Is college really about finding “the one”? Or is it about being one?

Dating in college: “don’t,” some might say. “It’s awful,” but isn’t it part of the whole college experience? At least that is how the media portrays it.

If you surf through TV channels or scroll through Netflix long enough, you are bound to find a show or a movie about dating in college. When I think of some examples off the top of my head, TV shows like “Grown-ish,” “A Different World” and “Boy Meets World” come to mind. Although these shows cover diverse topics like suicide, prejudice and family issues, the focal point throughout them seems to be relationships.

In “Grown-ish,” Yara Shahidi’s character, Zoey Johnson struggles to pick what guy she is more interested in: Luca or Aaron. In “A Different World” many of the characters are in and out of relationships; some lead to a future while others go nowhere. In the later seasons of “Boy Meets World,” the main character Cory Matthews is all grown up and is in a fully committed relationship with his childhood sweetheart, Topanga.

You can even find a lot of movies about dating in high school like “All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Pretty in Pink.” All of these films place emphasis on going out with someone at a young age, almost as if it is a necessity.

However, this may not be the case for some people. While there are students at the University of North Alabama who are taken by a significant other, the rest remain single. Media plays a huge role in many of our lives today, influencing trends and social behavior. If TV shows and movies are depicting dating as a must, are single people missing out on getting the college experience?

With the pressure of seeing their friends in relationships and the media pushing this image of dating, it can force young college students into relationships or sometimes,

“situationships” with people that they do not really want to be with. Or it can force them to look for a relationship in every person they meet: the person who hands them their coffee at Starbucks or the person who holds the door open for them while they leave their class.

TV shows and media rarely focus on other pressing issues. I know they can only cover so much in 30 minutes or an hour and a half, but why is dating chosen as the central topic over things such as mental health, self-growth and self-care?

I’ll leave you to ponder on this question: are we doing college wrong when we try to pursue ourselves rather than others?