Before we even consider dating, there are some things you should know about me.

My life is very planned and structured. I pay thousands of dollars, which I work my ass off to earn, to attend school each year. Like a part-time job, studying takes up about 20 hours a week. I have finals, papers, plus internships and extracurriculars (because a degree apparently isn’t enough to land a job). No surprise here: I find college to exhausting.

Outside of my academic responsibilities, I’m careful to carve out time for what matters to me. I am close with my family. I have extracurriculars and friends who need my attention. I make a point to go to the bar with my girls and to sit in bed wearing a facemask and watching “Greys Anatomy” (yes, I still watch “Grey’s Anatomy.” Don’t @ me.) at least once a week.

All that is to say that I have priorities, and dating isn’t my first one, so if I’m going to do it, I want it to be worth my time.

Dating can be complex, and it involves a lot of unknowns. You get a text, then wait the appropriate number of minutes to respond, and sometimes no reply comes at all. You put on fake eyelashes and shave your legs, then go out to a dinner that may be the best hour and a half of your month or may feel like a job interview. You immediately get a message about what a great time your date had, or you get radio silence, only to be interrupted by a “u up” text the following Tuesday night.

Look, I’m not desperately looking for someone to put a diamond on my finger, but I’m future-minded, and I don’t have time for a never-ending quest to decipher why you have left my message on read for an entire day. If you are not planning to stick around and be straight with me, thank u, next. This isn’t about looking for “forever.” I simply do not have the time to put effort into dating someone who won’t put effort into dating me.

If you’re thinking I’m sore because I’ve been burned before, you’re right. I’ve become emotionally and physically exhausted from trying to impress someone who ended up ghosting me. I’ve left dates thinking I was the perfect balance of flirtatious and charming and had my date decide I wasn’t even close to that. I’ve taken an hour to get ready, only to be asked half-heartedly for a raincheck, and I’ve been in short-term relationships that ended because the other person “just wasn’t feeling it”.

But, I’ve also been in relationships that have brought me a lot of great memories. They have helped me grow as a person and taught me more about what I want out of dating. I’ve learned I crave stress relief at its finest — someone who can pull me out from behind my textbooks and remind me of the fun that comes with having a partner. When a class becomes way too overwhelming and I start to doubt what I’m capable of, I need someone to be supportive and tell me that it will be okay.

I’m not unrealistic, though. I don’t expect, nor do I want, to be anyone’s first priority. I know I couldn’t give that kind of attention to someone else, and it would be unfair to demand it from anyone else. As college students, we are not at a point in our lives where that’s reasonable. Our primary responsibility is our studies, and that means that having a good time can’t always come first.  

If you can bring out the best of me — half fun-loving, sunkissed brunette, half little gremlin that crawls out from under the covers in the middle of the night to raid the pantry for Girl Scout Cookies, let’s talk. But be forewarned: I’m not the type to wait around, so if you don’t meet my criteria I have no problem moving on.