First Comes Love, Then Comes…Nope.

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Tonight, I dedicate this article to a topic more intimidating than graduation, more contentious than politics at the Thanksgiving table. Tonight, as I’m juggling a barrage of texts from my childhood best friend who just got engaged, college relationships are weighing pretty heavily on my mind.

In four years I feel like I’ve seen it all, from the Orientation Week hookups (please never speak to me again), to the sobbing catastrophe suddenly camped out on my couch, to the incomprehensible drama and the thing that I never even knew was a thing until it had stopped being a thing (but was it ever a thing?).

Some relationships, sensible though they may seem, never really make sense deep down. Others have become a campus institution. I can think of three or four couples off the top of my head who look like protons and electrons, essential parts of each other.

I’ve been in a relationship for well over two years now. Probably some people see us as a campus institution when they see us together, and some days I think that sense of expectation is the hardest part of dating in college.

Does anyone else feel caught in the middle? On the one hand there’s the urge to have a boyfriend! Go to Bruges! Come out of the closet and hook up with her! Be the success story! You two are so adorable together; it makes me so happy. Sure, whatever, I want to say to those who feel the need to comment on it. My relationship isn’t for spectators.

But it’s disorienting because there are two beats playing at the same time. You’re in college, it’s a time for change. You’re studying abroad, stop focusing on your relationship and enjoy the country. You’re too young–surely you can’t be serious.

For as often as the weight of people observing my relationship with stars in their eyes overwhelms me, I am just as frequently annoyed by the dual pressure to become one with the amoebic mass of hookup culture.

I wanted to make some grandiloquent, Caroline-esque prescriptive statements about how to handle your college love life here, but I realized how situational our little romantic muddles all are. When I say “getting married,” do you envision trailer park or Naval Academy? Legal battles or church music?

My childhood friend is a twenty-one year old white female who will graduate in six months with an engineering degree. She is religious but doesn’t consider marriage an obligation. Her fiancé has a solid job. I love her, I respect her, I trust her–and yet, I want to scream and shake my head. Are you crazy? Getting married at this age?

These thoughts are far more adult than I’m comfortable with right now, me, who is still carving out a space for myself amongst all the labels and artificial boundaries. Tonight, all I can say is: I’m glad I’m not you and that you are not me, because neither one of us knows how to pilot the other’s boat. And congratulations to my beloved friend. May we recognize each other’s separate courses through life.

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