Photo: Rachel Reich

Year One: relationships and hookups in university

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By Nicole Di Donato

You may have aced high school dating, but get ready for a whole new dating game. In first year, I’ve learned that the rules you used to follow are nothing like the ones present in university.
Everything moves a lot faster, both emotionally and physically. There is a new vocabulary that emphasizes the expectation that relationships and hookups in university are short term and often times, not serious.
“The main difference is the freedom you have,” said Manahil Munim, a first-year creative industries student. “In university the odds are that either you or the person you are hooking up with lives on their own and that makes it entirely different. You are not restricted by time or by your parents, and you have the freedom to do whatever you want whenever.”
“Ever since university I thought hookups weren’t as much of a taboo thing,” said Alexander Tersigni, a first-year political science and governance student. “If you were just like friends with benefits or hooking up with someone in high school, if the rest of the school found out it would be a big gossip fest. Everyone would talk about you, but now it’s like you have a hookup and you tell someone, they’re like, ‘great I don’t care.’ Everyone is too busy with their own stuff so it’s much more laid back.”
Here are some common relationships and hookups that you will either personally experience or will see others experience throughout first year:
1) The one-night stand  
Even if you haven’t had a one-night stand in university, you definitely know someone who has or have witnessed someone in residence doing the “walk of shame” the next morning. University life is seen as a time of sexual liberty, in which students fall into the arms, and soon after, the beds of strangers one time, and one time only. It can seem like an expectation for first years to have multiple one-night stands and to not catch feelings for the people they hookup with. Although I think this may be true for some people, it certainly isn’t true for everyone.
“I guess I’ve had one-night stands, I mean I’ve had times where I’ve hooked up with someone once and then kind of never again,” said Tersigni. “I don’t think I’ve ever hooked up with someone so far and then just never talked to them again or didn’t really know them. Like I always had dialogue with them beforehand. I feel like I have to know them as a person no matter how hot they are.”
In most cases, first years hookup with more people than they did in high school because: a) there are more options, b) you are living on your own, and c) it is first year university.
Although I’ve found that there is a lot less pressure to commit to being in a serious relationship in university, there are still some people who are in search of a boyfriend/girlfriend. One piece of advice I have is to remember that one intimate moment does not necessarily mean you will end up being a serious couple. Let things happen naturally and if it’s meant to be, then maybe that one-night stand will turn into an every-night occurrence.
2) The “just friends” hookup 
The friends-with-benefits phenomenon is extremely common among young adults, especially those in university. Prior to university, I never would have considered hooking up with a guy friend of mine, but since discovering that a lot of people do it, I have started to become more open to the idea. I have friends from other universities who have “just friends” hookups and I myself have even experienced this once before.
From my experience, it’s pretty weird to get so up close and personal with a friend and then continue to just be friends with them, but it can also be a lot of fun. I think the reason why so many people find the concept of hooking up with a friend so appealing is because it can be viewed as a way to “keep things simple” and to avoid the complications that commonly arise from being in a serious relationship.
However, there are some downsides to this type of hookup. Often times someone will end up catching feelings or hooking up with someone else while having a friend with benefits. To avoid any awkward tension between you and the friend you are hooking up with, make sure you know how you are feeling and don’t put yourself in a situation where you will get hurt.
3) The exclusive hookup that is not to be confused with dating 
This seems to be one of the more common “relationship” types in university. You could define this as either, “having a thing,” “hanging out,” or “seeing each other, but not seeing anyone else.” This is the person in which you hangout with on a regular basis, have sleepovers with, go out on dates with, and basically do everything a boyfriend and girlfriend would do — but without the labels. I am currently experiencing something like this and I have found it to be very weird as I am so used to always knowing exactly where I stand with a guy. But at the same time, I like the fact that I don’t feel any pressure to commit to something that I am not ready for.
“I feel like hooking up exclusively is just a thing people do because they’re afraid of commitment,” said Tersigni. “Like it’s a relationship if you are only hooking up with each other and no one else but you don’t want to put a quote on quote label on things, it’s still a relationship, it’s just kids in university are afraid of commitment.”
Something to remember while being in this type of hookup/relationship limbo is that you are not in an actual relationship yet, so don’t pour your heart and soul into it. As far as the other person is concerned, you’re both still entitled to play the field a little. Another thing is to make sure you are communicating with the other person about your feelings so that they can get a sense of what your intentions are.
4) The long distance relationship 
Being in a long distance relationship is very common in first year, as many people are trying to see whether or not they can continue to keep their high school romance alive.
“I feel like actual relationships all die at the start of university,” said Tersigni. “I feel like that’s part of the university experience, I don’t know why. I feel like lots of real good relationships just kind of quit and it’s because they found a good person too soon in their lives.”
I was in a long distance relationship with my ex boyfriend when I was in grade 12. He was a year older and was just starting his first year of university, so we decided to stay together to see if we could make it work. I personally hated being in a long distance relationship. I was always stressed out about what he was doing and felt as though I missed out on a lot of opportunities because he would want me to FaceTime him or hangout with him when he came home for the weekend. It also caused us to fight a lot more and caused me more stress than the relationship was worth.
I’m not trying to say that all long distance relationships are bad, but I think your decision to be in one or to not be in one greatly impacts the type of experience you have in university. I know some people who are in long distance relationships and it is working out great for them. It really depends on the type of person you are and what kind of experience you are hoping to get in university.
“Only a phone call away, I have someone to always make me happy when I am upset, I have someone I can be my weird self with, and I have someone out there that loves me for who I am. And the best benefit is seeing their reaction when you surprise visit them,” said Poppie Grant, a first year Business Management student who’s in a relationship with someone living in Alabama.
“Long distance is hard because not being able to be with [your girlfriend] and watch them change can make you feel separation,” said Grant’s boyfriend, Travis Townes, a first year Business student at Auburn University. “Separation can sometimes lead to trust issues and arguments but that is a part of normal relationships so it is somewhat normal. I would not be in a long distance relationship with a woman if I did not intend on being with her for the rest of my life.”
5) The real deal
The “real deal,” otherwise known as a clearly defined relationship between two people, is very rare to find in your first year of university. This type of a serious, long-term relationship comes when you reach a stage of maturity later on in university. Although some people may get into relationships in first year, I think that your freshman days should be spent figuring out who you are first before committing to being with another person.

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