The feeling of love is in the air as everyone prepares for the quickly approaching Valentine’s Day. And this year is a little different for me, as it is my 5th year anniversary with my boyfriend, who I adore. This had me start thinking about people like myself, those who are in college and in a committed long term relationship. Over the the last five years I have grown a lot as a person and learned a lot about myself and my partner. After thinking about my relationship and speaking to some friends about their long term relationships, I wanted to go over what we’ve learned. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are the top 5 things I’ve learned from 5 years of dating (these are not in any particular order).
1. You learn to communicate
This may seem like an obvious one or that it might be self-explanatory, but think again my friends. Communicating with the other person(s) in your relationship needs to be very black and white. Hoping they will automatically know what you need, or assume they know what you want is something that doesn’t happen. And if that does happen, then they are a mind reader and that’s awesome. What I’ve learned is that you have to actually talk or write out what you need or want in the relationship. The more clear and upfront you are the better. And this needs to be a two way street, open communication between everyone is a huge key to success in any relationship.
2. Just go with the flow
Being in any long term relationship while being in college full time requires a lot of patience and compromise. As you are trying to manage your own life as well as keeping up with your partner’s life, you don’t always have time to see them or even go through things together. After talking to some other people who deal with these same situations, a girl named Renee said, “You learn that you can change together, you can be ever evolving on your own and can also be changing together and working together through life.” You have to hope that your changing will match up with their changing, and it’s up to both of you to make the changing work for the relationship to keep going. Again, patience and compromise people.
3. Its ok to be young and in love (screw the haters)
One of the main hardships I’ve noticed while dating in college is the negative reactions from those around you. It could be as simple as a mean look to as blunt as someone criticizing long term relationships to your face. Or even having people tell you, “Oh, there’s no way it’ll last.” Well you know what? Your relationship is as simple as that. It’s your relationship. And if everyone is happy and it’s healthy for all parties involved, then forget what other people think. Being in a relationship the past five years has been amazing, so fun and a learning experience that’s helped me grow immensely. And to all those people in high school who said we wouldn’t last, well look at us now. Being in love should be something you’re proud of, not something you should be ashamed of.
4. Laugh as much as you can (if you can’t laugh with them its ok to laugh at them too)
It’s no secret that laughing is one of the best ways to be happy, and this applies to relationships too. When things get stressful or it’s just not a good day for you and your partner(s), one of the best things to do is to stop what you’re doing and take a breather. Try and find something to laugh with or about together because it will then set the mood on a more positive note. And yes, there are moments when things need to be serious and laughing will not help. But, laughing with them (or even at them afterward) will help make light of whatever the situation is. You can’t control life so you might as well just laugh.
5. It’s always a constant effort (ugh, as if)
Another big thing I’ve learned is that relationships don’t get easier over time, they take just as much effort and time as they did before and will in the future. And this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something people need to keep in mind when going through a long term relationship. It’s not like class where you can show up without doing all the homework and get by. You can’t just skate by with a committed relationship because it’ll go downhill fast if you do. Even one of the students I talked to about dating said, “It’s horrible sometimes. I mean it’s like a 5 credit class that never ends. And he lives a couple hours away.” Dating in a long term relationship takes work, and even more work if the relationship is long distance. It really tests your communication skills as well as patience and compromise. But working at the relationship every day is very rewarding. Another student talked about his girlfriend and said, “Life isn’t easy and neither is college, and I’m so happy that we get to go through it together.” This is the rewarding part, going through your busy everyday life and still finding a way to fit love into it no matter how big or small.
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