Home > Features > Dope Dating Advice with Kerry Neal: I’m in a Relationship but Leaving for College, What Do I Do?

Dope Dating Advice with Kerry Neal: I’m in a Relationship but Leaving for College, What Do I Do?

Dope Dating Advice with Kerry Neal-

Fontana, CA — It is now July, and summer is upon us! We are experiencing consistent 90-plus-degree temperatures, so there is no mistake about it—it’s time to get the summer festivities going! It’s time to travel and hit up all the parties, weddings, and other outdoor activities that the fantastic warm weather allows—especially in Southern California, where it never rains!

But as we approach the tail end of summer, specifically the latter part of July and into August, something else is happening all around the country—students are heading out for college, and many will live in the dorms on campus. Now, this is a defining moment for both the parents and student, as the parents are now releasing their student into the world of academia and independence—in most cases, students enter college at 18 years of age, which in the United States is an adult. So now students experience a level of autonomy they never have—no more parental oversight prodding you to wash dishes, clean your room, or do your homework. You are on your own now, Buddy!

Now, while there seems to be a huge focus on adjusting to campus life and independence, there is something else that is far more perplexing and often confusing for students moving away from home to attend college.

Some students are in relationships and wonder if moving away to attend college will disrupt their love for one another. And if this is inevitable, should they end their love fest with each other and get the pain over?

Quick story…

I signed up for the US Army out of high school in the Delayed Entry Program, so I sealed my fate of going into the military nearly a year before I was in. On one hand, it gave me a sense of clarity that I knew what to do after high school graduation. But the downside was that I committed so early that I was removed from any other considerations, like college, maybe working a job, or whatever. Once you sign on with Uncle Sam, you belong to Uncle Sam.

Here’s why this is important…

I met this wonderful young lady named Tina Chandler (I’ll never forget her), who had long hair and pretty eyes. I met her at the local Baskin Robbins as she worked as a cashier with some classmates. I got to know her about four months before I took off for the military. Call me a stupid little naïve kid—but from my vantage point, I fell in love with her, and she fell in love with me. Cue Teddy Pendergrass song (Feels so good—lovin’ somebody—and somebody loves you back!)

I think…

So, she was right there when it was time for me to head out to the military. She cried, and I cried. We were both 18 years old. Tina was also leaving home, but for college, as she would attend the University of Michigan the following month to study Nursing.

While away in basic training in South Carolina, we wrote back and forth to each other for a good month. One day, I received a letter from her that shook my world. Her letter stated that the pressure of staying in touch and focusing on studying was too much for her. She asked if we could be friends and not write as often. Now as you can imagine, life in basic training was a vastly different situation juxtaposed student life at one of the elite colleges in America. I was not taking no for an answer and wrote back to reinforce my dedication to her despite the distance. I was OK scaling back the letters but did not want to lose her.

OMG—why did I do that…

Tina wrote back to me and INSISTED that I leave her alone…it was a side of her that I had never seen before, and it shook me. She was mean about it, but that is the approach she took so I would get the message. Later next year, we will all be home for the holidays. I called her up to see if I could stop by to see her, and she granted me my wish. We chopped it up for about 30 minutes (the entire time, she was sitting away from me and not as warm and engaged as I had always known her to be). As our time wrapped up, I asked her if she would like to grab a movie while we were both home for the holidays. I remember her response as if she said it yesterday:

I can go to the movies with you, but I need to first check with my boyfriend—he gets so jealous, and I want to respect how he feels.

Needless to say, we didn’t go to the movies; that was the last time I spoke to her.

Here is some advice to you high school students heading off to college but think that you’re in love:

Commit to staying in touch, not necessarily to remain in a relationship. Trust me on this one—if you’re going off to college, you are about to experience an entirely new life, people, and encounters with so many different elements of your new adult life, your high school relationship need not hinder it. You are young with so much more life to live. This should be experienced without feelings of obligation from a long-distance relationship at 18.

You have yet to learn what true love is. This means you will see that you genuinely love a person when confronted with options. Still, you both feel you would rather be with each other. This would be a sign that your affinity for one another grew through new environments and distance, so it makes sense to build on what you both built.

No ill feelings toward the other person if they decide to move on. I know—it’s hard. Your stomach may turn its back on you, and you may be unable to eat for a while. But you will be fine. Everyone needs to grow up and experience their journey independently of what others may think is best for them.

Enjoy your college years—they will be some of the best memories you will ever have!

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