Maintaining a Relationship as a College Student

The desire to have a boyfriend in college is strong. I distinctly remember going through my freshman year and saying on multiple occasions, “I don’t need a man, but boy do I want one,” which many of my friends would agree with. According to Rachel DiBisceglie, there are definite benefits to having a boyfriend (or any significant other at all) in college — some people even claim that having a boyfriend can help your GPA. But you also need to consider the commitments that you’re about to make.

IMG_1658My best friend and her boyfriend play-fighting on my bed. I kicked them out promptly after.
  1. The Time Commitment

A wise person once said “a relationship is like taking a four-credit class,” and I’ve never heard a better analogy for it. You already have to make time for your classes, your homework, your extracurricular activities, and the friends you already have, and now you have to also spend one-on-one time with your significant other. Of course it’s something that you want to do, but it definitely takes up time.

  1. The Compromise Commitment

People tend to take for granted the complete autonomy you get when you’re single. Make no mistake, your significant other shouldn’t control you in any way, but you need to make certain compromises when you’re in a relationship. You might think that it’s okay to party six nights a week, but if it makes your partner uncomfortable then you need to find a compromise between the two of you.

  1. The Communication Commitment

I’ve learned during my time in college that most young people don’t handle confrontation or communication well. And it makes sense! We’re young and we’re just beginning to learn how to maturely relate to others.

But being in a relationship means that you need to learn how really fast, or your relationship won’t be healthy. You can’t just ignore your significant other when you’re mad at them, because they can’t read your mind. If you want something or you need for your partner to make a change, you have to speak up for yourself and communicate.

  1. The Regular Commitment

It probably goes without saying, but you need to make a commitment to be with that person and to be loyal to them. I absolutely hate this saying, but we’re young, and sometimes we just don’t need to be tied down. If you know that you’re not in a place to be faithful to one person, don’t couple up with someone and just end up hurting their feelings.

In other words, make sure that you’re ready to “settle down”, at least for a little while. If there’s even a chance you’ll cheat, just don’t get into a relationship.

Conclusion

This isn’t all meant to stop anyone in college from getting into a relationship. Like I said, there are upsides to being in a relationship in college. I’ve seen plenty of successful relationships that happened during the couple’s college years, and I definitely had fun when I was in my relationship. But I was also really stressed out, and in the end, it ended. I didn’t take enough time to consider if it was truly what I wanted, or what I really needed at that time.

So feel free to go out and date. But don’t forget that relationships aren’t easy, and that you should do a fair amount of thinking before you dive into one.

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The Intricacies of Being in an Interracial Relationship

Race issues are having a bit of a moment right now. Minorities are becoming more outspoken about the injustices that we’ve faced for generations, and the topic of modern racism has made its way into the mainstream. More people than ever know about the issues of police brutality, job discrimination, and colorism. And yet, as Angela Siegel points out, interracial relationships and the sneakily racist way they are viewed are rarely discussed.

There seems to be a weird paradox at play where people simultaneously believe that interracial relationships are super common these days, but are still surprised whenever they see an actual interracial couple. It’s as if people can accept it, but only in theory.

In truth, interracial relationships certainly are on the rise, with 17% of marriages being interracial. Tinder has published a study that suggests that the app has made people more open to interracial dating. And 91% of American adults say that they either think interracial marriage is good or are neutral on the issue (the key word, however, is “say”).

But despite this apparent rise in tolerance and open-mindedness, interracial couple still face a lot of scrutiny, whether that’s from family, friends, or complete strangers.

IMG_1126One of the two(!) non-black men I have dated. I still get crap from my dad about it.

Speaking as a person who has been in relationships with people outside of my race, the actual relationship is no different. The circumstances  are different, but that boils down to other people’s reactions and has never had anything to do with the relationship itself.

And people definitely treat me differently because of this fact. With my friends it’s more of a joking teasing, and is more about our own understanding of the subliminal societal message that I’m weird for what I’m doing. I even indulge in the jokes myself, and throw them back at them, because what better way to deal with passive racism than to poke fun at it?

Despite being able to joke about my relationships, it truly does grate on me when family and actual strangers think that they can comment on my dating habits. Random people have found it acceptable to ask the guys I date how many black girls they’ve been with. I’m known in my family as the one who loves white men, despite my past interest and actual involvement with men of my own race.

IMG_7329The boy I had a crush on in high school and went to prom with, who is just as Caribbean as I am.

It’s as if people think that your entire relationship boils down to race, and that can be really damaging for the people involved. Not everyone is able to put up with the constant comments, and it can put undue stress on a relationship and cause it to end prematurely.

At the end of the day, an relationship, interracial or not, is just a relationship. Of course there are people who will date a person outside of their race specifically because of some creepy fetish, just like there are people who will date a person with money because of greed. But race is not usually the driving force of a relationship, and especially not of a marriage.

So before you ask your friend an inappropriate question about their relationship, take a step back and ask yourself if you’d be asking the question if it were a same-race couple.

