There is no way around it — relationships are a huge part of the college experience. People are constantly meeting, dating or breaking up. Whatever your stance on relationships is, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to both sides. Some brave Temple students have agreed to share their stories and heartaches for the benefit of us all.
Juniors Alix Gerz and Pat O’Rourke met their freshman year, but have only recently become an official couple. “We tried just being friends for a while, but it just didn’t work,” says Gerz. “We got attached relatively quickly, and we’ve been together since March.”
|Some helpful hints from the ETR Associates pamphlet “Getting What You Want From Relationships,” written by Donna Noonan and edited by Barbara A. Cooley, on how to keep your relationship going strong.
“Looking back over the past 6 months, everything’s going good,” said O’Rourke. “We’re just taking it one day at a time.”
Some common problems in college relationships are issues such as busy and conflicting schedules, temptations to be with other people and the feeling of lacking independence and being tied down.
O’Rourke and Gerz feel these hurdles are easily overcome with a little effort from both sides. “We’re sympathetic to each other’s schedules, so it’s usually not hard to find time together. And we live close by, both at home and on campus, so that helps too,” said Gerz.
“Communication is the most important thing,” advises O’Rourke. “You have to have complete honesty and always try to be aware of the other person’s feelings.”
On the occasion that quality time is running scarce, these two keep the love fires burning by keeping in touch through e-mail messages, phone calls and the occasional handwritten note. “Both of us go out of our way to show how much we care,” said O’Rourke.
All of this sweet love talk, though, is only one side of the coin. By talking with other students around campus, it becomes clear that there are plenty of people who feel that relationships only tie them down and add more stress to their lives.
Senior Brian Ursone says, “Relationships in college are not a good thing. Everyone is young and there is no reason to be tied down to one person. We should be going out and trying new things, without having to report back to someone. I like having my freedom and independence. I can do what I want, and I don’t have to answer to anyone.”
Sophomore Melissa DeCesaris adds, “A downside to relationships is jealousy. If one person isn’t secure enough with themselves, they will constantly be watching every move their partner makes.”
Our couple-in-love notes that friends can sometimes be an issue for those in a serious relationship. “Sometimes his friends get on his case about spending so much time with me,” says Gerz. “It’s important to balance out time spent with your friends and with your boyfriend or girlfriend.”
Any way you look at it, relationships will always have their ups and downs. Some like the security and intimacy of a serious commitment, while others prefer to live it up on the dating scene. Whichever path you choose, both Pamela Freeman and Michael Silverstein, therapists at Temple University’s Counseling Services Center, agree that communication is the number one factor to making college relationships work.
“There is a tendency among college students to hook up quickly with a person, without getting to know them first, to discover what each one is looking for and what they like and dislike,” says Freeman. “It’s important to find someone who holds similar values and will respect you and look out for your welfare.”
Silverstein adds, “Students shouldn’t feel locked into a certain style of dating. There’s no right or wrong answer; what matters is that you feel good about yourself and the way you interact with your partner. What many students don’t understand is that after those first few honeymoon months, relationships can take a lot of work. You have to be willing to tolerate your differences and to focus on the things you have in common.”