“Any tips on starting a relationship?” 

“How do you navigate dating in such a small community on campus?”

Not even one day into college, I was overwhelmed by the male attention I was receiving.

Yes, I know that sounds vain, but let me explain: growing up in a conservative town, guys did not dare to approach my loud, liberal self, but that all changed after I came to UR.

I had no previous knowledge of how to talk to guys or to know if they liked me or not. I was completely in the dark when it came to starting relationships at college. We go to a small school, and it can feel like everyone knows everyone, which makes entering the dating scene quite daunting. 

Many students enter college looking for a partner, but Take 5 student Nikki Mercer, warns against that. 

“My advice would be to not go looking for a relationship in college,” said Mercer. “Use it as a period of your life to enjoy being yourself and for self discovery/growth. Maybe through that experience a relationship will happen and things will work out. Don’t force something that is so much better when it comes naturally. Relationships are way more fun when it’s easy and you can both be yourself with each other.”

Allow yourself to enjoy the experience of college. This doesn’t mean don’t talk to people you’re interested in — do that and talk to all the potential love interests you want. However, go in with an IDGAF attitude, and just have fun! If you go into interactions forcing the idea that this person will be your boyfriend or girlfriend, it will become awkward and you will get hurt. 

College promotes hookup culture and it took me a while to understand that if someone expressed interest it did not mean that they actually liked me. If you are like me and are looking for more than just a hookup, communication is key. It is so important to have those awkward conversations to express what you want. Some people may make you feel like what you are asking for is too much.

When expressing what you need and establishing boundaries, remember you are never asking for too much — you are just asking the wrong person. Navigating the dating landscape at UR, it is so important to put yourself first. Understand what you want and do not settle for less. 

Junior Sabrina Terando emphasized the importance of communication. “I think one of the most important things to have and maintain in a relationship is open and honest communication,” she said. “Compatibility in communication styles is a huge factor in facilitating this. If you have a different way of communicating than your partner does, then a lot of misunderstandings can occur and typically one person ends up settling more than the other.”

Disagreements are bound to happen in relationships. Iit’s human nature, so it is important to respect your romantic interest and or partner to settle disagreements through mature conversations. 

Other than establishing needs and boundaries, senior Arielle Savoy states it is important to discuss future plans. “You are not going to be in college forever and the uncertainty about what happens next is stressful even if you’re single, but can add a lot of tension to a relationship,” she said.

You and your partner may have different post-undergrad plans. You may be starting a career in your hometown while your partner plans to go to medical school across the country. If you have ideas of plans after UR share them with your partner so you can discuss the future of your relationship. 

It is important to give your partner the respect and time for them to think about what they want for their future. They may see this relationship as only a college thing or maybe they have future plans that are not compatible with yours. Having these conversations sooner than later will save you the added stress when starting an amazing new chapter in your life.

We go to a small school and it can be easy to fall into the pattern of doing EVERYTHING with your partner, from going to the library or dining hall together constantly. Not only is it important to have your own time, it is important when spending time with your partner you create meaningful time together. Terando recommends making plans that will actually further your connection with your partner, such as date nights twice a month. 

College is a really exciting time in your life where you will meet tons of amazing people. When you find that special someone or begin looking for one, remember to stay true to yourself. 

If you have advice or questions, send them in via Tellonym to Sex & The CT!

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