College is stressful, and often that stress leads to the end of a relationship before the end of the fall semester. People cry, people break down and people begin again. Take a look around, you can find people in each stage all around campus.
Breakups are natural. They’re just something that can happen when you move to a new place with new experiences, new obligations and new friends. It’s uncomfortable to see and uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s impossible to escape, even here at Lehigh.
One freshman I talked to said being away from a significant other for the first time can really put a strain on the relationship.
She is absolutely right. Long distance relationships always seem like a good idea at the time. It’s possible to make them work during college, but too often they end in heartbreak for both sides.
In a long distance relationship, everything starts all fine and well. There’s some travel time to visit each other, and you might not talk as much, but you’re happy.
Eventually, someone breaks. Your workload for the semester might be too heavy, or your partner might have found others to keep them company while you’re gone. They both lead to less talking, less FaceTiming and less time spent communicating honestly with your partner.
The distance between a couple grows wider than the miles between their homes. Separation leads to detachment, detachment leads to disinterest, and soon enough disinterest turns into dissatisfaction. You may not see it, but if you look around campus, you can see it in the eyes of people.
Breaking up with someone isn’t easy, and Lehigh certainly doesn’t make it easier. However much it pains us to admit, it’s a fact of life that the start of college is the prime time for breakups. The stress of finding new friends and getting accustomed to a new home strains a relationship, no matter how much you try to avoid it.
That’s not to say that going to college automatically dooms a long distance relationship. If you look around, you’ll find plenty of healthy relationships that continued past that rough transitional stage. Don’t take this as me saying your relationship will end no matter what you do — take it as me saying that it’s just a natural stage of someone’s life.
This is an extremely trying time for a person, whether that person is a new freshman or someone who has been at Lehigh for years. It might be the first point in someone’s life that they need their friends’ support.
Too often, you see people going through this difficult period alone. They can’t speak to their friends from home and parents as easily. They might still be finding their place on campus or they may just not feel welcome at Lehigh as they begin their career here.
We need to be there for our friends, even if we feel squeamish talking about it.
As a friend, there’s no better time to hold your hand out in support. Letting someone know you’re available to talk, or just being there with them, is helpful. That little gesture can be incredibly meaningful to your friend. It shows them that you care. It helps them realize they can pull through a breakup, even if they thought their partner was “the one.”
Listen to things going on around you. Pay attention to others. Try and notice when things have drastically changed in their lives.
Too often we walk around campus with our heads down as we think about our own problems. If we take just a little bit of time out of our day to look up and offer our help, we may have the chance to help someone more than we ever thought possible.
If we’re lucky, we might even find a stranger asking us why we look so down on a day we need someone to talk to most.
John Lindenau, ’20, is a columnist and associate sports editor for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]