Contributed by Rebecca Smith, M.A., L.C.P.C., C.S.A.T.
The month of May brings about mixed feelings in a lot of college students, especially those in committed relationships. Most students feel a sense of relief and happiness when they’ve completed all their finals, and some feel accomplishment if they’re graduating. However, being done means having to move on, and that can be sad and a bit scary. For couples, sharing space, classes, and experiences brings them together. What happens when those things no longer exist? Some relationships move forward together, but some pull apart. Sometimes, even just being apart for the summer can be scary. Technology now makes it easier to stay in touch, but it’s not the same as seeing each other all the time. This can make the month of May pretty rough for some couples who have to say goodbye.
Most of us have a hard time saying goodbye, so some people will start pulling away a few weeks or months earlier to make the actual separation easier. This may end up causing conflict during the time when you really want to cherish with each other. One person in the relationship could have more trouble than the other, and some situations that could arise are: sneaking away rather than confronting the emotions of a formal goodbye; starting a fight; or becoming very needy in the months leading up to the separation.
Sneaking away rather than having an emotional goodbye may seem like a good way to handle things, but it doesn’t allow your partner to express his or her emotions. It also doesn’t allow for any closure. It may be easier on the one who is leaving, but it doesn’t make it easier on the person who is being left without a goodbye.
Some people will cause a fight before they have to say goodbye. They push the other person away believing it will make the separation easier or believing that the relationship is going to end anyway. Rather than risk rejection later, this person will reject their boyfriend or girlfriend first by causing a conflict. While maintaining a relationship long distance isn’t easy, it is possible. This person may end up throwing away a great relationship out of fear.
Some people become really needy in the months or weeks leading up to a separation. They want to spend every waking moment with their boyfriend or girlfriend before they leave. They want to relive a lot of memories by talking about, or doing things, that they’ve done in the past. This can put a lot of pressure on the relationship. Everyone has a lot going on before school ends. It can be hard to balance your relationship with having to study and getting things done before you leave. The added pressure of making too much time for your relationship can cause conflict.
There is no easy way to say goodbye. Do your best, in the weeks leading up to the separation, to have fun and make time for your friends and school as well. When the time comes to say goodbye, remember its okay to be sad. Eventually, you will find things to fill up your time while you’re apart. You will adapt to your new situation. It may also help you appreciate each other more. Cherish your memories and be thankful to Facebook and Skype for keeping you somewhat connected either through the summer or until you can be together again.