Pursuing a relationship in college is a slippery slope most of us find ourselves on at one time or another. We are at that awkward life stage where we have to ask ourselves, "is this going to lead somewhere, or am I wasting my time?" We are wired to start thinking about the future, and whether or not said relationship is a healthy progression, or instead holding us back from the goals we have set for ourselves. But do we have to pick one over the other? Is there a happy medium? I asked nine Texas A&M students of various backgrounds and relationship status their opinions. Here's what they said:
"I have found a passion and love for something, so I feel that if I find someone that I love equal to or more than that, I will want to find a life with them alongside my goals. Plus, goals change all the time. Just because you are not completing some goals does not mean you cannot make new ones with someone. Everything happens for a reason, so if you don't end up accomplishing one of your goals, it might mean there is another you need to pursue."
Caitlynn Connor, College of Education and Human Development, Class of 2018
"I definitely think that it's somewhere in between. I think it's very dependent on the individual. For example, my friend is very much engulfed in chasing his dreams of becoming a chemical engineer, while still maintaining the relationship he has with his significant other. However, on the flip side, I know people who channel all of their energy into getting their goals accomplished, without worrying about love all together. In the end, I think it's a very fine line to balance on, but ultimately I believe that once you find that balance one won't really get in the way of the other."
Troy Breaux-Hare, College of Architecture, Class of 2020
"Being in love has helped me chase my dreams in a way I probably wouldn't on my own. When I see Ethan fearlessly going after his dreams it continually reminds me that mine are possible as well. We constantly have to overcome battles, being long distance, but that makes me more prepared for the challenges I face personally, because I know I can overcome them. My dreams feel out of reach sometimes, but then again a love like ours is out of this world, too."
Alli Bryant, College of Education and Human Development, Class of 2020
"When you try to think about it rationally, you can't really find a situation where love trumps your dreams and aspirations, but that's the cool thing about it because whenever love finds a way into your life, it's anything but rational. It changes the way you see the world and changes what you thought your priorities were. In the end, you'll really know it's love if they want to help you reach your dreams, and you want to help them do the same. True relationships are all about giving, so caring about what someone wants to achieve and supporting them in any way you can really means something. If you think being in a relationship is holding you back, then I don’t think you’re in it for the right reasons. So long story short, I think you can chase your dreams and chase love at the same time because if you play your cards right, those two different things can wind up being a lot closer than you first thought. Everyone dreams, to some extent, of finding someone to spend the rest of their life with. I know that’s my biggest goal, so I’m chasing both at the same time."
Travis Drummond, Mays Business School, Class of 2018
"In today's society the idea of fulfilling your own wants and dreams before pursuing another person is heavily deemed as an essential practice almost to an extreme. For those who believe that being in a relationship withholds them from pursuing their goals, the answer to this seems quite obvious. However, I believe that these ideas are drawn from immature relationships and/or unhealthy experiences rather than from relationships that actually bring positivity and progression into our lives.
Love can be a lot of things. It can be selfless, selfish, challenging and unconditional. However, the right kind of love is not what stops us from following our dreams. The wrong 'love' can alter a persons thought processes and opinions while genuine love enhances and/or enlightens these key factors of goal pursuance.
Through many trials and tribulations of relationships I have been in that have lasted weeks, months and years I have learned that the main thing that holds you back from your dreams is toxic love. Unhealthy relationships thrive when our self image is low and when we place much of our importance in another persons hands. This is not pure love in my eyes because it is damaging and that is not what loves sole purpose is.
Loves sole purpose starts with loving yourself fully. If you learn to value and respect yourself in all of your entirety, flaws and all, then when you experience these faulty relationships you will have enough self appreciation to know that this 'love' is fraudulent. This is because you know what you deserve which helps you set boundaries and expectations on how you deserve to be treated by another person.
Falling in love can be the best thing to ever happen to us- and that is honestly how it's supposed to be. It is not more important than accomplishing all of your goals, but in my mind the two are things cannot be compared. Falling in love can bring happiness and appreciation through enjoyment of another person. Through relationships, we learn compromise, compassion, patience and acceptance. Having a partner who is extremely supportive, but also who holds you accountable for your actions makes a huge impact on how successfully we accomplish our dreams. Resisting being in a relationship with someone who could impact us in this way would bring a lot of inner conflict leading to anxiety and unhappiness. This would be counterproductive and honestly does not help growth and ability to chase dreams. However an essential key point of life that promotes this is building positive relationships, both romantic and platonic.
Overall, it will always be important to know the love we deserve and the love we should aspire to give others. It is important to refute being in empty, toxic relationships because they will drain us of energy, happiness, and dreams. It is important to open up our hearts to being in genuine relationships because having a support system that is reliable and dependable helps us grow and helps us accomplish things that we may have never even imagined without the love and support we receive. Finally, it is important to acknowledge today's view of putting yourself first as significant but also removing the negative connotation that relationships and falling in love have because these are flawed viewpoints of true love."
Paige Dickey, College of Liberal Arts, Class of 2020
"I went into college only having two goals, besides getting an education, and they were find myself and have fun. I went into college in a relationship and knew we would both change, but always felt we could make it work if it was meant to be. First semester was great, I started coming out of my shell and was having fun so double check on the goals. Second semester was a different story, I slowly began to realize my love life was holding me back from achieving my goals as she was pulling me away from friends, organizations, and just being involved. I slowly started to realize our goals weren't aligning anymore which was expected, so I just thought we would work on it and get over the hump. It didn't go that well, and lead to a messy breakup. In the end I don't regret the relationship, but wish I had gone into college single with my goals in mind and found someone who either had the same goals as I did or was worth putting some of my minor goals on hold. You should never put off your major goals for love, if the person doesn't want you to grow and prosper then they aren't the one for you. If they meet you in the middle and cheer you on then you found your match."
Austin Wray, College of Engineering, Class of 2020
"Every person is different. Some people are so goal oriented that having a significant other is apart of the “plan” they have for themselves so It simply doesn’t matter if they find one or not. Other people are the opposite. They’re seeking love and life full of happiness with another person. Their goal is this happiness and this state. To do both I think is to have love as one of your goals or dreams in and of itself. Also think you don’t chase love you fall for It. But when you fall you fall hard and once your together, honestly your dreams become our dreams, and you’re pursuing them together. Personally that’s where I stand. My goal is to be the best Dad/husband/Christ like example I can be. I want pursue my dreams of working for a pro sports team, but also raising a family with a wife and kids. I don’t think dreams have to come before a significant other. And my last point would be, if you’re waiting for a time to focus on relationships because now isn’t a good time, just know that there’s never a better time than now."
Scott Richards, Mays Business School, Class of 2020
"I think you can find love and accomplish your goals. I think if someone loves you, they will be supportive of your goals and push you to accomplish all that you've set out to do! I personally would never let goals get in the way of love because I don't think accomplishing those goals would be as exciting if you didn't have a person you love standing next to you."
Ally Birdwell, College of Education and Human Development, Class of 2018
“Relationships can hold you back from achieving your goals, but that’s an indication that you are in the wrong relationship. To me, a healthy relationship is one where you can strive for you own aspirations while building and maintaining the relationship with your partner. There will always be give and take, but that doesn’t mean it’s all or nothing.”
Travis Smith, College of Science, Class of 2018