By Tina Kalenits
When it comes to dating in college, there are key factors and ways of staying safe when looking for potential partners that Youngstown State University students should consider.
LeTisha Underwood, the CEO and executive matchmaker at Two Hearts Exclusive Matchmaking Services in Youngstown, said she started the matchmaking firm in 2016.
“Dating in college is difficult. You have to put in a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of commitment. Never expect when it comes to dating that it will just work itself out,” Underwood said.
She said before meeting someone offline for the first time, it’s important to be proactive about safety.
“Share your plans with your friends and family. Share your location. Keep your phone on at all times. Do not give that person any information beyond your first name. Also, share with your family what you are wearing,” Underwood said.
She said the internet isn’t always the best way to meet someone, and events in the Youngstown area can be a place for meeting other singles.
“Go to local coffee houses, YSU events — there’s bound to be someone single. Make yourself approachable, keep yourself open, not closed off,” Underwood said.
She said when people are looking for a romantic partner, they should consider values and ideals as well as physical attraction.
“The main quality is chemistry, and not the movie-type chemistry, but how well you connect with one another, the ease of conversation. Can you be yourself around this person? Can you laugh with this person? Can you laugh at this person and can you talk to this person?” Underwood said.
She said red flags in a relationship include constant bickering, aggression, pressure for sex or money and signs of mental health issues.
According to Underwood, dating includes the talking phase, dating phase and relationship phase.
“The most important would be the talking phase. That’s where you’re going to get to know the person. That’s your way of gauging that person’s intentions and that person’s temperament. And if you pay attention and take it slow, you’ll learn everything you need to know in that phase,” Underwood said.
She said effective communication is key.
“Believe a guy when he says he just wants to hook up. There is nothing you can do or say to change his mind,” Underwood said.
She said students should not feel pressured to date in college.
“It’s OK to not want to progress any further or be with someone. It’s OK to walk away from a relationship,” Underwood said.
Amanda Fehlbaum, assistant professor of sociology at YSU, said dating is an important part of many people’s experiences in college.
“College is a time to explore yourself and your possibilities for the future. Dating is one of the best ways to do that,” she said.
According to Fehlbaum, a healthy relationship has boundaries, respect and attraction to the other person while not being codependent. She said partners in an unhealthy relationship have unequal contributions, don’t respect boundaries and often has one person who has a greater emotional attachment than the partner.
Fehlbaum said online dating is just as valid as going to a bar.
“If you want to date and can’t find someone, don’t pressure yourself. That doesn’t mean your person isn’t out there. People change over time,” Fehlbaum said.
Kayla McMillion, a junior special education major, said she met her significant other online through a marching band page on Facebook.
“We went for about three months we were talking as friends, and we decided we would try as a relationship,” McMillion said.