Hiya! My name is Lauren and I graduated in 2010 from Oklahoma Christian University with a BA in history and a minor in Biblical studies. I was a member of the Honors College and Phi Alpha Theta (but other than that I steered clear of campus groups). I am a freelance writer studying for the GRE because the real world is a scary place and I belong in academia. I’d like to study pre-Reformation church history at the graduate level and dream of becoming a professor. I’m originally from Baton Rouge, LA (Geaux Tigers!) and currently reside there with my boyfriend, Mamaz the dog, and our six cats.
A big part of college life is making mistakes and learning from them, or watching others make them and deciding that you don’t need firsthand experience to know that kidnapping a flamingo from the zoo and trying to hide it in the shower is a bad idea. Mistakes like choosing not to study and subsequently failing a test, or making the wrong food choices are actions that can be easily remedied by studying harder and eating smarter. A much more dangerous mistake to make is being in an unhealthy, unsatisfying, and/or dead-end relationship because it is much harder to extricate yourself from another person than it is to untangle yourself from the cheese fries and pizza diet. It’s important to notice the warning signs that tell you that this person is not right for you and equally important to get out quickly once you come to this realization. College is all about new experiences and fresh starts, it is something to be enjoyed; staying in a bad relationship and being miserable shouldn’t be a part of it.
And when I say “going south” I don’t mean those little bumps in a relationship that are easily worked through together. I mean giant-red-flashing-light-with-an-alarm-going-off signs that the relationship needs to just die. And sometimes it’s hard to see these things in the moment, when you’re swept up in love and fluffy feelings, but if you find yourself being unhappy the majority of the time, you may want to use the following as a little check on your relationship. Think of it as a “come to Jesus” talk that you give yourself.
1) Do you find yourself rationalizing reasons to stay with your partner? Thoughts like, “I know it’s bad that he hits me, but he can be so sweet sometimes,” or “She has such bad anger issues that she refuses to control, but if I’m afraid that if I leave, she’ll hurt herself,” mean that you are essentially trying to convince yourself to continue a relationship. You shouldn’t need persuasion if you’re truly happy with your partner.
2) Do you still enjoy being in the relationship or do you feel like it is more of a routine that you must go through? For example, when he says, “Hey, babe, let’s hang out tonight and watch a movie,” and your first thought is usually, “Uuugh, not again. Can’t he just leave me alone?” that may be a signal that you’re not enjoying your relationship. Think about it like this: do you want to spend the rest of your life feeling like you’re obligated to spend time with someone you don’t like?
3) Is your partner mean, degrading, abusive, spending a great deal of time trying to change you, purposefully isolating you from your friends and family, attempting to control you, disregarding your needs regularly, and making you feel guilty when you get mad or upset? If so, RUN. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, get your belongings, and either get out or get help. If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, please do not hold on to the idea that they will change if you just try harder. You’re not doing anything so wrong that it calls for abuse (because, spoiler alert, no one deserves abuse); what exactly would you be trying harder to do? To be a squishier punching bag? If you’re being abused, it’s definitely not you. It’s him/her because the normal reaction to conflict or stress isn’t to start swinging at your loved ones. Don’t fall for the guilt trip or the tears or apologies, because you know that you’ll be right back in the same place the next time he has a bad day.
Of course, these are just a few broad questions to ask, but they are a good start if you’re questioning whether or not you want to continue in a relationship. It’s important to have healthy relationships in college because that is something that affects not only your emotional state, but also your grades. If he/she is keeping you from your schoolwork, or if you’re too depressed to go to class, your grades will likely plummet.
Once you’ve made the decision to leave, do it quickly. Steel your heart, remember that you have gone over all of the pros and cons of the relationship and have made the right decision for you. Don’t feel guilty because it’s just a part of life—sometimes things just don’t work out into a happy ending and that’s all right because, hey, you’re in college surrounded by people with whom to make new memories and forge new relationships. Choose to be happy and rock on!