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Devil's Advocate: Does St Andrews Have a Good Dating Scene?


The golden question, upon whose answer depends the validation, happiness, and self-esteem of the thousands of students who have run St Andrews’ romantic gauntlet. It’s easier to blame the abstract and impalpable ‘dating scene’ for the failures of individuals. Indeed, to cast off the blame for the infeasibility of those seemingly most feasible and fantastic relationships is perhaps a necessity to some. Their ego cannot handle the pain otherwise. Unfortunately, although I sympathise with those who try in vain to rid themselves of such self-aware self-reproach, I pity their denial of the blatant reality: the St Andrews’ dating scene is actually reasonably good, and to blame it for one’s own misgivings constitutes often an implicit admission of personal failure.

“Why sayest thou so!?”, I hear you faithful readers cry. The town is too small, the boys too subpar, and the dating apps local users too debauched; these are the arguments that I predict shall be laid at my door, and to which I shall dutifully respond.

The petiteness of the town, which brings with it the supposedly disagreeable consequence of being spotted and scundered by at least five people during each and every date on which you may go, is in fact a triumph all things considered. It offers a preponderance of dense and numerous cafés, of indubitable quality, such that your tightly-ordained dating schedule shan’t be corrupted by one or two establishments being filled to capacity. Furthermore, it encourages spontaneity; if you’re on a brief library lunch break, it’s no great qualm nor improbable excursion to ask your crush for an afternoon brew. If you bump into somebody you know, so what? Unless you actively dislike your friends and classmates — or, more precariously, they actively dislike you — such unplanned interaction is not to be feared.

On the note of St Andrews’ boys being subpar, I’m actually more than happy to concede this point alongside a minor observation. Because of St Andrews’ particular demographics, your ‘type’ can severely reduce your potential romantic partners. If you don’t yearn for a significant other brought up under the infamous finger of Uncle Sam, then approximately 20 percent of undergraduates are off the cards. If privately schooled English doesn’t tickle your fancy, then that’s another tidal wave into which your amorous soul may not plunge. Of course, nobody’s type — I would imagine — is as rudimentary and unspecific as those alluded to above. However, it does highlight how romantically destructive the idea of a ‘type’ can be, and how influential our individual perspective on others can be. I would implore all of you reading this to reflect on how you perceive others, and how you define your ‘type’. Delving yet deeper, I’d contest that, unless your type is ‘Grammar schooled Northern Irish men’, it is no wonder that you’ve found only disappointment amongst the boys of these three streets.

On the topic of dating apps, this should be a non-starter; dating applications should not be considered a part of the ‘dating scene’. They exist in their own realm, surrounded by the other most deviant and despicable creations of mankind. They are perhaps the most blatant symptom of the modern world’s degradation, decadence, and decline. Every fibre of my being exists to lead the righteous struggle against dating apps, and the latter are the antithesis of everything I am as a human being. On that note, if you’re disappointed by your experience of dating apps in St Andrews, this is definitively a positive sign: it is testament to the quality of your social calibration. Your distress arises because you recognise their inadequateness and artificiality. That urge that manifests within you is begging you to leave the comfort of your room and to integrate yourself into the real life – as rich as it is – of St Andrews.

This richness brings me to my final and most optimistic point. Not only is St Andrews saturated by exciting societies and social events galore, it is home to a remarkably diverse student body which is as intelligent and beautiful as it is polite and accommodating. When I consider the future, the days that lie beyond my time in St Andrews, I feel somewhat apprehensive. Apprehensive not because of job insecurity, nor because of where I may go to settle down, but because wherever that place may be, I am acutely aware that its population will not be – perhaps cannot be – as proportionally amicable, personable, and affable as is the population of our bubble. Hence, I encourage you, O ye who art presently enamoured; do not blame the dating scene – revel in it!


I could give a TED talk on the failures of the St Andrews dating scene. Unfortunately, until I can get over my crippling fear of public speaking, this DA will have to do. Because let’s be honest, shall we, it’s not really a scene is it? It’s more of a very (very) static tableau with a handful of lucky (disgustingly) happy couples and everyone else observing from the sidelines. Before I make my case in earnest, we’ll get the obvious out the way — the ratios are off. There, I said it. This might work in favour for some of you, but for those of us who have the misfortune of fancying boys, it’s really not ideal. At an already small university, having a limited pool to begin with isn’t much-helping anyone. For those who have any form of a type whatsoever, I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re screwed. You’re just going to have to take what you can get. Having a type isn’t narrow-minded, it’s normal. Grammar-schooled Northern Irish men just don’t do it for everyone (sorry Alex), and that’s ok.

The calibre of girls at St Andrews, however, is a pretty good one. From your bog standard English private school girl who hangs around Spoiled and is always just one shade off a healthy tangerine to your IR studying Californian who looks like she’s just walked out of that season’s Net-A-Porter catalogue, the standard is high. And, don’t forget your Scandinavian Don’t Walk models who are so effortlessly gorgeous they actually scare me (no one ever warns you the competition would be that tough) — so I don’t want to hear any complaints on that note.

We’ve all heard it before, “you leave the university in either one of two states: either married or an alcoholic” – thanks for that one, Wills. If those words don’t haunt you on a daily basis, they will start to eventually. The problem with attending a university renowned for its supposed matchmaking skills is it comes with a whole load of pressure to graduate having found, if not the one, at the very least some one. From your granny to the postman and that random aunt-adjacent woman who only turns up at Christmas, the only thing they ever want to know is “have you met your Prince William yet?” followed up by some combination of an awfully awkward laugh and weird wink. 1 in 10 might sound like reasonably positive odds, but when all the good ones seem to already be taken….

In the unlikely event you do manage to bag yourself a suitor, firstly, congratulations. Secondly though, you’ve got your next dilemma quickly coming your way. In our tiny town, everyone knows everyone, and it’s your next job to figure out just how you and your date are connected. If you’re lucky, it’s as innocuous as your flatmates’ boyfriend being in their tutorial…if you’re unlucky, they’ve slept with half your friendship group and dated your worst enemy. While this is probably something you can overcome, it definitely makes the initial interactions a little awkward — particularly if they’ve played a starring role in your flat’s post-60fun debrief.

Next up, where to? We’re working with some pretty limited options here — you’re essentially tied to some combination of a walk on West Sands, coffee, a pub trip or for the exceptionally brave among us, dinner. The problem with a romantic stroll on West Sands is that there are pretty much two weeks in the year which you can guarantee you won’t come back with hypothermia – miss that window though and I simply can’t promise you’ll have ten toes at the end of it. Add in a gust of that stupidly strong wind and you’ll be humbled pretty quickly. A coffee shop or pub date might sound cute, but honestly, sometimes it can be a bit uninspiring.

My final gripe is that here in St Andrews, we seem to have a very loose grasp on the concept of privacy. Not only can you guarantee you’ll bump into anyone you’ve ever met while you’re on a first date, but everyone here bloody loves a bit of gossip. Whether you got spotted with a potential new love interest that you were trying to keep under wraps or your date didn’t go so well, you’ve only got about ten hours before the whole town knows who you were with, what you were doing, and where you were. If all else fails, though, I’ve heard BrewCo is always a reliable host on a Friday night around say 7:30, a perfect match handpicked for you by yours truly (sign up for Saint Dates!) .

Image: Unsplash

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