Wes: It’s coming. I call it “anti-Valentine’s Day.” That day in mid-August when members of the class of 2011 leave their high school loves behind and head off to the Big-U. Even if that’s only as far as Jayhawk Boulevard, maintaining a relationship with someone back in high school or at another university can be excruciating.
In fact, the “Turkey Drop” is a euphemism for dumping your devoted sweetheart during Thanksgiving break of freshman year. Not a very pretty picture, is it?
There are about three ways to handle this situation, and the secret to making each of them work is clarity and communication. Both partners have to be voluntarily on the same page and know what page that is.
• Staying together. This romantic option is made a bit more practical today by video chat and social networking, allowing couples to remain at least electronically close.
With a little planning and lots of travel, this can work out OK for a few of the most dedicated couples, but it will absolutely fail for the rest. Even if distance isn’t a factor, it takes a lot of self-denial and discipline to remain true to someone who isn’t a part of your daily life, and it’s impossible to learn how you’ll really fare once you’re offline and living that life together.
• Dating on school breaks. This can get pretty dicey, especially for those who are staying local for college, but if you want to extend your high school romance, it’s possible to break up for the school year and reconnect on holidays. It’s just not easy.
You have to really break up in the interim, which means no questions asked about what the partner’s been doing during the school year. It also means that one cannot ethically maintain a serious relationship while at college without revealing their hometown dating situation, and vice-versa.
• Breaking up. Sadly, saying goodbye is the most plausible scenario. Unfortunately may couples say they’re ending their relationships, then stay in contact and up in each other’s business as if they were still together. That’s as bad an idea as I can think of, endlessly stretching out the painful breakup. Ben addresses a more humane way in his half of the column.
Ben: As a recent graduate, I’ve seen this exact issue up close and personal in the lives of my friends. There’s no easy way to deal with this issue. It’s hard to break up with someone, especially when neither of you really wants to.
As Wes says, depending on your relationship, distance is not necessarily fatal. My sister and her high school sweetheart overcame the graduation dilemma and are getting married later this month! For those going down the more common route, here’s some advice on breaking up.
• Consider the timing. I would argue that sooner is better than later. You’ll want some time at home, surrounded by family and friends, to work through things.
• Talk it out. If your relationship was serious, then you’ll both need closure. Be gentle but reasonable.
• Move on. Of course it’s going to be awkward, but you need to acclimate to being a single student. You don’t need to sever all ties, but get some distance between you two.
This is a hard time, but it will only pass if you deal with it.