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Monday, March 04, 2024

The day you graduate is the day you open new doors of opportunity and close the door on one chapter of your life. It is an inevitable occurrence to move into the real world with the knowledge you obtained and the friends you made an everlasting bond with.

Yet the trend I continue to notice among my graduating constituents is a massive slew of breakups occurring like clockwork each year at about this time. It’s as if graduation is the cancer of relationships. Everything is going well, and all of the sudden a healthy relationship is deemed worthy of ending its course. The countdown to graduation is simultaneously the time left until the relationship’s ultimate demise.

Relationships end for all kinds of reasons, and it’s always a difficult moment for both parties involved. However, a graduation breakup is sometimes the hardest to accept because a perfect relationship potentially has a definitive end.

For Nikki Schlanger, a 22-year-old alumna of the University of Central Florida, a graduation breakup ended her two-year relationship with her boyfriend when he graduated a year before her. The idea of a long-distance relationship was too much for both Nikki and her boyfriend as he considered his options for law school out of state. However, she said her boyfriend was basing his decision on where she would be located and not necessarily the best school for him. Eventually, they ended their relationship and went their separate ways. Their lives were continuing along two different paths that seemingly had no promise of ever crossing again.

“I just can’t imagine being in love during that transition,” Schlanger said, “because I may not have moved to New York City to pursue my dream if I was still with him.”

The most important aspect I realized about Schlanger’s experience is that time heals all wounds. She was devastated at the time because not only was she in a healthy relationship, but the relationship wasn’t ending on her terms. She wasn’t able to fully understand why this had to happen and certainly didn’t consider the potential good that could come out of the breakup.

Now that she too has graduated and has only her personal obligations to focus on, she is thankful the relationship did eventually come to an end. Sometimes life happens when you just aren’t ready for it, but you must have the ability to adapt and move forward.

If you’re going through a breakup right now due to graduation, have faith that everything will be OK. You may even be thankful for this in the long run. Regardless if your professional interests are different or if it’s just sheer distance itself that seperates you two, there may be a benefit you just aren’t seeing now to this relationship ending.

Right now, another person isn’t holding you back during one of the most transitional periods of your adult life. You are now able to take that job offer in Los Angeles with no hesitation because this is what you want –- not what someone else does. You don’t have to worry about what the other is doing and whom he or she is doing it with like you would in a long-distance relationship. You have a sense of personal freedom and discretion in your life that is uninhibited by another’s influence.

I will briefly digress and say I am a huge supporter of long-distance relationships, but it isn’t for everyone. It’s OK for a little bit, but it can’t be forever.

I could write a book on long-distance relationships, but for those who have yet to experience a healthy one -– if any at all -– the thought can cause such anxiety and uncertainty with couples.

However, I believe a long-distance relationship can only be a temporary solution. If you see yourself with your partner long term, you’re going to have to make an ultimate plan to relocate together.

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But that’s the thing; if you don’t see yourself with this person because of where they want to live, their professional goals, etc., then a long-distance relationship isn’t worth the mental stress and physical longing.

It’s normal for people to change and grow apart, and sometimes graduation can be the moment when one understands that. The guy you met freshman year may not be the same man he is today. And that is perfectly OK, but don’t stay with him if you just don’t like who he is now. He will never be the person he once was, and it would be a shame to stick around trying to find something that is no longer part of the present.

Bottom line: If you’re not gonna marry ‘em, then get the hell away from ‘em. So what if you have history? So what if that person is all you know? Life is a short journey that cannot be spent with someone who is not the partner for you anymore.

Long-distance relationships can work if an effort is made from both parties, and it’s only a temporary situation until you can ultimately be together.

Always remember: People are going to come in and out of your life, but if a person is meant to be in your life, the way the world works will make it so. Maybe your paths will cross again and maybe they won’t. Nevertheless, always do what’s right for you. And know you came into this world without them, and you sure as hell can keep going without them now.

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