Balancing university and relationships

Managing to stay organized during university can be hard. Balancing classes, placements, extra-curriculars, eating healthy, working out and having a social life can seem completely impossible. Throwing a relationship into the mix complicates things even more. A lot of students, including myself, have found that throughout the year, something is suffering.  

It’s hard to choose what to prioritize when you want to do well in school, be involved and be social, but also want to maintain a stable relationship with someone. This becomes an even bigger challenge when your significant other doesn’t go to the same school or live in the same city as you. Even if you have access to transportation, driving to another city can be tiring. If you’re lucky enough to be close to your significant other, making time for each other with conflicting schedules can be rough. 

So, why does anyone even bother with relationships during school? I know a lot of people discourage having relationships during university. Tess Reidy and Sarah Raphael wrote an article for The Guardian about why you shouldn’t start a relationship in university. They spoke to students who gave opinions like: “I think if you have a boyfriend, you don’t get involved in the same way. If you’re committed to someone else, you’re not as likely to meet new people”.   

One student also spoke about her break-up during school, saying, “I could only see him every other weekend and our relationship got reduced to a series of phone calls. Then when I did see him it was awkward because we were living separate lives. I’d always want to go out whenever he came to visit, which was probably a bad sign.” 

Negative comments can be frustrating and discouraging when you feel like you’ve met someone you really click with. Sure, that kind of advice can apply to some people in one way or another, but at the end of the day you know what’s best for yourself. Articles like these seem to overlook the fact that having a significant other can also benefit people during school. University is hard for everyone. Knowing you have someone to talk to after a hard day that supports and encourages you really helps. 

Despite popular opinion, there is a way to find a balance. From my personal experience with a boyfriend who lives out of town and has a full-time job, holding myself accountable is key. As long as I’m upfront with myself about how much time and effort I’m putting into my work, and honestly make sure that classes are my priority, my grades don’t suffer. Sometimes that means not going out or being able to see him, especially during mid-term season. However, there’s a mutual understanding that my degree comes first, which any reasonable partner should understand. If someone truly cares about you, they’ll understand that and support you. 

Making time for other things and people in your life should be a priority as well. Sometimes you have to miss hanging out with your partner to spend time with your friends or go to a club meeting. There’s nothing wrong with this, and anyone who makes you feel bad about it doesn’t have your best interests in mind.  

Communication is also important. Being open about your feelings and being understanding of theirs is key. Sometimes you’re going to have a bad day and need some space to yourself. Other times your partner may feel the same. As long as you keep being honest with each other, the relationship should be okay.  

Only you really know what’s in your best interest. You know how much you can keep up with. You know if someone is helping or hindering your success. As long as you’re truly doing what’s best for you and your future, forget what anyone else says. 

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