By Lauren Gray

I am really sick of hearing my peers constantly telling me how to do college, specifically in terms of relationships. In this “discover yourself” environment, we should be experiencing anything and everything we want. If you want to be single throughout your college career, good for you, really. But for those students who want to settle down with someone for a while, or maybe even find the person they want to marry, I say, get off their backs.

Growing up, I imagined that college was about two things: grades and partying. Being single, hooking up and late nights of studying were all of the things I looked forward to before arriving here. What I failed to realize (like many of my friends) is that this idea of what college just “had to be” wasn’t made up of all experiences; it was just an image. The image of being single and going crazy because we’re finally free to do what we want is popular, but this perspective of college is only true for a group of people among the thousands that attend this university.

For the people that choose to do college differently than spending their free time at the Wolf Den hitting on the hot blonde, or cramped in a living room listening to some drunk guy ramble about his car, the idea of a relationship in college is obviously different. There are, in fact, college students who do not find it worth their time to be hooking up. Just like I say it’s absolutely OK to be single and have sex with whomever, it’s just as OK to be in a relationship.

I think something we forget with this “college image” mindset is that relationships can be extremely beneficial. Healthy relationships provide stability and companionship. College is challenging at times, and having someone you care about supporting you and your growth can help. Relationships may also provide you with the confidence you need to get through the challenges of college and transitioning to life on your own.

In addition to things we forget, just because we enter a relationship in college doesn’t mean we need to stay in it our whole lives. My dad always told me growing up that “when you’re young, you are practicing relationships.” At this time in our lives, we are trying things out, and that is perfectly acceptable.

Becoming someone’s significant other does not mean an automatic R.I.P. to singledom forever. Maybe you find someone who complements you for the time being. A relationship might give you what you need now, but may not always forever. Don’t be scared to enter a relationship because you’re afraid the person you’re interested in may not be your future spouse or because you wouldn’t be doing what the “college image” dictates.

Just because you are in a relationship in college does not mean that you can’t party or go out, either. You can define the boundaries of your relationship and if it is worth being in, your partner will understand. People throw things out there like “if you party, you’ll cheat” or “college isn’t for relationships.” Once again, these are just stereotypes and the aspects of a relationship are set by the people in it.

So if you want to take part in drinking, watching movies, dancing, playing “League of Legends,” smoking, Dungeons and Dragons or whatever else you want to do with your significant other, it is up to the two of you. Don’t let other people define that for you.

If you’re single and loving it, great! But don’t try to push your friends to feel that way too.

Let them figure their situations out for themselves. Realize that just because you’re single in college and living it to the fullest does not mean others aren’t doing the same in a relationship.

College is a time to experiment and find out what you like and who you are. So if you want to be in a relationship, that is totally fine. You define these things for yourself and you’re only missing out if you feel that way. There are no rules to relationships in college, so follow your heart, ignore the stereotypes and do what makes you happy.

Lauren Gray studies journalism. She can be reached at dcoffey@unr.edu and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.