To preface this article, I want to start by saying that relationships are not mandatory, and they most certainly do not define you. Our culture is one of romance, and relationships are often seen as the pinnacle of achievement. However, if you have no desire to make that kind of commitment during college (or ever), that’s fantastic. However, if you have met someone, and are looking to stand the test of college time, read on!
College is a tumultuous time in almost anyone’s life. It’s the time when you really start to figure out who you are, and what you’re going to do with your life. Full disclosure, maintaining a relationship through such a time is not easy. But it is very worth it. My significant other and I have been together for four and a half years now. We started dating at the end of our junior year of high school, and we are about to graduate college together. Making these huge life transitions with one another has been incredible, and it has pushed us to be both strong individuals and strong partners. Here are my “secrets” for having a wonderful long-term relationship through college.
You should be an “I” before you are a “We”
What I mean by this is that you are your own person, and your SO should love you for that. Many couples make it a point to be defined by the fact that they are in a couple. But that’s not healthy for anyone, because if/when the relationship ends, both parties aren’t quite sure who they are on their own anymore. I’ve been there. I’ve dated someone who was perfectly fine with (in fact, in favor of) my identity being, “his girlfriend.” Independence is important in any type of relationship, but especially so in a romantic one.
Never stop trying
Keep flirting, keep leaving little notes everywhere, keep asking them on dates. Once a relationship becomes official, many people find that they were only in love with the things the other person was doing to win them over in the first place. The “honeymoon phase” doesn’t have to end, it just has to grow and evolve as your relationship does. Surprise picnics in the park turn into, “Surprise! I cleaned the whole apartment because I know you’ve been stressed.” But the occasional surprise picnic in the park wouldn’t be a bad gesture either. The bottom line is never stop trying to make your SO feel like the most special person in your world.
Talk about everything
First and foremost, you and your special someone should both know where you see the relationship going. Are both of you in it for the long haul? Can you see yourself with this person in 5 years? 10? You should also talk about what you’re feeling and doing day-to-day. I don’t mean give them a rundown of every little thing that happened to you each day. Just chat about things that happened at work, how classes are going, and how you’re feeling. These seemingly trivial conversations will bring you so much closer in the long run. Something I’ve found with my SO is that we never run out of things to talk about. We’ve lived together for a little over a year and a half, so we spend a lot of time together and there are always new conversations, new debates, and new stories. It comes so easily, and that’s something that has helped us immensely.
You get out what you put in
When I say that things in my relationship come easily, I am absolutely not saying that we haven’t had to work to get to where we are. Relationship maintenance is not a small task. It requires time, and effort, and patience (shocker). And it is so much more than just communication, communication, communication. If you’re not willing to stand by your partner through hard times, you’re not ready for a long-term relationship. College is a trying time for every aspect of your life. Money is tight, stress is running high, and your schedule is fairly packed. You have to tackle all of these issues as a team (and not take things too personally during finals week).
While no relationship is easy through college, if you’re willing to put in the work to truly know and love someone, it is so so worth it. There’s no secret and there’s no such thing as a “perfect” relationship. And, obviously I don’t know everything because every relationship is incredibly different. These are things that have gotten my relationship to where it is now and I hope they can help give you a nudge in the right direction.