Freshman year can be both exhilarating and terrifying. You say goodbye to loved ones and break away from parent curfews and rules for the first time, but you also face the pressure to balance responsibilities and form relationships on your own. Some of those relationships may include a significant other, but adding dating to the mix could make the responsibilities more difficult to manage.
Dating as a freshman may sound great. But in my experience, entering a long-term relationship was taxing while I acclimated to college life. During my first few weeks of school, I felt pressure to start dating. Everyone I met talked about potential relationships and future hookups, which made dating seem like a college rite of passage. But after a failed freshman year relationship, I knew that was far from the truth. My relationship fractured friendships and led to awkward interactions for the rest of my freshman year when the relationship eventually failed.
While you might not live on the same floor as your former flame, you will certainly run into them during class, on the street or at parties, which instantly creates a person to look out for during the next four years. The consequences of an ill-planned freshman year relationship can go beyond awkward interactions. Balancing a relationship on top of academics, newly formed friendships and jobs can worsen the adjustment to school. Freshman year drained me when I threw a relationship into the mix, and freshmen should know not to make the same mistake.
I am not the only one with a failed attempt at dating freshman year. When one of my best friends from high school began dating someone during her first week of college, she thought she was in love. The two ate all of their meals together, spent their free time together and coordinated courses to spend more time together. Naturally, she became friends with her boyfriend’s friends and struggled to form outside connections. When they broke up seven months later, she was left heartbroken in an unfamiliar city more than 500 miles from home, with few close friends to console her.
Between my friend’s story and my own, I knew a serious relationship early in college can have consequences. Most people’s first college or adult relationship is unlikely to be their last, and entering relationships freshman year forces students to choose between spending time with their significant other and creating friendships of their own. If my friend had waited to enter her relationship until she was well adjusted to college, she would have had more friends to console her when things ended poorly.
Some freshmen can have meaningful relationships that last throughout college. If you find a significant other that lasts the whole nine yards, consider yourself lucky, but proceed through freshman year with caution. Find friends who do not know your partner, and prioritize the classwork and extracurriculars you are passionate about. Do not let a significant other dictate the next four years of your college career.
Not all young adult relationships have to turn sour. Relationships can be fulfilling and give a sense of mutual love and commitment. But be careful to enter one during your first year on campus. You will have your entire life to date many people or find your soulmate, but freshman year, you should focus on yourself.
Colette Bruder, a junior majoring in international affairs, is a columnist.
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