Dating in college: The good, the bad and the ugly

You did it! You survived high school and have made it into the college dating pool. Dating in college is so very different from any other type of relationship you’ll experience in life. In no way, shape or form am I a relationship expert, but I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the good, the bad and the ugly in college relationships. Whether you’ve got a significant other or are out and about exploring your options, follow these tips for a healthy relationship in college.

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  • Set expectations. Expectations for your significant other are just as important as expectations for yourself. What are your goals in life? Are you trying to make it out of college alive, with a degree and hopefully find a job one day? (The answer should be yes!!!) Hold each other accountable for your relationship. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable state and stay there. When that happens, one or both of you will be unhappy. With expectations, you both know what it is you have to do or be for the other person.
  • These are the best years of your life. At least that’s what older people tell us. If you want to experience something, do it now. Don’t let relationships or dating hold you back from something you want to accomplish. You know the saying “life gets in the way,” right? Don’t let life be someone who will hold you back.
  • Be single for a while. We’ve all got that friend who can’t stay out of a relationship. Dating can be great, but when you move from person to person, you start to lose sight of yourself. Get to know you and focus on what you want and what you need. Later in life, the person you’ll end up with will thank you.
  • If your heart’s not in it, get out. Don’t stay with someone who doesn’t make you happy. Let me repeat that: DON’T BE WITH SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T MAKE YOU HAPPY. It seems so simple, but why would you settle for something your heart isn’t fully in? You deserve more than that. Know that there is someone out there who will be able to give you that.
  • Don’t doubt it. If you have misgivings about your significant other, chances are there’s a reason. Trust issues don’t just appear randomly. Have they been dishonest in the past? Did they cheat on you? Are they flirting with someone else in front of you? You can’t be happy with someone if you’re going to spend all your time worrying about what they’re doing when they’re not with you.
  • What do you have in common? Really think about this one. Do you have anything in common aside from liking Sun Devil football and drinking on the weekends? I certainly hope so! If not, take a walk and you can probably find someone more compatible.
  • Consider the pros and cons. Logic is a funny thing, isn’t it? There will be good things and bad things about every relationship, but the good better outweigh the bad. “I love him” should not be the only good thing.
  • Safety is a two way street. Chances are this isn’t your first relationship, and probably not your significant other’s either. Be honest, both with yourself and with each other. Care about your health and theirs. Safety first.
  • Honesty is the best policy. Trust and honesty are the foundation of every relationship. The sooner you realize this, the happier you will both be.
  • Define your relationship. I don’t mean you have to be Facebook official. Just know what you are to the other person and what they are to you. There are a lot of options; avoid the grey areas so that one person isn’t more invested in the relationship than the other.
  • Timing is everything. College will only last for so long; the majority of us are in and out within four years. If you can’t picture yourself staying with the person you’re dating, chances are things won’t work after you graduate. Moving on is a part of life, and sometimes the person we’re with doesn’t get to move with us.
  • Manage your time. With classes, internships and most likely a job on the side, making time for another person is difficult. Don’t spend all your free time with your significant other. You need time for you. So many relationships fail┬ábecause individuals spent too much time with each other and not enough time on themselves. You should both be able to function separately and happily.
  • Know when to stop. Alcohol is a funny thing, my friends. It can change a person. It can take someone head-over-heels with their significant other and leave them asking, “What happened last night and who is this?” Be aware of your surroundings and know who you’re spending your time with. Stay within your limits and know what they are. And be respectful of yourself, and of others and their limits as well.
  • Exercise your boundaries. You’ve got a roommate. They’ve got a significant other who is constantly over, eating your food, polluting your living space, spiking your utility bills and, of course, living rent-free. Worst. Situation. Ever. Just because you or your roommate is in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to settle for a third roommate. Tell your roommate when So-and-So will be over, and be honest about when they are leaving. Having a discussion beforehand will save you from fights and headaches afterward.
  • Everyone else is getting married and having babies. The number of high school friends who have gotten married and had babies is alarming. Don’t feel like you’re behind. You’ve made the decision to go to school, and marriage and families can come later … much, much later.

When you follow these tips, a happily ever after isn’t too far off. And you can avoid all the heartache while you’re at it. Feel like I missed one? Comment with your own relationship tip!

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