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How to Handle Boyfriends & Girlfriends Going to College

by Anthony Oster, studioD

Leaving for college can be one of the most defining moments that a high-school romance must endure, especially if you are remaining at home while your boyfriend or girlfriend goes to college. Dr. Amy Wilkins and Cristen Dalessandro at the University of Colorado-Boulder examined the role of cheating in college relationships and concluded that many college students consider cheating to be a fact of life in collegiate dating. While this research suggests that many high-school relationships may face turbulence as one partner leaves for college, going into your relationship with a positive attitude and the willingness to embrace change may give your relationship a chance at success.

Give him space. Unlike in high school, couples will not see each other in-between classes, in the hall or at lunch. Autonomy was identified by Dr. Leslie Baxter of Lewis and Clark College as one of several 'Relationship Rules.' Autonomy refers to respecting the life of your boyfriend outside of your relationship, which includes not questioning where he is, who he is hanging out with or when he will be home.

Make time to see each other. While you may not see each other every day, set aside times to spend with one another. If you are still in high school or attending another college, this may involve scheduling visits every month or two, going to football games or inviting him to social functions at your school. Resources such as Skype, Facebook and Facetime can be vital in keeping your relationship strong if you are separated by distance.

Meet his or her new friends. While your social circle in high school was limited to the student body in your home town, some colleges boast freshman classes numbering in the thousands. Chances are that your boyfriend or girlfriend will meet new friends that share their interests, hobbies and passions. Rather than be jealous of these new friendships, embrace and get to know them whenever you can.

Accept change. College is about growth and change, so in all likelihood, your boyfriend or girlfriend will be changing from the person that you knew, as will you. Change may not mean that your relationship is doomed to fail, but it may mean that you can look forward to doing new things, talking about different subjects and looking at life differently than you have previously.

Know when to let go. There may come a period in your relationship when you feel overwhelmed by what it takes to keep your relationship together. This may require letting your relationship go as both you and your boyfriend or girlfriend adapt to your new roles, environments and social systems. If you decide to take a break from your relationship respectfully, you may be able to stay in touch and rekindle your romance at another time.


  • If you are separated by distance, try a Skype date where you and your boyfriend or girlfriend order a pizza, stream a movie and talk to each other online.

About the Author

Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.

Photo Credits

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