Don’t let college love eclipse your post-graduate ambitions

CartoonDrawn by Kirstie Haruta

Upon entering college, I was determined to graduate in three years, move back to Los Angeles, and become a glorious success. But those plans came to a screeching halt when I met my boyfriend, and for the first time I understood the desire to align your life with someone else’s.

Movies and books have romanticized the college experience, so that now many young women enter college thinking they will find the love of their life that will fit their list of requirements — smart, tall, funny, loyal, handsome, romantic, and great in bed. According to a study commissioned by the Independent Women’s Forum, 63 percent of women studied agreed with the statement, “I would like to meet my future husband in college.”

The trouble arises when you fall in love with someone who doesn’t have the same goals that you do or the same life timeline. Perhaps your boyfriend wants to move to New York, but you want to stay in San Francisco. Or maybe you are graduating a year ahead of your girlfriend. It doesn’t benefit you or your significant other to continue dating and continue falling in love when it is clear that your life’s paths will split after college. One of the most important things you can do is learn when you need to walk away from love.

When the blinders of love are slapped onto us, it can be difficult to distinguish between a relationship worth sticking with and one that will hold you back. We become deeply immersed in our relationship, and suddenly putting your life on hold for a year doesn’t sound so unreasonable because it’s for the person you love.

But in a healthy relationship, you support one another in everything, according to Columbia Health’s Go Ask Alice. “Sometimes it’s not so easy to decide if a troublesome tie should be maintained the way it is, worked on, or ended before it goes any further,” said the anonymous advice.

It’s these times when we are blinded that we need reality to swoop in and tap us on the head — “tap, tap, tap, this isn’t the one for you honey.” Often times it is our friends and our family that try to tell us this, and the best thing you can do is listen to them. They are outside of the romance bubble, and many times they can see much more clearly than you.

My friends and family took one look at the differences between my boyfriend and I and shook their heads. But we were in love and didn’t want to see any of that. Couldn’t he transfer schools to Los Angeles and be with me? Couldn’t I just stay here for a year while he’s graduating? Could I have a baby, years before I really wanted to?

When you find yourself changing who you are to be with someone, then you shouldn’t be with them, said Jill Knapp, an adjunct professor in psychology, in an article for Huff Post Women. “We all compromise…but make sure you aren’t changing to the point where you don’t recognize the person you’re becoming,” she said.

The college couples that will last beyond graduation are the ones that have a foundation of similar goals, priorities, and a matching timeline for major life events. When someone truly loves you they are your biggest cheerleader, pushing you to succeed, not holding you back.

It’s important to evaluate your relationship — does the person you love want you to meet all your goals, even if that means moving and dating long distance? Or do you shy away from your goals for fear of losing the relationship?

Coming to the realization that you need to walk away from a relationship, walk away from a person you love, is one of the hardest things to do. But remember, it doesn’t mean you don’t love them or that they don’t love you — it means that you respect yourself enough to put your needs, your desires, and your goals first. In a world with over seven billion people, you will love again and next time it might be Mr. or Mrs. Right.