“A hot date with Ben and Jerry” was one among the many plans for Valentine’s Day that students listed in The Daily Targum Valentine’s Day survey.
Comprising of approximately 230 undergraduate students’ responses, the survey aimed to get a better understanding of students’ perspectives on relationships and dating in college.
The Targum compiled the results of the survey that started on Monday and asked Mary Kelly, lead psychologist at the Counseling, ADAP and Psychiatric Services at Rutgers, for her opinion.
Fifty-eight percent of students who took the survey were female and 42 percent male. Out of approximately 230 participants, 189 identified as straight, with nine identifying as bisexual and six as homosexual.
Eighty-one sophomores took the survey, followed by 70 first-year students, 51 juniors and 28 seniors.
Kelly said the survey targeted a variety of students and thus, the results consisted of a lot of variations. It was not a fully objective survey, because people in relationships were more inclined to answer the survey.
When asked about relationship statuses, 51 percent identified as single, 40 percent said they were in a relationship, and 9 percent responded with, “it’s complicated.”
Of the students who responded that they were in a relationship, 59 percent said their significant other attends Rutgers, 19 percent said they are in a long-distance relationship, 14 percent said their significant other attends another university and 5 percent responded they are dating a high school student.
When posed the question of how serious they take college romantic relationships, 51 students answered “eight” on a scale of one to 10. (One signified “not serious: just here to have fun,” and 10 signified: “very serious: looking for a marriage partner.”)
Thirty-three students responded to that question with a “five,” while 13 responded with a one. The majority of students responded with a number between five and 10.
When asked how students perceive how serious other college students consider their romantic relationships, 48 students responded with a “five.” Most students gave responses between three and six, with nine students responding with “one” and five students responding with “10.”
Eighty-six percent of students said they would like to be in a relationship in college, and 14 percent of students said they are not interested.
As far as whether or not students are looking to meet their future spouse in college, 112 responded that they are, and 105 are not. A small percentage of students responded with “maybe.”
In response to the question of “Do you consider your relationship status to be connected with your mental health?” 59 percent of respondents said “yes” and 41 percent said that they do not consider the two to be connected.
Kelly said she found the connection between relationships and mental health to be the most interesting part of the survey.
“We are social animals, and we like to be in relationships, so the connection is not surprising,” Kelly said. “But, I would like to see how well they are connected and how strong the connection between relationships and mental health is.”
She also said the mental connection does not hold true for only romantic relationships but for any kind of relationships with family and friends.
“Relationships don’t always have to be romantic but any relationship just being a part of the community is good for your mental and physical health,” she said.
Students said they had a variety of Valentine’s Day plans. While many responded with “nothing” and “eating chocolate,” others said they plan to go out and or take their significant other out to dinner. Other notable answers included watching Netflix, doing homework and hanging out with friends.
Lin Lan, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said she is single because she does not find dating in college serious enough. She said most people here are not ready to commit.
“In college, you haven’t really figured out what you want for yourself,” she said.
Lan, a member of the debate team, said she knew others in serious relationships. Many of her friends’ emotional stability depend on their relationship status.
She said students’ relationships relate more to who they are than whom they meet.
Stephen Hackler, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said he has been dating his girlfriend for five years and seven days. Although she now attends Ramapo College, the two manage to see each other at least every other week.
His friends range in their dating perspectives, from hooking up, to friends with benefits, to serious relationships. He said any option is fine as long as the couple is clear on their expectations and communicates their feelings.
“I think communication’s the most important thing in any relationship,” he said. “With enough communication, you may be able to get through anything.”
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he plans to move in with his girlfriend and marry her after they get their college degrees. He recognizes many would criticize his path.
Valentine’s Day may bring expectations to be with a romantic partner, Kelly said. But the day can be celebrated in many other ways.
“[Valentine’s Day] is a day to be kind to yourself, engaging in self-care, reminding yourself that there may be expectations, but it’s an opportunity to be with family and friends and do activities that make you feel good about yourself,” Kelly said.
Numbers may not add to 230 because not every participant answered every question.