Dating in college is a whole new ballgame compared to dating in high school. You don’t have parents hovering about, curfews to deal with or limited activities to do together. But between a full schedule of classes, hours of homework, papers to write, studying for tests, leading that club and just hanging out with your roomie or girlfriends, where do you squeeze in the time for something as all-consuming as dating? Truth be told, dating can be a positive and a negative distraction in college. If I could count how many B’s could actually have been A’s in college (or C’s to B’s, for that matter), you would probably find just as many boys. It’s exhilarating to go on a real date and spend time with a guy who tells you you’re pretty and fun and oh, by the way, let’s hang out again some time. But there comes a point when you have to make sure that you are balancing your time wisely.
I have seen many girls (myself included) fall head over heels for a boy and almost leave everything either by the wayside or let it all slow down around them amidst the excitement of spending time with someone. While this is definitely fun, it is extremely important not to lose sight of your primary purpose for being in school – the academics and the overall experience.
So how can you ensure that you create a healthy balance between dating and school life?
1. Create a schedule of what you have on your plate with your studies and with your outside-the-classroom responsibilities. If you have a test to study for, don’t leave it to the last minute because you decided to see your man three nights in a row. Schedule the time in your calendar to study every night. If you are helping to plan an event, make sure you have all meetings and prep time for your specific tasks penciled in so you don’t forget a thing.
2. Make it clear to your guy that you have to stick to your schedule. This is a great opportunity to practice that word we often find so hard to say – no! If you know you have a full schedule after school, find an alternate time to spend time together – on the weekend, at the next pep rally or even a study date (but don’t forget to actually study!).
3. Ask your friends (the ones who are open and honest with you) if you have been too busy to hang out. They will give you some good insight as to how you are actually devoting your time. It can be easy to feel as if you aren’t overcommitting to dating when you are completely enthralled in a budding relationship.
4. Are your grades slipping or you are feeling rushed to get other things in your life done? Remind yourself how good it feels to get that ‘A’ or to follow through proudly on a commitment you’ve made. That rush of achievement can be an important wake-up call if you feel as if you need some balance.
5. Be true to yourself and your feelings. Don’t feel pressured to spend more time than you feel like spending with a boy out of fear he might not want to continue seeing you. If a boy doesn’t give you your space, doesn’t listen to your needs or makes you feel as if an ultimatum is just beneath the surface, then he’s doing you a favor by showing his true colors. Get out while you can!
Enjoy dating while you are in school – these are some of the best times of your life – but just make sure that you are aware of the time you are spending together and that you are making your college experience more than just about being with a boy. After all, you have the rest of your life to date but only one chance to make a well-rounded and successful school experience work for you and your future.