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It’s Okay To Not Want a Relationship In College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

Why you shouldn’t alter your plans to fit into somebody else’s timetable

As a college student, I’ve become very used to coming home to the question that is something along the lines of: “boyfriend yet?” or “Seeing anyone?” Every time, I shake my head with a smile before passing the question along to my sister (sorry, Mallory).

The question doesn’t frustrate me so much as amuse me. Growing up in a very midwestern, Catholic family in which both my parents had eight siblings, traditionalism rings true. I am one of the youngest of over thirty cousins and all but a few have followed the very well-worn path of going to college, meeting someone, graduating, moving in together and getting married only a year or two after graduating. This isn’t to pass judgment. Rather, it’s just that in the deepest part of my gut, I’ve watched my cousins pass these milestones and wanted something very different for myself. This has made it increasingly difficult to reconcile with the pestering of aunts, uncles and other family members who seem to want this future for me more than I’ve ever wanted it for myself. On the rare occasion that I express this feeling, the common response I receive is something along the lines of, “Oh, just wait. You’ll be ready sooner than you think.” To me, this sends a very different message: The expectation is that after expressing what I don’t want out of my life, I’ll resign myself to it.

My main goal in life has always been to travel. I’ve yet to settle on how I will do it or in what capacity (teaching English? Working for an international NGO?), but I do know that when I’m figuring out my post-graduation plan, it’ll revolve less around what I’m doing and more around where I’m doing it. And the thought of having to accommodate someone else’s plans and shrink my sphere of possibilities isn’t appealing to me. It’s something that a lot of people can envision and what a lot of people want – a partner to enter into adulting with – but it’s never been what I wanted for myself. For as long as I can remember, I have romanticized being alone in a foreign place. That’s been my fairytale, and I lived it this summer when I studied abroad in Tel Aviv and then solo traveled in Portugal. It was everything I wanted, and the freedom that soared through me was a confirmation that this was the path I was meant to follow. 

I want the time to build a life abroad for myself, by myself, before I bring someone else into it.

I’ve come to realize, however, this isn’t as common of a desire as a steady job and relationship – which means, it’s not going to be as easily understood. To a lot of people, I come across as selfish or naive when I express this. As a result, I’ve become accustomed to shaking my head and smiling versus explaining why a down payment and a family aren’t something I see for myself in the time frame that most people do.

My confirmation in myself and the future I envision has given me the confidence to withstand the questions from pestering family members. While sometimes the right thing to do is to push back, also realize: it’s okay to want something different; it’s more than okay if others do not understand it, and perhaps most importantly, it can be preferable if they do not. If the future you want was made for everyone, there would be nothing for anyone to question. Instead, others’ resistance could be your sign that you are doing what is true to you.

Hi, I'm Julia! I am a senior at UW-Madison, double majoring in International Studies & Legal Studies with a certificate in Chicanx & Latinx Studies. I love to travel and hope to teach or work at a nonprofit abroad someday.