Navigating New Relationships

friendships in postsecondary

Grade 12 seems like a long time ago and perhaps your high school sweetheart relationship and maybe even some of your friendships are also long gone. Now you’re in university/college and focusing on your studies. Except there may be some new relationships you are experiencing – a roommate, new classmates, professors and instructors, and maybe a new romantic relationship – or perhaps you’re dealing with an existing but now long-distance relationship. College is often a time of big changes in your life and your relationships are not exempt from those changes.

Roommates

If you’ve never lived with a roommate before, this is a new area for you to navigate. In ideal circumstances, you and your roommate (or roommates) get along well, with a perfect balance of chore division, financial obligations, time together, and time apart and alone. However, that’s not always the case. There can be so many challenges in dealing with a roommate. If they are a stranger, it’s kind of awkward getting to know them and to find what works for both of you and if you already had a relationship with your roommate before you moved in together, it can be tricky to negotiate the details of your agreement and even worse if you’re not getting along and it’s just not working out for you. If your roommate is also a family member and things are going sideways – there is even more pressure to salvage your relationship because of the impact this could have on your immediate or extended family.

Classroom relationships

Profs, instructors, TA’s, and classmates are all new. What if you have a personality conflict with an instructor or professor? Group projects are always challenging – but what if you have classmates who make group projects a nightmare? Everyone has to navigate these nuances throughout their life, the stakes just get higher as you get older. Your marks in post-secondary school are very important and can impact your future. Relying on others to be objective and fair or to do their fair share of good quality work can add pressure to a time in your life that is very stressful.

Romantic relationships

If you are in an existing romantic relationship already, and you are starting post-secondary studies, this will add stress to your relationship, because frankly, it is a stressful time! If you and your significant other are living in separate cities, the stress is compounded. That’s not to say that you cannot have a successful relationship that will weather this time of transition and last a lifetime, but it will take some extra attention to get through this life event. Insecurities can rise to the surface for one or both people in the relationship and loneliness is a prevalent feeling when you’re living apart.

If you’re experiencing a brand-new relationship (perhaps you even met in school) this can be an exciting time for you both, but this new love is also competing with your studies for your time and attention.

This can be a time of firsts in your new relationship. You’re getting to know each other’s friends and possibly family, you may be experiencing new-found freedom if you’ve moved out on your own, and you may experience your first intimate sexual relationship, or at least your first one with this new person. All of this is exhilarating, and although it does require a balance of time and focus it can be wonderful. However, it may not be as wonderful as you’d like. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a relationship in which you feel uncomfortable, controlled or even abused.

If you are experiencing what feels like insurmountable challenges in your relationships, it may be time to speak to a therapist. At Insight, we can help with:

Support is just a phone call away. Contact the team at Insight to book an appointment with a therapist.

If you feel like you are in an abusive relationship, you MUST seek support as soon as possible.

In an emergency situation, call 911. For immediate help outside of our office hours, throughout Alberta, please call 211 or one of the following distress lines: