University Relationship Statistics 2023
It’s a well-known fact, dare we say even a cliche, that many people meet the love of their lives when they’re studying at university.
Hey, it makes sense. You’re young, free, single, and mingling with people who share like-minded views and interests, all while enjoying a thriving social life.
Aside from blossoming university romances, there are also those who choose to maintain their existing relationships long-distance, and then of course there are the dreaded breakups and the university dating scene.
We’re here to take a brief look at some of the most recent university relationships statistics to see how things are shaping up for the next academic year.
We’ll be looking at:
- University Relationships Statistics: an Overview
- Long Distance University Relationships
- How Long Do University Relationships Last?
- Gen Z and Dating Apps
- Gen Z and Social Media Love
- Gen Z Dating Statistics: An Overview
- How Gen Z Couples Meet
- How Serious are Gen Z Relationships?
- What do Gen Z Look for in a Partner?
- Gen Z and Sex
- Friendship Statistics
Here’s five of our fave facts from this article:
1 - 20% of British students meet the love of their life on campus (Society 19)
2 - 75% of students are in long-distance relationships (Society 19) (EarthWeb)
3 - The significant number of potential partners to choose from while at university is the main reason why pre-existing relationships break up, according to this research. The greater choice also makes it easier to find the right person.
4 - 74% of Gen Zers use dating apps. (Briana MacWilliam) Now, they are the main go-to for Gen Zers looking for a date. (YouthSight)
5 - TikTok is starting to overtake Tinder as a place for young people to find love matches. (CNET)
University Relationships Statistics: an Overview
Here are a few general university relationships statistics, let’s see if any of them take you by surprise…
- 20% of British students meet the love of their life on campus (Society 19)
- According to a poll reported by The Student Room, those most likely to find true love with somebody on their course were students studying tourism/transport (37%), followed by:
- Business / Management (27%)
- Social / Policy (27%)
- Languages (24%)
- Marketing / Comms / Media (21%)
- Religious Studies (21%)
- Psychology (87%)
- Computer scientists were found to be the least likely to find love at university (88%)
- Geographically, there are differences between university relationships statistics in different university cities. According to a One Day University Love League survey of 2,000 UK graduates, the romance prospects in each university city look something like this:
- Oxford (35%)
- York (29%)
- Durham (25%)
- Liverpool (23%)
- Manchester (21%)
- You’re less likely to find love at university if you study at:
- Warwick (11%)
- Glasgow (11%)
- London (14%)
- Cardiff (14%)
- Nottingham (14%). (The Student Room)
- In another, similar survey carried out by the University of Surrey, the results turned out like this:
- Edinburgh (53 per cent)
- Bristol (46 per cent)
- Liverpool (46 per cent)
- Cambridge (42 per cent)
- Norwich (42 per cent)
- Durham (41 per cent)
- London (37 per cent)
- Oxford (36 per cent)
- Birmingham (36 per cent)
- Nottingham (35 per cent)
- A recent study found that approximately 28 percent of the most long-lasting American university relationships were formed between students from the same institution, usually being institutions with religious affiliations. (Facebook Data Science)
- The average length of relationships is one year. (Psychnet)
- University relationships with a high rate of support, intimacy, and selflessness have more chances of surpassing the one-year milestone. (National Library of Medicine)
Long Distance University Relationships
Many students start their university life already forming part of a romantic relationship, usually with a partner that they met while in high school.
These days many people choose to move to a different city to study, while others go to a completely different country to do a study abroad programme. This sudden change in dynamics presents high school sweethearts with a tough decision to make: continue with the relationship, or break up before uni starts.
Choosing to maintain that relationship while at university, particularly if it becomes a long distance relationship, can be a challenging prospect. While their peers are free to meet others on uni nights out or form bonds with people on the course, a long distance relationship requires extra time and effort, creativity when it comes to communication, and a lot of dedication to the other person.
The rewards for the effort can be worth it though, as is borne out by some of the following long distance relationships statistics:
- 75% of students are in long-distance relationships (Society 19) (EarthWeb)
- Most people in long-distance relationships visit each other up to two times a month. (BedBible)
- Positive relationship statistics indicate that almost 60% of long-distance relationships work out. (StudyFinds)
- Over 66% of long distance relationship couples break up because they don’t talk about a future together or make any plans for the coming years. (Earth Web)
- 66% of participants claim that the most difficult thing about long-distance relationships is the lack of physical intimacy. (Bedbible)
- 31% of long distance partners said they missed having sex with their partner. However, over 50% of those relationships work out long-term. (Bedbible)
- A 2018 survey found that 60% of long-distance relationships last. (New York Post)
- Academic researchers report that 37% of long-distance couples break up within 3 months of becoming geographically close. Couples are just as likely to break up during the distance phase as they are after distance ends. (Dating at a Distance)
Keeping in touch with your long-distance partner is crucial to the relationship’s survival. Communication is important in any relationship, but especially so when you are physically separated from your other half. That’s where mobile phones and video calls come in.
