College 101: Balancing RelationshipsSep 19, 2004 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Did you go to college for an education or to find love? Read this to balance them both.
College relationships are almost as bad as high school relationships. Seriously. There are many different types of college relationships, too, which don't make matters much easier. The best thing you can do is keep a level head and not get carried away with your romance.
Believe me, I know from experience. Do yourself a favor and learn from my mistakes.
First, it is important for you to define the type of relationship that you are in. Secondly, see if you fall in the typical behavioral pattern defined within the romance named. Finally, fix it! You're not the only one who goes through these kind of relationships! Don't become a statistic! College is for education.... Don't you think the price of tuition is a bit much to pay for a romance?
The Spring Fling
This is the most common college relationship, usually begun during Spring Break. It doesn't matter if you go away or if you stay on campus; there is the potential of a Spring Fling. If you stay on campus, most of the people in your dorm will have gone on break, leaving only a smattering of people throughout the building. These people always end up bonding, having dinner together, going out, etc. For example, during my freshman year in college, my Spring Break plans fell through at the last minute. I ended up staying in my dorm with maybe 8 other people. One was a very handsome water polo player, whose name I have long forgotten so I will just call him Mike. Mike lived one floor above me. He was the only person on his floor and I was the only person on mine, so we ended up spending a lot of time during break together. We were two people that would never have been friends. It was like Survivor, I guess. We were bored. He was a party animal and I was straight laced. Yet, I cooked dinner a few times for him, and he took me out. Truth be told, we had a great time. However, after Spring Break ended and everyone moved back, Mike and I stopped talking again. It was as though our Spring Break had never happened in the first place.
A lot of people that go away for Spring Break think they meet their "soul mate" during the booze luge or some other drunken frenzy. They build up this idea of the person that they met, and obsess about them once they return to college. They grow depressed when they don't hear from them, and begin neglecting their "normal" lives. Grades slip, more alcohol ensues, life is a mess.
How can you avoid the Spring Fling? I'm not necessarily telling you avoid a Spring Fling. Just avoid the feelings associated with a Spring Fling. Handle it with maturity. Realize that there is a 95% likelihood that this will be a one-night stand type of situation. Are you prepared for that emotionally? If the answer is "no," then you should probably avoid a Spring Fling altogether.
Crude title, I know. However, it is so, so true. When you are a freshman - particularly the women - you will find a LOT of attention from upperclassmen. I had three significant boyfriends my freshman year in college, all of whom were seniors. To be quite honest with you, I don't think I dated anyone under a junior. It wasn't intentional-- I just received a great deal of attention from upperclassmen. Sure, I had meaningless flings with people in my dorm, but I never really had a relationship with people that were my age.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being in a relationship with someone older than you. However, you - whether you admit it or not - are a bit more vulnerable when you get to college than the people that have been there for 4 years. During this relationship, you may find yourself pressured into doing things that you wouldn't normally do. For example, my first college boyfriend (a senior) pressured me to have sex with him. I was a virgin and I refused. He broke up with me saying, "I'm not waiting 6 years for you to have sex with me," as though I was going to wait until I got married. (Incidentally, HE was a virgin, too!) Another guy (a senior) broke up with me for the very same reason four months later.
Later during my college career, I asked a friend of mine why he liked going out with the younger girls. "Fresh meat," he simply replied. Maybe you have some things in common with a senior when you are a freshman, but you're about to go through all of the things that they just went through. They are going out into the "real world" after graduation, and you'll still be taking notes in Fleischman's Logic class. Do you think you'll still have something in common with that person? Don't put yourself in a situation where you could end up with a broken heart.
Another problem with having a relationship with an upperclassman is that they may not take college as seriously as you should. The first year is the most difficult academically as well as emotionally while the later years are a bit easier. If you do get involved with an upperclassman, make sure that your education comes first.
I have nothing against sororities or fraternities. As a matter of fact, I am a proud sister - a founding sister, mind you - of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. I have encouraged friends and family members to go Greek.
However, I must admit that fraternity parties tend to get a little out of hand. Truly. Granted, they may not be as crazy as what you witness in Animal House, but things do happen. Often times partygoers end up drinking way too much and "hooking up" with someone of the opposite sex. Again, like a Spring Fling, this usually ends up as a one-night stand kind of scenario.
The best way to avoid this is by not getting so incredibly drunk that you don't know what you're doing. If you are known to drink a lot, have a friend (a "sober sister" if you will) make sure you don't do anything that you are going to regret in the morning.
Someone that you meet and hook up with at a fraternity party almost never ends up in a relationship. If it does end up in a relationship, someone will probably search for a way out. Either that, or they'll end up getting drunk at another fraternity party, impair their judgment and hook up with someone else, thereby cheating on the first person they hooked up with and causing a lot of anger and hurt feelings.
This relationship is by far my favorite college relationship... but only when I was the one doing the rebounding. I'll never forget my big rebound "relationship." My fiance at the time dumped me on Valentine's Day (I had actually tried to break up with him 2 days prior-- another long story I don't want to get into) and went to a party at the Tau Kappa Epsilon house that night. There, I met Jay, a senior (I was a senior, too) that was friends with the guy that I had a crush on (who was a freshman). Jay and I wound up kissing, then continued dating for a couple of weeks thereafter. He was someone that I totally would have avoided having a relationship with, but I needed a "warm body" so to speak-- someone who made me feel good about myself. I ended up breaking it off with him. Jay ended up being very hurt and annoyed because of the whole thing.
I'm in quite the conundrum with this type of relationship. I wholeheartedly recommend rebound relationships to people that are fresh out of a lousy relationship. However, I caution those that the rebounder might date. Know exactly what you are getting yourself into. Is the person fresh out of another relationship? If so, you might want to insist that things be taken slow.
I had 2 long-distance relationships while in college. I guess you could say that I had 2 and a half long-distance relationships, since a guy I dated freshman year went to Hopkins in Baltimore. Believe me, if you date someone who doesn't go to your school, you can consider them long-distance.
While I was a senior, I was actually engaged to someone that lived in Tennessee. We got engaged over Spring Break (we worked on a movie together, but it was still a Spring Break romance that went too far), and he lived in TN while I went to school in DC. He'd come to visit me every so often, and I lived there for the summer before senior year.
My senior year while I was engaged to him was horrible. I felt guilty whenever I went out with friends. I was depressed. I didn't want to go to class. I neglected my studies. I ran up my phone bill. I developed interested in other people, and felt even worse. All the while, this gem of a guy was cheating on me. (This is the same one that dumped me on V-Day.) I felt an imaginary leash around my neck during my senior year. If we weren't engaged, I'm sure I would have had more fun.
I am not a man-hater. I think that you should date as much as possible while in college. You just have to be smart about it and make wise decisions. It is SO important that you listen to your friends and family-- especially your roommates-- when it comes to advice about your relationships. It's hard to do. Look at it from their perspective-- They love you and they are on the outside looking in. Would they really tell you something just to hurt you?
Realize that college is a lot more than going to find a husband. Maybe that's what it was ages ago, as depicted in Mona Lisa Smile, but not anymore. Don't allow anything to get in the way of you and your studies. If your relationship is taking too much time, perhaps you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
Make sure that the person that you are in a relationship with understands your dedication to college. After all, you are paying (theoretically, anyway) a lot of money to advance your education and get more opportunities for your future. If the person you are dating doesn't understand that, it's definitely time to move on.
Oh, to have had the knowledge then that I have now.
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