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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Beware the all-consuming relationship

Published: April 30, 2010
Section: Opinions

It may seem as though we’re too young to have the overwhelming, all-consuming relationships and love stories that we are bombarded with all the time in movies, literature and other formats. However, this is most certainly not the case.

We’ve all seen it—a friend gets into a relationship, and suddenly you’re like, “Bob who?” As early as high school, our friends started disappearing into the abyss that is a “great” relationship, often without even realizing it. Even if it’s not love, it’s easy enough to fall into the trap of spending every waking hour together, just because. Now that we’re in college, all of the boundaries usually set by our parents have disintegrated, and very quickly, couples effectively move in together, because it’s easier to just stay at the same place every night than to figure out when and where.

But at what point do our relationships become our lives? And at what point do we cross the line from cute and cuddly to annoying? How much of a toll should we allow our private lives to take on our social ones?

The first time I was in a relationship that left behind my friendships, I was in eighth, maybe ninth grade. We went to different schools, and so any time when we were both free was automatically allocated to each other. We were both athletes, in addition to being involved in various other ways at our schools and in our community, which meant as it was, we didn’t have much free time. About three months into our relationship, a friend called to ask if I was going to make it to her birthday party. My response was “Of course,” to which she replied, “Are you sure? You’re not going to see Alex?” Until that point, I had not realized I was sacrificing my friends for my boyfriend, and until later, I didn’t realize how hazardous it was.

In high school, I lived with my boyfriend for the summer, after deciding that I just couldn’t handle my parents anymore. By the time school started again, both his friends and mine had gotten so used to us being constantly together that we were invited as a couple to anything where people actually wanted us to show up.

In any relationship, but especially a happy and comfortable one, it is easy to fall into a sort of rut, where all you do is see your partner, with little regard to what is going on in the outside world. However, given the volatility and relative instability of many relationships, this can be problematic in the long run. At our age, we’re making many of the friends we will have for the rest of our lives, and by failing those friendships in favor of potentially flawed relationships that will end, we risk losing our friends. Sometimes, it is difficult for us to see exactly what is happening, but we later recognize it as foolishness.

My freshman year at Brandeis, I dated someone at another school, and spent so much time traveling between the two schools, that I didn’t realize I hadn’t made many friends until I came back, single, for second semester. It’s hard to remember to delegate our time, but it’s necessary. College is about meeting, and befriending, a variety of people, which is difficult to do if you spend all of your time with one person.