Why You Shouldn’t Go to the Same College as Your High School Sweetheart

Deciding which college to attend is one of the biggest decisions we have yet to make, and there are an overwhelming number of factors to consider. Do we want a big school or a small school? Do we want to stay close to home or try to get as far away from it as possibly? And for those of us in relationships, an even bigger (and scarier) question comes to mind--should we go to the same school as our significant other? Contrary to popular belief, doing so may do more harm than good, while the alternate of long distance can have some great silver linings.

1. It’s important to leave your comfort zone

Going to college is a huge transition, and it’s designed to give you exciting and new experiences. It’s important to put yourself out there and try new things, but beginning this chapter of your life with your same high school sweetheart on your arm all the time often casts a safety net around you. And this can keep you from leaving your comfort zone.  Your freshman year at college is the time to make new friends, join unique clubs and do things you wouldn't normally try.

“Without my SO by my side, it was up to me to step up and put myself out there and try new things and meet new people. There was no temptation to fall back on for comfort,” says Ellie, a student at Northeastern University.

All of these exciting events can also make for great conversation with your SO the next time you speak to one another. You can tell them about the guy down the hall who taught you to beatbox or the Nobel-winning professor whose physics class you attended. There's so much more to talk about when you both have news to share. Video chats become all the more special this way!

2. You should learn to be your own person

Following the prior statement, it’s not only important to explore new experiences, but to explore more about yourself as well. You’re your own person, and college equips you with the opportunities to dig into who you are. A healthy separation is necessary and allows you to  develop your own perspective. You have the chance to put your interests first.  Hailey, a student at Simmons College, believes the same experience applies to friendship.

“There’s a healthy separation where I can be with my friends and have classes and then see them [or talk to them] after!” she says.

It’s possible that having your SO at the same college could prevent you from deepening other relationships, especially the one you have with yourself. With all the time you spent with your SO in high school, you might’ve not explored a subject area or formed your own opinion about a topic. Taking the time to be introspective can make conversations with your SO much richer.

3. Long distance can help strengthen your relationship emotionally

While going long distance might seem scary, it can actually help strengthen your relationship in new and exciting ways. By continuing to talk on the phone and video chat often, your emotional relationship will stand alone and grow stronger. Additionally, you’re both growing into yourselves at your different schools, and growing together while watching from the sidelines might be exciting.

“Going long distance gave me the opportunity to get to know my SO on a completely different level. We can’t hold hands or kiss, so we have to find intimacy and express appreciation in unique ways,” says Ellie, a student at Northeastern University.

“We find ourselves having a lot more conversations with each other, where we get to know one another as [more than just a significant other.] It helps strengthen our emotional connection to each other just as individuals rather than relying on physical connection.”

And think about it--the next time you see each other, you’ll be both emotionally and physically ready to see one another.

Related: How to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work Over the Summer

4. Spending time together becomes a lot more special

When you and your SO are in such close quarters, spending time with one another can become more of just a convenience than an active plan to see each other. Of course, hanging out and watching Netflix is always a fun activity, but planning an adventurous excursion can be much more exciting. If your high school sweetheart attends another university, you can have fun researching activities and waiting for the date to come.

“The fact that they aren’t on campus means there is probably more general planning in order to spend time together,” says Hannah, a student at Maryland Institute College of Art, “which can help ensure that both sides of the relationship are actively trying to spend time together instead of feeling like they have to spend all their free time together. I think in a way it can strengthen a relationship.”

Even if the times you see your SO are few and far between, your reunions may be more special and memorable than the majority of time you spent together in high school.

5. It will make you appreciate what you have

A lot of people say that you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone, and it’s completely true. However, this cliche statement is also accurate to long distance relationships. While the relationship isn’t necessarily gone or over, being far away will definitely lead you to be more grateful for what you have and further continue to strengthen your bond.

“It’s awesome being able to see my SO every day, but seeing them [only occasionally] is also great because it makes me appreciate what I have and absence makes the heart grow fonder. It also gives me something to look forward to!” says Hailey.

Not everyone in college has someone as dedicated and loving as you might have, so you’ll definitely be reminded of this fact if you and your SO attend separate schools.

Going to a different college than your high school SO is a really difficult decision to come to, but things can turn out for the better. Try to stay positive and keep every silver lining in mind!