The Best Relationship Advice I've Learned in College

The relationships you form in college can be hard. On one hand, you're likely to grow closer with your friends and partners than you ever were in high school. On the other hand, with that proximity comes additional challenges. Disagreements with your roommates will create a need for conflict resolution skills. You may find yourself needing to learn how to communicate with your partner as you navigate your first serious relationship. As a senior, I can honestly say that I've learned far more about relationships over these last four years than I have at any other point in my life. Read on for the advice that helped me navigate my relationships, romantic or otherwise, throughout college. 

  1. 1. You Don't Have To Date Someone Just Because They're Nice 

    My first year of college, I briefly dated a guy who was perfect for me on paper. The problem? I realized that we didn't really click after we started hanging out more frequently. Even though I felt iffy about it, my friends pushed me to give him a couple more chances because he was such a nice guy.

    In the years since then, I've seen my friends contemplate the same decision after they start dating someone who's just so sweet but doesn't really click with them or meet their needs. It can be tricky to tune everyone out and listen to your gut when you're trying to make decisions regarding your love life. However, it's important to listen to your gut and do what you know is right for you — even if the person in question is the "nicest" one you've ever dated. 

  2. 2. Be Careful Who You Discuss Your Relationships With 

    This is excellent advice from one of my favorite professors (hi, Caren!). If you and your boyfriend are in the middle of a fight, do not tell everyone you're friends with that you might break up with him. Similarly, if you and your best friend are in an argument, the girl you used to live with freshman year probably doesn't need to hear about it. When you pick your confidantes, pick a close friend and/or your partner — and leave everyone else out of it. 

  3. 3. Actually Learn How to Apologize 

    Apologies do not start with "I'm sorry if my actions unintentionally hurt you." We're adults. You most likely didn't tell your girlfriend she was being annoying to hurt her feelings or break your friend's favorite mug to spite him. When you apologize, admit what you did wrong, why it was wrong, and how you're going to fix the problem. So, if you invited a friend over while your roommate was sleeping and you woke your roommate up, you could say, "I'm sorry I invited Sam over this late, and I know that was inconsiderate of me. In the future, I will make sure to text you before inviting her over." 

  4. 4. Don't Rush to Make Big Relationship Decisions

    In any close relationship, romantic or otherwise, you'll find yourself in arguments and disagreements. Some larger conflicts might lead you to believe that you should leave the relationship altogether. If you need to do this, don't make that decision quickly. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons and consider how you really feel. You might be able to move on from the issue altogether. 

  5. 5. Pros and Cons Lists Are a Godsend 

    This is my life hack that I've picked up in therapy (I'm a Virgo looking for a career in law). When you have to make a big relationship decision, make a pros and cons list for either outcome. End your friendship or work out the argument? Talk to your girlfriend about taking the next step or hold off until next semester? Writing things out can help you figure out how you're feeling about big-picture decisions. 

  6. 6. Boundaries Are So Important

    All relationships have boundaries, and these boundaries need to be respected. Boundaries can govern everything from sexual consent to venting without asking. You can get better about respecting boundaries simply by asking your friends and partners if you can do something or if they'd like to participate in something. For example, the next time you get ready to launch into a diatribe about your ex-boyfriend, ask your best friend if she has space to hear you vent. She might be dealing with something else and need you to respect her boundaries. 

  7. 7. It's Okay to Not Know Everything 

    As someone who is a big-time planner, I like to know everything I can about every situation. This can make relationships agonizing. One thing I've learned is that it's okay to not know how things are going to turn out. As a junior, you don't need to worry about whether you're going to stay with your partner after graduation or whether you're going to live with your best friend again senior year. Though this can be a hard mindset to slip into, once you reframe your thoughts this way, you can stop stressing about the future before there's really a need to. 

Your college relationships will give you the opportunity to learn more about conflict and communication. Hopefully, these seven tips help you navigate any relationship you find yourself in during college, whether you've met your first girlfriend or you're still figuring out how to get along with roommates. 

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7