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College and Mid-20s Relationships: The Big Differences

In a span of a couple of years, you wouldn’t believe just how much your relationships will change. Here’s a little insight into their differences.

college and mid-twenties relationship

It’s funny to look back at old photos from high school, college, to now. You probably think you were so immature, or your clothes were hideous, and it’s even harder to imagine how the heck you thought you were so cool. But you did! The same can be said for relationships.

When we think about our first love or our first heartbreak, we probably tend to laugh as we reflect on how silly and dramatic we were. When you’re in college, you might think you’ve got the world figured out, and know exactly what your future entails.

But if you’ve survived college and are now living in the real world as a mid-20 year old, you probably can’t help but laugh at how naïve you were and just how much you’ve changed.

College is a time for growing up, being independent, and flying from the safety of your parents’ nest. It’s a time when you try and explore new things, figure out what you like and dislike, and it’s also a time you enjoy dating and being able to do so without your parents lurking.

The difference between dating in college and dating in your 20s

If you think high school relationships are a long shot from your college relationships, you’d be surprised to know just how different the dating jungle feels like when you compare your college dates to your mid-20s dates.

#1 Accessibility. When you’re in college, you are instantly surrounded by thousands of other people your age. It’s not hard for you to meet people, especially guys, and the dating pool is essentially a really fun playground. It’s also one thing that is very much taken for granted, and you don’t realize it until you’ve graduated and try to date in the real world by the time you’re in your 20s.

When you are no longer in college, you no longer have the easy access to the thousands of people your age. You’ll probably find it harder and harder to meet people your age, and you spend most of your time at work, surrounded by your coworkers, whom you may or may not like. [Read: 23 relationships that will define your love life]

#2 Dates. In college, if a frat guy asks you to a formal, or to come by the fraternity house, because they are having a mixer, this is college speak for “he likes you,” and also generally considered a “date.”

But when you are no longer in college, mixers and frat parties disappear, and you no longer associate guys with what fraternity they are in. In your mid-20s, a date means actually going out to dinner and drinks, and being picked up instead of walking across the quad with your girlfriends to meet up.

#3 Roommates. It’s pretty normal to have roommates when you’re in college, for guys and girls. You don’t even think twice about it, if you are going over to your guy’s place to watch a movie, and to walk in and see his buddies in the living room watching sports on TV. But if you’re in your mid-20s, and the guy you’re seeing has roommates, you might find it weird and immature, and look at him as someone who doesn’t entirely have his life together yet.

#4 Drinking. Who doesn’t enjoy having a glass of wine, or beer, or going out with friends? In college, drinking might as well be considered a day-to-day routine, but when you’re no longer in college, drinking excessively isn’t as accepted. It’s super “cool” that your guy can chug from the keg with his bros at lightning speed in college, but it’s actually not cool, if he’s now in his mid-20s and he’s still acting like a beer-guzzling frat boy.

Back in college, you could pop an Advil and your hangover would be gone. In your mid-20s, however, you may find that hangovers are becoming stronger, and showing up for work with a raging headache won’t do you any good. It’s because of this that nights out to find potential hookups will be limited to a couple of drinks, as opposed to your college standard of an array of assorted shots.

#5 Walk of shame. The “walk of shame” is when you spend the night with a guy, which usually involves hooking up, to be dropped off the next morning wearing the same clothes you had on the night before. This usually involves you looking like a rag-a-muffin to any passersby. But at least you may have the luxury of sleeping in to miss class for the morning.

In your mid-20s, the “walk of shame” involves hurrying home to get ready for work while nursing a hangover. It’s a tad bit more shameful, since you might think to yourself that drunken nights and one night stands should have been left for college frat parties. But here you are, still indulging in them. [Read: How to make the walk of shame feel more respectable]

#6 Career. In college, you don’t expect the guy you’re dating to have a real-world job yet, and it’s totally cool if he works at the library on campus, or bartends, or whatever other odd job he might pick up. You know that you both are in college, so that you can get your degree and eventually land your dream job in the real world, and be super successful.

By the time you’re out of college, you’d probably already be working. It’s true that you may be a bit more forgiving because of the current situation with the job market, but dating a guy who isn’t at least on a particular career path will definitely turn you off. [Read: The need for a purpose in life – 5 things it can do for you]

#7 Financially independent. When you are in college, you probably depend on your parents, at least somewhat, to help you with your finances. You don’t really want to think of yourself as an adult yet, at least not when it comes to having to take care of yourself financially. So it also goes without saying that you probably won’t think twice if your guy or the guy you might like is also depending on his parents for money, too.

But when you get into your mid-20s, seeing a guy who’s still relying on mommy and daddy for his bills is a huge turn off. Who would want to date a couch surfer or a guy who can’t provide for himself, much less you? Every date will feel like it’s been sponsored by his parents!

The real world gives you a heavy dose of reality, especially when it comes to dating. You no longer have the immediate access to thousands and thousands of people your age, and you no longer know if you have anything in common with a guy, simply because you know what he’s majoring in.

[Read: Why it’s so great to be single in your 20s]

Though you may not notice it, your standards, your beliefs and your preferences in dating will change drastically, once you get out of college and dive into the fun-filled world of the mid-20s dating landscape!

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Charley Reid
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