- Statistics reveal that long-distance couples send each other an average of 343 texts per week, 49 text messages per day, and talk for around 8 hours per week via video chat or phone.
- 24% of internet users with recent dating experience have used the internet or email to maintain a long-distance romantic relationship. (Pew Research )
- Long distance couples use social media more than any other type of couple. (Liebert Publications) although this can also lead to miscommunication problems and jealousy.
How Long Do University Relationships Last?
When you’re at university, it’s easy to meet new people and form bonds quickly. After all, you’re all in the same boat together, sharing new life experiences, and it’s an exciting period in your life.
But just how long do those university relationships last? Let’s take a look at what the university relationships statistics say…
- Men are more likely to marry their university true love than women (54%) (tsrmatters.com)
- Moreover, 47% of men admitted to ‘not ruling out rekindling a university romance’, and successfully reuniting with an old university flame after a chance meeting (39%). So, just because your university relationship didn’t work out the first time around doesn’t always mean it’s consigned to the scrap pile forever!
- 63% of men in college claim they want to be in a relationship that is traditional rather than uncommitted. (Time) However, 83% of the same people questioned admitted to still having casual, short-term relationships while they focused on their academic goals and achievements.
- The significant number of potential partners to choose from while at university is the main reason why pre-existing relationships break up, according to this research. The greater choice also makes it easier to find the right person.
- Many university couples break up due to time management problems and struggles with work-life balance. (Online Divorce)
- The Nuffield Foundation UCL Covid-19 Social Study found that 25% of Gen Z reported a worsening of their relationships with their partner since the pandemic. Conversely, 46% noted an improvement in the quality of their relationships in the same period of time. (UCL News)
- A study undertaken by StudyMode shows Gen Z students prioritise their grades over their love lives, but they still allow themselves to enjoy romance. (Brig Newspaper)
Gen Z and Dating Apps
Many university students begin their studies as singletons, with some choosing to leave behind relationships from school to go onto pastures new.
Others will experience their first ever relationship while diving into the adult world and the dating scene. One of the most common ways to meet someone these days is by using dating apps.
Whether you love them or loathe them, it’s an undeniable fact that dating apps have taken a foothold in the dating game, especially post-pandemic.
Before the pandemic, for 45% of Gen Z, dating apps were used as a pastime, “to have something to do”. (State of the Youth Nation)
Now, they are the main go-to for Gen Zers looking for a date. (YouthSight)
Gen Z is the first digitally native generation - that is to say, the first generation that can’t remember life before the Internet and the first to be born into our ultra-technologically-powered world.
That translates into dating - here are some online dating statistics related to Gen Z:
- 50% of Tinder users are part of Generation Z. (Tinder)
- 74% of Gen Zers use dating apps. (Briana MacWilliam)
- During the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of Gen Z daters came to Tinder to get out of their echo chamber and meet new and interesting people. (Tinder)
- 50% of Gen Z use dating apps at least once a week, while one-third pay subscription to at least one dating app. (The Balance)
- Dating statistics reveal that 45% of Tinder users use the app to boost confidence. (BedBible)
- 16% of engaged Gen Z couples meet online. (The Knot)
- More than half of Gen Z and Millennials believe you can fall in love over a video date. (Match)
- In 2018, 51% of people aged between 18 and 24 stated that virtual dating is essential and 21% of Gen Zers think a texting conversation can be perceived as a date.. (Think With Google)
- 64% of those 18 to 24 years old saw dating websites as an opportunity to be diverse in who they date. Gen Z dating trends include dating people of different skin tones, religions, and ethnicities, and online dating has much to do with it. It’s common for Gen Z online daters to see diversity as a plus. (Soocial)
- 53% of Gen Z say they use dating apps in order to make new friends. 40% use them to find a romantic partner, and 34% use them to find a potential marriage partner. (Y Pulse)
- Four-in-ten students (40%) have undertaken sexting. Much of this seems likely to have included sending naked or semi-naked images to another, as 37% of students say they have done this. Smaller proportions have had sex over video software (16%) or the phone (12%). (Higher Education Policy Institute)
A study showed that having similar views and personalities is important for Gen Z when deciding whether to match with someone on a dating app:
- 74% of Gen Z say they wouldn’t match with someone on dating apps who has opposing views from them on green issues.
- 73% say they wouldn’t match with someone who doesn’t have the same humour.
