As the new university year begins to take full swing with the harsh realities of cold 9am lectures and long library sessions, the prospect of a university romance provides a glimmer of hope on a cold Michaelmas night for many. Gone are the days of ‘hot girl summer’, cuffing season has now inevitably reared its head, leading to widespread hopeless romantic daydreaming out of the window of seminar rooms across campus.
The idea of romance underpins the university experience for many students, and Durham is no different. In the aftermath of the infamous 2013 statistic published by The Independent claiming that over 70% of Durham students end up marrying a fellow student, the pressure to frantically search Tindur for any mention of your initials is unavoidable. Maybe you were the ambiguously described pretty blonde dancing with a group of friends in Jimmy’s? Or perhaps the even more ambiguous brunette sat on level 2 of the library who happened to look in the general direction of a passing admirer?
It is true that many people find new romances whilst at university, but this must not form the be-all and end-all of your Durham years. University life naturally lends itself to meeting a variety of new people and encountering a whole host of new experiences, making it easy to fall into the trap of succumbing to social pressures on how your student years should be spent. In the midst of facing all of the challenges that university ultimately throws our way, from finding our feet in freshers to catching up on the weeks of readings that were accidentally forgotten about, must we also pile on the pressures of finding the loves of our lives?
Although romances are found when you are least expecting them, it is also a commonly acknowledged truth that true love is seldom found in the Klute smoking area (not unheard of, but also not a regular occurrence as much as you might like it to be). Rather than stumbling across a new and exciting romantic whirlwind, we often find ourselves caught up in unrequited Tindur daydreams or, worse still, in the dreaded uncertainty of a ‘situationship’.
Especially after seeing what often feels like the rest of Durham walking hand-in-hand along the Wear and joining the exclusive 70% statistic, it is hard not to bear the burden of relationship pressures at university. Of course, having a relationship at university can be fun, but equally so can embracing everything else that university life has to offer during what are often claimed to be the prime years of your life.
The world of dating can be confusing and stressful to say the least, now with the added carnage of trying not to accidentally match on Tinder with your co-worker (or, worse still, your professor). If a relationship is something that you feel you are ready for, taking a more ‘go with the flow’ approach to dating should be the new way forward, easing the pressure off what is already a very nerve-wracking experience.
If you find the love of your life during your time at university, great! But equally, if you graduate being single, rest assured you have not had a less worthy university experience and you will not be the only one by a mile. Everyone has a wildly unique university experience, and whether yours includes romance or whether you simply managed to make a solid group of friends, survive long enough in Klute to sing ‘That’s Amore’ and attend at least half of those 9am lectures, you have still massively succeeded.
It is time we stopped fixating on romance at university and realise that the university experience goes beyond finding the perfect partner. Your student years are a time of constant growth and change. Yes, some do complete university having found love, but university is not your one and only chance at romance. And I highly doubt that the love of your life will be found in the corner of a sweaty Jimmy’s dancefloor -although I don’t doubt that somewhere along the lines, someone is now married to their Jimmy’s pull! Embrace university life for all that it has to offer and I guarantee that the next best experience is just around the corner.
Featured image: Achraf Alan via Pexels