To be honest I think that it’s unfair for people to expect significant commitment in college relationships. While this is of course a generalization to which there are happy and healthy exceptions, there are enough college students who don’t have their own lives planned out post-graduation to try to include another human being in the process. For many of us, the focus of college is intellectual development and planning for graduate school or professional programs, which is a fair and sensible focus.
Expectations of commitment can be additionally problematic when they are not mutual; one person can become much more attached than the other, causing confusion and emotional distress for both partners. This tends to happen on campuses, such as that of William Jewell College, because college has encouraged a hook-up culture. You don’t hear high school seniors say, “I am so excited to go to college because I know there will be a ton of people I could eventually marry!” College is enticing because of the freedom to study and to do what one wants. Marriage is not generally associated with the idea of freedom.
Since arriving at Jewell, I have heard multiple classmates say something along the lines of, “My mom and dad met in college, so I think I’ll meet my husband/wife here too.” Because of this, it seems that people want to rush into relationships and rush those relationships into something much more serious than they probably should be. That being said, I know that relationships are very personal and very different from one couple to another, so I am not trying to tell the college-aged population how to go about romance. However, my observations and experiences have shown me that the general trend is not toward quick engagements.
While our parents and grandparents may have met and fallen in love in college, it is unrealistic for us all to expect this for ourselves. For one thing, the average age at which people get married has risen since those generations were in college; it is much more common for people to pursue further education and establish careers before even considering “settling down.” More importantly, there is a large population of young men and women who don’t want to get married at all, and it is highly possible that you will meet and be interested in one of these people. It is much more respectful, then, not to expect engagement-level commitment without discussing with one’s partner after a reasonable amount of time. On the other hand, young people who are just interested in sexual or non-committal relationships should respect their partners by making this clear before anything is pursued.
My fellow students, we are not all going to meet the loves of our lives at Jewell (thank goodness, am I right?). Even better news is that we are no longer expected to do so. College is not the time to be searching for another person around whom to plan one’s life. College is the time to plan one’s own. However, we must be respectful of each other’s expectations; it is extremely unfair not to be clear with any kind of romantic partner about one’s intentions and expectations. Otherwise, someone will end up confused and sad, and we already have “House of Cards” for that. We should use college as a time to condition ourselves to be good to people. So, be good to people.