“Having a [significant other] is like having a 12 unit course, and I can’t afford to overload,” some students like to joke. There’s a grain of truth to that statement; relationships do take time and effort for anyone, not just for college students. Whether you decide to have a partner in college is completely up to personal choice, but for those who do decide to enter a relationship, there are key things to keep in mind:
Set up boundaries. A relationship can easily consume your life and make you lose the balance of what’s important. Make what you want out of college (and life) clear to yourself and to your partner. For instance, as I grew more involved in The Tartan, I understood that I wanted my college career to be packed to the brim with writing, networking, and forming a bond with the other contributors. From editing editorials to revising copies to writing weekly, I often find myself without a moment to take a break (but still make time for fun!). Conversely, my boyfriend wants to expand his engineering skills and invests in robotics. We both recognize each others’ passions and realize that even if we don’t understand what the other gets out of the other’s respective work, we realize that our passions are valid and need to come first. Having someone who recognizes what gets you up out of bed every morning is important; so is being that person for someone else.
Communicate with your partner. Just like you’re not a mind reader, neither is your partner. If you feel like you’re not focused enough on your courses because you’re spending time hanging out instead of studying, let your partner know. If you’re not happy with any part of the relationship, bring it up. At one point, I felt overwhelmed being in a relationship and managing life outside of my relationship. I wondered if I should “drop the 12 unit course,” going back to the silly saying mentioned earlier. In my case, I ended up striking a good balance between spending time with my boyfriend and spending time taking care of all other things in my life that are important to me: keeping a good relationship with friends and family, academics, writing, and enjoying life.
Encourage each other to be the best versions of yourselves. I entered my relationship second semester of freshman year. Reflecting where I was a year ago, I realize how much I have changed as a person thanks to my boyfriend. I had a brute-force approach to life. I beat myself over any perceived failure and failed to take care of myself physically and mentally. Instead of sleeping and eating a well-balanced diet, I stayed up late and lived off of cans of Red Bull in hopes to cram more productivity in each extra minute. This led to me being unhappy and struggling with my courses. However, my boyfriend helped me stop this cycle by encouraging me to take small initiatives to fix it. We started eating meals together, which got me to develop a normal eating pattern. He encouraged me to get more sleep and take more time to evaluate my needs. It was a slow process, but I saw that as I ate healthier (and cut out Red Bull altogether!) and slept more, I became happier. This energy radiated. I now had the energy to enjoy life and actually pursue things I wanted to. Conversely, I’m attempting to help my boyfriend with staying organized. Over time, I noticed that he developed a more regular daily routine and had some structure in his everyday life. Ultimately, this allowed us to have our best semester in terms of academic performance in Fall 2018, and neither of us can wait to see what kind of people we develop into or what the future holds.
Romantic relationships aren’t the only ones that need TLC in college. Relationships that you maintain between friends and family are just as important, and skills like good communication are vital in ensuring a healthy relationship between them all. However, being in a romantic relationship has allowed me to hone in on one particular relationship and evaluate what makes a good relationship…good. These skills and lessons I have learned, I found, apply to other aspects of my life and have made me be a better friend, student, sister, and daughter.