Everyone’s introduction to university life usually follows the same basic structure: a chaotic tempest of relentless partying, ordering terrible Chinese food, juggling class schedules and being completely overwhelmed by the fact that you’re joined on campus by thousands of attractive people who you probably really, really, desperately want to sleep with. Now, whether or not you choose to indulge in these vices (or virtues, depending on your moral compass) is a completely different story. While not everyone can be that lucky guy or gal to topple during a keg-stand and fall into a pile of General Tso’s Chicken, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re at least going to want to ask one of your beautiful classmates out on a date. Now, it’s all fun and games until you find yourself falling ass-backwards into the impending question that faces every university student, old or young: should I get serious with this person?
The majority of the time, the answer is going to be a big, fat, depressing and resounding no. I’m not trying to be cynical. I’d love to go on at length about how you’re going to meet your soul mate and fall hopelessly and recklessly in love. It’s just that the statistics are not in your favour. But, because I can almost feel my girlfriend’s glare boring into the back of my head, I’ll clarify a bit.
I’ve seen people who are beautifully, honestly in love and completely enamored with eachother, and they just work. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen relationships spiral into horrible, despicable black holes of resentment simply because two people try and force a committed relationship to work in the midst of cataclysmic life changes.
It goes without saying that first year students are the most susceptible to this, especially those who are naive enough to start university still dating their highschool sweetheart. We’ve all seen the movies, kids, and it doesn’t end well. But honestly, why would it? There’s usually the long-distance factor, a hurdle that even mature relationships can’t manage to portage through. Plus, most people still have that terrible highschool dating mentality that involves rampant jealousy, manipulation and a constant need for attention. (Then again, some people never outgrow that.)
Basically, you’re opening up a brand new chapter of your life with a thousand new experiences and you’re severely limiting your exposure to the valuable life lessons of drunken one-night-stands, harsh rejection, maniacally impulsive head-over-heels love and, ultimately, growing as a person. You’re sidestepping an important time in your life, simply because you’re stuck on dating someone you’re most likely only attracted to because of proximity and habit.
Cold, but true.
The problem is that even after you get through all of that, dating in university comes with its own new set of headaches, late night fights and passive-aggressive whining. As the four (or five… or six…) years tick on, we become increasingly busy and begin to figure out some plan—even if it’s loose—for our lives. Chances are you and your partner probably aren’t going to magically have the same ideas of what you want to do after graduation, and if you do, there’s a damn good chance that one of you is settling hard. While it may seem like a good idea to move to Vancouver with your partner while they get their masters and you work a shitty retail job, not only is that not being fair to yourself, it’s not being fair to the other person, either. Chances are you just might end up becoming a bitter, resentful asshole because of it.
Not to rain on anyone’s parade (or, god forbid, ruin a relationship), I’m just saying that there’s no sense in forcing something to work for the sake of it. I’m actually a really hardcore believer in that magical, spell-binding, heart-melting sort of love, almost to a fault. Above all else, though, I’m an advocate for honesty.
And honestly, if the most you’ve got in common is that you’re both Dalhousie students who met at a hockey game during Frosh Week and you’ve been living together for three years, you had better step back and take a look at the bigger picture before you buy that duplex and realize you’re more attracted to the realtor than your significant other.