The Collegian
Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Ask Maddy: Outgrowing relationships while in college

Editor's Note: Ask Maddy is an advice column published every Wednesday. Anonymous questions are taken from this Google form. Questions are also taken both from The Collegian's Instagram, @thecollegianur, and via email at copy@thecollegianur.com. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian. 

“Dear Maddy,

Do you think you can outgrow a relationship you have in college? I’ve been with my partner for almost a year, but I feel like we want two different things. But, I’m also not sure if ending it is the way to go.”

Dear reader,

I think this is a very common question shared by college students, especially those in relationships. To answer your question, I’d like to describe what I call “the academic identity.” My theory isn’t completely nailed down, so bear with me.

After more than 12 years in the education system — whether that be private or public — it can be challenging to see ourselves outside of our academic performance, achievements and conduct.

I would think this identity influences how we perceive ourselves in relationships with others as well.

For years, our participation in school has shaped our lives, including that of our relationships. I think that college, however, offers us opportunities to see ourselves outside of our academic identity. It’s here that we begin to follow new rules, pursue new interests and, possibly, new people. I think that what you’re going through is what many would call “growing pains,” which extend beyond the fateful puberty period.

To illustrate this, I was inspired by a recent conversation with senior Lizeth Ramirez, a fellow enthusiast of "The Sims".

In the game, Sims can become friends with as many people as they’d like. During childhood and their teenage years, many of the Sims remain close to their friends because they can socialize at school and play together after.

As Sims begin to age, however, there may be a message that says, “You have fallen out of touch with Brittany!” or “You and Brad are no longer friends!” This occurs exactly when the Sims are starting new careers, meeting new people and finding new interests.

All this is to say, if you and your partner want to pursue different things, then you should. You’re supposed to, and that’s what college is for.

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I don’t believe pursuing different paths is a definitive reason to break up. I do think it is an opportunity for you to learn more about the person that your partner is becoming. In learning about the person they are becoming, I think only then can you make a decision about whether or not they are still the right person for you.

Warmly,

Maddy

P.S. Here’s a bonus question, in honor of The Cellar returning to full service seven days a week:

“Dear Maddy,

What’s your go-to order from Cellar?”

Two words: Skillet cookie

Contact copy chief Madyson Fitzgerald at madyson.fitzgerald@richmond.edu.

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