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Breaking up for College

Updated on February 20, 2017

Deciding to Break Up

So you've been dating for a long time, through high school, middle school, elementary school (no?). Or even just all through your senior year. Eventually the topic of college will come up, between the stress you need to rant about to talking about what the two of you are going to do when moving comes up.

Even if you feel like you've known your partner for years, his or her opinion about your relationship can be a surprise. I was surprised when my boyfriend of four years told me he wanted to break up for college, and we're going to be only two hours apart from each other. It is a flurry of emotions and different rationales flying through your mind. You'll be okay, breaking up for college really isn't as scary as it sounds.

Dealing and Coping

You've had the conversation and it's over when one of you leaves. How do you go about maintaining your relationship? You can try to keep things how they are, but let's be honest: things aren't the same. You now have a scripted breakup, and you've probably visualized it and cried thinking about it.

One of two things are likely to happen (to you and your SO): 1. You will feel like you have to make the absolute most of all the time you have together. 2. You will feel like you don't have to try as hard because your relationship is doomed anyway.

Understand the perspective. Breaking up for college is not an easy decision to make, and it's even harder when couples around you are going to give the long-distance a shot. Most of them don't work out and end on bad or "falling out" terms, think of breaking up before leaving as a sign of maturity instead of a lack of faith in your relationship.

Find time for your friends. Unless you're going to the same college and/or rooming together then you're not going to see them as often, either. This will help keep your mind off the awaiting breakup, and offer another shoulder to cry on.

Find a job, or find something that you can do for "you" time.

Make the most of your time together. It's positive to think that after the time of individuality that you two will still end up together, but as Robert Frost put it: "I know how way leads on to way".

Keeping yourself busy is key. The more fun you're having, the less you'll think about it.

Saying Goodbye

If it's appropriate, exchange gifts. Let your girlfriend keep your middle school soccer jersey or those plaid boxers you accidentally left at her house. Make her a mixed CD of songs that remind you of her. Get a picture framed. Bake him some cookies for the road. This is not the bad kind of goodbye that forces you to get over someone, this is a mutual breakup of necessity, and it's alright to break up on sad terms.

If you can, help each other pack. Not only is it helpful, but it can be another bonding experience.

Have a great final date. Plan it together or arrange for one of you to surprise the other (or each of you can surprise each other on different nights) make it fun or sentimental, just be sure it'll be memorable.

See him (or her) off. There will probably be tears, but it will give you a better and stronger sense of closure than if you don't. If you can't, see him/her as close to when he leaves as possible and say your goodbyes then.

Moving On

Even if you decide to stay in touch after you leave, you should have a "down period" where you give each other enough space to be individuals again. Couples grow together, and people have effects on each other, and you have to adjust to being yourself again and being alone.

Fortunately, the college atmosphere will help because you'll be surrounded by social people and a friendly atmosphere, and hopefully you'll be able to go out and do things and be active on campus. You won't have a lot of friends from back at home to remind you of your ex.

Give yourself some time to be ready to have another girl/boy friend. If you're feeling like you aren't really ready to get into another relationship, say so. General dating after breaking up advice applies, but this healing process might be easier because the hurt isn't as strong and acceptance comes easier.

If you do keep in touch with your ex, it isn't appropriate to tell him all the details about your awesome new boyfriend, save it for girls' night out. You wouldn't want him to spout on and on about his new girlfriend. Mentioning that you have one and showing him you're happy are plenty enough, don't rub salt in the wounds. Would you like it if he told you his new girlfriend has the prettiest eyes in the world? No, you wouldn't. You probably don't even want to think about it. That is why a simple, "Hey, I'm doing good, going on a date later, wish me luck!" is all you really need.

Good luck for all of you who are going to give the long distance relationship a try, and to those of you who are celebrating your last summer together!


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