Maintaining a relationship while in college can prove to be very difficult. In a world where you are trying to balance schoolwork and a personal life, often times one takes priority. Sometimes you may lose sight of what is important and this in turn can damage your relationships.
According to Dr. Kathryn Hutchinson, executive director of Student Wellness and Affairs, the most important part of maintaining a healthy relationship is balance.
This balance, she said, comes from a strong set of boundaries. Hutchinson discussed how relationships in college can be more difficult because it is the first time in their lives that students are truly setting out their boundaries.
“You need to decide what your priorities are and set those boundaries,” she said.This view was echoed by freshman finance major, Elizabeth Janson.
“Me and my boyfriend both have really rigorous schedules, so we accommodate each other,” said Janson.
“We’re really mature about it; school comes first.”
There are also other important considerations when determining whether or not your relationship is healthy.
You have to take time to look at your relationship and determine your motives for being in it. Feeling needy and lonely may drive you into a relationship and this can lead to a skewed set of expectations.
If you enter a relationship for a way of escaping your loneliness, you might put too much emphasis on what you want from your significant other.
If you are expecting undivided attention from your significant other and aren’t considerate of his or her needs, it can drive you two apart.
“At this level, the idea that you need to put everything you have into a relationship isn’t always right,” said Hutchinson.
But, how do you manage to find a balance that works for both parties?
“Communication is key,” explained Hutchinson.
Both people need to express their positive and negative feelings as well as their needs. Either party may feel stress being brought on by the other partner or an outside source.
If this happens, communication allows for both participants in the relationship to understand each other.
If you can manage to express these needs, such as time to do school work or attend to any other obligation, it may make the other party feel more secure in the relationship and not feel abandoned or ignored.
Jacklyn Davidov, a senior, has been married for a year and a half. Davidov feels that the support of her husband has allowed for her to continue with school successfully. “It’s definitely really hard, but I’m managing,” she said. “He is really supportive.”
She acknowledged that some adjustments were necessary in order for everything to work out.
“I just don’t take night classes now,” she said. “He’s older and working so that definitely helps.”
Stress can develop within a relationship and this may lead to trouble. It is important to detect the source of the stress. If the relationship is the stressor, it may be that you two are mismatched.
When expectations change on one side it causes stress. More importantly than the source of the stress is how you deal with it.
But more importantly, when you are stressed you don’t act normally or healthy.
Your coping skills are still developing at this stage in your life and honing these coping skills can be essential to leading a healthy relationship.
Being able to take responsibility for your actions in the relationship can make a big difference as well.
Participating in a healthy relationship while in college can be a lot of work and take a lot of patience. While it may seem impossible, don’t feel discouraged.
As Hutchinson encouraged, “If you have the capacity to be here academically, you are capable of a relationship.”