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College Dating 101

College-aged couple talking & laughing.

Whether going far or staying close to home for college, dating will likely be part of your college experience. Here are some tips on how you or someone you care about can navigate the college dating scene smartly and safely.

Phone a Friend

Before heading out on a date, tell a friend, roommate or family member where you’ll be and who you’ll be with. Ensuring that someone will look out for your well-being is a smart move. This person can check in with you if a date lasts longer than expected.

Meet in Public

Meet up with a new date in a public place with good lighting. Or head out with a group of friends. Group dating is a great way to get to know someone with a bit of added security in case the date doesn’t go well, or if things get uncomfortable. If your date insists on meeting somewhere private (in their dorm, apartment, or elsewhere) this can be a red flag.

Use These Pro Tips for Online Dating

While dating apps can be a fun, easy way to meet new people, there’s more to consider about safety and online security than you may think. Here are few tips to keep online dating experiences safe:

  • Keep the age range set to college-aged matches. Some apps even have a college setting that requires a ‘.edu’ email address to join.
  • Use a different photo from social media accounts. If you come across someone who’s untrust-worthy, this can make it harder for them to find and contact you on social media.
  • Message within the app. Don’t share your phone number or other personal details until you’ve truly gotten to know a person. This way if it doesn’t work out, they don’t have your contact or personal information.
  • Check out the security features. Most apps share their security features up-front, and detail their privacy, blocking and reporting capabilities. If it’s hard to find this info, it might be good to consider another app.

Plan for How to Leave a Bad Date

In case a date goes sour or you feel uncomfortable, it’s always good to have a plan in place to help end the date. If you don’t feel that you will be able to simply say your good-byes and leave, some people decide on a safe word to text a friend if the date is going poorly. This safe word signals they should call or show up at the date with an urgent reason you need to leave.

Some restaurants and bars give code words for people to use if their date doesn’t feel quite right or they feel they are in danger. One use of the code word and restaurant staff can help you leave (and potentially call an Uber) without alerting your date. 

Get Familiar with Campus Safety

College campuses across the country have a safety team trained to help students in a variety of situations. Do some research on the services your department offers. This might include anonymous reporting, campus escorts, and sometimes self-defense classes. Store the campus safety number in your phone for quick access, and take note of the locations of emergency call boxes—often marked with a blue light. Pushing the button or picking up the phone line will trigger an immediate response. While this might seem extreme, knowing what to do in an emergency situation can help put your mind at ease.

author name

Christine M. Stabler, MD, MBA

Christine Stabler, MD, MBA, FAAFP is Medical Director of Women’s Health for Lancaster General Health, a family medicine physician with LG Health Physicians Women's Internal Medicine, and Vice President of Academic Affairs. She is a graduate of Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. She completed her residency at Lancaster General Hospital and a fellowship at Temple University Hospital.

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About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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