It’s hard to summarize dating and relationship trends of graduating seniors here at UT, but, if one had to, dating in that final semester of college would probably be characterized as “whatever fits into one’s long-term plans.” For some, that means short-term dating only. For others, no dating at all. And, for a few, it might mean trying for the long-haul — as long as both partners are heading off to the same place. But for everyone, it means deciding what value they place on being in a long-term relationship, and that decision speaks less about our relationships than it does about the way graduating students see themselves.
“The way I view [dating] is as second to post-grad plans,” petroleum engineering senior Dylan Shaw said. “Anything that would happen this semester is short-term and not serious, but I can definitely see how if something serious came about it would be more difficult.”
Shaw said he is still in the process of solidifying his plans after graduation, and the uncertainty adds another factor to dating.
“When you have no structure in life, it’s hard to make long-term plans,” Shaw said. “Getting a job is one area to build structure. If you have that set, it’s easier to be uncertain about other things. For me, there are only so many things that can be up in the air. But it’s all about the person too.”
Chemistry senior James Compean said that, even if short-term dating is probably the most feasible for graduating seniors at this point, there is still something to be gained from the dating at all.
“It’s a nice thing to find someone to get close to in and of itself, even if it ends,” Compean said. “Realistically, if you’re going to move to a new city, meet new people, work friends, long-distance can get tricky. I still see us as young. We still have a lot ahead of us.”
Professional accounting graduate student Ryan Wells is hopeful about the two-year long relationship he has been in. After graduation, he plans on working in Dallas. His girlfriend has been applying to nursing schools in Dallas and other cities.
He said that, ultimately, they will choose “whatever’s best. If it happens to work out, it will. If both people are committed, you can make it work.”
Anthropology senior Deidra Perez, on the other hand, started dating someone in her last semester of college.
“A lot of my friends are breaking up,” Perez said. “I don’t have a problem with dating someone right now. If [getting together with someone] is going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
After she graduates, Perez said she will be staying in Austin, and her boyfriend will continue taking classes at UT. Despite this, she said, “It wouldn’t have made a difference if we had ended up in a different city.”
Her friend, history and corporate communication senior Samantha Gonzales, said she just got out of a relationship she was in all throughout college, and she regrets not experiencing more of college while single.
“I don’t have anyone to accommodate to — my schedule with yours,” Gonzales said. “You have more time to find out who you are.”
But Gonzales qualified her statement. “If you meet the right person at the right time, [being single] doesn’t play a role,” she said. “Some people use it as an excuse — ’I need time to figure myself out’ — when if you wanted it to, you’d say, ‘We’ll figure it out together.’”
Marketing senior Jonathan Van has been with his girlfriend since high school. “I know even some long-term folks feel that it’s important to be single in college,” he said. “That’s valid. Just, personally, I’ve never wanted to be single in light of the fact that I think [my girlfriend] Kimmie is my one.”
For someone who has observed a fair share of college romances, to put it into numerical perspective, marketing professor Raji Srinivasan said, “I would say [I have seen] about 50 percent of relationships succeed and fail in my time at UT.”
John Daly, professor of communication studies, management and the IC2 Institute, said the likelihood of success of a college relationship after graduation is dependent on a lot of variables.
“People are constantly changing and the younger you are, the more changes you are likely going through,” Daly said. “Couples often think they will change together, but more often than not, they change in different ways at different times.”
Graduation causes us to re-evaluate our priorities. For seniors who have found a serious relationship, maybe it’s time to make some serious commitment. For others, it’s better to commit to love only to a point. The last semester seems to be a time to cut off the nonsense in favor of what will fit in with the future, and whether that future is one of traditional commitment or self-involvement is a decision each student must make for him or herself.
Almeda is a marketing senior from Seattle. Follow Almeda on Twitter @Amanda_Almeda.