Party scene is a minefield for relationships

Columnist Cary Carr struggles with mixing significant others and the party scene.

Columnist Cary Carr struggles with mixing significant others and the party scene.

College life – the constant partying, making new friends and finding potential hook-ups – can conflict with a steady, committed relationship. And sometimes, it can lead to disaster.

Let me set the scene. You get ready with all your friends. Makeup? Check. Hair? Check. Dress that is too tight to breathe in and ridiculously uncomfortable shoes? Check.cary carr

Next thing you know you are bumping-and-grinding on the dance floor with Random Guy No. 1, too scared to turn around and see what his face actually looks like. Seven Jell-O shots and a mysterious pink beverage deep, you realize your boyfriend is standing in the corner, about to go find the nearest baseball bat. Oops.

It is not a hopeless situation, though. With the right attitude, understanding friends and a significant other who is not a possessively jealous monster, incorporating a relationship into the college scene is doable.

Let me start by saying I am tackling this same problem, and I have learned a few things.

My boyfriend and I have been together for five months. After we got really serious this summer, I realized I was going to face a challenge this year. How could I possibly bring him to parties and not get myself into trouble?

I was “that girl” at every party I went to my freshman year. Dancing on tabletops, flirting my way to the front of the keg line and making sure my girlfriends had taken enough shots all defined my Thursday, Friday, Saturday and, sometimes, Sunday nights.

Now, I was about to embark on a completely different college party, and the theme was I-Have-A-Boyfriend-Leave-Me-Alone. The dress code was going to be a lot different.

Would my friends treat me the same? Would I be that boring girl who kills the mood? How could I split time equally between my friends and my boyfriend?

At a party, it is imperative that your significant other knows he or she cannot be clingy. The person has to understand your friends crave just as much time – if not more – than he or she does.

Most of my friends are still single, living up the college life and on the prowl for boys. So I make sure to dance, gossip and pre-game with them. This lets them know that our friendship is still just as important, regardless of my relationship status.

Only after the party has started and you are potentially a little buzzed to prepare yourself for the approaching chaos, should the significant other make an appearance.

Something that may make a huge difference: Tell your boyfriend or girlfriend to bring a friend or two. That way, when you wander off with your friends, a certain someone is not left feeling like an outcast or following you around like a lost puppy dog.

However, this can backfire if the friend is a creep who hits on everything with a face and ends up passing out in the bathroom. I faced this dilemma when my boyfriend’s best friend drank one-too-many cheap beers and almost got arrested outside the party we attended.

Once your significant other has made his or her arrival, do not go into honeymoon mode and make all of your friends physically sick. Instead, try to incorporate him or her into conversations, and save the affection for later.

One of the worst-case scenarios is getting hit on while your significant other is there. This can lead to a black eye, a nasty breakup or – my personal favorite – a drink thrown at someone’s face.

At one party my boyfriend and I went to, everyone was a little more than tipsy, and it led to quite the dramatic scene. A couple of guys attempted to dance with me, and I did not think it would be an issue. After a while, I noticed my boyfriend sitting in a chair – staring – getting angrier with every song.

He grabbed the nearest water bottle, threw it over the fence and pretty much went into irate-jealous-boyfriend mode. To summarize, we almost got kicked out of the party, and the mood was sufficiently killed.

Moral of the story: Avoid dancing with anyone other than the person you’re in a relationship with. And if you are talking to someone else, make it clear that you are off the market before that person starts hitting on you and enrages your other half.

No matter how many precautionary steps you take, trust, dedication and a healthy relationship are imperative to integrating a relationship into the college-party scene.

Evaluate the relationship, and make sure it is party-proof to avoid setting yourself up for a night of ruined friendships, sloppy breakups and emotional hangovers the next morning.

Cary Carr can be reached at

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