I started seeing someone over the summer who I really like and have been spending a lot of time with. Now that school’s back, I know I’ll be really busy. I can’t decide whether to end the relationship or try to balance it with everything else going on. Any advice for figuring this out?
First, it’s great that you’re thinking seriously about how your summer relationship may change as school starts. It can be tempting (especially when a relationship is new) to spend all your time with your partner, and ignore the other parts of your life. In a healthy relationship though, both partners have their own hobbies, interests, friendships and goals.
It sounds like you already know that there’s no right or wrong answer here. Only you get to decide whether you want to continue this relationship.
Think about what your specific concerns and fears are, if any.
This will help you understand yourself better, which means you can communicate what you’re feeling more effectively. Are you worried that you’ll get worse grades because you spend too much time together? Do you feel uncertain about the relationship anyways, and think this is a reasonable reason to end it? Are you concerned about disappointing your partner, or think they’ll disappoint you? Do you think the relationship will add unnecessary stress?
Write your thoughts and feelings down. This can help you process them. Plus, reading what you’ve written can help you look at the situation from a different perspective.
Do a gut check.
What do you feel when you think about staying with your partner? What about when you envision your life without that relationship? If you have a strong, immediate emotion, that can help guide you.
Talk to someone you trust about what you’re feeling.
Talking your concerns through may be all you need to get some clarity on your decision. A friend, caregiver or family member may also have additional insight and advice on the situation.
If you decide now or at any time that you want to end the relationship, it’s time to break up.
This may feel scary, and that’s ok. Remember that this is your decision, and no one else has the right to try to change your mind or talk you out of your decision. It’s also normal and ok to feel sad or upset about the break up. Talk to someone you trust about what you’re feeling. Learn more about how to break up respectfully.
If you’re not sure what you want or think you want to stay together, have an open and honest conversation with your partner.
Share what you’re thinking with them. They may have many of the same concerns you do. Figure out what they want heading into the school year. If there’s specific info you need to make your decision, now is the time to figure it out.
- Are they interested in continuing the relationship?
- What are their worries or concerns, if any?
- If you continue the relationship, what might change?
- How often would you want to see each other?
- How frequently would you want to text or talk on the phone?
- What do you and your partner need to feel respected and cared for in the relationship?
- Does it seem like you could give each other those things during the school year, when you both have other commitments?
It’s ok for you and/or your partner to not be 100% certain about the answers. Talking questions like this through, however, will let you make a more informed decision. It will also give you a better sense of whether you and your partner are on the same page.
If you decide to stay together, keep being open and honest with each other about how you feel and what you want from the relationship.
It could be that you’re both great sources of support and encouragement for each other. Or, you may find that the relationship causes more stress than it’s worth. If you realize you are spending less time on school work, aren’t pursuing opportunities you would otherwise, or giving up activities or friendships, think hard about the relationship and whether you still want to be in it.
Making decisions like this can be tough.
Be patient and compassionate with yourself. Learning how to make hard decisions like this is an important part of growing up and becoming more independent. No matter what happens in the end, take a moment to feel proud of yourself!
Have more questions about healthy relationships? Call (212) 423-3000 for comprehensive, nonjudgmental health care at no cost to you at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center.