Sh*t gets real after college graduation. You've just spent four years in a purgatory — albeit a very fun one — between childhood and adulthood, between playing hard and working hard, and between thinking you know who you are and really finding out who you are. If you met a romantic partner during this lovely-but-strange-limbo known as college, you might be wondering if you should break up before graduation, or if that's all too strategic. As with all matters of heart versus brain: how in hot hell is one to figure out what to do?
I imagine many of the stressors that come with deciding if the end of college should be the end of a relationship logistics. Where are both partners planning to be located post-grad? Who has a job already? How much celebrating do you want to do at the end of your undergrad experience? And how much freedom do you want to in the new world where homework is no more?! (My favorite part of leaving school.)
At Boston College, my alma mater, there was a super tacky tradition of naming your "Senior Five" during senior week. You picked the five people you'd most like to hook up with before graduation. Of course, these weren't necessarily acted upon, but the tradition dovetailed nicely with the panic we were all going through — there was a "The ship is going down, do whatever you want" vibe in the air. It definitely adds pressure to all relationships, romantic or not.
Because I wasn't in a relationship at the end of college, I spoke to Erin, 24, about her experience in deciding whether to stay together with her boyfriend, whom she met her freshman year. After speaking with Erin, I found that these are the biggest considerations to make before deciding to break up with your partner.
Where Will You Both Be Living?
In my deeply honest opinion, if you've been dating someone through most of college, you've never been single past 21, and you and you're partner are moving to different cities, the obvious choice is to break up. I may sound unfeeling, but as a 29-year-old woman who has lived in New York since college, I can tell you that being single your first years out of college will be some of the most exciting, staggering years of your life. There's something to be said for letting loose and figuring it all out right after college.
However, feelings don't go away that easily, and feelings get hurt very easily, so I know there's a lot more to unpack. "I was battling for months over whether or not to end the relationship," says Erin. "He was pretty emotionally fragile, so I knew he had to be the one to 'officially' end it. We talked about breaking up the week after graduation for about a week – we were both moving to different cities after school." While long distance relationships are certainly possible, they're difficult. The transition from college to adult life is large enough; adding a long distance relationship feels burdensome.
"It's important to remember how life will shift beyond just your school schedule no longer being similar," explains Erin. "Your whole lives are about to change, and if there's distance that's going to be at play, you have to consider if it's worth making that commitment."
Do You Just Want To Stay Together Because You're Afraid Of The Pain?
Of course breakups are terrible, no matter if you are the dumper or the dumpee, but staying in a relationship for fear of experiencing the difficulty of saying goodbye to someone is only going to hold you back in the long run. (See: 40-year-old you regrets.) "Luckily, the breakup was easier for me because I didn't have to see him afterwards, and I didn't need to interact with our mutual friends every day in person," says Erin. If you are going to be apart from each other, be apart from each other. Time spent alone is truly a vital piece to growing into your full self.
Will You Be Held Back By Staying In A Relationship?
Beyond distance, being in a relationship after college is tricky; everything is changing and you don't have that much time to tend to your partnership. Plus, being able to make decisions independently, and not for two, is liberating AF. You can go out to eat for whatever you want! Every time!
"I moved to a new city, made new friends, and started a new job," says Erin. "It was definitely the right choice, and I've gotten to experience professional and personal moments I don't think I would have enjoyed as much if I were still tied to him. I traveled to Berlin for work, I wrote a kick*ss article about my sexuality, and have become a full-time writer." Be like Erin. Erin knows what's up.
I know that some of you can probably do all of these things while staying in your college relationship, and if you've found your one true love, don't break up just because you feel like you should try being single. But if you can imagine more opportunities to say "yes" to new experiences without your partner, think about entering the rest of your 20s as a single person. Trust me, they go by in a flash. Plus, remember the one thing that every person every always says but is actually true: If it's meant to be, it will be.