College is a time for exploration, a time to grow and learn about yourself. It’s an exciting time, but it comes with challenges. Balancing school work, social obligations, extracurricular activities and having fun can be quite the challenge. Add a significant other to the mix, and the challenge can become even more complex.
Relationships create questions about the future. Forever is a lot of time to think about when the journey of life has just begun, so the question is: will your college relationship last forever? Randy Moredock, a relationship counselor in Lawrence, said young couples need to mutually agree on a path forward, if the relationship will continue after school.
“I think there has to be that acknowledgement, that moment where you have to decide what you’re going to do,” he said. “I think that there has to be honest dialogue about ‘Are we going in the same direction?’ There has to be a sense of understanding on what we’re agreeing to do, and are we both buying into this?”
Landri James, a senior transfer student from Haskell Indian Nations University, offered a different perspective on college relationships after recently breaking up with her boyfriend, whom she dated through high school and her time in college.
“We broke up once before, when I was at Haskell,” she said. "I was a freshman, it was an exciting time. He just couldn’t trust me, being away at school. When I got to Haskell, I think he just knew what it was like to be a freshman.”
James said she and her boyfriend broke up this year, due to trust issues re-emerging.
“We’ve been happy for the last six or seven years," she said. "We were together my entire time at KU. Honestly, I don’t know if I could have made it without him. Just small things like getting me food, giving me rides when I needed them, he was just there for me. I think he still couldn’t trust me after the first time we broke up.”
Moredock, who spent many years as a college counselor, said young couples should make sure they know what they’re agreeing to when moving forward with a relationship.
“One of things I’ve seen that is very destructive to relationship is a person will say, ‘I’m going to do this for you,''' he said. "Then, if it doesn’t work out or the person isn’t adjusting well to this new place then that can cause a lot of problems."
Moredock said relationships in college are unique in the various challenges young couples face as they work towards a future.
“The unique qualities about college relationships is you’re not sure what’s going to happen afterwards,” he said. “You may have one person who’s an engineering major and another who’s a psych major and they both have different things they want to do. The psych major might want to go and get a PhD, and the engineering major might say, ‘Hey, I have this really unique opportunity to work in Bahrain, in oil fields and I don’t want to pass that up.’ There has to be a lot of discussion in terms of, ‘We want to keep this thing going long distance, but how do we do that?’”
James said she believed her relationship would last, but is ready for the future without her boyfriend.
“I really did think we would be together forever," she said. "We were going to get married, we were planning our wedding and everything. I put so much energy into him and I was loyal to him, but he still accused me of cheating. Now I can focus on larger things, I can actually enjoy myself and other people.”
Moredock said couples in college face a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to the future. This is even further complicated by the personal development that many students experience over the course of college.
“Sometimes somebody you meet as a freshman may not grow in the same direction or at the same rate as you,” he said.
Moredock’s advice to all college students, single or dating, is to keep an open mind, be patient and have fun.
“Being in a college relationship is a guess," he said. "You have all this stuff that is available to do. It’s just a fun time, it’s a very alive time. To the extent you can find somebody who enjoys the same stuff you do and wants to be a part of your journey, and whether that will last forever, nobody knows for sure.”
— Edited by Ashley Hocking