Upon graduation, my high school sweetheart and I left for different universities in the same city, vowing to stay together, no matter what. “No high school couple lasts beyond their first semester freshman year,” someone told me, to which I replied with a scoff and an eye-roll. That kind of advice was meant for bicoastal couples separated by thousands of miles, and people who just weren’t committed enough to making it work. I resolved to survive the turkey drop.
But by the middle of second semester, I had unceremoniously ended a four-year relationship, citing midterms and the “different directions” in which our lives were headed. What was once was a comfortable refuge ultimately felt stifling, and the messy breakup regrettably tainted years of good memories for a long time after. But I had to do it and it was definitely worth it in the long run.
For those contemplating the High School Sweetheart Breakup (and those of you who are and just refuse to admit it), here’s why it might be better to shelve your boyfriend’s varsity jacket with the rest of your senior yearbook memories:
1. Long distance sucks.
You may have promised to stick together whether you were 30 or 3,000 miles apart, but the truth is, maintaining a long distance relationship is hard. Spending time together isn’t as simple as it used to be; now you have to drive across state lines or fly hundreds of miles every other weekend, cutting into the amount of time you have to catch up on homework, hang out with new friends, or simply explore your new settings. Plus, nobody wants to have to turn down potential weekend plans with, “Sorry, I’m driving to Ohio again to see my boyfriend.”
2. Your interests will change (and so will his).
The two of you shared a bunch of friends and dominated Wii doubles tennis together, so who’s to say you have nothing in common? Though not all high school relationships are affairs of convenience, many of them are, especially if your senior class was only 50 people big. College opens you up to a slew of experiences, and along with discovering you like volleyball and theater (who knew?), you’ll probably switch majors at least twice before you figure out what you really want. Ditto boyfriends. If your nightly marathon phone calls are dwindling down to awkward silences, maybe you guys have less in common than you thought.
3. You’ll be too busy for a serious relationship. No, really.
Between juggling 18 credit hours and trying out for the swim team and joining eight student organizations, free time is hard to come by for a college freshman. There will be many occasions down the road in which you will invariably use the excuse, “I just have too much going on right now to be in a relationship,” but this time, it might actually be true.
4. There are other fish in the sea, and other guys on the quad.
That said, you are going to want to date other guys. I repeat: you are going to want to date other guys. “No!” you protest, “I love my boyfriend, and we’ve gone through so much together.” That may be true, but there is something to be said for the appeal of (and conversely, the fear of) the unknown. Ask yourself frankly: Do you kinda maybe want to see what else is out there, but are afraid of being on your own after so long? Do you wish there were some sort of trial separation you could undertake without fully letting go of your boyfriend? Do you want your own crazy singleton stories? If the answer is yes, it may be time to jump ship (and go fishing).
5. He’s a boyfriend, not a security blanket.
Moving away from home and living on a campus with hundreds, if not thousands, of strangers is definitely daunting at first. That is, until you meet all the awesome people on the floor of your dorm, start exploring the local shops and restaurants, and figure out that the quickest way to get to your poli sci class is through the math building. Holding on to a hometown relationship can be the easiest way to seek stability amid the chaos of settling down in a new campus, but is that really a reason to stay in a relationship? Yes, there exists the rare person who marries his or her high school sweetheart and lives happily ever after, but if you’re only calling your “love” when you need a little comfort and consoling, you are not that person. Face it: it’s just cruel and selfish to stay with a guy only because he reminds you of home. If that turns out to be the case, in the immortal words of Liz Lemon, “shut it down.”