Entering university for the first time, while exciting, can be overwhelming. Aside from the increased academic pressure, the prospect of meeting new people and having to form new relationships, usually from scratch, also arises. Given 2020’s forced lack of socialising, it seems as though senior students will have to rediscover their campus relationships and social skills alongside first years. This guide will offer some tips and tricks on how to start, develop, and maintain relationships in a university setting.

Defining university relationships

University relationships usually fall on two different ends of a spectrum. On the one hand, there is more weight added to the relationship, as many students have the expectation of forming lasting and life-long relationships. On the other hand, many students see university as an opportunity to meet a lot of new people and explore as many relationships as possible. It is therefore important to define one’s own expectations beforehand, see where they fall on the spectrum, and ensure that they are compatible with the expectations of the people in one’s social circle. By having a clear idea of the type of relationships one wishes to form, miscommunication, conflicting expectations, and disappointments can be avoided from the start.

Meeting new people

For some, meeting new people can be a stressful experience, and doing so in a new environment can be overwhelming. However, in a social setting like university, meeting and interacting with new people also becomes inevitable. It is helpful to see this inevitability as an opportunity wherein one will either make a friend, meet a potential romantic partner, meet acquaintances or, at the very least, have a nice conversation. Luckily, the university’s multiple societies and clubs make it easy to find a range of people with the same interests, as well as easy topics of conversation when meeting people for the first time. Try to be proactive: the university offers many opportunities to meet new people, but they have to be sought out. One way to do so, in line with our modern era, is by taking advantage of technology like dating apps. Tinder and Grindr, for example, are popular apps among university students and gives one access to a multitude and variety of new people and opportunities.

Maintaining university relationships

Often we become so preoccupied with the initial process of meeting new people and starting relationships, that the step thereafter is neglected. In many ways, starting a relationship is easier than maintaining it. The various academic and other commitments that come with university life often make it difficult to spend as much time with friends and partners as one might want to. It is therefore important to prioritise quality over quantity when it comes to spending time together.

In addition, and though a cliché, communication is also an integral part to maintaining a relationship. Be honest and direct with your expectations of the relationship from the start and maintain that communication throughout the relationship. Psychology Today cites trust issues, different expectations and communication problems as some of the top ten reasons for why relationships fail. Therefore, ensure that all parties in the relationship are on the same page regarding expectations of, respect for, and trust in the relationship.

University dating

Dating in university finds itself with an interesting dynamic. On the one hand, there is more physical freedom, as most parties have access to cars and campus life allows for a wider social reach than in high school. On the other hand, however, more constraints come into play, as resources like money and time become scarcer. However, if one goes into this dynamic knowing the constraints, it becomes much easier to navigate. For example, being aware of the fact that most university students are working with a limited budget ensures that all parties in a relationship can set their expectations for dates at a more reasonable level.

Dating spots and activities in or near Hatfield

With expectations at a reasonable level, one can move onto the practical aspect of where and what to do on dates in university. While the various coffee shops and restaurants on campus do make for easy in-between-classes dating spots, with a bit more effort (or walking) it can also be easy to do something more special. Picnic dates can be a simple and cost-effective way to spend quality time together, and with a range of picnic spots to choose from, it also requires the minimum effort. If the grass outside Aula might seem like the obvious answer, try to find the more secluded places on and around campus, like the botanical gardens or next to the LC de Villiers lake.

There are also various events regularly held in Pretoria that would make for ideal dates but require a form of transportation. Markets like the Market@theSheds, the Vegan Food Fair, or the Deep Roots Night Market are always good date activities, though a simple Google search (or browse through Pretoria.co.za) can lead to a variety of other options as well. If it is a shared interest, music events like Park Acoustics or live shows at Aandklas could also make for fun dates.

While there are a host of other dating ideas online, keep in mind that the best outings are often those unplanned, spontaneous dates where the area is explored together. With that in mind, a simple walk around campus can be one of the best date ideas out there.

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Hi! I'm Bianke, a journalist who is passionate about people, the writing process, and anything and everything PDBY. I enjoy writing about interpersonal and societal issues: pointing out the noteworthy in the mundane.