So you’ve graduated from college. Congratulations! You might be in the midst of celebrating this amazing accomplishment, or you might be feeling a bit nervous about what the “real world” will bring. Either way, something you’re likely to encounter post-university life is dating. The romance scene in the adult world is much, much different than how it is when you have to wake up for that 8 a.m. class. 

Dating after college can be confusing, frustrating, and even a bit disheartening. However, there are ways to find a partner, hookup pal, or even just casually date as a fully-functioning human without losing your mind. Read on for a few best practices to help you meet and keep “the one.”

Best practices at a glance: 

  • Think about what you’re looking for 
  • Get out there
  • Lean into your favorite hobby 
  • Don’t pin your hopes on meeting people at bars and clubs 
  • Give public transportation a try 
  • Plug into your university’s network
  • Adopt or foster a pet 

Think about what you’re looking for

Of all the items on the list, this is probably the most important one to keep in mind. A lot is going on following graduation, and dating after college is already stressful enough. It might not be the right time to settle down with one person and do the whole get married and have kids thing. Or, it might be the perfect time for you to put a ring on it. Before launching yourself into the dating scene, make sure you know what you’re looking for. This is important to keep in mind so that you don’t set yourself up for failure. Dating will be much more painful if you and your new boo are not on the same page about stopping by your parent’s house for Thanksgiving. 

Friends hanging out together.
Knowing what you want is important if you’re ready to enter the world of dating after college!

Get out there

This is a piece of advice that’s an oldie but a goodie. Stepping outside of your comfort zone and into a brand-new experience is rewarding for more than just your romantic life. Research shows that engaging in new experiences can help release dopamine—also known as the “feel good chemical”—which can make you a happier and healthier person. 

As a recent graduate, you’re in a perfect place to try new experiences. Maybe you’re moving to a new city or a different apartment in your hometown. Take this opportunity to walk your new environment, shop locally, or take a furry friend to a nearby park. You never know who you might meet, and, even if you don’t run into anyone right away, you will still be giving yourself a little boost of happiness. 

A woman reading a book.
Starting a new hobby can be a fantastic way to help you meet new people while also increasing your own happiness.

Lean into your favorite hobby

During university, your time was probably filled with classes, clubs, and maybe even a job or two. But now that you’re out of university, you might only have to worry about the 9-5. What about those off hours? They need to be filled somehow, and scrolling for hours on Instagram is not the best way to do that. 

Finding and fostering a hobby post-college is incredibly important. And not only because it improves mood and reduces stress. Having a hobby is a great way to meet people, especially if your hobby is niche. If you like reading, try joining a book club at your local library. Are you a fan of dance or weight lifting? Grab a gym membership. If you’re feeling a bit lost about what you might be interested in, don’t panic. Growing out of the things you used to like is totally normal and can be easily remedied

Leaning into your favorite hobbies is a fantastic way to broaden your social circle and meet new people. Plus, you’ll help filter those you’re compatible with. Your new partner could be just as into knitting as you are, but you have to join a knitting club first to find out! 

An image of a bar.
Meeting people at bars or clubs might be good in theory, but it might actually hinder your relationship search.

Don’t plan on meeting people at bars or clubs 

Dating after college is quite different from how it is when you’re in school, and one of the biggest differences is that you probably won’t want to find a date at a bar like you did at a Greek Life party. Let’s face it: we’re not at our best when we go out to drink. Because alcohol doesn’t let the prefrontal cortex work as it should, good decision making is greatly reduced when drinking. So when you’re at the club and spot a guy in the corner looking like prince charming, you might want to think twice before going up to him. He might not look so appealing when you’re sober. 

But, if all you’re looking for in your dating life is a hookup, the bar might be the perfect place to grab a beer and a little something more. It all goes back to what you want out of a relationship. But if you are searching for love, bars and clubs will likely not be the best place to find your future fiancé. 

People riding the subway
Using public transportation is another great way to meet new people. 

Give public transportation a try

This might be controversial to those who prefer to ride public transportation with their headphones securely on to dissuade anyone from trying to approach them. But dating after college requires a bit of creativity and willingness to try out some new experiences, so you might want to reconsider meeting someone on public transport before disregarding it completely. 

Taking public transportation helps you get accustomed to your city and you get the added bonus of seeing your fellow passengers on the routes you take regularly. Not convinced? Love has flourished on public transportation even in the most unlikely circumstances. Try taking the bus and maybe you’ll be able to meet that special someone on Route 25. 

A board advertising trivia night.
Getting involved in your city’s community by attending theme nights is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the local community and see who’s out there. 

Test out your city’s “theme nights”

Going out to a random event can be pretty intimidating if you’re new and by yourself. But it’s so important to get involved in your community if you want any success dating after college. If you’re feeling a bit skeptical about heading to the street fair or a new gym alone, try finding some themed nights in your city. 

Theme nights typically look like trivia, drag shows, or comedy shows and are hosted by local businesses and groups around the city. These are usually much smaller in size than larger events such as concerts and prioritize people who arrive by themselves. Even if you’re happily single, events like these are awesome because there is so much less pressure to interact with others. Chatting up the girl next to you before a drag show is much easier when the lights are dimmed and you only have five minutes before the opening number to make your move. 

Utilizing your university’s alumni network is another good way to meet people with common interests. 

Plug into your university’s network

Graduating college can be one of the most wonderful times in your life, but it can also be tough and in some cases, can even be a cause of depression. That’s one added stress that you definitely don’t want when trying to navigate the romance scene. 

To make dating after college easier, try plugging into your university’s alumni network, especially if you recently moved to a new city away from where you attended school. You’ll be able to meet your fellow alumni, reminisce about the good ‘ol days, and maybe even find a few graduates who might pique your romantic interest. You’ll find at least one thing in common to talk about over a dinner date, and sometimes, that’s all that matters. 

A man and a dog spend time together.
Adopting or fostering an animal is another way to let love into your life. 

Adopt or foster an animal

You’ve probably heard of the “meet cute” where two people get tangled up in their dogs’ leashes in the park and then live happily ever after, right? Well, that could be you! For those who are animal lovers, adopting or fostering a pet from your local animal shelter is an easy way to meet new people. Most shelters have programs for foster parents and adopters alike to help train animals, help foster parents meet each other, and have a great time with pets! 

Or, if you’re looking to add a furry friend to your life permanently, adopting is a great way to meet people as well. Talking about your pets is a great icebreaker, and taking your dog for a stroll around the park is a sweet date idea for the animal lovers among us. 

Having a pet is another way to connect with like-minded people who might turn out to be potential partners, but it is also a way to help you lead a happier and healthier life. And if you end up meeting your purrfect partner through your pet, we’d consider that a win. 

Dating after college certainly isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be excruciating, either. If you work on putting yourself out there, getting involved, and ensuring that you’re happy and healthy even before you try to get into a relationship, love will surely find its way to you. 

Jan 20, 2023