While the most common response to me saying that I’m in a super long-term relationship is “When are you getting married?” (awkward), some people have voiced their mild concern to my family or even to me that they wish I’d taken a little more time to “just have fun in college.” A similar sentiment has popularly been expressed by a slew of internet posts such as “23 Things to do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23,” which seem to suggest that being in a relationship at all means that in some fundamental way you’ve held yourself back.
I’d like to respectfully set the record straight by saying that I have had more than my share of fun.
I think that these comments made by people we know as well as generally by internet voices are based on two main misconceptions:
1. Being in a serious relationship means spending a disproportionate amount of time with your significant other.
2. Missing out on the college party scene is really “missing out.”
Both misconceptions that people have about dating in college are fair enough. For some couples, they really are attached to the hip, and they completely miss out on their college experience. For some people, missing out on the experience of meeting people and being single during college is genuinely a concern. For me, however, neither are applicable.
First, being in a serious relationship has not consumed my life. While our situation is slightly unique as we are in a long-distance arrangement currently, I feel that things would not be different had we attended the same college. We are two highly independent people. I have my own set of interests and friends, and so does my boyfriend. We visit each other as often as we can, which isn’t every weekend, so I have plenty of weekends to spend going out with friends and doing things I enjoy. On the occasions when we do get to visit each other, we often spend at least an evening or a couple of hours with each other’s friends. All of my friends know my boyfriend, and his friends know me. Having a significant other and having a vibrant social life are not mutually exclusive.
But what about going out? What about building relationships with people of the opposite gender? All of that still happens. Two of my best friends at Penn are guys; my boyfriend has plenty of friends that are girls. Because we both trust each other, I’ve never been held back because of my “jealous boyfriend” or he because of his “jealous girlfriend.” I don’t spend time worrying about who he is with or what he is doing, and he doesn’t have to “okay” everything that I do. We are both respectful of each other and sensitive to situations the other might deem undesirable, but I don’t feel that my relationship rules my life or limits how I get to be a college girl.
Second, I don’t feel that I’ve in any way “missed out” on the college party scene. Honestly, I just don’t like it. I wouldn’t be doing it if I were single. The stereotypical “party scene” at my school, if we’re being honest, is pretty based on sexism and copious amounts of alcohol, neither of which I’m a fan. Even if I had no commitments, getting drunk and hooking up with a random guy in the basement of a frat house just isn’t my thing. No offense meant to anyone who enjoys the college hookup/party scene, but it’s not my idea of fun. Any parties or social events that don’t fall under this description are things I often attend anyway, since as I said before, I really do have my own life.
I don’t want my comments on my independence to overshadow the fact that dating during college and doing things together has been SO MUCH FUN. We’ve traveled to each other’s cities and explored new restaurants, new activities, and new places. I’ve made new friends with his friends and he with mine. We’ve helped each other through bad grades, life changes, and other obstacles, and we’ve celebrated our achievements together. I’ve gotten to attend the college of my dreams with the support of my best friend. I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’ve still changed and grown as a person, and so has he, and we’ve done it all together.
Just some of our adventures….
I’ve had over two years of being “held back” and as you can see, I’m pretty happy. And by that, I mean very, very happy. Unfortunately, my other half is leaving me for a semester to live across the pond in London, but I’ll look forward to his return so we can resume our adventures across the East Coast. Because there is no better way to spend your college years than with your best friend…especially if you’re dating him.