Editor’s note: dating while in school

In line with the loose theme of this issue — self love — I feel that it is important to talk about the phenomenon that is dating in a university setting. In my experience, dating in university felt kind of weird. Dating in high school was pretty weird too. Actually, dating in general has always been weird for me, but it was a lot weirder when I felt pressure coming from any sort of social setting.
An educational institution is not the ideal setting for fostering a healthy romantic relationship. I think this is true for — at least — two reasons, both of which are conclusions I have come to based on my own personal experience as well as the experiences of those around me. It’s also important for me to address the fact that there are always exceptions to the rule. For all of the failed, tumultuous relationships I witnessed implode during my tenure at Laurier and then Conestoga College, there was always plenty of those couples who plastered their romantic success across social media and interjected it into every conversation.
It’s just that, when we take a step back and think about why we are here to begin with, investing all of our free time into making a relationship work can become distracting and unhealthy for the parties involved very quickly. And don’t get me wrong, if you have a healthy, supportive partner and effective communication skills, you can just sit back and reap the benefits of the relationship. But when you are stressed out about finding a job, you have five assignments to hand in and then your partner gets hit with a sudden existential crisis, its hard to drop everything you are doing to come to their aid. I should know, because I experienced this. I learned a very hard lesson about how to be emotionally supportive in a relationship and how to not.

   Or are you just trying to get the benefits out of having someone’s emotional support without doing the legwork to return the favour?

Coming from the type of place where I wanted to see our relationship succeed, I supported an ex-partner’s ill-advised and very short-lived tenure at Laurier. This brings me around to my main point: many of the people who are in post-secondary are in the process of finding themselves and, I know it sounds corny, but they are often times still learning how to be comfortable with who they are — how to love themselves.
Many exceptions in my experience involved established mature students who began their program with their partners support and sought to finish things the same way. The key word is “established.” When I was 18 and entering university my mom still did all of my laundry and made sure I ate every day. To a varying to degree, I am confident in assuming that many of my peers in the postsecondary setting are coming from a similar place. But I was like “fuck that, I’m grown,” and I dove headfirst into the most toxic relationship of my life, as did roughly three quarters of my friends, which brings me around to my second and final point: if you don’t know what’s best for you, how could you possibly know what’s best for someone else? My experience doesn’t make me an expert, so I can’t tell you how to live your life – nor do I want to. I can tell you, that if you are encouraging your partner to stay in school because you want to be around them, and not because that’s truly what is best for them, your behaviour is toxic.
There are any number of ways that toxicity can manifest in a relationship and I realize that this example is very specific to my own experience. But on Valentine’s Day this year, I implore you, take some time to think about the relationships you have fostered here at Laurier.
Are you supporting the people you love unconditionally and encouraging them to be the best person they can be?
Or are you just trying to get the benefits out of having someone’s emotional support without doing the legwork to return the favour?

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