College — it’s a time of exploration and of discovery. It’s a time of great loves and of great loss. It’s a time for friendship and for relationships.
Some are healthy & beautiful…
…some, not so much.
A word of advice? Keep your back up. I’m not suggesting that you don’t let anyone in; that’s just silly. But it is important to recognize the healthy relationships from the unhealthy ones.
A healthy relationship will exist during daylight hours.
It sounds so simple, but you’d be surprised how many undergrads will ignore this red flag. So, repeat after me: spend time with your other half during daylight hours.
Have lunch in the dining hall when the sun is shining. Or dinner. Or breakfast. In whichever order you prefer. And no, canoodling in your dorm room when the sun is coming up at five o’clock in the morning does not count.
Did ya hear me? Does. Not. Count.
Why am I harping on this whole daylight hours thing?
Because that’s when a healthy relationship should operate. I’m not saying that you cannot be with the guy/gal that you like/love when the sun goes down, but:
You should be spending time together. Quality time together. I’m talking about the kind of quality time that does not incorporate sexual acts.
You should be spending time with one another’s friends. You should be getting to know one another: your likes, your dislikes, favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite professor….the list goes on.
That’s a healthy relationship. When you grow to know one another beyond the party scene. That’s easier to do in the daylight hours.
The unhealthy relationships? Well, those would have to be the ones that flourish with the help of booze, frat parties, and any sort of chemical assistance. The late night texts and conveniently scheduling time for a “hookup” in your dorm room at some ungodly hour… Well, those situations do not usually provide the foundation for healthy relationships.
Are there exceptions? Sure. But sometimes if I wonder if those exceptions are just urban relationship myths.
Healthy relationships are built on so much more than sex, and it’s such a huge mistake to take sex for intimacy. Brutal but true.
And you might find yourself in one of these inevitably heart wrenching situations.
A word of advice? Don’t beat yourself up about it.
Many have been there: the late night dorm crawls, the early morning walks of shame, the oh-my-god-what-the-heck-happened-last-night moments? Those happen to the best of us. Those happen to the brightest among us.
And you know what?
Did you hear me? IT. IS. OK.
Focus on the relationships that make you feel like you are the best possible version of yourself. Focus on the relationships that make you want to shout out with joy from rooftop to rooftop. Focus on the true moments of intimacy, the moments when you lean on someone, when you depend on someone, when you start to go to that person to share your joys, your fears, your sorrows.
Then you know you’ve found a healthy relationship.
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