Valentine’s Day: College Relationships

Happy Valentine’s Day! What will you be doing this year to celebrate? Maybe you’ve got a great date planned, a girls’ night, an intramural game, or a night of lots of studying for midterms. Whatever your plans are, there’s no wrong way to celebrate! Valentine’s Day is undeniably the most popular date night of the year, and whether you are single, in a relationship, or somewhere in-between, you’ll probably be thinking a bit about love today.

Although love is sweet, college can be an awkward time for relationships. We are still figuring out who we are, who we want to be, what we want to do, and where we want to go. There are many changes throughout college, even just from one semester to another. A hectic class schedule, raucous party scene, semesters abroad, and summers spent at home can put stress on stress college relationships. However, the inclusive community on campus, being surrounded by people who share your interests in your classes and clubs, and the freedom of independent living are all significant factors that help create lasting and fulfilling relationships.

Whether you are single or currently in a relationship, here are some facts and resources about college relationships:

Long Distance

When you left for college, you probably brought your favorite pillow and some new clothes but had to leave your high school sweetheart behind. If your partner stayed at home or went to a different school, you’re not alone.

  • 75% of college students have a long-distance relationship at one point during their college career. Long-distance relationships are generally no worse off than relationships with nearby partners.
  • 37% of long-distance couples split up in the first 3 months compared to 21% of traditional relationships.
  • Although, if a long-distance couple lasts the first year, only 8% break up after the first year compared to 25% of conventional relationships.

If you can handle the separation, long-distance relationships can have some benefits, such as viewing each other more positively and being happier with the communication in the relationship. It may take a little bit of extra effort to maintain this relationship with your partner, but can easily be done these days through texting, FaceTime, and Zoom.

New Relationships

College is an exciting place to be for all sorts of reasons, and meeting new people is one of them. There are endless opportunities to expand your group and form new relationships, both personal and romantic. While many students are not looking for a serious relationship in school, there is actually a 28% chance of finding true love on campus, data shows. The most successful romantic relationships are formed with a strong foundation and excellent communication.

Dealing with BreakUps

Break-ups are common in the first year of college for many different reasons. Maybe your relationship from home fizzled out, or a new college relationship just didn’t end well. No matter the circumstances, break-ups can bring up negative emotions and cause you to feel less sure of who you are. But it may not be as bad as you think.

  • In fact, over 41% of college students view their break-ups as a positive experience or that a partner was holding them back.
  • According to a study, break-ups are most likely to happen on spring break, April Fool’s Day, summer break, two weeks before Christmas, Christmas Day, and, shockingly, Valentine’s Day.
  • To help you deal with a breakup, try writing down the positive aspects of the relationship and break-up experience. You can also rely on support from friends to avoid getting back together with a former partner who wasn’t allowing you to grow as a person.

If you feel a little lost after the end of a relationship, spend some time alone and focus on yourself rather than jumping right back into a relationship. Having a clear sense of who you are will lead to better relationships down the road.

Unhealthy Relationships

Dating violence is growing more prevalent and occurs in approximately 1 out of 3 college relationships. However, people in abusive relationships typically believe that the abuse in their relationship is normal and happens in most relationships. This is not the case. There are signs that you can try to steer clear of in a partner that may turn into abuse, such as:

  • High levels of dependency
  • Control issues
  • Alcohol abuse

32% of college students report dating violence by a previous partner, and 21% report violence by a current partner. If you or a friend experiences relationship abuse, seek help from resources on campus or a counseling center. The JED Foundation also offers resources on how to identify and report abuse. Remember, abuse is never your fault.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).

Bottom Line

Every relationship is much more than a statistic, and there are exceptions to every rule. If you’re spending this Valentine’s Day alone, you can still enjoy it! College is a great place to meet someone and is a fun and exciting place to be. If you are dealing with a break-up or post-break-up, remember life goes on, and part of life is learning from experiences, good or bad. As Carrie Bradshaw says, “After all, computers crash, people die, and relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot.”

There are many resources on campus to go to if the stress of love is taking its toll. Most schools offer counseling or support groups that are available should you need them; just reach out to your school’s student health center to learn more.

Happy Valentine’s Day!