University, especially first year, is a time when many relationships end, and many more begin. Through all the ups and downs I’ve observed this year, here are a few pointers on how to get off to a good start.
- Take it easy. The awesome thing about post-high school relationships is that there’s no “Let’s go out! We’re dating now!” nonsense. There are many chances to just test the waters. Go out for coffee. Go on a blind date. Experiment, and see what you’re interested in. Be casual. Don’t expect too much; just have fun.
- Make sure you’re comfortable with the label. Relationship labels can come in all shapes and sizes. The lines can be as blurred or as defined as you and your partner(s) choose. Just make sure you personally are happy with how they’re drawn. Two of my close friends were both “seeing someone” this year, but not “in a relationship”; one was happy with that label, and the other wasn’t. It’s different for everyone, so make sure you talk things out and clarify that so all parties are on the same page.
- Get to know each other by talking regularly and developing a strong base. If you’re not comfortable talking, that may be a sign that a relationship will not fly. Communication is so important throughout any kind of relationship. Get to know each other by asking more specific questions (i.e. “what kinds of sports do you like to play?” as opposed to “what do you like to do?”; or “how did your test go?” instead of “how was your day?”). Try to make a point of staying in touch at least once a day, just to connect, catch up, and get that rhythm going. Get comfortable with each other.
- Don’t ditch everything else in your life! This can shorten the honeymoon period by a lot, and it leads to a very good chance of a quick, fiery “burn and die” fling. The honeymoon period will go away and things will change; the more things you ditch at the start, the less chance you’ll have of surviving that change. Try to incorporate your partner into already existing areas of each other’s lives (i.e. going out for dinner, doing groceries, sleeping over, etc.). This will result in a less intense honeymoon phase, but a stronger relationship overall. Besides, always remember that this is your life; nothing should be put on hold. Knowing that also decreases “clinginess,” which puts you off to a very good start because throughout every relationship, space and independence are crucial in maintaining interest.
- Diversify activities. Don’t just stay in the house and make out, as tempting as that may be. You will quickly get bored. Find new fun things to do together! People react differently depending on the environment and it’s always interesting to know those different sides.
- Rein in jealousy. Remember that trust is relationship glue. If your partner has never given you a reason to worry, then don’t worry (note: that is not the same thing as being blind). You lead independent lives, with different friends and different manners. You are no one’s property.
- Understand that sometimes, unfortunate things happen and some differences can’t be resolved. Soulmates may not be real, but compatibility certainly is.
- Understand that often, many issues can be resolved through communication and love. It’s possible, trust me.