Written by One Love staff member Gabriel Naccarato
Now that summer’s over, it’s time to go back to the classes, tests, and homework you’ve been avoiding over the last few months. With all the anxieties and worries that come from starting a new year of school, it’s suddenly time to start balancing your personal life with your school life. How do you navigate hanging out when most of your nights are now school nights? How do you balance homework when all you want to do is jump on FaceTime and talk for hours?
It’s normal to feel stressed out with a new school year and maintaining a healthy relationship only adds an extra level of stress. But there are many ways that you and your partner can navigate the challenges of a new school year and find ways to still have all the fun you’ve had over the summer, even if you have less free time than before.
Take an Active Interest in Your Partner’s Learning
It’s more likely that you and your partner don’t share all the same classes, so ask about what they’re learning. An art history class can turn into a trip to a museum, or a history class can lead to being snuggled up on the couch watching a documentary. Especially in college, you’re making choices that affect your professional development. It can be stressful, but it can also be fun to learn more about each other’s passions. Respecting who they are as a person and what they want to achieve will only make your relationship stronger and more fulfilling.
Get Creative with Dates and Hangouts
When five of the seven nights are school nights, it can feel impossible to find time to go on dates. But exercising a bit of creativity can help find ways to connect and have meaningful time together. Fun is more important than ever during stressful times and can make the hardest semester feel less daunting.
Having lunch together on campus or joining the same club at school can create ways to be together without pulling you away from your studies. A working date or productive hangout can help you connect, even at your most stressed. Being able to be in the same room and enjoy each other’s company without needing to interact is a valuable skill that can bring you and your partner closer than before.
Accept That Plans Won’t Always Work Out
Sometimes you have an amazing date planned and a group project derails your whole weekend. A healthy relationship is one where you can reschedule or say no to a date or hang out, even if that’s the last thing you want to do.
And if your partner cancels on you last minute, trust that things happen, and they are doing their best to find a balance in their life and will make that time for you when they can. Reschedule when needed and know that there will be times you’ll need to cancel, too.
Equality is crucial here and take note if one of you is always canceling and the other is always rescheduling. Sometimes strict schedules lead to that imbalance, but a healthy relationship feels like each partner is putting an equal amount of effort into its success.
Motivate and Support Each Other to be Your Best
If your partner passed that test they’ve been dreading for weeks, take the time to celebrate! Celebrating your partner’s successes is not only a way to connect with their own personal goals but can be an opportunity to find time to spend together.
And if your partner didn’t do so well on that test, be honest with yourself and your partner where you could have given more time and space to help them do their best. Kindness can be about finding the good in the bad and giving that support when it’s needed the most. Allowing that space for you or your partner to do your best will have you to grow closer and achieve your professional and academic goals.
Understand That Independence is More Important Than Ever
Whether that’s taking time to do homework uninterrupted or settling down for some pre-exam cramming, being able to take time for yourself is more important than ever. You and your partner will need time to focus, and you shouldn’t have to ask for time to do homework or study. You and your partner should feel comfortable disconnecting to finish assignments and projects.
There are cute and fun ways to spend that time together, but sometimes assignments and projects have to involve people outside the relationship and everyone should have the freedom to get their work done.
Sometimes school time is stress time. But if your relationship has trust, independence, and fun, school time creates new opportunities to grow a deeper connection to your partner. Hanging out might not look the same and your schedules will be different but handling the stress of school means your relationship has a better chance of handling anything life throws at you.