Communing with the Dead: Being Ghosted in a Relationship

Ghosting. Oh my god, ghosting. There are few things when it comes to dating that get my blood boiling like talking about ghosting does. And that’s hypocritical of me (slightly), but still. Ghosting is almost a sure-fire way to hurt someone’s feelings, or to at least really confuse them.

According to Kelly Ann Garnett, a person’s (specifically a man’s) reasons for ghosting can be narrowed down to a few categories. And I agree! There definitely are many common reasons for ghosting a person, and they might feel totally justified in the moment. Maybe you’re not as into them as you thought, or you met someone else, or they mentioned something that instantly turned you off, but you don’t see the relationship as serious enough to end in person. But no matter what your excuse is, ghosting people isn’t okay.

To be clear, ghosting isn’t some new phenomenon that Millennials created out of thin air. What Millennials did do was give it a name and bring its existence into the mainstream, and modify it a little bit with technology. But, ghosting has been around for a long time — our parents did it, our grandparents did it, and maybe even our great-grandparents did it. It was definitely much harder back then, since most people you dated probably lived around you, so you were more likely to see them after you played dead on them.

Cell phones and the internet have made ghosting easy-breezy: Hit that block button and move on with your life, subtly dodging them if you ever see them in public. And if you met them online and they live far away, it’s even easier. But once again, that doesn’t make it okay.

Like I discussed in my last post, technology makes it really easy to forget that other people have feelings. And when you can just stop texting a person back or block their number, you don’t have to worry about what the person who you’re ghosting is going through. You can wipe your hands of it, and walk away still feeling like a moderately-decent person.

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A screenshot of a conversation I was having. I never spoke to him again after this (please don’t make me feel worse).

But for the person on the other side, ghosting can really hurt. You’re left high and dry and without a clue as to what you did wrong or why this person won’t talk to you anymore. Were you too needy? Did your breath stink the whole time you were talking to them? Are you a terrible kisser or something? The confusion about what went wrong often hurts more than actually losing the person.

Technology also plays a part in ghosting in the form of haunting. Being ghosted is bad enough, but at least our elders had a better chance of moving on and forgetting about the person after being left without notice. Today, however, our personal ghosts can leave their digital footprints all over our timelines, and the truly bold will even resort to liking your posts to remind that they’re not actually dead, they just don’t want you anymore. We’re also able to stalk them online, which is sometimes very difficult to resist.

Speaking as a person who has both been the ghostee and the ghoster (I understand the hypocrisy of me making this post), it sucks either way. It definitely sucks more to be ghosted, which is probably why some people attempt to do it before the other person has a chance to, but both leave me feeling gross in some way. Being ghosted leaves me obsessing over why the other person would want to do that to me, and ghosting someone makes me feel like a bad person.

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A time when I was ghosted (and subsequently haunted). I’m very embarrassed, don’t make it weird.

So here’s my suggestion for this week: We don’t do this anymore. We act like adults, and we tell people when we feel like our relationship with them has run its course. Communication makes things so much easier. Yeah, it might be uncomfortable while you’re doing it, but you know what’s more uncomfortable? Avoiding the person for months because you couldn’t work up the courage to just be honest. So just get it over with.

To Swipe or Not to Swipe?

Ah, dating apps. They’re one of the hallmarks of modern dating, and they tend to confuse the hell out of our parents (and often us as well). Some people swear by dating apps, saying that they might not have met their soulmate were it not for the advent of Tinder. But others, like Mariah Manoylov, argue that “dating apps dehumanize dating” and make it harder to see others as actual people and not as objects or conquests.

IMG_8643 (1).jpgLook, I got a match!

There’s certainly no shortage of dating apps out there for people to use. From Tinder to eHarmony or from Grindr to OkCupid, there’s a dating app for everybody to find whatever it is that they’re looking for, whether that’s someone who shares their religious beliefs or someone who will have sex with them and respectfully never speak to them again.

On the surface, this seems like a great thing! You can find hundreds of people who like the same things that you like or who you probably wouldn’t have met or approached in real life. After all, the more bingo cards you buy, the more likely you are to win, right? But the abundance of dating apps and of the options that they give us, according to Manoylov, could be working against us.

When people are given too many choices, they can often fall victim to option paralysis. What this essentially means is that when you have a ridiculous amount of people available to you, it becomes nearly impossible to make a choice because you’re always thinking that there’s something better just around the corner. This works in reverse too — when you’re constantly thinking that there are better people around, it becomes hard to feel secure in a relationship and easy to experience a drop in self-esteem.

The problems with dating apps don’t stop there. On an app, it’s easy to fake a persona that doesn’t reflect who you actually are, and people tend to play up certain personality traits that they think are desirable. It’s gotten to the point where people can place a majority of app users in a few groups, because their profiles are just that similar. It’s almost like we’re living in Harry Potter, except the Houses are based on how many pictures you take with fish.

There’s also the issue of mismatched motives. What do you do when your intentions don’t match up with another person’s? Whether you’re the one who wants a serious relationship or the one who really only wanted an ego boost, contrasting motives can cause a lot of stress for the people involved if one or both people aren’t being honest.

