High School Relationships: Should You Break Up or Stay Together Before College?
As college nears, it’s time to start mulling over how your high school relationship will fare in college and what you can do about it.
Updated 19 Dec 2019
Dating in high school can spin your world around. One minute, you’re leaning on a crying shoulder over a bad grade, the next, you’re quivering over the big day with your hands clasped together. But once graduation rolls around, every couple needs to decide whether they want to stay together or part ways before college.
Surely, students transitioning from high school relationships into college may be bucking the odds. No one likes to be separated, even though nearly 33% of college relationships are still made up of long distance relationships (LDR).
It may seem like there’s no easy way to handle the situation because after all, staying together for college isn’t exactly a cakewalk. The transition is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time, and can strain even the most Edward-Bella relationship.
Here are 7 things to mull over and over again before you sit down for the dreaded talk with your partner. Should you call it quits, go on a “break”, or start scheduling Skype dates?
#1. Mystery of effective communication
It’s no rocket science that communication is the most crucial part in any relationship. Life in college will usher in a whole new set of problems and sticky situations to work through.
Are you comfortable if your partner parties away without you? How do you feel about study dates with one other person? These issues will crop up but they could also be worked out through clear communication.
Beyond being clear and upfront, perhaps the one question that you should interrogate yourself is the pattern of communication between you and your partner. Between classes, clubs and friends, it can be knotty to find time to squeeze in a text or phone call. If there is no consensus in your communication strategies, odds are, one of you will get frustrated with the increased silence sooner or later.
Find out which communication strategies you have been adopting in relationships – whether it’s the exit, voice, loyalty or neglect approach – make a conscious effort to opt for one which is direct and positive.
#2. Art of self-reflection and introspection
Now here’s the part where you have to be brutally honest with yourself.
Kick off by checking in with yourself about how you feel. Before you talk over with your significant other, figure out what you really want. When you’re entangled by emotions of separation, it’s easy to make promises to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
If you’re just in the relationship to feel better about yourself or feel less lonely, the transition to college might not be the worst excuse to part ways. Yes, it may be all candies and rainbow to have someone who could always make you feel good about yourself, but with the peril of distance, it will put the depth of your relationship to test.
Lock yourself in a quiet room with zero distraction and ponder on these questions: “What is the relationship for?”, “What are the things that are holding you back in the relationship?” and “What are you focusing in the relationship?”.
#3. Inevitable change of scenes
Maybe you’ll both be navigating new cities or you’ll be shifting to a new location while your partner still has a year or more before completing (yes, STPM). Regardless of the situation, location is a vital factor to take into account when reaching the decision to pursue the relationship.
Are you willing to go the extra length of travelling back and forth just to catch a glimpse of each other? Is a round-trip visit possible to do in one weekend? Can you afford to travel back and forth? These are the down-to-earth considerations that you have to pore over.
Perhaps some of you are lucky enough to be spared from major geographical distances. Nonetheless, as compared to high school where everything is within close proximity, you’ll need to eventually make sacrifices. Will you regret missing out on fun events on your own campus just to catch up with your partner?
Keep in mind to prioritise your college experience. After all, your first years in college is when you are going to meet people that will most likely be your friends for the rest of your life. If you spend too much time running to your partner, you may not be able to integrate and immerse in a full college experience.
#4. Promise of future goals
You’re heading to college, but your partner is going to run the family business, or you have your eyes set on college but your partner can’t afford to.
The gist is that back in high school, you more or less do the same things as your peers. But when you’re cramming for midterms and your partner is clocking out after a tiring day at work, will you be able to relate to what each other is going through?
On a bigger scale, it’s imperative that you both pin down your dreams for the future and scrutinise them to see if they are leading you towards radically different places in life. If your lifelong passion is to excel in the corporate world while your partner would rather be a teacher in a small town, will you be able to work on a common ground?
Even if your post-graduation plans are not on the same track, avoid changing your future for your partner at all costs. When you give up on your own dreams to the fear of losing a relationship, a sense of resentment will revolve around the relationship.
#5. Nature of your relationship
Whether or not you have a college lined up already, leaving your high school bubble and stepping into college life can be daunting. Keeping the comfort of your high school relationship could ease some of that fear, but do you want to stay in the game because you’re secretly afraid to embark your new path alone?
In other words, scrutinise the seriousness of your relationship.
Sustaining a relationship after college – particular an LDR – takes a huge commitment and tonnes of work. If your relationship is fulfilling, it’ll likely all be worth it. If the relationship has been rocky, hasn’t really met your needs or mostly revolved only around social life, the stress of a post-high school relationship will probably only make them worse.
Post-high school graduation is a natural transition time to evaluate the core of your relationship. Whether it’s unhealthy dependency, trust or jealousy issues, start the conversation early to pinpoint and recognise them as problems that need to be worked on.
#6. Change is the only constant
Welcome to college where
everyone is broke, tired and hungry everything is different.
For starters, your mom is no longer there to wake you up for your first class and no one will be there to harp on your attendance. But that’s probably just a tiny speck out in the sea of changes that you will have to brace.
From more freedom and, responsibilities to new cliques and exhilarating experiences, you can expect to experience everything in a very different light, including the dynamic of your relationship. Understand that the transition to college is a quintessential rite of passage that both of you will have to adjust.
Ultimately, you’ll have to put on a new thinking cap and not view your significant other’s college experience as a threat to your relationship. Consider listing down your new obligations and responsibilities together. Work with them, not against them.
#7. Intricacy of expectations
Yes, you’ll have more readjustments to work on. While in high school, dining out may be your date night but in college, a fancy dinner might not be an option as often as when you had no other expenses to bear. If you’re doing long distance, you might have to live with unanswered texts for hours and sometimes, even days without talking.
The list goes on but you get the gist. If you are going to weigh the significance of your relationship based on the gazillions of things that your partner did for you during high school and now expect to be showered similarly, you’re likely to set yourself up for a series of heartbreaks.
Instead, sit down together and pin down your basic needs (love and belonging, power and self-worth, freedom, fun and survival). You can use the worksheet from My Quality World as a guideline for the needs that are expected of each other and draw new expectations from there.
While it’s crystal clear that a conversation between you and your partner is bound to happen when facing a transition to college, many might prolong it until the last moment. Ultimately, you will have to talk about your newly defined relationship before school is out and it needs to happen early.
Talking things out sooner not only prepares you for the incoming change to your relationship, it also alleviates the pressure you might feel regarding the whole situation. Surely, the conversation will be a hard one to start, but realise that your partner will appreciate the respect you’re pouring into the relationship.