High School Sweetheart
Maintaining a high school romance is great, sure, but ultimately a long-distance relationship will limit your college potential. (Illustration by Nick Spearman, Savannah College of Art and Design)

To be young and in love! With emotions racing and hormone levels rising, it is not uncommon for high school students to find themselves in a relationship. Despite having only dated for three months, you claim that your significant other is the one, and you are determined to marry your high school sweetheart. The looming promise of higher education doesn’t bother you; nothing can tear the two of you apart.

In reality, roughly 2 percent of high school sweethearts actually last. Most high school couples attempting to stay together in college don’t make it past Thanksgiving. But don’t fret, you will most likely find that breaking up with your first love is best for the both of you.

There are some pretty substantial benefits of dating your high school sweetheart through college. Taking the next step toward adulthood can be scary, especially when you have to do it alone. You might feel more confident moving into college when you know there’s someone out there who will always have your back. A little familiarity goes a long way while such a big change is happening. Already being in a relationship can help you feel at home in a new environment.

Other high school couples have found that maintaining their relationship through college has improved their ability to prioritize. Because they spend less time socializing and searching for a significant other on their new college campuses, they can maintain higher grades in their classes and manage their personal time more efficiently. Having the ability to focus on oneself through the adjustment period of freshman year can be a major benefit of staying with your high school sweetheart.

But isn’t the excitement of entering the unknown a big part of the college experience? Starting fresh can be an important part of not only your college career, but also your own personal development. Going out of your comfort zone can build character in ways that holding onto familiarity can’t. According to an article written by Vista College, putting yourself in unfamiliar situations can help you learn new skills, realize your capabilities and expand your horizons.

Focusing on your high school sweetheart while you should be focusing on school and making new friends isn’t doing either you or your significant other any favors. A strained relationship is a huge distraction to new college students, who need to take that time to concentrate on new teaching styles and expectations.

I’m sure many incoming freshmen think that they would never let their relationships get in the way of their school work, but according to several studies, being in love interferes with your brain’s ability to stay on task. Whether you like it or not, your relationship is bound to influence how well you do in school.

The issues with staying with your high school sweetheart don’t stop there. As an incoming freshman in a relationship, you may feel discouraged from branching out. Being in a relationship, especially a long-distance one, can limit your quest to find new friends. While it might not be a personal choice to distance yourself from your peers, sometimes even the most outgoing conversationalist will have trouble finding friends.

A friend of Marlene Kern Fischer, a writer for Collegiate Parent, describes her feelings of intimidation while trying to meet new people at university. Despite her extraverted approach, she had difficulty finding friends. “Once they found out I had a boyfriend, girls didn’t think I was fun to hang out with and guys no longer had an interest in talking to me,” she writes.

Yikes. Imagine experiencing this after moving away from home — or even out of state! Trying to find your place as a college freshman is hard as it is. Adding the stress that comes with maintaining a healthy relationship into the mix can make your freshman year seem almost impossible.

It’s hard to maintain just a normal healthy relationship after high school, but what if you and your high school sweet heart go to university in different states? Studies show that while in school, though there are many cases where long-distance is effective, these instances seem few and far between.

There are countless ways a long-distance relationship could turn sour, and most of them are out of the control of both parties. Whether expenses, technical difficulties with communicating or simple misunderstandings are involved, these and many more factors can put a strain on your well-being as a couple and as an individual.

What about when personal issues come into play? Long-distance relationships can breed jealousy, distrust and arguments. No matter how long two people have known each other, distance can drastically change their feelings for one another. Because of insecurities or general distrust, it is not uncommon for long-distance relationships to end badly. In the long run, it might even be better for the relationship to break up. At that point, at least you’ll have the fond memories of one another instead of bitter ones.

Most alarming of all the cons of dating your high school sweetheart in college is the one that argues the relationship keeps your mind at home while you should be developing independence. College is a time to experiment with your personality, values and interests. It is a time where the consequences of selfishness are less severe than they will be in the real world. University is a unique environment where ideas and perspectives are pursued for their own intrinsic value. To put it in no uncertain terms: Staying with your high school sweetheart is holding you back.

Do yourself a favor, give yourself room to make mistakes and then grow from them. With a relationship on the line, you may be less likely to take risks that could help you develop into a well-rounded person. It is important to know who you are alone before sharing that with another person. In the long run, you will spare yourself years of uncertainty and confusion.

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