Love on Campus: The Art and Science of Relationships in University

You followed your high school sweetheart to university. Or you met your love at a buzzing lecture hall. Or perhaps you are single and ready to mingle. One thing is certain, though: the transition to young adulthood in academia brings with it many changes. While you may go to school primarily to earn a degree, a lateral and occasionally central concern is, of course, your love life.

It should come as no surprise that campuses the nation over are fertile grounds for the blossoming of romantic relationships. Navigating these involvements takes finesse and practice, and the tips below will help steer you toward and through healthy relationships in your years at uni. This information comes to us from scientific studies reviewed by social scientists Dr. Gary Lewandowski and Miranda E. Bobrowski of Monmouth University in New Jersey.

Don’t stress over a sweetheart who doesn’t follow you to your far-off school. Before you even think of cutting that special someone loose as an inescapable sacrifice, know that long-distance relationships are no worse than short-distance ones. In some ways, they can be better, as the two of you view each other more positively and are more satisfied with your communication – even if most of it is not face to face.

In some cases, it may be necessary to break up with a high school love.If the costs of continuing to see each other outweigh the rewards, it might be time to let go. But if you continue to reap many benefits from the relationship, just stick it out. Some pro-and-con evaluation may be necessary.

If you do end up growing apart and breaking up, know that you won’t suffer as much as you think you will post-breakup. Sure, this young woman was total wife material or that young man was the most loving person you’d ever met, but life goes on and so will you. In fact, you are likely to look back on the experience with relief – especially if your now-ex was holding you back.

Don’t get over a messy breakup by rebounding with a new partner.Instead, reach out to your friends for support, journal about the positives of the experience and above all, don’t get back with your ex. A rebound in reverse is just as bad as a rebound full speed ahead. Spend some time in your own company to figure yourself out. Once you do, you’ll know just where you stand and this knowledge will lead to a better relationship.

Once you start a new relationship, keep a few principles in mind. For instance: like attracts like. So if you like salsa dancing, enjoy strolls through downtown and keep up to date on world news, it’s best if your partner shares these interests as well. A perfect replica in your image is a far-fetched (and rather unsavoury) fantasy, but keep an eye out for people who are similar to you in some key respects.

When you’re meeting new people, stay alert to signs of interest. If you’re a man, you may interpret certain responses to mean more than they actually do. A simple “Hi!” from a pretty woman might sound like a proposition. Don’t fall for it. It’s just a greeting. And sorry, guys, but the science doesn’t lie here – many of you are guilty of this fallacy.

Build your relationship on a foundation of honesty, trust, closeness and openness. Disclose information about yourself and keep the lines of communication open. Be especially communicative about any problems that come up. Disagreements won’t break your loving bond if you address them in a respectful, non-critical, non-defensive manner. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t let molehills turn into mountains – mountains of drama, that is.

When the passion fades, where will you be? Favour companionship over fleeting thrills and you’ll be together for a long time. Be your partner’s best friend and expect the same in return. Of all the advice about love, this is the one that will ensure that your relationship will endure.

If things take a turn for the worse – like much, much worse – get help and get out. Don’t stand for abuse of any kind. Just because it’s happening to you doesn’t mean it’s normal or that it’s happening to everybody. There may be strong psychological incentives to stay in an abusive relationship. You may come up with a million excuses but not a single good reason to stay. So leave.

If you’re not sure that your relationship is problematic, ask your friends, your roommates, or maybe even your parents. See what they think. They’re the best judges of the health of your relationship. The science is loud and clear on this one. See also the linked resources at the end of this article.
Healthy romantic relationships bring out the best in us. They make us happy and keep us in tip-top shape, both physically and emotionally. As a young adult, you can appreciate the difference a loving bond can make in your life. And as a student, you can acknowledge the role love plays in your life without sacrificing your academic goals or platonic friendships.


The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Support Line & Leadership (SASSL)

York University Safer Together

Counselling & Disability Services (CDS)

Assaulted Women’s Helpline

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Word Count: 876; The Lexicon

October 3, 2013:

editor writer


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