Jane Austen, who practically wrote the book(s) on love, once wrote that a truth universally acknowledged was that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. However, the expiration date on that truth has long since passed. Today, the universal truth is that dating in college is really, really hard (and also that a college student with a good fortune is as equally difficult to come by). Some blame it on chivalry, or lack thereof; others on postmodern feminism. Plenty of students blame it on the “hooking up” culture prevalent at many colleges and universities. So those looking for love in college may wonder if it’s totally hopeless – to which we respond, not necessarily. However, it’s helpful when approaching the idea of dating in college to realize a few realities in order to survive the roller coaster ride that it can be. Lower your expectations. Unfortunately, it’s something everyone, guy or girl, has to do. In college, guys are having fun, girls are having fun, and that leaves little room for candlelit dinners and bouquets of red roses. You’re more likely to meet “the one” or your college sweetheart at a party on the weekend rather than at the coffee shop. And most communication happens via text messaging instead of on the quad or in the library. That doesn’t mean you should have zero expectations, however. Every once in a while, you’ll come across a knight in shining armor or a damsel in distress (scratch that – a damsel totally acing her Econ exam and schooling you on the laws of physics). Just keep your eye out for those special people and… Say yes – or pop the question yourself. Want to hang out this weekend? In the rare event that you get asked about your weekend plans in college, always say “yes” to hanging out, even if you’re not totally and completely interested. Think of dating like practicing for the big game – marriage or partnership. So if the opportunity comes up to get a little practice in, take it. Going on one date isn’t a commitment to that particular person, it’s just a chance to get to know them a little better. And who knows? That guy or girl you were only kind of interested in, or thought of only as a friend, may end up being the love of your life. Also, if there’s someone you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to ask them out on a date. Ladies, I’m talking to you. Sometimes, guys need a little help, and if they’re really interested in you, they’ll jump at the chance to spend some one-on-one time with you. Be honest. If you’re not looking for anything serious but still want to date, make that clear within the first few times of hanging out. While plenty of movies and books draw on the drama of high school relationships, there are just as many broken hearts made in college. Believe it or not, some people are looking for their future spouse in college, and if you don’t think that’s you, tell them and only socialize as friends. Respect yourself. Finally, and most importantly, don’t rush into any relationships or always be “on the prowl” for someone special without first being kind to yourself. Your college career isn’t about getting an M-R-S degree, or an M-R degree, for that matter. It’s about challenging yourself academically, building your passions and preparing for the career you hope to have after graduation. If you end up with someone who seems to threaten that process, you’re probably better off without them. College isn’t just a time to learn philosophy and economics; it’s also a time to learn life’s greatest lessons. And one of the greatest you’ll learn is that if you’re not happy, it’s time to make some changes.