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Transitioning into College and Dating Relationships

Students in grass

Susannah Fulling-Smith
July 03, 2020

Moving away from home and the freedom associated with living on a university campus is exciting and a critical part of your college experience. A large part of your growth at UNC will be impacted by the people you meet, learn from, and build long lasting relationships with. For some, college is the place where they meet their life partner or have their first significant dating relationship; however, it is important to acknowledge that leaving high school does not change that unhealthy, abusive, and controlling relationships still exist and are a common experience for many college students.

Unfortunately for many incoming students, the first couple of months can be a challenging transition to a new place and community. Nationally, there is overwhelming evidence that the most sexual assaults occur within the first couple of months of the academic year.

When you are start a dating relationship, the foundation should be respect and trust, rather than asserting power or control over another. You should talk about what you are looking for and if your partner crosses your boundaries, does something to hurt you, or violates your trust, talk to them about it. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, then you should address it and if it doesn’t improve maybe the relationship isn’t right for you. It is okay to want to break up.

It is especially important to talk about what you are comfortable with in your sexual relationships. Always ask your partner what they want and listen to them. Unfortunately, representations of sexual relationships in movies and other media are not reality, and should not be the basis of your expectations. Consent should be active, meaning that both people should participate in the conversation and both people should be heard. Remember that just because someone says yes to one thing doesn’t mean they are okay with everything, so you should check in and be clear about what you are asking to do.

Most importantly, you must expect and be ok with someone saying no. If sexual assault, intimate partner violence, dating violence, or stalking should every occur to you there are campus resources where you can get support.

Here are resources to speak to someone confidentially:

  • Assault Survivors Advocacy Program (ASAP) 
    Phone: (970) 351-1490
  • 24/7 Crisis Hotline 
    Phone: (970) 351-4040
  • Counseling Center is also available if you need to speak to a mental health professional and walk ins are available everyday from 1:00 to 4:00 pm or you can set an appointment by calling the office at (970) 351-2496
  • If you have legal questions and want to speak with a lawyer confidentially, you can also reach out to Student Legal Services by making an appointment.
    Phone: (970) 351-2001