College brings a lot of life changes, especially in the relationship department. You’re meeting tons of new people, and odds are you’ll start to develop some serious feelings—you might even fall in love for the first time. Being in love is probably the best feeling in the world, but sometimes you’re not prepared for some of the not-so-fun issues that come with falling head over heels. We chatted with Samantha Burns, LMHC, Boston’s Love Expert, and she shared her top five things that you might not expect to happen when you fall in love (and how to deal).
1. You might lose other relationships
It’s easy to get swept away when you’re falling hard, especially if it’s your first real relationship. “Everything feels magical, partly because your brain is producing chemicals, such as dopamine and noradrenaline, which enhance excitement and reward,” Burns says.
Yet prioritizing all of your time with your new SO can make your friends feel taken for granted. And after all, should your new relationship not work out, they will be the ones to help lift you up.
“Make sure you carve out quality time to get together with friends, and not just because your [SO] is busy,” Burns says. “Also, keep in mind they don’t want to hear about your SO 24/7.” Make it a point to ask her what’s new in her life, and maybe just chill out with the relationship talk in general. There’s more to life to bond over!
2. You might still get crushes on other people
When you’re in college, you’re constantly going out and meeting new people. The truth is, Burns explains, there are different stages and types of love, and remaining in your relationship is an active choice that you make each day.
After the first year, you should expect to pass through the initial honeymoon stage, which is very passionate and intense. You’ll move into a more intimate relationship, which is defined by a close, deep bond. There is also a component of commitment, in which you have to make the decision to remain together, which is hard if you wind up at different schools.
“It’s natural to find other people attractive, so don’t freak out!” Burns says. “Ask yourself if you’re crushing on someone else because your [SO] isn’t meeting your needs. If you find yourself seeking attention outside of the relationship, it may be time to have a more serious talk with your SO.”
Burns advises that, if you’re committed to your relationship, it’s important to set appropriate boundaries with the new people you meet. You know when you are just friends and when you are flirting, so be honest with yourself.
3. You might have to compromise a lot (but too much is bad)
When you start your first serious relationship, compromising can be a difficult lesson to learn. But the truth is, you’re not going to get your way one hundred percent of the time—that’s a fact!
“Sometimes a compromise feels okay because you know that you are making the person you love happy, and that in return makes you feel good,” Burns says. “However, be weary of feeling as though you need to give things up in order to make the relationship work—your friends, your hobbies, your values and opinions. That’s definitely a red flag!”
“In the best relationship, you don’t have to compromise constantly because you naturally want the same things, and that makes it feel easy,” Burns says.
Compromise means you meet in the middle, or you do something for them with the expectation that they’ll give back equally at another time. You don’t want to be selfish and demanding, and you also don’t want to lose a sense of who you are in the relationship. It’s a healthy balance.
4. You have to be really vulnerable
Despite being absolutely wonderful, falling in love for the first time can actually be really scary! That’s because you have to open yourself up and let someone in, which means you have the potential to be hurt or disappointed.
“Though it may be difficult, you must let your guard down and allow [them] to see the real you—the no makeup, no filter, real-deal you,” Burns says. “That means sharing your hopes and dreams, your fears and shame.” This doesn’t happen over night, and it’s going to be scary the first time around. Love means opening up and trusting your SO, and while it might be scary to risk your feelings, there’s a good chance it’ll all be worth it in the end.
5. You might have your heart broken
This one goes along the lines of being vulnerable, but of course when you open yourself up to someone there’s always the risk of having your heart broken. The majority of people have more than one love in their lifetime. “I know this sounds unromantic and impossible to imagine when you’re totally smitten with your new SO, but there’s a chance this relationship won’t work out,” Burns says.
People break up for many reasons—someone cheats, you move away for college, you grow apart or one person falls out of love. It’s really painful and there are all sorts of mixed emotions you’ll likely experience, such as anger, sadness, disgust, betrayal, numbness, loneliness, confusion, rejection, resentment or even relief.
“The most important thing to remember is that you will get through it. With each day that passes, your heart will heal,” Burns says. “You’ll come out of the other side of the breakup as a stronger person with a better understanding of what you want out of love and a future relationship.”
Processing the breakup is going to be the key in moving on. That means talking about it with trusted friends and family and creating time for yourself to cope with activities such as journaling, exercise, music, art or counseling.
And that’s it! Of course, there’s no one correct path to success for any relationship. It’s mostly about taking things one day and a time and figuring out what works for you and your SO. For more relationship advice from Burns, make sure you check out her website LoveSuccessfully.com. You can also subscribe for her FREE ebook about loving successfully, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.