Unless you’re watching one of the “Twilight” movies or listening to a Taylor Swift song, you probably think the idea of having a very serious relationship while in high school is only slightly less realistic than having one in middle school.
Even less realistic is the idea of taking a high school relationship and transitioning into college. Many people claim that by the time you take your fist mid-term exam in college, your high school relationship will be over. Wanting to meet new people and try new things are often the motivations behind these break ups.
Not all love is lost for college relationships. There are college students that believe it can work and have made it work.
Elementary education senior Kelcie Ebbitt has been with her high school sweetheart, Jeff Cain, for almost four years. Ebbitt said that the transition to college didn’t hurt their relationship; it strengthened it.
“If anything, college has given us more opportunity to get to know each other,” she said. “We have come so far since high school, and staying strong has never been an issue for the two of us. We have been able to support each other through things such as changing majors, not getting or getting jobs and just generally experiencing life together.”
Cain, a physics and materials science and engineering senior, said that it was easier to maintain his relationship while in college in comparison to high school.
“The freedom that comes with college translated to more freedom in our relationship,” said Cain. “We can see each other whenever we want to and for however long we want to.”
One thing to keep in mind is that Ebbitt and Cain both go to the same college, which is a very important factor in maintaining their relationship and a luxury that many college relationships don’t have.
“Distance can be an issue depending on the newness of the relationship and whether the couple has established intimacies and commitments,” said Dennis Martell, health education services coordinator for Olin Health Center. “Before, you were able to see this person everyday, and now you may be lucky to see him/her once a month.”
Martell said trying to find a balance between academics, new friends, old friends, a partner, family and extracurricular activities is only part of the difficulty of this type of transition.
Martell, who has expertise in student health issues such as student wellness, student transition to college and sexual behavior, said distance between couples can potentially cause relationship-ending problems.
Jenna Otting, a communications junior with a specialization in public relations and health promotions, is familiar with the problems that Martell described. She has been with her boyfriend, Scott, for nearly three years; however, her boyfriend is a full year in college below her and he goes to a college a few hours away.
“My boyfriend and I do not attend the same college,” said Otting. “I think this makes a big impact because when we went to the same high school, we were able to hang out almost every day. It’s really strange to switch so suddenly to seeing each other once a month.”
Martell said that many people transitioning into college relationships face obstacles because the experience is different than what they’re used to at home. “The individual going to college tends to be going through many transitions that tend to impact relationships that existed before they chose to go,” Martell said. He/she may not have the same views, beliefs, values, thoughts or opinions as before. This can cause conflict with the other partner.”
Even with these obstacles, Otting remained optimistic.
“This isn’t always a bad thing,” said Otting. “It gives you space and helps you meet new people by you not always having one another to fall back on. It also forces you to make an effort which reinforces that you truly care about one another. If you are committed enough to your relationship and stay positive, it can work out just fine.”
Martell said that while relationship experts don’t exactly know what makes a relationship last, what they do know and believe is that overall relationships that can endure tremendous transitions have something going for them and usually will last longer.