College is one of the best places to meet your significant other. You’re more mature and future-minded than you were in high school. You’re more surrounded by like-minded people; many of whom share your interests. You’re away from family and get to live by your own rules. Life seems ripe for romance!
But being in a relationship in college comes with its own unique set of challenges. You’re already trying to juggle your academic workload, extracurricular commitments, friends, possibly a part-time job, and self-care. Having a successful relationship will require you to give even more of yourself: more time, more effort, and inevitable more money.
So if you’ve met a special someone that you think has potential, here are my top 10 tips to help you both stay sane and make your relationship last:
- Be upfront about expectations: Are you going to be exclusive? How often would you like to spend time with your significant other? Will a weekly date night work for both your schedules? Make sure you listen to what the expectations of your significant other are too. It takes two to tango! Be sure to give one another very honest answers to these questions because both dealing with future heartbreak and causing heartbreak are no fun.
- Schedule bae time: Unless things are already pretty serious, chances are that you are not living with your current college bae. This means that you won’t automatically have the hours after school and work to spend time together. When you’re already have a schedule full of study sessions, club meetings and social time, it’s important that you compare schedules for occasional quality hangout sessions with them. If there are days you can’t see them as frequently as you normally do, still be sure to make time in your schedule to show that you care. Whether it’s grabbing dinner together or sending a goodnight text— giving time to the relationship is what’s going to make it last.
- Go on a special date: You don’t need to blow off all your money at expensive restaurants every week, but spice up your love life intermittently by doing things out of the ordinary; a nice meal or a road trip together are easy and affordable ways to do this. Such memories are what keep your relationship feeling new and exciting, no matter how long you’ve already known each other.
- Don’t forget school: When you have an attractive love interest distracting you, it’s easy to get behind in school and forget that you are not in college to get your “Mrs.” degree. Barring the most extenuating circumstances—an accident, a diagnosis, or another time when you obviously need to be there for your partner— be sure to always place your schoolwork first. Remember that there are no “do-overs” in college!
- Communicate with your roommates: Whether or not you’re planning on having your significant other spend the night, they’ll probably be around your room or apartment more frequently than normal. Let your roommates know what to expect and listen to their wants and concerns as well—besides basic etiquette, it keeps tension low with the person you share your habitat with.
- Don’t overshare: You probably know that one girl who constantly posts pictures of she and her SO on Instagram, Facebook, and just about anywhere else people will see them and comment how cute they are. Don’t be that girl; it isn’t cute! More importantly, don’t rely on that kind of external validation to find happiness in your relationship. A successful relationship is one that only requires the approval of the two people involved.
- Don’t be jealous: In college, you and your bae will be surrounded by thousands of other people your age and gender. It’s inevitable that you will both make friends with people whom the other person may see as a threat, but be careful not to get caught up in those feelings. Being petty and holding grudges will only cause tension in your relationship.
- Expect some long distance: Dating in college, you won’t be spending every spring, summer and winter break together; especially if your relationship is still new. One or both of you may be going home for vacation or interning/working in separate locations during break. In such occasions, you’ll have to go about maintaining your relationship as all full-time long distance lovers do: regular text, call, and skype will be your best friend during this time span!
- Continue your own life: College is the time to discover who you are, figure out what you want to do with your life and make friends that will last a lifetime. Your significant other can and should, be one of your friends, but don’t let the relationship monopolize your time or define you. Keep meeting new people, spend time with friends and experience new things. Remember that you’re only young once!
- Ignore the naysayers: “You’re going to lose out on college experiences!” “Aren’t you going to miss the freedom of being single?” “You’re so young it’ll never work out!” When you first start dating, such statements are inevitable from both family and friends but it’s important to tune them out. A healthy relationship doesn’t stop you from enjoying life like you did before you started dating. Despite who passes such comments, no one actually knows what the future holds. Stay true to yourself and enjoy the journey of sharing your life with a special someone. It may work out and it may not; either which way, you should at least give yourself the opportunity to find out.
If you haven’t already noticed, there are two central themes my 10 tips for you: communication and trust. A relationship can’t work without them; most romantic conflicts arise due to a lack of them. It can be hard to work out conflicts with everything else college throws on your plate—and it can be especially hard to trust someone if you’ve been hurt before—but a relationship can’t move forward when there are pent-up feelings to deal with. So love with your whole heart, and remember: when in doubt, talk it out!
This is all my advice but what are your tips for making a college relationship work? Do’s, don’t’s, stories to share? Comment below!