Building and maintaining good relationships can a challenge at any stage of life, but college relationships often present unique challenges. This is a time when many young people experience a degree of both freedom and responsibility they have never had to manage before. They are also encountering new people daily and having new experiences, not to mention crazy schedules and limited budgets. These factors combined can make it challenging to maintain a healthy relationship.
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Whether you are trying to maintain a long-distance relationship or a traditional one, here are some helpful tips for keeping it healthy.
What Is A Healthy Relationship?
A healthy relationship will look different for every couple, but overall it is one in which both parties feel a healthy balance of connection and space. Most unhealthy relationships are characterized by a lack of space where one or both people feel smothered or by an inhibited connection.
Most couples will struggle with finding the balance between the two and the needs for each vary with time.
The First Step Is To Know Yourself
There is no perfect or right-for-everyone person, but there is a person who is just right for you. This person will be a blend of qualities, characteristics, and interests similar to yours and those that are completely opposite.
Your similarities will provide a platform of shared interests, tastes, and values, while your differences will help you broaden each other’s horizons and even become more well-rounded individuals.
The right person for you is someone who will compliment you well, but before you can find that person, know what traits are a complement to your own.
One good place to start is by taking a type of personality profile such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Taking assessments such as the Myers Briggs will not only help you understand yourself better, but it can also help you better understand the person you are dating. Another great tool for understanding both yourself and your partner is the Five Love Languages Quiz.
Tools like these can help you not only understand what your needs are in a relationship but also your partner’s. The more you understand each other, the more chance you have for success.
Set Goals Together
Another characteristic of strong relationships is that they involve far more than just a physical attraction. Healthy relationships happen between two people who see themselves as being on a journey together.
The goal of all healthy relationships is not marriage or having children – those are all steps on the journey. The ultimate goal is to help us be better individuals.
That doesn’t happen by accident. Just like everything else in life, healthy relationships take work and the more you put into them, the more you get out. How well do you think a diet would succeed if you had none goals or an eating plan? How good would your grades be if you studied only when you felt like it?
While we all love the idea of starry-eyed romance, stable couples build their relationships on healthy disciplines more than on passionate declarations or rash actions.
Scheduling Can Be A Challenge
Most likely, you will both have very busy schedules, but it is necessary to spend time together. It is also important to understand that you both have active lives, so you’re both going to make sacrifices. There will always be times when someone just has to cancel. When possible, try to combine academic life with your love life. You can have a study date in the library or a lunch date in a cafeteria.
Part of learning how to have a healthy relationship is to learn how to handle this well.
Another benefit of scheduling your time together is that it will also keep you from spending too much time together. Dating is a time of getting to know each other, but you also need to be cautious of not becoming so wrapped up in each other you lose touch with other friends or put your education in jeopardy.
Healthy relationships are all about balance. Not spending enough time together is not healthy, but neither is spending every waking moment together.
Surround Yourself With The Right People
As much as we would sometimes love to create one, relationships don’t happen in a vacuum. Almost every person in your life will want something from you and in many cases, it will conflict with what your partner needs from you.
You may have a roommate jealous of the time you now spend with your boyfriend or girlfriend and may even try to break you up. Parents can often feel you aren’t ready for a serious relationship or you need to focus more on schoolwork.
Even teachers, advisors, coaches or other faculty members may have plans for you that they feel your relationship interferes with. Sometimes, they may be right, but it is your life. 20 years down the road, you don’t want to regret breaking up with your boyfriend because your lacrosse coach felt your relationship was holding the team back. That state championship you won may one day pale compared to what you had to give up to get it.
Surrounding yourself with the right people is not only important to help you succeed in business, it’s just as important in dating.
Dating in college can be a “Goldilocks” experience and there’s nothing wrong with that. Finding the right person often involves dating several of the wrong people on the way to finding the right one.
Whether you are trying to carry on a long-distance relationship you started in high school, a relationship with a person you met over the summer or with someone on your own campus, establishing some healthy habits, patterns and behaviors will help carry you through to a healthy, fulfilling relationship.
About the author:
Michelle is a writer and a solopreneur who enjoys cycling and mixing-up smoothies. Always interested in ways which can help individuals reach full potential in life, she enjoys producing stories on lifestyle and share a few tips. Outside her keyboard, she enjoys visiting cozy coffee shops and taking long urban strolls with her partner. Reach out to her on Twitter.