The first thing your parents, aunts and uncles, and even your crazy grandma told you when leaving for college was to experience all sorts of people — to date around. "There are plenty of fish in the sea,” and "Take advantage of your youth," are all things you were advised to do. Needless to say, if your freshman year was like mine, you listened to your elders and did exactly that. You had the time of your life, but you also learned a lot of valuable lessons in the "dating" arena. You went on all the date nights you could and met his fraternity brothers, you pulled all-nighters studying and eating entire pizzas with your Spanish partner, and you even said yes to a dinner and a movie with the kid that rode the bus with you every morning. Meeting different types of people proved refreshing, but you certainly knew none of them were boyfriend material.

Sophomore year came more quickly than expected, and you still found yourself going to parties to hang out with the new cute neighbors, accepting a drink from the mysterious guy in the bar, and being set up on sorority events because you wanted to take someone new. Yet, once Spring semester came around you began slightly envying people in relationships. A night in watching Netflix with someone started sounding more appealing than a night downstairs at Flannigan’s. You considered the relationship world for the first time since...you probably can't even remember.

However, this is the point where I want to throw up a red flag and wrap you in caution tape, because this is the point where many people settle. People our age, especially guys, still have no idea what they want in life. How are they supposed to be in a relationship when they don't even have themselves figured out? Here are the Three Third Year Themes to never lose sight of when considering a relationship mid-way through college:

1. RESPECT - Aretha Franklin spells it out for you but let me do the same. Girls often get caught up in chivalry: when a guy opens the door, pays for dates or pulls out your chair. While certainly a component of respect, the best way to judge a guy's character is to look at how he treats others. He might be a wolf in sheep's wool by knowing all the tricks when it comes to you, but his actions towards others are crucial. Does he have strong relationships with friends? How does he treat his parents? Is he respectful talking to his professors, waiters at restaurants, or even a passing stranger on the sidewalk? Hanging out with him in different settings with different people will show you his true colors in no time.

2. PATIENCE - While I admit I lack some, patience is a virtue that is imperative when it comes to relationships. Girls often find a way to make an ordeal out of everything, whether we can confess it or not. Every event requires a somewhat thought-out outfit, when we say "just a minute" we mean give us at least ten, and even when we're ready we have to find our purse, phone, wallet, keys and a million other things we think we can't live without. We also read into everything and will spend hours overthinking one sentence a cute boy said. The day a guy understands that he will never understand is the day to give him your heart.

3. COMMITMENT - Relationships aren't all butterflies and rainbows, and when a guy understands your flaws and downfalls, then your relationship will be gold. Like anything in life, relationships are work. If he doesn't have a work ethic in school, his job, or any of his other relationships, then you might want to reconsider creating one with him. Communication is key, understanding is essential and remembering that opposites attract when you encounter adversity is important. All in all, if he doesn't know how to tough it out then tough luck: move on.

You might be ready for the love of your life, but settling isn't the answer. If he doesn't bring anything to the table, then let him walk out the door. He may be a fantastic person, but his maturity for a relationship might need some time to develop first. Always keep in mind, you are meant for way too much to settle for anything.

- Danielle Lewan is a rising junior from Madison majoring in digital broadcast journalism.

Opinions expressed in The Red & Black are the opinions of the writers and not necessarily those of The Red & Black Publishing Co., Inc. Contact the editorial staff with other viewpoints at opinions@randb.com.

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