Walking the tightrope of college relationships

When I started my freshman year, not a month had gone by before I saw couples forming. 

Typically they did not last very long, and lingered in the honeymoon phase. This could be attributed to the fact that students are thrown into a plethora of new people they are often eager to meet, so when one piques their interest, it’s easy to dive headfirst into dating and commitment. Plus, it is enticing to start a relationship in college—who doesn’t want to live out the rom-com college romance? 

To some students, the most important aspect of college is meeting new people. While many people aren’t looking for anything serious at the beginning of college, as they want to be free of any obligations, romantic relationships still form more than people would expect. 

However, rushing into love is not without its consequences. When I entered a relationship the second semester of my freshman year, I found myself sailing away from what I came to college for—work. 

Of course, no one has to stray entirely away from getting into a relationship early on. If I said that, I would be pretty hypocritical, as I started dating early on. 

The relationship I started mid-first year was great, and it still is. But I became enthralled with having someone new to spend all my time with. I put less effort into my assignments, paying more attention to my boyfriend than my work. A huge chunk of my time and energy was consumed by him, and even though my classes did not get harder, my grades suffered—they decreased from my first semester and my grade point average dropped. I was threatening my academic future, which is something I knew dating should never get in the way of.

As I witnessed my grades slipping, I tried to conjure up ways to balance my relationship with my schoolwork. My go-to solution was to work alongside my boyfriend, because doing work alongside a significant other sounded like the best of both worlds. We wrote papers and read in each other’s company. But I ended up not putting in enough effort into the assignments, and I couldn’t spend quality time with my boyfriend either. I eventually spent the smallest amount of time possible on work, so I could get back to cuddling and forget about the stresses of school. 

As my psychology final rolled around second semester, I was having a bit of trouble in the class. But as the final approached, the need to spend all my time reviewing seemed daunting to me. So instead I spent time with my boyfriend, repeatedly putting off the time I needed to reserve for studying. When the day of my final came, I realised I had not studied nearly as much as I should have and only really crammed the night before. Unsurprisingly, I did not do well on my final. 

Being at Emerson means a lot to me. I love being in the journalism program, and graduating with good grades is high on my list of priorities. Having a significant other comes with so many positives, but also at times has got in the way of me being the best student I can be. I learned a lot from dating someone freshman year. But I do not want to make the same mistakes I did last year, nor do I want anyone else to—exhibit A, this article. As much as I love being in a relationship, a partner is never something I, or anyone, should jeopardize their future for.

I set new goals and boundaries for this semester by giving myself school-work days and boyfriend days. In the days when I have free time, I set a few hours aside for completing schoolwork and others for spending time with my partner. In a perfect world, my relationship would be ideally balanced, but there are constant adjustments and accommodations I make now to maintain a healthy relationship and school life.

I hold on to my belief that relationships in freshman year are not necessarily a bad thing. Their negative impacts spur from the fact that they may distract you from your goals and responsibilities. If you do happen to fall into a relationship during your freshman year, just know that it won’t seamlessly fit into your new college lifestyle. You are going to have to put in time and effort into both your partner and your college work—it is all about balance and, in a lot of cases, putting yourself before your significant other. 

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