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High School vs. College Relationships


You’re in college now, and things work a little bit differently. You don’t have your parents anymore constantly breathing over your shoulder. Your best friend who has been by your side since kindergarten is at different college, and your boyfriend and you are now trying the long distance thing or you ended it because you thought it’d be easier. Either way, life is different and you’re on your own but so isn’t everybody else. That means relationships are going to be different in college too, and here’s how.

Things move at different rates:

In high school, there always seems to be a predicted time schedule for every relationship. First, texting is instigated by an encounter in a class, a grind at a dance, or just because we’re high schoolers and we’re bored. This consistent talking where a “good morning” and “goodnight” text becomes regular. Eventually, this leads into a so-called “thing,” which usually after a few weeks becomes a labeled relationship. But remember, you aren’t actually dating until you are Facebook official! And don’t forget- the guy must first ask the girl formally, “Will you go out with me/be my girlfriend?” before anything is set in stone. For those of you who have experienced a high school relationship, it’s easy to get familiar with this routine and expect similar motions going into college…

College is a different story. Period. Coming out of a relationship that lasted most of my high school career did not prepare me in the slightest. It’s easy to expect/compare qualities in your high school sweetheart to those in college guys. We often find ourselves over analyzing those meaningless, random hook-ups because we crave the comfort of knowing whether those people actually care or think nothing of it. In college, it’s best to go into something without expectations. If there’s a connection then there’s a connection, but if not, don’t try to make something out of the first couple guys you hook up with because it’s what’s most familiar to you.

Added Stress Factors:

In high school, most of us live with our parents. This fairly sheltered environment takes away the stress of all the things we have to think about now, such as worrying about when the next rent check is due, or when we can fit in time to go grocery shopping. Maybe we have a part-time job, but most the time that money is going towards our shopping funds rather than to support our everyday life style. Adding a relationship to mix of these added factors can be quite stressful. A relationship takes time and effort. It’s important to balance all aspects of life so nothing is left neglected. Set your priorities straight and don’t put anything on the back burner because you are too caught up in your new relationship.

As annoying as our parents were in high school regulating our curfew, when it was time to come home for dinner, whether we finished all of our homework before going out, and the amount of time we spent with our significant other was a blessing in disguise. In college, it’s up to us to make these decisions, and it is too easy to spend and overwhelmingly amount of time with someone you’re seeing when no one is regulating it…

Be Careful Not To Play House:

Set some limitations on how much you hang out with your college boyfriend. Especially when making the transition from the dorms to an apartment or house. It’s quite easy to include your significant other in every activity you engage in. Whether it’s consistent sleepovers, sharing most meals together, planning to meet each other at the library every time you study, and hanging out every day and night of the weekend, you might find yourself forming what feels just like a marriage.

Find some separation and self-regulate! Before you know it, you won’t know how function without this special person, and your friends/roommates will probably realize this before you do. Set times for hanging out with your boyfriend, but also times for yourself, school, and your friends. Don’t get caught up in a routine of having to see this person absolutely everyday…because trust me, you don’t. You’ve lived being single before, so don’t forget you can handle spending time alone.

Nights Out:

When it comes to college, unlike high school, going out 3 to 4 days a week is not unusual. Nights out and partying comes with added factors that could be stressful on your relationship. Before dating, you and your significant other most likely had different groups of friends that you enjoy hanging out with. Don’t neglect these friends or only hang out with them on a weekend night if your boy is with you. It’s very important to establish a system of how many nights a weeks you spend going out together. Keep in mind that sometimes the guys just want to hang out with the guys, and having you (the girlfriend) around all the time can put a damper on the night. Don’t take this personally- it’s a two way street. Your girls don’t always want your boyfriend hovering around either.

Establish a system of trust. Just because you go to different parties one night, doesn’t mean the other is going to forget about you and flirt with anything that moves. Check in with each other throughout the night, but make sure to enjoy yourself and give each other some space. If you trust each other, you should have no worries. Plus, it’s fun to catch up in the morning over breakfast and share your stories about the night before.

Kayla Van Hoose 
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