If you had the opportunity to attend a university after graduating from high school, then you understand the infinite independence that encompasses the college experience.
You’re away from home for the first time. You’re living with a complete stranger. You have the option to eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and nobody is around to tell you no.
You take a beer bong with one of your teaching assistants.
The list is never-ending.
The one experience some of you may find or have found while in college is love. And I’m not talking about that puppy-dog, hang out the mall and eat Wetzel’s Pretzels together high school love.
I mean someone you could picture a life with after college graduation.
For me, love was a large part of my college experience.
Among the beer bongs and the ice cream eating, I fell in love (well, what I thought was love) with a girl between my sophomore and junior year of college. I thought she was the one.
You may be reading this article as a long-time college graduate, recent college graduate or as someone currently finishing up your college education.
You may even currently be in a relationship with the man or woman you met in college.
If so, then great. I really wish the best for you. But for me, my long-term college relationship didn’t have the fairytale ending, and that’s okay.
I’m here to tell you about my college relationship and why it didn’t last. I want to make those who have had a similar experience to mine realize it’s okay the relationship ended.
Doing What You Want
When you start college, you have some type of goal in mind. You want to become an engineer, an accountant, a writer, etc.
Whatever the light at the end of your college tunnel may be, that goal is yours.
It’s something you want to complete for yourself.
During these four years, your goals are always changing, and different experiences can have different influences on such goals. Some of those changes can be influenced by your college partner.
As in any relationship, your views and thoughts evolve based on the person you are with, and that’s normal.
You have new experiences, and you may end up changing your view about certain things because of your partner’s influence.
But, sometimes, you may find yourself changing in a way that’s not for the better.
When I was in college and shortly after graduation, I changed my mind countless times regarding what I wanted to do once I got my degree.
Did I want to continue my education past the undergraduate level? Did I want to be a teacher? Did I want to pursue writing? Did I want to be a personal trainer?
These are all questions I asked myself, and they all served the same purpose: fulfilling my dream of what I wanted to do with my life.
While my college girlfriend at the time was supportive of most of my goals, she always questioned how I would make enough money to support her and a possible future family.
I wondered if the dreams I had for myself would be enough to pay the bills.
I started imagining myself in professions that paid very well, but I really had no interest in them.
While I was excited to just land a full-time job directly out of college, her main concern was how much it paid.
It wasn’t until the relationship ended that I realized how much influence the relationship had over how I directed my life.
Obviously, every decision I made was my own, but I had sacrificed what I really wanted to do based on the needs and desires of another person.
I didn’t pursue the original goals I had set for myself because I cared about and valued my partner’s opinion.
Sometimes, love blinds us, and we lose focus of ourselves. Make sure you’re doing what you want to do.
The College Bubble
Going to college after high school is a big change. You’re stepping out of your “high school bubble” and into a whole new world.
Well, that’s what you thought, right? Unfortunately, you are just taking one step into another bubble: the college bubble.
You find your core group of friends and mainly hang out with them. You find your favorite burrito place and eat there once a day.
You hear about how Bobby cheated on Jessica with Brittany at the party last night.
It’s the same high school antics, just on a broader scale without parents around. You are in this bubble of a college campus, focused on papers, midterms and partying.
You don’t give much thought to what the world holds for you beyond your college life.
This bubble can cause immaturity to affect a relationship, which is what happened with mine.
We thought the relationship would be how it was in college for the rest of our lives: partying together, taking classes together and spending every second we weren’t in class with each other.
We didn’t want to think about how the relationship would be once we graduated and took it outside of the college bubble.
And, anytime we tried to talk about it, the conversation would get quickly pushed to the side.
Trying to imagine the relationship beyond college was too difficult.
After graduation, we were both planning to move to different cities and never had a serious conversation about how the relationship would work in post-college life.
We were naïve and thought it would somehow just work itself out. But, the relationship didn’t hold up in the real world.
If you’re in a college relationship now, you need to talk with your partner to make sure both of you see the relationship lasting beyond your realm of college.
A relationship you can only picture existing inside of this college bubble is not one that will last.
You’re Still Learning What Love Is
Whether it’s physical, mental, spiritual or emotional, college is a time for growth. Your college years are the starting point to discovering who you are.
As much as you think you’re an “adult” and know the answers to all of life’s questions, you don’t. The reality is you are still a kid and still learning what this concept of adulthood is all about.
When you’re in a college relationship, this also means you’re still learning what “love” really means.
In my college relationship, I told myself I was in love because I honestly believed I was. The feelings I had for this girl were something I had never felt before.
They were feelings I would describe, at the time, as love.
But, just as I was learning how to tackle adulthood through my college years, I was also learning what love truly meant.
Once the relationship was taken outside of the “college bubble” and put into the real world, I started questioning if what we had really was love.
Because I was a college kid and thought I knew it all, I was certain I knew what love entailed. But, I really didn’t.
I was still growing as a person and trying to figure out what the whole love thing actually was.
The relationship needed to end because what I thought was love really wasn’t. It was a concept close to love, but it wasn’t something that would last for a lifetime.
If you’re in a similar situation as I was, I want to let you know it’s going to be okay.
I have since found someone who has taught me the true definition of love. She encourages me to pursue what I want to do without any hidden agenda.
She’s beautiful, kind, selfless and someone I can truly picture a future with together.
My college relationship was important because it helped me grow as a person. It taught me what I needed to make a relationship last.
It was also vital that the relationship came to an end. If my college relationship never ended, I would have never found the girl I am with today.
Stay hopeful because, as much you may think it, love is not dead.
Love is a simply a lock, and sometimes, you need to try more than one combination to open it up.