College dating is so much different than any sort of dating in high school. And notice how I said “any sort of dating” when it comes to high school dating. Because unless you truly think you’ve found your soulmate in high school (A.K.A. high school sweethearts), your dating life in high school won’t even remotely compare to the potential that comes with dating while in college.

First off, dating in college is significantly more serious. High school is considered the last few years of being a kid, while going to college generally is thought of as the time when you are now an adult, or at least fully maturing into an adult. Growing into adulthood means a lot of things, especially thinking about your future. This doesn’t just mean your career goals or aspirations (which is directly related to your college experience), but to a lesser extent, it also means thinking about your relationship goals and where you want to be on that front in the next 5 to 10 years. And in reality, 5 to 10 years is not very long time – by the time you finish college, you’ll already be nearly at that 5 year mark.

With that backdrop in mind, it makes sense that any guy or girl serious contemplating their relationship goals will already be looking at college dating as a very serious prospect. So many couples nowadays meet their future spouses while in college. If not at the exact same college, then at the very least within the same city or general area.

A big reason that college dating takes it up a notch compared to high school dating is the fact that being so far away from home and your parents gives you the opportunity to truly get intimate with another person without the backdrop of parents prying into your personal life. You don’t have to be home at any given time, meaning you can focus on being with your significant other in the moment, allowing for a relationship that develops at a nice pace. And you don’t have parents judging you based on who you are dating, meaning you can truly listen to your heart and eventually find the perfect man or woman for you personally.

So when you begin to start dating while at college, what should you keep in mind before you dive headfirst into relationships? First off, keep in mind that your first boyfriend or girlfriend that you end up dating may not be the one you end up marrying when it is all said and done. In fact, it is fairly unlikely. It is important to keep this in mind because when you do finally find a significant other while in college, you may feel too attached to them and want to make it work at whatever cost. But if you two are incompatible, or if the relationship simply will not work in the long-term, there is no point holding onto the relationship. It is better to break up and move on rather than keep clinging to something that will inevitably end up failing.

Having said that though, every relationship, whether they succeed or not, is a valuable part of the college experience. You end up meeting new people from different parts of the country (and world), giving you unique perspectives on various aspects of life itself. And even if you leave college without a long-term girlfriend, your previous dating experiences will have hopefully helped you learn a lot about your own dating preferences that will end up helping you find the right girl in the future. As long as you keep an open mind when you enter the college dating scene, you’ll certainly come away with a positive experience when it’s all said and done.