I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve given Tinder a shot, once upon a time. It was… not great. It wasn’t terrible, either, to be honest. It was mostly just boring. Mindlessly swiping away at a screen eventually starts to lose its appeal, and I quickly realized that I would go on sprees of swiping left on people who I had barely even looked at. And when I did look at them, the smallest things would make me dismiss them — a grainy picture, an awkward smile, a fish. (I’m not in on the joke of men taking pictures with fish and I probably never will be.)

Do I believe that Tinder lowered my self-esteem? I personally don’t think so. But do I think it gave me a skewed perception of what dating is like? Probably. Even after I stopped using the app, I still find myself flirting mainly for the ego boost, and not to actually pursue relationships. I’m much more dismissive of people now, as well. After all, I’ve already seen how many guys there are out there, so why should I care about the few that are right in front of me?

It’s not all bad, though. I’ve seen my fair share of strong relationships that started online, and I’m very much aware of how important dating apps are to people who have a hard time making connections without them, like people who identify as LGBT. So my advice is not to delete your Tinder and flirt with your nearest grocery store cashier.

Instead, my advice is to follow the golden rule of dating: Communication. If you only want to hook up, be honest. If you’re hoping to marry someone from the app, just say so (although maybe don’t use the word “marriage” before you say hello). If you’re not quite sure what you want, speak up. Whatever it is, tell the other person and allow them to decide for themselves if they’re okay with it.

Next, try to be a little bit more realistic. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (was that enough clichés?). That doesn’t mean to settle. By no means should you settle for less than you deserve. But don’t pass up on a great person just because you think that there’s some theoretical perfect human waiting out there. You’ll miss out on a lot of great people if you’ve always got one foot out the door. (Okay, that’s enough clichés.)

Lastly and most importantly, try not to forget that these people you’re swiping on are real. They’re real humans with families and interests and memories and a lot to offer the world. Maybe they’re not the one for you, but don’t let a profile picture where they wear stripes with polka dots stop you from making a real connection (no matter how heinous that combination is).

Social Media Destroyed My Relationship

By Roshan Davis

Okay, maybe I’m being slightly overdramatic. But the pressures of social media certainly set us on the fast-track to the end by putting our underlying issues under a microscope. (Don’t worry, we’re still friends. But that’s a blog post for another day.) When I was initially going through the struggle of trying to make the relationship work, I thought that I was going crazy. Why did I care so much about our online presence? Why did it matter if he didn’t post me on his socials, or if he didn’t keep up with mine? But after reading Hafeezah Nazim’s article about social media’s effect on relationships, I realized that my fears were actually quite standard for a person my age.

IMG_1223A photo of us that I had posted on my Snapchat story

Thirty years ago, it didn’t matter what your significant other was doing online, because online barely existed. You couldn’t overanalyze the cryptic tweet your boyfriend made an hour after you two had an argument, or stress over the fact that you posted a story 23 hours ago and your girlfriend has yet to view it. Even now, people in their forties and above don’t have to deal with these things — my stepdad barely knows how to text, and my grandma thinks that Snapchat is a type of snack food. But for young adults, these things have not only become factors in a relationship, they can make or break it.

My ex and I were in a situationship, which means that we were together but not, like, together together (which is also a post for another day), but this didn’t stop us from dealing with all of the pitfalls that come with a modern relationship. Granted, many of our problems were caused by his inability to communicate properly and by my self-destructive tendency to worry about whether my loved ones actually like me or are simply pretending to, but social media amplified my insecurities in a way that wasn’t possible for my parents’ generation.

Social media makes it ridiculously easy to drive yourself insane. Any time I hadn’t heard from him for a while, all I had to do was check to see if he was recently on Snapchat or Instagram, and my imagination could run wild with theories of what he was doing if he wasn’t responding to my snaps, liking my Instagram photos, or watching my stories. Social media might make it harder to lie about your whereabouts, but what you’re doing is anyone’s guess if you’re not posting about it, and an anxious young mind will jump to the worst-possible scenario.

So what does this mean? Is social media a curse placed upon Generation Z? Should we all toss our phones into the ocean and try to return to simpler times? Absolutely not. We have to learn how to deal with it, just like the generation before us had to learn to deal with texting and AOL messenger. And just like the uncertainty surrounding ambiguous messages and the fear of double-texting haven’t disappeared, social media-related anxiety is here to stay.

All we can do is try not to worry so much about what a person’s online activity “means”. Or, we can take our worry as a sign that there are more important problems that need to be confronted.

 

Follow-Up Interview with MyLifeAsJordan

By Roshan Davis

Jordan Heustis is a small YouTube daily vlogger at Towson University. She and her channel have been steadily gaining popularity within the Towson community, especially with potential attendees. Every day, Heustis compiles video clips of her and her friends simply living their lives at university, succinctly summarizing and advertising the college experience. Last year, I interviewed Heustis as her channel was hitting its 100-video milestone. Now it’s time to catch up with her and see what she has been doing in the last few month, and get an idea of what is still in store for her.

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