College relationships can have their ups and downs. Here are some of the reasons why a serious college relationship can be a great experience, and why it might cause more trouble than you'd think.
If you’re in a serious college relationship, you deserve some serious credit. On top of your giant course load and social commitments, you’re able to balance yet another super demanding responsibility—being a good partner to your significant other. While being in a serious relationship can, in many ways, make navigating the uncharted territory of college easier, it can also make things more challenging. Still, if you think you’ve met “the one,” you shouldn’t let a little thing called college get in the way, experts say.
Here are some of the most common pros and cons of being in a serious college relationship and how best to navigate some of the scenarios you might face.
Pro: You don’t have to stress about dating.
You might notice that some of your single friends spend a great deal of their time and energy dating, whether just for fun or for the purpose of finding something more serious themselves. You might also notice that most, if not all of them, agree that dating isn’t a walk in the park—it can be frustrating, not to mention time-consuming. When you’re in a serious college relationship, it frees your time up a bit so you can focus more on developing a friend group, pursuing your interests and learning. “You don’t have to spend time hooking up or meeting people to date because you already have a terrific partner,” says Paulette Sherman, Psy.D., a psychologist and author of Dating from the Inside Out. “This can save you headache, rejection and time.”
Con: You’re less likely to meet new people.
When you’re spending Friday night curled up in your bed with your significant other watching Netflix, you’re far less likely to make new people than if you were out at that party with your pals. That’s why it’s true that being in a serious college relationship limits your opportunities have new experiences a bit. “If the relationship ends, you can feel very isolated and disconnected because you haven't invested the time to build new friendships and ground yourself within the campus environment,” says Jane Greer, Ph.D., a New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me?: Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship. “You can feel very alone and out of touch with your college community.”
Pro: You have something and someone special to look forward to.
“College can be stressful with exams and learning to be on your own,” explains Dr. Sherman. It can also feel a little bit lonely. That’s why it’s especially nice to have someone special to look forward to talking with daily and to visit you. “This can be a great incentive to do well and to take romantic mini breaks together as a reward,” she says.
Con: It limits your self-discovery.
“Maybe you want to explore a different major or career path, but you don't have enough free time to do this because you're devoted to the relationship,” says Dr. Greer. Being in a college relationship makes it less likely that you’ll branch out in a new direction, she explains. If you’re single, you might feel more free to shake things up and try something new, which is what college is all about at the end of the day!
Pro: It can make you a stronger couple.
Having to get through the challenges and temptations brought on by the college years, especially if you’re managing a long-distance relationship, can bring you closer as a couple. “It can be transformative because you learn to communicate creatively, to trust one another, and it’s a test of your commitment,” says Dr. Sherman. “You learn not to so tempted by other prospective partners, to be honest and to prioritize your relationship and partner even when it’s inconvenient.” This, she explains, may prepare you two to get through other tough times together in the future by developing skills necessary to do so and working as a team.