Long term relationships can get a bad rap when you’re in college. It is a common belief that college is the time to find yourself and be single, selfish and free. I support those who wish to stay single throughout college and casually date, but that is not for me.
I think it is important to ‘find yourself’ during college and to be selfish when it comes to making or breaking friendships, getting jobs or your education choices. I also believe that you can be an independent person while in a long term relationship.
I have been dating my boyfriend for four years. As one of the few long term relationships in our shared friend group, we are always the people to go to for dating advice.
Being in a committed relationship can be hard work, but it is worth it. My boyfriend and I can both agree that it is possible to be independent while in a long-term relationship. Here are three of our tips on how we don’t lose our individuality in our relationship:
Be each other’s cheerleaders.
Everyone needs support. Being each other’s cheerleader helps encourage your partner to be themselves and their support helps make yourself flourish as well. I think it is very important to have a significant other that motivates you.
One of my favorite things about my relationship is that I am always pushed to be the best version of myself. If your partner is not taking the time to help you grow and evolve, then they aren’t doing their job as your cheerleader.
I make sure to always show my support for my boyfriend. Sometimes it is as little as wishing them good luck for that final exam or as big as dragging them to a career fair and being their networking wingman.
In order to be independent within your relationship you need to feel the comfort of having a partner who will love and support you through your life decisions.
Pursue your own interests while finding shared interests.
It is important for you to have your own interests. You need to find something that you are passionate about. Go see that band you love, take that hot yoga class or hide away in your room with a good book. Having time to yourself doing the things you get happiness from is beneficial.
Keep time for yourself but also spend time finding an activity to share with your significant other. I believe in the saying that ‘opposites attract’ but to make that type of relationship work, you have to put in the effort to find the similarities you both share. Having separate interests while maintaining shared interests, is an important factor in staying independent in a long term relationship.
The same goes with friendships. It is great to have a shared group of friends with your significant other, but make sure you have friends that don’t just see you as a couple. This does not mean your friends and partner can never be together with you, they can and should. Having friendships that you can escape to when you need time away from your partner is very important to not losing your mind. Don’t kid yourself, sometimes you need a break from your significant other.
Do not put your relationship before your education or career.
No one is more important than your education or career. Your goals and ambitious should be your top priority. If you partner is not keen on this idea then you shouldn’t be in a long term relationship with that person. It is as simple as that.
As I mentioned before, your partner should be your own personal cheerleader. They should support the big life decisions you make for yourself. Don’t forget that you are your own person. Your life goals that revolve around your education and career should not be compromised for someone else.
With my boyfriend being older, he finished college before me. This means he is in the stage of his life where he is applying for full time employment. My five-year plan involves graduating and then finding a career in Milwaukee. I let my boyfriend know that if he plans to apply out of state I will support his decision, but I will not relocate. It was an awkward conversation to have, but luckily, we both decided that working in Milwaukee was what we both wanted individually.
Your partner should always want you to be the best you can be. They should always encourage you to study for that exam, apply for that internship or take that promotion. Life is too short to waste your time and effort with someone who doesn’t allow you to pursue your education and career goals.
Long term relationships are a lot of work; but once you find the person that lights up your soul, you never want to let them go. However, it is important to always remember that you are not your relationship. Being independent is 100% possible while being in a long term relationship as long as you support one another, participate in your own interests and don’t forget to put your career goals first.