Recently, I was discussing the problematic side of college relationships with a coworker over lunch. Both of us had seen people in college who were involved in detrimental and even abusive relationships during their undergrad years. Having personally experienced the phenomenon of college dating gone disastrously wrong, I’ve been contemplating this topic for some time.
Having recently graduated from college, college relationships are still fresh in my memory. In the last year I’ve seen many of the last lingering connections break apart, while a select few have taken a turn down Wedding Bell Lane. With college dating, there are two situations that strike me as more perilous than all others. One is when a college girl is suffering emotional, verbal, or physical abuse, and the other is when a college girl gets married right after graduation, before taking more time to herself to discover what she truly wants out of life in terms of non-marital aspects such as career, style of living, other dreams, etc. This second situation is scarier than the first, but the absolute worst is when both scenarios are combined – abused girl marries the worthless s.o.b. without ever learning what truly makes her happy.
I know this is scary – it almost happened to me, as well as several other girls I knew. It happened without us even realizing what was going on until it was almost too late. The men involved didn’t seem bad from the start. The lowest SAT score among them was a 1230 (old version). They were all model students and, theoretically, moral and/or religious. READ – Perfect bait for young, naive, academically intelligent Catholic women.
We fell for these men that nearly ruined us. In the beginning, we thought they were heaven-sent. And maybe they were, maybe it was God’s way of teaching us about people. But the way these relationships ended up looking was awful. Bright, intelligent women started falling into the shadow of egotistical know-it-all men. Oh yes, they knew you were smart, but no way were you as smart as them. They were always right. And they wanted you to know it.
As these relationships progressed, a sort of inter-dependency developed. You had breakfast, lunch, and dinner together every day as a couple. You did homework together and watched TV together every night, sometimes for years. Too much time “playing house” and not enough time on actual DATES where you could more easily discover the truth. You started loosing interest in yourself, your dreams, your likes and dislikes, and became this person’s little “quasi-wife” who’s only ambition was to raise his children while he attended law school by borrowing money from mom and dad. You could lie to yourself and say “well BOTH of us are going to grad school,” but if you’re married and conservative Catholic, someone’s education and career is going to take precedence, and it ain’t gonna be yours.
The worst part of all this was that people latched on to each other for no good reason, and, they would try their hardest to stay together no matter what. And whenever someone considered breaking up, all of the fellow college friends would jump in to try and help save the relationship, as if it was a marriage or something.
Since it was a Catholic school, most of the students believed in abstinence until marriage. As a result, many of these couples began planning wedding dates almost from the beginning. People got married as soon as possible, often with sex as a major motivation, rather than taking time to get their lives together and discover themselves. The silliest was often when people would get married and then plan on attending grad school together (problematic for obvious reasons stated above).
With so much pressure from their friends, their emotional investments, their environment, their fairytale hopes, and their naiveté, it’s a wonder that any of these women go on to break the chains of the bad relationship and live happily ever after with other, more mature men.
When girls end up stuck in these relationships and marry right after graduation, they lose their chance to really explore their options. Even if you KNOW he’s the one, you should still wait a bit and experience post-college life first in order to be sure. Yes you can live dreams together after you’re married, but once you’re married, you’re stuck.
Admittedly, this rant is not as well-organized or thought-out as I would like it to be, but I think you get the general idea. Girls get caught up in “romances” that result in them loosing their will to make something of themselves and be truly happy. I’m not knocking marriage at all. I hope to be married one day, but to the right guy. In fact, I wouldn’t mind getting married in a year or two, but I’d want to be damn sure I would have a good life with him. No more of this loosing my dreams to become someone’s 19th century housewife.
Maybe I’ll write more about this later, maybe not. But it’s definitely something that needs to be addressed in our society. Young girls going into college need to be made aware of what could happen. College is about YOU and YOUR dreams. Even if your dream is to be a wife and raise kids, you need other things to be a complete person. If you haven’t discovered what those are yet, then it’s definitely not time to get your MRS.
What do you guys think about this? What have your experiences been with college relationships?