College relationships can be tricky because most successful relationships first require self-understanding, which many undergraduates are still working on. (Illustration by Jaila Desper, University of California, Berkeley)
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College is a messy time for romance, but these talks can give you some perspective.

In this day and age, relationships have evolved significantly. For college students specifically, choosing a significant other that brings out the best version of them, in one of the most pivotal periods of life, is no easy task. With dating apps and social media being a mere click away at any given moment, navigating technology and having a healthy relationship in college takes a lot of work and practice.

Luckily, modern technology gave us YouTube, a tool that can be used to learn about pretty much anything that crosses a person’s mind. And on YouTube are TED Talks, a phenomenal way to expand upon these thoughts and ideas. Below are five compelling speeches about relationships that everyone in college can learn from.

1. “Rethinking infidelity … a talk for anyone who has ever loved | Esther Perel”

“Why do we cheat? And why do happy people cheat? And when we say ‘infidelity,’ what exactly do we mean? And is an affair always the end of a relationship?”

Esther Perel, a world traveler and relationship therapist who specializes in infidelity, discusses how affairs rob couples of their relationship, their happiness and their very identity. She talks about how even though cheating is extremely common, the reasoning for it is poorly understood.

Adultery existed long before modern relationships came to be. So, how does a person learn to reconcile what is universally forbidden, yet universally practiced? Back in the day, monogamy meant one person for life. Today, monogamy means one person at a time. A lot of people wonder what percentage of people cheat, but how can anyone possibly answer that when the definition of infidelity keeps on expanding?

From secretive relationships to emotional connections and being sexually active with someone other than your partner, statistics shows that while it has never been easier to cheat, it’s also never been more difficult to keep a secret.

We live in an era where we feel entitled to pursue our every desire, no matter what it might cost us. Unfortunately, that price tag in a committed relationship is usually a psychological toll on another person. By threatening your partner’s emotional security by cheating, you are threatening their sense of self.

With that said, why do so many people still choose to make these self-destructing and trauma-inducing decisions? In college relationships, young adults tend to feel as though their passion for another person won’t last forever. They begin to question, “Is this all there is? Is there more out there?”

As a society, we tend to want what we can’t have, and affairs are less about sex than desire. If we can recognize this at a young age (during college), then we can overcome this deception and redefine relationships.

On the other side of hurt and betrayal is growth and self-discovery.

2. “How To Tell If Someone Truly Loves You | Femi Ogunjinmi”

Femi Ogunjinmi, a renowned relationship coach, brings up concepts many people come face to face with during college relationships. When someone says they love you, but their actions do not show it, do they really love you?

True love that is not backed up by the right conduct is not true love, no matter how bad we want to believe we’ve found something real.

Ogunjinmi examined love during breakups and found that one of three things tends to happen: either there was no love at the beginning of the relationship, there was something bigger than the love that broke the relationship, or the love simply declined/depreciated over time.

The Nigerian author goes on to say that love means giving your partner the last piece of the pie, even when you really want it for yourself. His point is that the true definition of love is sacrifice, as it determines whether or not someone loves us, and if we love them in return.

If you give up something that’s special to you for someone, then you truly love and appreciate them.

In college relationships, this may mean giving up certain lifestyles, such as partying or playing games, for the person you’re seeking. Quitting destructive habits may eventually lead to being with a person that brings you more fulfillment in the long run.

3. “The person you really need to marry | Tracy McMillan”

After living through three failed marriages and eventual divorces, Tracy McMillan theorizes that once you find the right person, all of your relationships become successes, even the ones that were considered failures.

When we are young, so many relationships are doomed from the start because we refuse to fully commit to ourselves beforehand. McMillan discusses the importance of marrying oneself before productively entering a relationship with someone else.

In order to go into a relationship with oneself, you must come to the understanding that you are already a complete whole. This means not waiting until you get the dream body, job or person, but starting today and being painfully honest with yourself.

We are our own longest term commitment, something we tend to forget during college relationships. Instead of focusing all of our precious energy towards making someone else happy, we should be asking ourselves how these people make us feel when we are around them.

Until death do us part, for richer or poorer, to have and to hold, for better or worse and in sickness and health are vows we should make to ourselves, and the earlier the better. It is crucially important to love yourself exactly where you are now, even during life’s biggest disappointments. No matter what, forgive yourself for your mistakes because mistakes are only failures if we don’t learn from them and grow.

McMillan insists on loving yourself the way you want someone else to love you, to count on yourself to achieve everything you need to be happy.

Doing so will transform every aspect of your life and teach you how to become a better lover overall.

4. “The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown”

In “The power of vulnerability,” Brené Brown expands perception on the power of connection. She states that connection is the purpose and meaning of why we’re here on Earth.

When you ask people about love, they usually resort to telling you about their past heartbreaks. The underlying reasons for this are shame and fear.

Our minds tell us that we’re not enough: not rich enough, not beautiful enough, not smart enough, etc. In order to overcome this, we have to allow ourselves to be completely vulnerable.

Shame boils down to believing you are not worthy of love and belonging, but a sense of worthiness ultimately leads to love and belonging.

It takes a lot of courage to be imperfect. Being compassionate to yourself before becoming compassionate to others can transform college relationships entirely.

Connection, the thing humans crave more than anything else, can only occur as a result of authenticity and fully embraced vulnerability. In her TED Talk, Brown reveals how vulnerability makes us beautiful, and how it’s necessary for happy and healthy college relationships.

5. “The secret to desire in a long-term relationship | Esther Perel”

In another TED Talk by Esther Perel, she argues that desire in a committed relationship boils down to finding a balance between need for security and need for adventure. By nature, humans are walking contradictions.

We require a sense of grounding or “home,” while refusing to give up on the mysterious journey towards the unknown. How can we possibly merge these two opposite needs into one relationship? Can we find a way to want what we already have?

Perel describes love as having something, and lust as wanting something. As part of her job of working with troubled couples, she found out that most people are drawn to their partners when their apart and later reunite, when they see their partner doing something they’re passionate about or when they use their imagination to perceive their partners as somewhat elusive.

In college relationships, we already have so many different people and obligations in our lives telling us what to do. Because of this, someone that needs and depends on you can quickly be a turn off. Instead, try mixing playfulness, novelty and curiosity as key ingredients for the recipe to creating a long-lasting, loving relationship.

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