7 Reasons Why College Relationships Are Hard

College relationships are hard, but not impossible.

While it's common to think college is all about hookups and casual sex, researchers found that first year college students are actually twice as likely to have sex in a relationship than as a hookup.

So if you are at college and in a relationship you aren't actually in a tiny minority like you may think.

Others out there, like you, are trying their best to make it work against some serious odds.

So if you are battling away there I think it's good to have a healthy perspective on why college relationships are particularly hard.

It doesn't necessarily make the challenges any easier to face, but will help you to understand that it's okay and perfectly normal to find this difficult.

So, let's get straight into why having a girlfriend at college is such a challenge.

college relationships

1. You Met At A Crossroads In Your Life

If you met on campus, rather than continuing your relationship from high school, you will find that your lives are at a crossroads.

You come from different places and you are going in different directions. Your paths have crossed at this specific place and time. And while this college crossroads actually lasts a long time, it is still a crossroads.

In the early part of college this might be okay as graduation seems a long time away. But as it gets closer you both have to make some serious decisions in your life that might see you pulled in different directions.

The myriad of life and career choices are tough enough to navigate on your own but even tougher when trying to fit into someone else's plans.

Maybe you can compromise on that or maybe you can't.

Ultimately this is true in every relationship but it is particularly challenging at college. When you are a bit older and clearer on your direction in life it becomes slightly easier. (Not easy, just easier).

2. This Is A Formative Time In Your Life

College is one giant new experience. It's thrilling and exhilirating as you are unshackled from your childhood and get a new sense of freedom and opportunity.

A college relationship is part of that whole new experience. This is an exploratory time for both of you and you are both changing.

That's part of the challenge. As you both change you become different people. You might come to struggle with how she is changing and she may come to struggle with how you are changing.

College is a time of immense personal growth where you learn a lot about yourself. It's tough to do that when you are worrying about someone else and it's tough to commit to a relationship when you are only just coming to grips with who you are as an adult.

3. Having A Girlfriend And A Social Life Is Tough

The college social life is awesome. It can be tricky juggling that along with the needs of a relationship.

You each need to have your own groups of friends and maintain a separate social life, but you also need to make an effort with each other's friends. Given how hectic college life can be it can be tough fitting in quality alone time, alongside all the partying.

Then there are the insecurity and jealousy issues, knowing your girlfriend is going out drinking. You can't be with her all the time, nor should you have to be. You have to learn to trust each other to be faithful in the midst of a lot of temptation.

In addition there is the FOMO you each might feel with regards to being tied down by a partner. The freedom and independence of college is exhilirating and for many people flings and one night stands are part of that. There is a good chance one or both of you might feel like you are missing out on that and that the relationship is a massive handbrake.

4. You Are Inexperienced In The Art Of Love

While young males often feel like they are bulletproof and know everything (I did, and still kinda do), the reality is that in college you are inexerienced at love.

Even if you have had high school girlfriends, an adult relationship is not the same. It takes a while to learn that love is not a feeling, but a choice and it takes a certain maturity to deal with all the issues that loving someone inevitably throws up.

College is a wonderful time to learn the hard work of love and compromise, but you have to be prepared for the fact that sometimes the relationship doesn't outlast the struggles and that's okay.

Even if it ends, just remember that it was good while it lasted and was a valuable learning experience.

5. You Have To Deal With Distance

Maybe you are high school sweethearts who have gone in different directions of college and are trying to do long distance.

Or maybe you met on campus and have to deal with summers apart.

Either way, long distance is a common issue to confront for a college romance.

There is no easy solution to distance. All you can do is trust, communicate and have a definitive plan to reunite some time in the near future.

It's not easy and I commend you if you are trying.

6. You So Badly Want It To Work

You aren't in high school anymore so naturally you are more serious about your relationships.

You understand that high school relationships are fleeting by nature but you know that people can and do shack up for good in college.

In fact a study of Facebook data showed that 28% of married college grads went to the same college, while only 15% of people went to the same high school as their spouse.

Now that you are an adult, you so badly want to to work and you can get frustrated if it seems like it isn't. Maybe you have a pre determined ideal that you will get shacked up by 23 so you put pressure on yourself.

It's hard to have the perspective at the time but college is just another life phase that you move through. There is life after college and it's not the boring drudgery you may expect. You can and will meet more women.

So be serious about your relationship but don't put too much pressure on it. Just have fun, go with the flow and see where life takes you.

7. It's Hard To Know Where The Relationship Is Going

It's notoriously hard to get a serious relationship started in college. Moving things from casual to steady dating to a serious relationship is fraught with danger.

It's not just guys who find it hard. Women also struggle to know how to navigate the strange territory that is college dating and will often (not unfairly) blame us.

You are worried of over investing emotionally and want to play it cool. Maybe you want to keep your options open or maybe you don't want her to know yet just how much you are into her.

Once you get through that dating phase and into the serious bit it still doesn't get any easier. Is this "college serious" or is this marriage potential? Are you going with the flow or are you moving heaven and earth for the relationship? Is it serious for now and you will part at graduation or is this the one?

You probably don't know the answer and she probably doesn't know the answer. You can have the serious talk, and outlining your fears and desires will help, but it may not get you any closer to knowing what to do.

This is just part of the territory and it comes with being in that formative stage of adulthood and a crossroads in life. You can only try and navigate it as best you can and you ahve to be happy to relinquish a little bit of control and leave it up to fate.


I didn't write this to scare you off college relationships.

Nor did I write it to give you the answers about how to navigate these tricky challenges.

I wrote it to try and explain some of the confusing and tumultuous thoughts you might be experiencing if you are in a college relationship that is rocky.

It's common, it's normal but it's still damn hard.

It's possible to make it work, but don't beat up on yourself if the relationship doesn't make it through.