One of the best parts of college is the myriad of romantic possibilities that can pop up almost anywhere for students in class, on the weekends or simply on Appian Way.
However, dating while managing schoolwork, a social life, extracurricular activities, clubs and everything else the college lifestyle entails can be difficult.
Though, after almost four years at Keene State College, seniors feel they have enough experience on the college dating scene to finally understand it.
Senior Alexandra Oliveri has been dating her boyfriend since the beginning of spring semester last year.
“As a senior now, I think [my boyfriend and I] found each other at the perfect time. We had our fun being single in high school and part of college and then we found each other and we just knew,” Oliveri said.
According to Oliveri, what makes their relationship work is how committed they are to each other.
“I love how much he loves me. It sounds cliché, but Mike would drop anything in the world to do something for me. It’s comforting to know that. It’s amazing, actually. When I hurt, he’s hurting more. When I laugh, he smiles because I’m happy. It’s that back and forth of commitment and love,” Oliveri said.
Oliveri’s boyfriend, senior Mike Dunham, said he believes their relationship has changed him for the better.
“There is always something to look forward to when I get out of bed and having the support I get out of this relationship is indescribable,” Dunham said.
However, seniors in healthy relationships said they do not believe dating has changed the way they interact with friends or family. Senior Nicole Guerrera said, if anything, her relationship has made her happier and closer to her friends.
“I don’t let my relationship define me, but it has made me a happier, more open, and definitely a more loving person. My friends always poke fun at me for having a boyfriend now, but I still go out and have fun with them. Nothing is different about me, I just have an extra person in my life,” Guerrera said.
Dunham said he does not believe his relationship has changed him too much either.
“The only difference now is I have this beautiful girl to show off to my family and friends,” Dunham said, “Family is a huge part of my life and there is no better feeling than hearing the people I love say these amazing things about my girlfriend. I’m proud to be with her.”
Oliveri added, “I don’t think anything between my friends and me has changed. I would say that being in a relationship has taught me to care more about myself. I take better care of myself mentally and physically because he makes me feel like I matter one hundred percent of the time.”
Relationships actually do prove to make people happier.
According to a Harvard study by George Vaillant that analyzed data over the course of 75 years, love is the key to living a fulfilling and happy life.
“I’ve always been happy and comfortable with myself, but instead of just being happy on my own I wake up every day excited about the next time I’ll see him,” Oliveri said.
However, many seniors have also gone through the imperative ups and downs of college relationships. Senior Cara Zembsch said she feels she has learned a lot from her recent breakup.
“We had been together for almost five years and it was a great relationship. We both really cared for each other but toward the end we lost all respect, communication, and trust,” Zembsch said, “It all definitely changed me for the better and I know I’m the kind of person I want to be now. I learned so many things about myself. It gave me confidence in areas I didn’t necessarily have confidence in and it also allowed me to pursue my goals.”
Senior Kelsey Marscher said she went through a rough breakup last March that made her realize what she really wants from a relationship.
“We had a rocky relationship, lots of arguing and sometimes cheating. It finally ended because he went on this crazy spring break cruise and I found out from Facebook that he cheated on me with some girl there. I was really upset and I didn’t know how to continue, but in the long-run it made me so much stronger and now I’m in a new relationship where I’m happy and I feel respected,” Marscher said.
After a rocky breakup herself, Zembsch is optimistic about future relationships.
“I think a good relationship means communication, compromise, respect, and trust. Those are the main fundamentals,” Zembsch said.
Oliveri believes healthy arguments are key to respecting your significant other.
“Love isn’t perfect and trying not to fight or argue is impossible. Celebrate your differences and move past them because the happiness is so worth it,” Oliveri said.
Seniors agree that every relationship has its challenge.
“We’re doing long distance right now and honestly we’re making it work. I never thought long distance is something I’d be open to and I miss him when we’re not together, but I’m just so happy. Just knowing we’re together makes me happy and that’s all that matters,” Guerrera said.
Overall, seniors emphasize the importance of finding a healthy relationship either in college or after.
“I had my fun at college and I’m so happy I did, but I knew there would come a point where I felt like settling down,” Guerrera said.
Dunham added, “She’s what I’ve been looking for. I don’t even have a favorite thing about her – everything is. Her hard work, motivation, intelligence, success, sweetness, loyalty, she’s caring, beautiful, and she keeps me motivated. Life in general is just better with her.”
Stephanie McCann be cotacted at firstname.lastname@example.org