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Your college years have the potential of being the most independent years of your life, and yet, many will enter school already feeling dependent on others. How many of us have ever heard the deadly words, “Sorry, he has a girlfriend from back home?” We’ve all been on one side or the other and, man, that kills.
Anyone remember celebrating the day he didn’t have a girlfriend anymore?
At this point, when I meet somebody who claims to be “in a relationship” I think, “Yeah, we were all ‘in a relationship’…and look at us now.”
When I came to college I had someone important to me on the other side of the world. For a lot of my freshman year, I was wishing I was someplace else. Nothing was as important to me as a charged phone, Wi-Fi, and FaceTime. No friend, class, assignment or bedtime could compete with my ten-hour-time-difference challenge and how badly I wanted to surpass all odds. No matter the warning signs or wise words, I just wanted it to work. Eventually, I wanted it to work more than I wanted myself to function and that was the beginning of the end.
But even when it was over, I knew in my heart it was because of circumstance and not lack of love. So meeting anyone new meant explaining my someone else, because I didn’t know who I was in college independent of my relationship. I didn’t know how to explain who I was without talking about him. I didn’t mind, until he started to feel like baggage instead of the best thing in the world. All the reasons I wanted to make it work suddenly stopped working.
In other cases, your someone doesn’t have to be 6,834 miles away to feel that far.
After coming in with a relationship and watching it plummet, it doesn’t seem wise to jump into a new one. Suddenly everything that seems appealing about being with one person doesn’t look as shiny anymore.
Relationships in college fizzle out for a lot of reasons. But for starters, how about the pressure of hookup culture? We’ve all heard the notorious rumors about easy college girls and hot ‘n’ horny college boys. It’s disgusting, but for some reason also really exciting and too appetizing not to try out at least once. It’s really easy to get into the mentality of, “Well if I can’t have the one I don’t have to settle for just one at all.” It is so easy to get wrapped up in the game — going out and getting wild and getting some. And yes, it’s fun, but I’m not sure it’s fulfilling.
I promised myself freshman year that no matter what happened next in my relationship I would remember feeling in love, being happy, and feeling confident in my decision to try and stay together. I stand by my decision to make that promise, but I do consider what I missed out on by being bound to it — not being with someone else, necessarily, but the amount of experiences I said no to. I felt like I had to say no to weekend trips, no to staying out a little later or going to one more party. I could have made a bigger effort to be involved in my sorority, I could have worked a little harder in my classes, and so on. I chose not to do those things, and sometimes I just wonder what my life here would have looked like without him, right off the bat.
So where do we go from here? How do you let go of something that was important to you? Especially when you come into a new experience, like college, with something that feels locked down. What happens when you lose it and then when you meet someone else?
There is nothing quite like having a crush; meeting someone new, trying something different, falling just a little bit. Putting yourself out there is almost as tough as keeping up long distance, I know, but it’s not worth missing out anymore. The person sitting in front of you in biology class, the person living next door, the person at work you have yet to introduce yourself to…there is nothing as fun as the beginning of something new. It is terrifying, amazing and challenging, and it makes you feel crazy. But as long as we’re going with not finding “the one,” how about just finding “a one”?
The catch, of course, is that having a crush might actually make you crushed. And then we’re really back at square one.
You can’t go wrong with having a good time. Even if the possibility of something “not working out” exists, that doesn’t mean you should compromise having the time of your life with someone who matters a little bit more than a one-night stand.
Besides, what does it even mean for something to “work out” long-term? I’ll tell you what my dad is always reminding me: relationships end, or you get married. And even then, sometimes they still end. But thinking about the end of things does not lend enough credit to how great the relationship may have been when you were in the heart of it. And how lucky is it that? Making a connection should not be discredited, even if it is only there for a little while.
I miss falling asleep next to the same person, and rolling over and feeling something. It’s not overrated; it’s so special. And it doesn’t mean you have to be all-in. It doesn’t mean talking about “what happens next,” but what about what happens right now? That much can still be important.
Monogamy, the absurd concept of being a one man kind of gal (or insert your sexual preference), is not impossible, even in college. It’s easy to get caught up in the social norm of hookup culture. But it is also important to realize that, despite the fact that a relationship could feel like baggage now, hooking up might be a worthwhile experience. We are in a very special and unique part of our lives, one where we are first responsible for ourselves and then for whomever else we choose to include. Some of those people will come and go, but who knows, someone may stick around. It is easy to get bogged down on what an old (or current) relationship used to be. But if you’re trying to be present, sometimes that comes with the surprise of someone new.
There is nothing like big love, but once in a night out, it’s worth it to go for the little crush and stick with it.
Contact Staff Writer Dani Pinkus at firstname.lastname@example.org.