Love on Campus: balancing a life of love and academics
Communication is top priority in managing romantic relationships and academic stressors.

There are three things most university students stress about: their grades, their future, and their relationships. As we navigate our lives throughout university, our understanding of ourselves and the ones around us grows. Most of us start our first romantic encounters early in high school, whereas others may start theirs in university. With the diverse population of unique individuals, the campus becomes the perfect social pot for relationships of all kinds to start. 

The average age for marriage was between 20 and 24 years old for both men and women in the 1960s up to the 2000s. More than two decades later in 2023, the average age of marriage reached the late 20s for both men and women, a gradual increase throughout the years. This pushes the age of where we meet our potential forever spouse to the prime age of our early 20s, the same time we are in university. Chances are we may have passed by potential life partners in the hallways while we are scuttling off to class. What does this mean for university relationships? 

As we navigate through the formative years of our careers, we start to plan our next steps into the world. What career am I going to take? Where will I go? What should I do next? Juggling these questions within a relationship expands the “I” into a “we.” Where will “we” go next? What will “we” do now? But these questions may only start to appear when nearing graduation. Catherine Lam, a fourth-year sociology student, stated that “these feelings only started creeping in when thinking about graduation and leaving university. The first two or even three years of university was like time stood still.” Now, both her and her boyfriend worry about the future.

Modern dating can be categorized with a few notable things compared to when our parents were dating. We are subjected to a world filled with choices in the age of technology. The internet connects us to a much bigger world. We are no longer limited to nearby relationships. If we scale this back down to dating as a university student, this means instead of a limiting dating pool of just the people around you, you can meet people from outside your immediate circle, outside this campus, or even outside the country. The possibilities and opportunities are never-ending with the use of dating apps and social apps. But this comes with its problems. 

As online intimacy becomes more and more important, it has become a determining factor that contributes to self-esteem and self-efficacy in relationships. Some couples face problems such as increased distractions and relationship satisfaction. Think about the times you see relationship “advice” on social media platforms, or “stories” of cheating online. Not only does modern dating sound bleak for everyone, but we are also exposed to the information that makes us rethink and re-evaluate our relationships.

In the time where we struggle to navigate and place ourselves in society, handling all the difficulties of dating alongside our university life is not easy.

“It’s always about balance,” Lam says when asked about how she handles dating while being a university student. “You would have to constantly start thinking outside of your own perspective. Chances are you both are facing the same problems. And even if you think you don’t have time, take your time to communicate and figure things out. You have a lifetime to spend with them.”

Lam also states that “it’s important to list out your priorities with your partners first. Understanding where your priorities lie will help you navigate your relationship throughout university. There is nothing wrong to put studies first for now and the relationship later. Or if both of you are looking to marry first then careers later, it’s all up to the communication between couples.” 

Juggling a relationship and the role of being a university student may seem like a lot to handle, but students can work their way around the problem if they focus on what’s important to them. So, this Valentine’s, don’t worry too much about your studies or your relationship, show your appreciation towards one another and appreciate the romance you share with one another.

Features Editor (Volume 50) — Louis graduated from UTM with a Bachelor of Science double majoring in Psychology and Professional Writing and Communication. He is currently in the field of UX/UI design, conducting research on how to improve user experience in apps and websites, designing websites for companies that are looking to branch online. As the Features Editor for Volume 50, Louis wants to bring the experience of reading enjoyable and informative for everyone. He hopes to showcase student voices and empower them through editing. When Louis is not at his computer designing websites or writing, he is opening Pokémon card packs chasing the Charizard or at the gym training his mind and body.


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