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Love and Long-Term Relationships: The Pressure to Commit

Tips on how to deal with a long term relationship whilst busy at Oxford.

As Valentine’s Day is upon us, and advertisements make it almost impossible not to be constantly reminded of the holiday, many wonder about their relationship status. As a student, leading a busy and hectic life, committing to a long-term relationship might be the farthest thing from your mind. However, you also might be realizing that coming to university marks a milestone toward adulthood and the chance to form a lasting, long-term relationship is a real possibility. Many wonder though if seeking out long-term companionship as a student is feasible or if students should spend more time enjoying their freedom.

Should students seek out long-term, committed relationships? In short, you should do whatever you want to make yourself happy. This might seem like an obvious answer, but it is worth being said. Neither I, nor anyone else in your life, can decide whether being in a long-term relationship is the correct choice for you. As long a long-term relationship is between consenting adults it is ultimately up to you to decide whether being in that relationship is the right path for you as a student. That being said, I’ve compiled a list of things to consider when wondering whether or not a long-term relationship is right for you. While there are no hard and fast rules relationships can follow, there are some important things to consider before delving into a long-term commitment.

  1. Happiness

This is pretty much something to consider in every relationship you have, but especially important when considering whether to be in a long-term, committed relationship. While this might seem self-evident, personal happiness is of utmost importance for a relationship. If your current relationship, whether long-term or not, does not bring you happiness or joy, then it is probably time to reevaluate that relationship. When deciding whether or not it is right to be in a long-term relationship, you should consider whether that relationship makes you happy or not. If there is a partner you wish to be with who makes you a better person and who gives you joy to be around, then this is an indicator that you should be with that person. However, if you are simply looking to be in a relationship because you want to be and your partner does not bring you happiness it is a pretty good sign that relationship is not going to be beneficial to you.

  1. Goals

Being a student is a full-time job. For most, completing schoolwork and being a student is their top priority at university. If your significant other is discouraging you from doing schoolwork or unsupportive of completing your education, it might be time to reconsider that relationship. Additionally, if you find it hard to complete your university obligations because of a long-term relationship, then it is best to think about whether that relationship should continue. As students, our careers are not developed and our life goals are most likely going to change over time. If you do not want to be tied down to someone else’s career aspirations or if they do not support your goals, then being in a long-term relationship is probably not the best path. It can be hard at this stage in life to have concrete plans for a future career or further education which can make it difficult to fully commit to a life with another person. However, if you and your partner share similar life goals and/or are willing to compromise with each other on your ambitions, then it is going to be easier to have companionship with that person. Further, if you are okay with planning your future with someone else in mind or being able to be apart from your partner to fulfill each other’s goals, being in a long-term relationship is likely to be conducive to your future.

  1. Stress

Being at university is stressful. Feeling pressure to be involved in organizations and sports, in addition to completing demanding coursework, also increases stress and limits time that you have to devote to other things. Adding a long-term, committed relationship on top of this might not be practical. Essentially, this boils down to whether you are willing to change your schedule or make an effort to accommodate your schedule for another person. This is something that, again, only you can determine. While most relationships have times of stress, stress should definitely not be a defining part of your relationship. If your long-term relationship becomes just another element of stress you are adding to your life, it is probably not the best relationship for you. However, for some, a long-term relationship might be a way to manage their stress in a better way and be eased by the presence of a reliable partner.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these are a few factors one should consider when deciding to enter into a long-term relationship as a student. Many people view a long-term committed relationship as something which holds them back and restricts their freedom. In a sense, this is true. In a relationship, you often have to put someone else’s needs before your own and consider another person when making decisions. Students in long-term, committed relationships have less freedom in the sense that they usually cannot go out and do whatever they want all the time. However, many students in committed, long-term relationships find happiness and fulfillment through such companionship. Both sides have a trade-off and you are the only one who can ultimately decide what is best for you.

The bottom line is that you should not feel pressured to be in a long-term relationship, a short-term relationship, or any sort of relationship at all. If you are a student and want to be in a long-term, committed relationship, then you should be. Personally, I find happiness in being in a long-term relationship. On the other hand, I have friends as equally happy as I am who are not in relationships. If you choose to be in a long-term relationship, what ultimately matters is that you are with a partner who is kind and considerate towards you – no one else can decide what type of relationship is going to make you happy but you!

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