Lessons Learned: Dating in College Versus Dating in Your 30's

I've come a long way since my college days (Go 'Noles!). I occasionally reflect upon a few things when reminiscing about the good 'ole days: English classes, BSU events, sorority meetings, football games, frat parties, when girls were rockin' kitten heels and guys were obsessed with oversized white tees, and oh yeah... dating.

The core qualities I look for in a partner, my expectations, and my non-negotiables have all evolved since those days when I was meeting guys at the club and in the student union.

Although dating is still complex, I am more sure of the things that I desire from a mate. I am more confident in myself & I tolerate no tomfoolery. The core of me is the same - I've been gifted with an incredible amount of forgiveness and understanding and those qualities will never change. But now, with my college experience under my belt and my twenties behind me, there are five lessons I've learned about love & dating since college:

photo via  youngtribune

photo via youngtribune

Love Yourself & Know Your Worth

Alicia Keys was speaking truth when she sang “A Woman's Worth”. This is my #1 lesson for a reason. As I've gotten older I've realized how important it is to have unconditional love & respect for yourself. Back then, I tolerated ridiculous behavior because I didn't understand that I didn't have to. If you understand this, you won't put up with anyone who doesn't recognize the queen that you are.

In the words of the musical prophet Lauryn Hill, “How you ‘gon win if you ain’t right within?”

Self-love truly is the first love.


 Listen to & Trust Your Intuition

You know those pebbles, rocks, and eventually boulders that are thrown at us telling us to run the other way when something ain’t right? Also known as “red flags”?

Everyone has intuition, but women, our intuition is like nothing else. My intuition was trying to get my attention so bad while I was dating an ex that it turned into the form of chest pains. My heart was trying to tell me something that in the back of my mind, I already knew. I just chose to keep it in the back of my mind. Way, way back.

I knew something was terribly wrong with the relationship I was in, but I chose to ignore everything because I was scared to face the truth.

The universe knows when something is off and it is our responsibility to listen to what it has to say.


Figure Out Your Non-negotiables

Yes, it's important that a mate fulfills all the typical personality traits that we desire. But what I feel is also important are the qualities you absolutely, positively feel are non-negotiable.

For example, a few of my non-negotiables are that a man must have a relationship with God, have a similar POV on finances and the same views on marriage and family.

In college, one of my non-negotiables was that a guy couldn’t be shorter than 5’10”.

Thank goodness for growth.

More recently, I’ve dated a guy who as soon as he told me his view on marriage I knew it wasn’t going to be a fit. I’m all for different perspectives, but I’m confident about my own and I don’t want to waste my time or anyone else’s. If I decide that I don’t ever want to be married then it will be because I CHOSE not to be married, not because the guy I’m dating didn’t want to.

10 years from now I don’t want to regret staying in a relationship that’s not what I wanted because I compromised a non-negotiable.


 Examine How a Potential Partner Treats The World Around Them

One of the more unique lessons I’ve learned is that I now look for someone who has a kind heart.

For example, how does he treat people who can do absolutely nothing for him? Does he walk around arrogantly thinking he’s better than everyone else?

I’m all for being confident. In fact, that is a personality quality I look for. But, over the years, I have paid more attention to those with a kind heart. Men that give back to society in one way or another. Men who if they have any type of loose change or food on them wouldn’t hesitate to give it to a homeless person.

A man who will speak out when he’s witnesses an injustice. Someone who you would want your future son to be like.


Actions Really Do Speak Louder Than Words

I know we all have heard this expression throughout our lives, but this really is a major key. It’s easy when we’re young to believe everything we hear, especially when we don’t know any better.


It’s easy to tell someone you love them. Even if someone tells you that everyday, how are they backing it up? Are they DOING things to show they love you? And I don’t mean buying gifts. I’m talking about whether or not they are supportive, helpful, prioritize you and overall, contribute to your life in a positive way.

Or, do they tell you they love you and dog you out every chance they can get? Are they constantly apologizing for the same things that make you cry and break your heart?

Since college I’ve learned that I’m actually not suppose to be sad in a relationship. That sadness, anger, uncertainty are not normal emotions in a healthy relationship. A relationship should be happy, maybe challenging at times, but make you feel good, not out of control.


What are some lessons about love & dating that you’ve learned since college?

Share your experience while we all collectively clap for the power of growth!

A proud east coast girl, Christina moved from New York City to Madrid in 2015. She is a writer, former fashion buyer/merchandising professional, and a Beyonce enthusiast. She enjoys day dreaming, traveling, reading, blogging, DJing and partaking in some of Spain's most beloved cultural traditions: siestas, tapas, & sangría. 

You can follow her & her blog on Instagram at @iamchrissyleigh/@wonderwander_online and her blog site, www.wonderwanderonline.com.