By Riley Dauber
At the start of the semester, you are on your way to your first class of the day. Nervous butterflies flutter in your stomach as you make your way to William Smith Hall.
You arrive a few minutes early with the hopes of getting a good seat, but it seems like everyone else in the class had the same idea.
To make matters worse, the only seat available is right up front – and next to your ex-partner. Why didn’t you think to check the Canvas page’s roster? For a moment, you consider dropping the class – the break up was not the most graceful, after all. They would argue you were a bit too cold in your approach, while you would argue they told everyone they knew on campus that they had broken up with you. Now, you are stuck sitting next to them for today, and, quite possibly, the entire semester.
Living on a small campus like WC, the aforementioned scenario is bound to occur for anyone dating their peer. While dating on campus may seem like the easier alternative compared to long-distance relationships, this decision can also negatively affect both individuals if the relationship goes south. Everyone seems to know everyone at WC, and relationship rumors are bound to spiral.
So, how should one go about breaking up with someone they will most likely see around campus afterward? In the vein of a relationship columnist, here is plenty of advice to ease your stress when it comes to your on-campus dating life.
Communication is Key
At first, focusing on clear communication with a partner may seem obvious, but bringing up a relationship problem can still be a nerve-wracking experience.
Instead of sending a text, prioritize meeting your partner in person. According to Choosing Therapy, “It’s ideal to break up with your partner in person, both so that nothing gets lost in translation over phone or text and also so that you demonstrate your care for your partner and the relationship.”
If you are not comfortable bringing up the idea at first, try writing your thoughts out on paper or even creating a pros and cons list. Figuring the details out beforehand will allow you to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.
Additionally, try to avoid having this conversation in a moment of anger. If all you want to do is fire out feisty rants over text, your time may be better spent taking a break. Do not be afraid to sleep on it and reconsider the situation the following day. Viewing the relationship with a clear head will allow you to make a less hasty decision.
Rely on Support Systems
Deciding to break up with someone can be an emotional experience, especially if you are bottling up your feelings. Along with writing out your thoughts, talk to your friends for support and advice.
Even if your friends are unfamiliar with the relationship, they may offer an unbiased perspective that can help you figure out your next move. Talking through your feelings may also lead to some insights that could influence your decision.
If you are uncomfortable talking with your friends or worried others will find out how you are feeling, WC offers plenty of mental health resources.
The counseling center, located on the first floor of Queen Anne’s House, is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students can meet with one of the three counselors to “explore various aspects of their emerging adult lives — independence, values, personal goals, intimacy, and friendship,” according to the WC website.
The school also offers six free sessions on Mantra Health, a virtual mental health resource with a flexible schedule compared to the counseling center.
Or, if you are interested in talking to other peers, you can meet with one of the WC Wellness Advocacy Coaches. WAC-Squared hosts drop-in houses on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the psychology wing of John S. Toll Science Center. According to the WC website, these students “are trained in mental health first aid,” and are able to help their fellow students.
Avoid the Rumor Mill
For some students, the main concern when it comes to breaking up with someone on a small campus is the chance that other people outside of the relationship will hear about it.
Gossip runs rampant at WC, but you can avoid being the next campus news story by breaking up with your partner in private and keeping the details to yourself.
The relationship is between you and your partner – not between you, your partner, and the rest of campus. If you want to keep the details a secret, that is your prerogative, and you should not feel pressured to broadcast your relationship status to your peers.
While a breakup will look different for each couple, communicating with your partner while also focusing on your mental health will help ease the stress around the conversation. The final decision also comes down to what you decide and what you can control, so being open and flexible will help the breakup go smoothly.
Seeing your partner around campus is likely to happen, but if you end it on mutual terms, you may avoid future awkward interactions. Besides, a random run-in with an ex-partner is sure to make for a funny story between you and your friends.
Photo by Riley Dauber.
Photo Caption: The Counseling Center is located on the first floor of Queen Anne’s House and offers one-on-one appointments for students looking to talk with a licensed professional.