshman, sophomore year it was easier to see each other but now we have to physically plan out time to see each other, and plan it into our schedules, because we’re so busy now.
TRISTEN STALLWORTH: When she’s like, ‘I’m busy,’ but she carves out time to see you, that’s a good green flag.
MICHAEL TIBURZI: What I do like about being in a relationship. I guess in college is that it does provide some type of stability.
EMMA MCGRAW: So I definitely think don’t have the mindset that every weekend or you have to go and meet someone and hook up with them — that’s not how you’re actually going to find a potential partner. And I feel like there’s just a lot of pressure to go and do that in college. So I think love finds you in the most unexpected ways. So sometimes you don’t have to go out constantly searching for it, sometimes it just comes to you.
MEGAN BARNES VO: So there you have it! Students have some strong feelings about dating in College Park, and things could only go up from here.
Thanks for listening to Offbeat! I’m your host Megan Barnes. If you or anyone you know might be struggling with an unhealthy relationship, be sure to check out the resources provided by the CARE Office, You can find them at health.umd.edu/CARE. This episode is brought to you with the help of our editor Julia Bischoff, our assistant editor Grace Kpetemey and our reporter Fatima Yazdi. Also a special thanks to Nur Yavuz. Our music this month is by Steven O’Brien. Follow Offbeat on Twitter at @DBKOffbeat and follow The Diamondback on Twitter and Instagram @thedbk. You can find a transcript of this episode at dbknews.com. And if you liked this episode, tell your friends and tune in next time!
The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Fromage by Steven O’Brien
Free download: https://filmmusic.io/song/10409-fromage
License (CC BY 4.0): https://filmmusic.io/standard-license