Can Your Relationship Survive Finals Week?

Finals week can turn any collegiette into a sweatpants-wearing, Nutella-hoarding, stressed-out, grouchy mess. We’ve all had days when we woke up, knew we had six chapters of economics to study and a hefty final research paper to write and realized that we probably should not have the privilege of human contact that day.

But when you’re in a relationship, it’s not so easy to simply tell your SO that yes, you will be living in this self-induced solitary confinement full of pizza and tissues. Being in a relationship during times of stress is hard. Luckily for you, we’ve come up with three easy tips to make sure that finals week is a test for your brain, not for your relationship.


1. Communicate your expectations clearly

It’s no surprise that any good relationship has crystal-clear expectations and communication. Whether you need 24 hours to study with your cell phone completely off, a break for coffee every six hours or a motivational text every hour until that sociology final, your SO will want to be there for you — if he or she knows what to do.

“Openly discuss your needs and expectations for during finals,” says Jasbina Ahluwalia, a relationship expert and founder of Intersections Match by Jasbina. “Don't expect him to read your mind — express your needs and encourage him to share his by actively listening.”

Setting your expectations and schedules can help take some of the stress out of finals; if you know he’s studying all afternoon, you won’t be stressed out that he hasn’t responded to your text!

“We will usually talk about the upcoming week so we can be sure to set times to hang out together,” says Krysta, a junior at Wayne State University, of her and her husband. “Of course, having a schedule isn't the most romantic and spontaneous thing, but finals week is so hectic—it’s better to go in … prepared.”

Ahluwalia says that a great way to support your SO during finals week is “by expressing your needs, cutting each other slack and helping each other focus on your studies instead of distracting each other.” If your SO knows that your dream of becoming a doctor can’t come true without good grades in chemistry, maybe he or she will be more chill about you not responding to a text or canceling dinner at the last minute.

Every collegiette wants something different from her SO during finals week, and it’s up to you to decide what you want and ask for it. 

2. Sync your schedules (and your breaks!)

Along with clear expectations comes the responsibility of knowing your SO’s finals schedule — does he or she have three finals at the beginning of the week, a final every day or just papers due at the end of the week? Knowing your SO’s schedule will help you because you’ll know when he or she may get stressed.

Ahluwalia suggests “coordinating your schedules to find small blocks of time to connect during finals week.” To be the most supportive of your SO and to find times to take breaks, however, you have to know what’s going on! While you may not necessarily prod your friends for their finals schedules, knowing your SO’s can really make things easier for your relationship. 

“My husband and I will usually plan out the week ahead of time so we know when each other will be busy,” Krista says. “That way we can plan who makes dinner, who goes to grab chips for movie night, etc.”

During the stressful time of finals week, a girl has to eat, exercise and take other forms of breaks from studying. Ditch your bad studying habits and learn how utilize breaks best in your studying. Include your SO in these activities — you won’t be lonely, and he or she will love to see you when you’re taking a break. 

However, Ahluwalia suggests thinking twice before you study with your SO: “You know yourself — will his studying with you provide comfort and moral support, or distract you?” Will your SO actually be helpful while you’re studying for that chemistry final, or you should hit up your lab partner as a study buddy instead?

“Consider taking breaks together for essentials, like meals and stress-reducing workouts,” Ahluwalia says. “During your finals-week breaks, be present and focus on each other.  Also keep in mind that touch can be a great stress reliever.” 

Knowing you have time with your SO to look forward to can help ease a long day of studying. “We spend the day studying, but pull ourselves from the books at night,” Krista says. “We will have dinner together, watch a movie or go for a walk – anything we can do together for two or three hours away from the school environment.”

After finals, plan something fun. “Immediately after big tests, we are usually pretty tired, so we will probably watch a movie together or just hang out,” says an Alice*, a junior at Stanford University, of her and her SO. “But the weekend after big tests or finals when we've had a bit more sleep, we love to go hiking together!”

3. Let your SO know you care

During finals week, make sure that your SO feels loved and supported. “Send him short texts or write him little notes and [leave] them on his book or pillow,” Ahluwalia says. Before finals week, she says, you can make “thoughtful gifts like a ‘finals basket’ filled with Starbucks gift certificates, his favorite snacks and loving notes.” You’ll be less stressed if you know that you’re supporting your SO, and it will make him or her feel great, too!

“Consider planning a special break for the two of you immediately after finals, like a special celebratory date night or romantic getaway,” Ahluwalia says. “It will provide a light at the end of the tunnel and give you concentrated time to reconnect.” Start planning those reservations at that favorite restaurant now so that you don’t have to worry about it during finals week!

“I think that a big part of support in any relationship is being a good listener, so one of the ways that I support [my SO] during finals is by being aware of what he has going on and listening to how he feels about everything,” says Kate*, a junior from Stanford University. “I also know that finals period is one of the most stressful times at school, so sometimes the best way to support someone is to listen without the need to give a lot of feedback, or even just spending time together that doesn't have anything to do with tests or studying.”

Letting your SO know that you care about him or her means being attuned to his or her needs and desires. Even if you may want to discuss every detail of your calculus final, your SO may not want to talk about that tricky question on the economics exam. 

 

Studying for finals can be a long and stressful process, but supporting and being supported by your SO can make everything a little more manageable. Your relationship doesn’t have to take a toll when textbooks have to become your new SO; instead, you can make your relationship even stronger when you two face adversity together. 

*Names have been changed.