- 71% say it’s a deal-breaker if a potential match has different political views than them.
Another survey by online dating service OkCupid echoed these findings. It seems that shared values are high up on the agenda for Gen Z when looking for a romantic partner. That’s also because Gen Z prioritises being accepted for who they are and finding someone who respects their identity and choices as autonomous individuals. (BBC)
- 7 in 10 millennial and Gen Z Ok Cupid users say it’s important to match with people who care about the LGBTQ+ community. (OkCupid)
- The pandemic has had an impact on how dating app users choose to match or not, with many profiles identifying their owners as vaccinated or unvaccinated. Gen Z are more likely than Gen X to cancel a date if a match didn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. (Soocial)
- Over two-thirds of Gen Z Tinder users said it’s essential for their match to love animals. Being a good cook helps too, as 50% of Gen Zers said they wouldn’t match with a person who doesn’t have similar culinary tastes. (Soocial)
But, despite being strong on the values front, Gen Z are a little less forthcoming than other generations when it comes to actually setting up a date or showing interest in someone, even when a match has been made.
- Gen Z are 18% more likely than millennials to wait for a match to ask them out. (OkCupid)
- This may be due to the fact that many in Gen Z have “given up” on dating, and participate in hookup culture more than formal dates. (Soocial)
- Over 70% of Gen Z prefer a phone call before meeting up for the first date. (Match)
Gen Z and Social Media Love
There is an emerging alternative to finding love using dating apps: social media.
- 48% of Gen Z and millennial social media users say they have dated someone they met using social media platforms, while only 45% have dated through traditional dating apps. 41% have asked someone out on social media. (Y Pulse)
- Facebook Dating was launched in 2019, where users can create a separate dating profile to meet people based on preferences.
- Facebook also trialled a speed-dating app called Sparked where users meet each other in video format.
- TikTok is starting to overtake Tinder as a place for young people to find love matches. (CNET)
- The hashtag #dating has a huge 26.8 billion views, while #singles has generated an impressive 465.2 million views. (Y Pulse)
Gen Z Dating Statistics: an Overview
- Many Gen Zers are very self-aware when it comes to dating psychology and attachment styles. They prioritise finding someone who makes sense for them as individuals, rather than just an attractive or interesting option. (BBC Worklife)
- There has been a marked decrease in willingness to adhere to a gender binary among Gen Z. Around 50% of Gen Z identify as heterosexual, with many preferring to label themselves as “heteroflexible.” (Pacific Standard Magazine)
- In the last few years, less Gen Z women identified as exclusively heterosexual. Only 65% said they only felt attraction towards men, and less women were having sex only with men. Men’s preferences more or less the same as in previous years, at around 85% opposite-sex attraction and experiences. (The Conversation)
- According to a 2020 YouthSight survey of 50,000 British students, 52% of students think relationships and sex education ‘should be made compulsory at my university during the welcome period’, which may explain why only 59% said that they were ‘very confident’ about what constitutes sexual consent, with 30% stating uncertainty about whether consent was possible after alcohol consumption.
- 35% of Gen Z students ‘learned more about sex from pornography than from formal education.’ (Higher Education Policy Institute)
How Gen Z Couples Meet
The way that Gen Z looks for partners is quite different to previous generations, with a greater dependence on technological aids such as apps and dating websites. The Knot reports that:
- A tiny 6% of Gen Zers meet at bars, concerts, and parties.
- 17% of engaged Gen Z couples meet in high school.
- 14% of Gen Zers meet through mutual friends.
- 11% of Gen Zers meet at work.
- 30% of Gen Z say that their financial situation is holding them back from dating. They feel that they need a certain level of financial security to settle down. (Match)
- Waiting for financial stability before settling down means that Gen Z are set to take longer to find the right partner, as they view themselves as “the most financially unstable generation in history” (BBC Worklife)
- An overall sensation of instability in the world makes Gen Z question whether they should settle down and have a family at all (BBC)
- Over 70% of young singles prefer a phone call before meeting up for the first date. (Match)
- Rather than dating in the traditional sense, many Gen Z students meet each other through casual hookups at parties, which then occasionally develop into more formal relationships. (The Sociological Quarterly)
But if Gen Z are not meeting each other in traditional ways, perhaps that’s because many of them are simply not ready for a relationship or aren’t too worried about finding love:
- 22% of Gen Z are actively looking for a romantic partner, while 41% are happy to remain single for now (Business Insider)
- The majority of single Gen Z and Millennials say that dating is harder now than in past generations, and 59% say it’s not worth the effort. (Y Pulse Dating and Relationships Report)
How Serious are Gen Z Relationships?
