A grim outlook on new college grads
A recent body of research created major waves in the field of relationship dynamics, but not necessarily in a positive way. Most of the attention was focused on post-collegiate relations, in which the relationship breakdowns of young adults often drew grim conclusion that seemingly great love has many fickle roadblocks – and that it’s better to just get over the relationship or two before facing the show of remaining love until death do you part. A survey conducted among college students also revealed how many of these recent graduates are now in long-term relationships and how it has affected their mental state. In response to the survey, the College Board convened more than 900 students to identify some of the common issues that often arise following the breakup of a relationship.
A number of students shared a somewhat pessimistic outlook of their own before college, but they experienced a change when they began their first semester of college. Eight in 10 students indicated they were more optimistic about their relationships than they were at the start of their freshman year of college. (From the study: “Nearly every student, from the first week on campus to the last week, showed a rise in optimism about their relationships. This seemed to be especially the case when it came to first-year relationships.”) What’s more, 71 percent of students reported the relationship breakdown they experienced as being a good lesson in what’s to come for others in their life.
Relationships are part of who we are and what we do, so it’s no surprise that meeting new people also resulted in many students recognizing that they needed to become more comfortable living life without someone there to keep them grounded. This was especially true for students who never dated (the vast majority (80 percent) did not date their freshman year of college), especially students who were forced to face a situation they either didn’t understand or underestimated. Additionally, self-esteem and self-confidence also skyrocketed when relationships collapsed – a common finding.
When asked about the ways relationships impacted students’ mental state, the majority of students indicated they believed that the social life of college more than detracted from their love lives. They also emphasized that the burden of maintaining the situation was heavier than they believed the stress should be. About a third of students also cited relationship dissolutions as inspiring them to do more, such as participating in activities that weren’t a typical college routine.
This time of year, we may all be in need of a relationship turnaround. Whether it’s the beginning of a new job or getting ready for the holidays, anything in the next few weeks that can reinvigorate us as individuals will be an invitation for us to reconnect and grow together.