Note: This post was submitted to Student Caffé by Abigail Golder; learn more about her work here. We would like to thank her for her submission and credit her as the author of this blog post.
Maintaining a healthy love life in college can be challenging, but with a bit of dedication, the relationship(s) you build during your college years can last a lifetime. Here are the best tips for ensuring your relationship will be a success while in school.
Maintaining a High School Relationship in College
Saying goodbye to your high school sweetheart is one of the most emotional challenges you will face during this time of great change. If you and your partner have decided to make a long-distance relationship work or are going to the same college in the fall, there are easy tricks to help prepare for this transition.
But before you get too far ahead of yourself, there are a couple factors to consider. First off, check in with your feelings. Is this relationship something you really want, or are you wrapped up in the emotions of leaving and starting anew? Ask yourself about what you want out of your college experience. Do you see yourself in a monogamous relationship? Or even an open one? Listen to those feelings and be honest about them with your partner.
Also consider why you’re in the relationship. If this is your long-term partner, it might be worth sticking it out. If you’re just afraid of being alone in a new place, it might be best to reconsider.
Above all, remember to prioritize your college experience—it only happens once. Remember, too, that this will be an adjustment for both of you if you decide to continue the relationship. If you know things are going to change ahead of time, it will help keep your relationship steady going forward.
Meeting Someone New
In college, the options to meet someone new are pretty limitless. And oftentimes, these new friendships and relationships are ones that will last a lifetime. Start by talking to every person you sit next to, whether in the dining hall, in the classroom, or on a park bench. You never know where the conversation might lead.
Orientation is a great time to put yourself out there, as everyone is feeling anxious and nervous about meeting people at the start of the semester. Remember that many students you meet at orientation are in the same boat as you, more or less starting over in a new location. The more places you go, both on and off campus, the higher chance you have to meet people that you’re interested in dating.
The Different Types of Stressors in a Relationship
Roommates: Roommates are an inevitable part of the college experience, so expect that to play a part in your relationship. Be open with your roommate about your relationship and ask them to do the same with you. Have this conversation sooner rather than later to avoid future problems, and set rules that you both must follow, like capping the number of nights a week someone can sleep over. This will ensure everyone gets along. After all, you don’t want tension with your significant other or your roommate, or worse, both.
Scheduling: Create a master calendar for each semester, including classes, field trips, and extracurricular activities. Doing so also offers you a great opportunity to figure out when and where you and your partner might find some alone time with each other. Even though you’re out of your parent’s house, finding one-on-one time can still be a struggle when you’re living the college life. Even if you can only find time to get cozy and watch a movie every couple of weeks among the crazy rush of new friends, work, and assignments, it’s important that you spend time with your partner.
Multiple Campuses: Many colleges and universities have large campuses spread out over a city, so there’s a chance that you could be far from your significant other even at the same school. Be wary of too many visits across campus as you don’t want to feel like you’ve moved in with one another, which can cause extra pressure on your relationship. Create a balanced visiting schedule and make sure you leave time for self-care, homework, and time with platonic friends.
Balancing Your Relationship and Friendships: A new school means a whole new crew of people to hang out with, and while this includes your partner, you also want to make time for new pals. You’ll value the time spent with your significant other more if you have room in your schedule for everyone. Spending too much time with someone can actually make you resent each other. Plus, if you neglect your friends, you may find you have no one left to hear about your amazing relationship! Plan ahead with your friends to show that you care about them and want to spend time with them too. In the end, friendships can be even more important and fulfilling than romantic partnerships.
Homework: School work and a degree are the reasons you’re going to school, and chances are there are going to be plenty of assignments to keep you busy. At different points in the semester (midterms, finals), you may find your schedule overwhelmed with classes, homework, and study sessions. Now’s the time to add to that calendar we mentioned earlier. Prioritize what’s most important to you by setting aside blocks of time to focus only on schoolwork and using to-do lists to keep on track.
The better you do at managing your time, the less stress you will feel in your relationship. You don’t want to find yourself in a fight over your bad grades and blaming your partner at the end of the semester. You both are there to support one another and help make college the best experience it can be. While you need your study time, respect that your partner needs theirs too.
Part-Time Jobs: Working a part-time job may also put a strain on your relationship, but it’s important to find a balance. Let your partner know what your job requires early on in the semester to set realistic expectations. If you’re not a work-study student, you should let your employer know that you’re a student and will have extra work on the side because of this. Request any necessary days off as soon as you get your syllabi.
The time you do spend with your partner doesn’t need to cost your entire paycheck either. Simply spending time with one another, even just staying in and binge-watching your favorite Netflix show, going for a walk, or taking advantage of student discounts at the movie theater is a great way to spend date night.
What advice do you have for other students who are trying to balance college and a relationship?