- 29% of Gen Z have married at the same age as 59% of older generations. (Briana MacWilliam)
- While 38% of young adults had casual sex in 2007, this number dropped to 24% in 2017. (Socius)
- Attitudes to cheating and open relationships are more liberal than before. As many people (43%) want a monogamous relationship as a non-monogamous relationship. (Briana MacWilliam)
- 80% of millennials and Gen Zers have at some point imagined their wedding day and most of them expect to be married within 2-5 years. (Briana MacWilliam)
- According to a study by dating app Happn, a third of Millennials and Generation Z are looking for love this year, with 37% looking for a relationship and 32% hoping to find a marriage partner (The Independent)
- 70% of Gen Z rejects the idea of a monogamous, limiting relationship i.e. marriage, and 60% do not believe in making a relationship permanent (Business Insider)
What do Gen Z Look for in a Partner?
- Generosity and equality are important for Gen Z when dating. 38% of Gen Z think the bill should always be split, but one in 3 surveyed said that the chances of accepting a second date increase if the date pays for the first one. (The Balance)
- 74% of millennials and Gen Z say that personality is the most important factor when choosing a partner. Looks are also important, more so for men (70%) than women (47%). But only a third rated income and wealth as being of importance. (The Balance)
- 50% of young singles are open to a long-distance relationship. That’s 20% more than singles in general. (Match)
- Gen Z wants to have more stable, committed relationships once they eventually settle down. That might take a while, though. (Daily Targum)
Gen Z and Sex
When Gen Z begin their university life, what do they have in mind? Well, recent studies show that it’s actually friendship that appeals to younger generations, rather than sex.
Here are some statistics as reported by the HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute):
- 43% begin university as virgins, 25% have not had their first kiss, and 18% in a long-distance relationship.
- While at university, 41% have sex, 32% get into a relationship, and 11% choose to voluntarily abstain from sex.
- Of those who engage in sex, 52% do so in a monogamous relationships, while 26% have sexual experiences with 2 or 3 partners in their university career.
These statistics go some way in dispelling the stereotype that many people have of wildly promiscuous students having sex with multiple partners. It seems that Gen Z is rather more discerning in their sexual choices.
Even in Freshers Week, which is notorious for being a week of partying and hedonism, only 10% of Gen Z students expected to have sex during their welcome week, while 9% succeeded in doing so. Most were busy forming friendships to last. (Higher Education Policy Institute)
Perhaps that was why in recent years Gen Z were described as ‘The New Young Puritans’ by The Financial Times.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the statistics for romantic relationships while at university, we thought we might as well take a glance at the other significant relationships you’ll make while studying.
Friendships are, after all, the basis of a healthy social life and, more often than not, it's the quality of your friendships that determine how well you face the ups and downs of the university experience.
For many people, the friendships that they form while at university long outlive the university experience itself. 60 percent of students said they were still friends with someone they met on their first day of university. (Yugo)
Making friends at university is easier than at any other point in most people’s lives. That’s quite natural when you consider that you meet like-minded people on your course, who share your interests. You also have that shared experience of growth, becoming independent adults together, which in many cases works as a bonding agent.
Having said that, how durable those uni friendships are seems to depend on geographical location and which university institution is attended. 82% of students who graduated from Lincoln, Liverpool and Glasgow said they were bad at keeping in touch with uni friends (Yugo)
According to the our own survey, the top 10 UK uni cities for making best friends forever are:
- 58% of UK the 50,000 UK university students surveyed by YouthSight said that making friends was more important to them than finding sexual partners, with only 16% excited about sexual encounters at university. Higher Education Policy Institute
- The same 2020 report published by the HEPI (Higher Education Policy Institute) reported that 30% of students found it hard to maintain friendships while in lockdown, and post-pandemic the results were evenly varied when university students were asked if their friendships were stronger as after the pandemic.
- The first year of university can be a particularly lonely time for UK undergraduate students (European Educational Research Journal)
- A study found that UK students were spending an average of 4.2 hours a day alone in their room, and 35% spend even longer alone due to loneliness and not having friends to spend time with. (BMC Public Health)
- The internal design of student accommodation has important effects on interpersonal relationships and wellbeing. The availability of shared communal areas in student accommodation increased the likelihood of friendships forming. (Easterbrook)
- 88% of young people in the UK who were planning to move away from their family home rated living with other people who they like as more important than the specification of their accommodation. Students also know that the first few weeks of student life are vital for forming friendships (BMC Public Health Report)
- The primary support system for university students shifts away from their family and high-school friends, meaning that they form new relationships (International Association for Relationship Research).
- Students who are well integrated with others in their accommodation are also less likely to consider dropping out of university (BMC Public Health Report).
So there you have it: a round up of some of the most up-to-date, insightful and interesting university relationship statistics.