Navigating Relationships in College
By AJ Goldbloom
As I began my first weeks of college at the University of Maryland, I was anxious to be away from home, from my friends, family, and my high school boyfriend. Though I live in Maryland, going to a big university was intimidating to me, and I couldn't imagine how to make friends as quickly as I wanted. Within a few weeks, I was able to befriend such amazing girls and get to know them on a more personal level. Unfortunately, some of the friends I made were struggling in unhealthy relationships. College can be extremely stressful at times, and the comfort they sought in a significant other was nowhere to be found. Thus far in my college experience, I have learned about unhealthy relationships and the struggles young women face. I've seen my peers grapple to overcome the fear of leaving their partner. These relationships can undoubtedly affect your friendships with others, your relationship with family, your academic achievements, your mental and physical health, and so much more.
Sophomore student at the university, Sammy* has dated her boyfriend for almost three years now. At first, the two broke up because they wanted to allow one another to experience college without the other weighing them down. After a few months, they realized they are happier as a couple and have been back together ever since. Sammy believes that "a strong foundation to a healthy relationship is trust. Being able to trust your partner allows for personal freedom and the ability to grow as an individual while staying committed to another person." Sammy feels lucky that as a student here, she has access to an array of resources on campus that help facilitate healthier relationships.
Rebecca* has had a very different journey. All throughout high school and into her freshman year, Rebecca was in a tumultuous, toxic relationship. She says she had no idea that she was in a toxic relationship at the time, as her idea of love was blinded by how controlling her partner was. Rebecca said that if she needed to consult a counseling service here on campus, she "would be more than willing to because they are a confidential, professional outlet. In hindsight, I wish I had sought out the help of a counselor and utilized the campus resources."
Some people use college as an opportunity to find themselves, resources on the College Park campus students are available for those to find comfort and guidance when navigating an unhealthy relationship. CARE to Stop Violence is a campus organization aimed to assist survivors dealing with sexual assault, stalking, and dating or domestic violence. This service provides free, confidential sessions for students in need of counseling for their mental health and general well-being. The organization also helps students find proper legal or medical care, temporary transportation and housing, and overall provides crisis intervention. The hub of the organization is located inside the university's Health Center on the ground floor. They are also available to speak with students over the phone. They are open Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or students can call the Crisis Cell at (301)-741-3442 at any time during the school year.
The Shoemaker Building on campus is home to the university's Counseling Center. Similar to the CARE to Stop Violence, students receive free and confidential counseling for any emotional distress. According to their website, the Counseling Center is "staffed primarily by licensed psychologists" who provide emergency response services, and assists with referrals to off-campus mental health providers." The sessions offered by this organization have significantly impacted students who are facing unhealthy relationships. Often times, there is a stigma around counseling and therapy, in which students feel embarrassed to go and admit they need guidance. However, the university offers numerous counseling resources to help students regain confidence and navigate any relationship.
No matter the circumstance, students should be aware of what an unhealthy relationship looks like and how to get the necessary help on this campus. According to inc.com, the warning signs may include "all take, no give, lack of trust, nonstop narcissism, constant judgment, and ceaseless control issues." Whether you choose to confide in your friends or an on-campus resource, find allies to help you move past the toxicity, to better yourself and your relationships with others.
*Names have been changed for privacy