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A guide to navigating new and old relationships in college

You’ve heard it a million times. One of the best parts of college is the opportunities for new relationships. But, it’s overwhelming. 

With loved ones back home and a minimal amount of people you know at school, the thought of trying to form new relationships is terrifying, and there’s another fear of losing your relationships from home. 

Friends from home

It’s easier now more than ever to keep old friends and make new ones. With the advent of technology, it’s incredibly easy to stay in contact with old friends from home. With group chats, FaceTime, Zoom calls and texts, communicating with friends is almost effortless. 

Bear in mind though, it’s almost effortless. Staying in contact with old friends will still obviously require some effort on your part to maintain the relationship. One thing that I did to maintain friendships with those I knew I wanted to keep around after high school was to send life updates via text. After doing that for two years of college, I am now closer than ever to my best friend of seventeen years. 

Another thing that I did was make group Zoom calls fun by adding gimmicks. For example, I would call up some old friends from home for a Zoom meeting and have a PowerPoint party, where we would all create a goofy PowerPoint and present them to each other (mine was about which of our friends would win in “The Hunger Games”). It was a fun, easy way for us to stay in contact and just one of many that we did. 

Long-distance relationships

However, staying in contact with a long-distance lover from home is a different story. It’s tempting to go home as much as possible to see them or to have them come to you often, but that may prevent you from forming other relationships with people at school. 

One thing you can do instead is make sure to call or FaceTime them consistently. A friend of mine has a long-distance partner and regularly calls them. They also did a great job of making sure to make time spent at home with them count, by regularly hanging out with them and seeing them when they can. Furthermore, you can also have them come down to visit you at school at some point, just not so often that you spend all of your weekends with them and no one else. 

New relationships

That brings us to the most intimidating part of college: forming new relationships. That was something I had some trouble with in the beginning, so I can guarantee some sound advice here. 

First, if you’re single, don’t immediately start looking for a potential partner. By doing that, you disadvantage yourself in the process by only forming friendships with people you might want to date. And if you do end up getting into a romantic relationship with someone rather quickly, odds are you may not have many friends outside of them.

Second, make sure to get involved. Great friendships can be formed through clubs, both official and unofficial (I’ve met some of my best friends through an unofficial skateboarding club and the rock climbing club). If a particular club piques your interest, sign up. Not only will you get more experience in something you’re interested in or a fun activity to do on the side, but you will also find a community full of people with similar interests. 

Finally, make sure to go out of your way to talk to people and go to functions. It can seem daunting to talk to someone you don’t know in an unfamiliar place, but who knows? Maybe that person in front of you in the dining hall thinks you’re cool, too. 

Striking up a conversation with the person in your public speaking class could lead to a study buddy. Maybe complimenting your dorm neighbor on their earrings will lead to a conversation and a friendship (that one worked for me). On top of that, if someone asks if you’d like to join them somewhere, do it. With something as small as going to the dining hall after class or as big as a party with their sorority, just go for it and always remember to be safe. 


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