Everyone’s first year at college is the same in one way: you’ll definitely meet many new people. Freshman year, especially the first month or so, is a blur of classes, dorm events, parties, first meetings of student societies, rush events, as well as a bunch of icebreakers aimed at helping new students get to know each other. The idea is that you’ll make a great group of new friends — but chances are pretty high that you’ll also meet someone you want to date. Falling for someone is always exciting, but are freshman year relationships really a good idea?
I jumped into a relationship within my first couple of weeks at Drexel, and it lasted for over a year. While it was a good relationship for most of that time and I don’t regret it, there are definitely some things I wish I’d done differently. Spending a large amount of time with one person meant I didn’t have a chance to get close to as many other people as I would have liked or to make as big of a network of friends.
The idea of a relationship can be really attractive when moving to a new city, because you’ve got a guaranteed person to do things with — they’re your concert buddy, your sightseeing partner, your plus one for Drexel’s Homecoming Week Crystal Ball. It can be a lot less scary to ask someone you’re dating to do these things than to ask a friend you barely know, but at the same time, it’s never a good idea to only have one person in your life close to you.
In addition, if the person you’re with has different interests than you, you might miss out on some of the freshman experiences that you were hoping for. My freshman girlfriend hated going to parties, but I had always planned on getting involved with the party scene. I felt like I was always having to compromise, choosing between what I wanted for her and what I wanted for myself. (This is why it took me almost two years to get to the art museum!)
If a relationship is going to be a success, it requires time and effort, and the beginning of college is already busy enough. Most people have a new city to learn about, a completely different style of classes to get used to, and often want to find a job or get involved on campus — plus, that first term is really important for your GPA. If you do decide to get into a relationship and put a lot of your energy into that, there’s a good chance some of those other things will suffer.
In the end, I used sophomore year to do all the things that most people did freshman year: to make mistakes, to live doing all the things I wanted to, to be independent and to learn more about myself. Personally, I found it a lot easier to do these things while not also having to focus on a relationship.
Every situation is unique, and you’re the only one who can know what’s going to make you happy. But if you do find someone really amazing who you can imagine yourself being with for a long time, my advice would be to keep things casual at first. If they’re really that great and it’s really supposed to last, they’ll still be around when you’re more settled into your new life. And if you do decide to start a relationship right away, just make sure you take plenty of time for yourself too.