College is regarded by many to be the greatest time in our lives: the first portion of our lives in which we have independence, freedom and privileges that we have never before enjoyed. As much as college is a mission to obtain a degree, it is an opportunity for us to
find ourselves. We explore our strengths and weaknesses as students and people and learn what we are passionate about. Some of us pursue these passions and some of us, sadly, pursue money. Nonetheless, what we often fail to take note of is that although in college we try to find ourselves, if we are lucky–or unlucky, depending upon how you see it–along the way may find someone else. A significant other that makes our lives better, a special best friend. These relationships are usually a blessing, but if they are not treated with the right kind of attitude, the couple can struggle.
A productive relationship is one that enhances each and every part of your life. In college, whether some people believe it or not, the most important job you have is being a student. Thus, when starting a relationship in school, you need to make sure you are not harming your academic standing. A common problem that I have seen arise among couples in school is having to deal with spending quality time together versus studying. It has come to my attention that many couples in college find time to study together. While this is a great strategy for combining a “hang out” with studying, since couples usually get along very well, they set themselves up for distraction. You may say that your girlfriend/boyfriend and you do not get sidetracked while doing anything academic together and that is great. This is simply my word of warning because I have had this happen to me.
An overlooked aspect of being in a relationship is the fact that now, not only are you accountable for your own feelings and desires, but you are now intertwined in a system of emotions that involves yourself and your partner. Think about it, when you are in a relationship you need to be cognitive of the other person’s mood. When they are feeling happy, sad, angry, worried, etc. it will affect your own mood whether you like it or not. When they are in distress they will turn to you. When they are conflicted they will turn to you. It does not take much to realize that this could affect your academic life.
Getting into a relationship in college is all about maturity. It is a test of how well you have grown as a person and as a student. Some people, who are motivated and hard working, get into relationships and see no effect on their grades. Others, however, can see an immense drop. You have to realize that it is all about being prepared. You need to know what being in a relationship entails. It is not all fun and games. It is more of a responsibility than many anticipate and if not properly prepared, the relationship and the people involved can be permanently scarred. So have your fun, but be careful with relationships in college. They can sometimes (and I mean sometimes) do more harm than good.