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3 Tricks to Help You Ditch Your College Habits and Date Like an Adult

Because no, we don't want to 'hang out' some time.


Art Credit: Shannon Lee Miller

By now you have probably figured out that dating post-undergrad is a whole new can of worms. The truth is, the standards for dating in college and dating post-graduation are largely the same—the only thing that has really changed since then is you.

A few years ago you might have been satisfied with the dating rituals of your incubated college town settlement. The hookup and hangout pattern was accepted—or tolerated—as the way relationships existed. But now you are older, wiser, and, let’s face it, pretty sick of following those adolescent dating norms. No, I don’t want to “hang out” sometime. No, I don’t want to have sex with someone I just met. And yes, I do want a guy to just pick up the phone and call me.

So if you know what you want, why can’t you just let the little fish go? Because old habits die hard, that’s why. Getting into the adult dating groove requires us to cast off the bad dating habits of our college days—and this requires some perseverance on our part. Here are three new tricks to swap out for the bad ones.

01. Date.
This doesn’t sound like a new trick, does it? Oh, but it is! Back in college, dating was non-existent, and it hasn’t really made much of a comeback in our post-grad days. Sure, it’s easier to have him meet you out with friends at a local bar, hang out back at his place, or come-hither when he texts “where you at?” But in the end, this doesn’t satisfy.

The old “date” trick is tried-and-true and guaranteed to offer you the intentionality and clarity you so desire. A man who takes a woman on a date is telling her he wants to get to know her as a possible romantic mate and that he knows what he wants—or at the very least, is trying to figure it out. Pretty sexy, right?

It may seem that the only solution is to just ask him on a date. Those who prefer a more traditional script need not worry though: There is power in discriminating how you choose to receive romantic attention, and a man is very often guided by those choices. You might want to spend time with the object of your affection, but see what happens when you refuse to "hang out." There are plenty of men who ask women on dates, so choose to spend your time with these men. In time, the stragglers will catch on—or who knows, you may even find that you like men who date better.

02. Communicate.
This trick has probably suffered even more disuse than the “date.” For approximately four years (or more) many of us have blindly and silently stumbled through romantic relationships with nothing but our sense of touch—literally, and not much else. Without verbal communication we are always left guessing. It is going to feel uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier with practice. Ditch the habit of spending hours attempting to decipher grunts, shrugs, and physical affection. Ask for clarification when his behavior is confusing and commit to communicating your desires, needs, and feelings as well. Your relationships will probably be shorter, but they will also be less “It’s Complicated.”

03. Anticipate.
One notorious characteristic of college dating is short-sightedness. Who cares if he can’t hold a job, you don’t share the same values, and your parents' get a nervous tick when he is around? Your college self certainly didn’t care, that’s for sure. Things like chemistry and boyish charm too often took precedence over little things like compatibility. But now that you are out in the adult world, it’s important to anticipate adult needs. You may not be looking to put a ring on it now, but are you dating someone who eventually does? Who knows if you and your beau will end up sharing a bank account, but if you do, is he financially responsible? Too often we spend most of our twenties thinking about what works for now. But if you want a relationship with a future, it might not be such a bad thing to look ahead a little too.