Students in committed romantic relationships report greater well-being and mental health than their single friends, according to a 2010 study conducted by Florida State University researchers and published in the journal Personal Relationships. However, finding a partner is not without its hazards, and the practice of "hooking up" casually makes things even riskier. It is important to be aware of the pitfalls so that you can form happy, healthy relationships at college and keep yourself safe from harm.
On average, Americans drink more at college than at any other time in their lives. College students tend to binge drink, as shown by the 2005 study "Drinking Among College Students" sponsored in part by the Midwest Alcoholism Research Center and published in Recent Developments in Alcoholism. Drinking heavily can lead to impaired judgment, meaning you might have sex with a date before you're emotionally ready to, leading to regret later on. Being drunk on a date also means you are less likely to use protection, putting you at risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Stick to sensible limits to avoid risking your health or your reputation.
Drinking alcohol also increases the risk of sexual assault occurring at college. The likelihood of sexual assault happening more than doubles if the perpetrator, the victim or both consume alcohol, according to a 2002 study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, "Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem Among College Students." Don't be scared to go home if you're on a date and the person you are with appears to be drinking heavily. Have taxi fare ready in case you need to make a hasty exit.
Around one-third of college students have experienced some form of dating violence or abuse, which ranged from threats and aggression to actual physical harm, according to a 2011 Knowledge Networks poll. One in 10 college students have been physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Always make sure you know the background of the person you are dating. Just because he is popular, this does not mean he is safe. Get trusted friends to vouch for him if you are unsure of his character.
College is a stressful time, and the incidence of emotional abuse among dating relationships increases when partners are under pressure. Guys at college are more likely to be emotionally abusive to their date if they are stressed out, according to the 2010 study "Psychological Abuse Perpetration in College Dating Relationships," headed by Barbara Gormley of Georgia State University and published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. If college girls were excessively "needy" in their relationships, stress caused them to be more emotionally abusive to their boyfriends. Walking, meditation and exercise are all good for combating stress. Be wary of dates who think it's fine to belittle you or call you names.
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- Personal Relationships; Romantic Relationships and the Physical and Mental Health of College Students
- Sociology Compass: The Shift from Dating to Hooking up in College: What Scholars Have Missed
- Recent Developments in Alcoholism: Drinking Among College Students - Consumption and Consequences
- Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs: Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem among College Students
- Knowledge Networks: College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll, 2011
- Journal of Interpersonal Violence: Psychological Abuse Perpetration in College Dating Relationships Contributions of Gender, Stress, and Adult Attachment Orientations
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