It is a common idea among this generation that relationships present more negatives in our lives rather than positives. A relationships prevents you from “doing you”- a common saying that encompasses the idea that we need to spend our adolescent and young adult years focusing on ourselves rather than on somebody else. Relationships prevent you from working on your career, exploring the world, and figuring out who you are. Relationships only hold you down, and besides, they are destined to fail 99% of the time anyways.
It is amazing how our ‘me’ generation cannot imagine the idea that one can find themselves and fulfill their dreams with another person by their side.
I am an incoming college junior and have been in a relationship since my sophomore year of high school. I am an honors student with a pretty great GPA, a member of a sorority, and have plans to get involved elsewhere. I have a great group of sisters and friends, and a wonderful boyfriend of almost 5 years. And no, we have not once taken a “break,” given each other a “hall pass,” or were in any sort of open relationship status. We do not neglect our friends, family, work, or academics to spend time with each other.
I’ve seen so many articles that during this is the time in my life that I should be spending as a single woman, why I should be single in college, and all of the reasons relationships aren’t worth it at this age. According to popular belief, I should be getting that crazy, partying stage out of my system. At the young and exciting age of 20, I should be going to parties with my girlfriends, making out with a random boy I just met that night, and stumbling home the next morning in my heels and a stolen fraternity rush t-shirt. I should be continuously checking my Tinder- attempting to pick the most flattering picture of myself in order to attract the app’s most eligible bachelors. I should be focusing on myself, exploring the world, experimenting with my sexuality, and trying to figure out who I am as an “adult.”
However, as the relationship path is not for everyone, the single path is not either. And to be brutally honest, I feel as if the authors of the articles that speak so poorly about young relationships are overcompensating their own failed love. Like how a jealous girl is the first to speak poorly about those who are happy, I feel the same applies to relationships. There is nothing wrong with being happy, regardless of whether or not that happiness is being shared with someone else.
I have been with my boyfriend since I was 15 years old. I was a sophomore in high school and had no expectations for where our relationship would head. But before I knew it, he was my 16th candle at my sweet sixteen in 2010. Then a year later, I was his prom date in 2011. And then a year after that, he was mine in 2012. We both experienced his first year away at college while I was only a senior in high school. And then by the grace of the admissions department, I was given a scholarship I could not turn down at the same school.
While we were lucky to go to the same university after high school, the road to where our relationship is not has not been easy by any means. Relationships, regardless of whether you’re married at 40 or starting out at 16, take work. Temptation is there, as is jealousy. Sometimes, it may seem easier to walk away, go out with your girlfriends 3 nights per week, and be the crazy friend rather than the mom.
However, having someone who loves you makes the hard work worth it. Being in an almost 5 year relationship has given me life experience that not many peers of mine can have. This is the time in our lives that we learn to grow and mature- emotionally as well as fiscally. If anything, being in a relationship has accelerated that growth rather than inhibiting it. While I could never repay my boyfriend for spoiling me, we would never expect each other to beyond our financial limits. We understand that we are only 20 years old rather than 40, and that we have time to go on expensive vacations, and have fancy dinners. Spending money we should be saving would be unfair for the both of us. We think about our future and try to save our money for milestones ahead, such as getting our first place together, buying furniture, buying a car, and someday having that fancy dinner.
Teens and young adults have the ability to form real relationships. Just because someone is young, does not mean they are unable to commit to someone else. At the beginning of our relationship, even though we were only 15 and 16 years old, my boyfriend said that he did not believe in taking breaks. He felt that running away from our problems only caused more. If we fight, we fix it, and if we were ever tempted to cheat, break up first. 5 years later, we still hold those ideals very high. And after a very long time we have finally reached the point in our relationship where our family and friends take us seriously. They understand that we have real plans for our future. This is the real deal.
Halfway through undergrad, I can say that I have absolutely no regrets from the past 2 years. My experiences have been fulfilling and I do not feel that I have missed out on anything because I am in a relationship. Despite popular belief, you CAN have fun in college while being in a relationship. Yes, many relationships my age fail due to differences in future goals. No matter how much you may love someone, someones you can’t change your dreams for someone else. However, if your future goals align with your partner’s, there should be no reason to break up simply because society tells you to.
My boyfriend has impacted my life in ways that make up for a missed GNO. I have learned not only to love myself, but love someone else too. He has helped me realize my dreams and goals for the future. I have leaned to make sacrifices, to prioritize, and to stop being so damn selfish.
We are always being told that we only live one. If we can apply that saying to moving to a new city, starting a new career, and traveling the world, why cant we apply it to falling in love? Open yourself up- go on dates, stay open-minded, and don’t block yourself off from meeting someone special, regardless of whether you’re 26 or 16.
People enter our lives for reasons, and if you open yourself up you could get lucky and find a person who shares the same goals, dreams, and future plans as you. Relationships don’t prevent you from being happy- you do!
How do you feel about college relationships? Leave a comment below or share your thoughts with us on Twitter @UChic .