Skip the dates, find your mate

By Bethel Habte / Columnist

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One of the most vivid memories I have from my first tour of Pitt is visiting Heinz Chapel, or rather, realizing what Heinz Chapel represented. As we made our way past the ornate building, my Pathfinder turned to face us and teased that it would be wise to register now for our eventual weddings because of the long wait list the space attracts. Externally, I chuckled. Internally, I cringed.  

Entering Pitt as a freshman, I felt so far removed from the idea of adulthood that I couldn’t even fathom the idea of marriage.

But as the year progressed, I learned that, while college isn’t always be the ideal time to find one’s future spouse, it’s just as likely to happen then as during any other phase of your life. This is an aspect of college life that ordinarily goes unacknowledged. Stable relationships really can develop in college, contrary to the hookup culture often associated with early adulthood.

A 2013 Facebook study compiled user data and found that 28 percent of married graduates attended the same college. Of course, the likelihood of marrying someone you met in college will vary depending on a variety of factors such as the size of the school or the interests and values of its students. 

Several of my close friends — from college and home —  appear to be on the fast track to marriage. From what I’ve observed of their relationships, several key factors seem to contribute to the likelihood of marriage. 

First, for college students, relationships are akin to every other novel aspect of college. For many students, the intimate relationships they develop are some of the first they have experienced. Coupled with living on their own for the first time, students’ relationships immediately feel stronger, less restricted and more in their control. 

For two of my friends whose relationship developed while at Pitt, it was the first for the both of them. Still together a year later, they are deliriously in love, inseparable and talk often about the possibility of marriage in the future.

Second, comfort is essential to a strong relationship, and college can easily provide that. By sharing many similar experiences, such as classes, clubs and sporting events, students can grow together in a sincere and natural atmosphere. When you develop a relationship in this kind of environment, you skip much of the pretense of impression-oriented dating and instead can get to know someone for who they are. 

My other friends who met at Pitt will tell you that they have only been on three “dates,” despite being together for nearly a year. So instead of dressing up, forcing activities or spending a lot of money on fancy dinners, most of their relationship resembles hanging out with a close friend: sporadic meals, late nights spent watching movies and unplanned outings. 

The last key aspect to college relationships is the way they begin. It’s not hard to find commonalities in college, and many college events are based around connecting students. Having something in common as a basis for your relationship will make the relationship easier to maintain long after the “honeymoon phase” ends. It will also provide you with something to talk about when long breaks between terms inevitably turn your relationship into a long-distance endeavor. 

It might be wise to register at Heinz Chapel after all. 

Write Bethel at beh56@pitt.edu.

 

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