Why It’s Okay to be Single in College
You know the scene: you take a break from studying and glance over social media, and all of your feeds are flooded with high school friends getting married and having babies. Meanwhile, you still spend your Thursday nights with your dog binge-watching Supernatural on Netflix.
I mean, that can’t just be me. Can it?
Being single through college often felt like the one thing that separated me from all of my friends. While I was neck-deep in my studies and applying to graduate school, many of them were settling down with their boyfriends and girlfriends, starting families and settling into their careers. The whole idea of it terrified me. I still had so much I wanted to do, see, and accomplish before I sat still. And while I was in college, I cared more about writing the perfect literary analysis paper than meeting guys at parties.
Sure, I have plenty of friends who got married and still pursued a graduate degree, or traveled, or led independent lives. But for me, even just the idea of dating and metaphorically tying myself to another human being gave me the nervous sweats. The only thing I wanted to commit to through college and graduate school was my overpriced Starbucks order.
Now that I’m heading into my Ph.D. program, I can look back on these years of being single and see that it was the best choice I could have made for myself. So, if you’re worried that you haven’t found the love of your life come the end of senior year, I’m here to tell you why that’s totally okay.
You can establish your independence.
More often than not, I watched my friends get into relationships and end up so attached to their significant other that it was impossible for them to do anything on their own anymore. This might not be the case for everyone, but regardless, college is a time to figure out who you are on your own, newly freed from the watchful eyes of your parents. If you’re single, you will really get a better opportunity to test out that new sense of independence.
You can learn more about yourself.
Something I noticed about my experience of being single in college is that I was sort of forced to face all of my personal issues and address them head-on. I was able to recover from a lifelong battle with self-injury and depression, and I learned to stand on my own two feet. Especially as someone who struggled to be alone, it was important for me to learn how to do it, so that when I eventually ended up in a relationship, I could contribute to it in a healthy, productive way.
You will have less distractions.
One big factor that seemed to plague all of my girlfriends in relationships in college is that their significant others tended to take priority over their schoolwork, and it sometimes suffered for that reason. As a college instructor, I’ve watched a good amount of students suffer in class because of the stress of their romantic lives getting in the way of their academic success. If you are single, you won’t feel that obligation to put another person before yourself. You can focus on your academics, get your degree, and do the best work you can.
You can date around.
Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you can’t date. When you’re in college, you’re really still figuring out who you are and what you want in a partner, so it’s totally healthy to date around and see what’s out there, and what kind of people you are most compatible with. When I was in college, I was just starting to figure out what kinds of people I was attracted to, and how I defined myself within the realms of sexuality and identity. Being single allowed me to explore those things openly and freely.
You are the only person you have to answer to.
Want to spend a semester in Spain? Go ahead. Want to take a random 3AM road trip to the Grand Canyon? Go ahead! Want to stay out all night with your friends and party? You totally can! And no one is going to argue with you about it. You won’t have to worry about what someone else might think about your decisions, or how they will affect someone else. Travel, meet new people, and explore without having to worry about upsetting anyone.
You can do things on your own timeline.
If you don’t see yourself getting married or having kids until later in life, that’s totally okay. If you’re single, you won’t have to worry about how that life choice is affecting someone else. I have some friends who are my age and married, and often times one of them wants to have kids soon while the other doesn’t. This leads to friction and complications in the relationship. Since I know I’m not ready for those things yet, I chose to keep myself disentangled from romantic relationships.
You won’t look back and think you missed out.
Sure, maybe in the moment, being single makes you feel like you are missing out. But, once you’re older and out of college, it’s doubtful that you’ll look back on all the fun you had in those college years and regret not having been tied down. You won’t have spent any of your college years having silly arguments or dealing with the drama that often comes with relationships in your early 20s.
Of course, all of this just comes from my own personal experience of staying single through college, and from the experiences of friends who chose the same path. All relationships and people are different, and I’m sure there are couples that none of this applies to. But, if you are single and feeling like you’ve missed the happy-couple-train, I promise that it will come around again—probably when you finally stop waiting for it to show up. So until then, live it up, focus on yourself, get your degree, and have fun.