The How-To Guide for Balancing Love and Study

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So you’ve got a heavy workload and a needy boyfriend – how do you make it work?

“Omg I wish I knew, I’m doing one subject and I’m already behind…”

And, haven’t we all heard this before?

Well… that’s Sophie, a 20-something psychology university student wondering how on earth she can balance her love life with her “heavy” school load.

As I sit down alone on a Thursday night, after talking on my mobile to this interstate guy I’m sort of ‘seeing’, who’s my first sort of long-term relationship guy…about to begin an article that hopes to provide tips and advice to students stuck in this study/love life battle…It has dawned on me, that I’m probably the person who needs help the most, so I asked some experts.

IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY

Lauren Sokolski, a Melbourne therapist, couple’s counsellor and registered psychologist says the age range of 18-25 year olds, is where “discovery about self is important”.

“Study and being in a relationship contribute to this self-discovery and are not mutually exclusive.”

However, Ms Sokolski stresses that it may “depend on each person’s attachment style whether they can balance the two demands on their time.”

While she emphasises that her response is all very general, she says: “A more grounded and emotionally centred person will likely be able to maintain a good balance between the two, whereas someone with mental health issues or who tends to be dependent on others or has low self-esteem may find it more difficult to maintain this balance and may put more focus on the relationship than on their study.” This sounds like avoid the needy ones..

STUDY = 9-5 JOB

Adelaide physiotherapy student, Olivia Jones believes that the easiest way to cope with the two is to treat study as a nine ‘til five job, with night time and weekends free, “that way you leave plenty of time to have a job, go out or hang out with the bf”.

Sunny Wild, studying Criminal Justice also poses a similar argument to Jones’: “a lot of uni work can be done during the day”, leaving night times free, which is “usually relaxation time anyway”.

BE DISCIPLINED

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Working diligently, smashing out that essay that’s due at midnight and then all of a sudden a text message pops up on your screen…it’s from your significant other and instantly your heart flutters.

He wants to hang out for a couple of hours, and you think, surely giving up a few hours catching up won’t be a big deal?

Yet, 11pm comes around and that essay seems a lot more daunting than it did a few hours ago.

First step, we need to realise that studying is important.

While, it is essential to maintain that work and life balance, when it becomes the battle of books vs. lovers, the books have to remain a priority. And, sometimes study will overwhelm or consume our day, and our partners need to understand this.

Matika Velonis, an RMIT University Psychology and Criminology student finds that “setting little goals, for example, if I read these 3 articles then I can go out” works well and also thinks she is most “efficient” when she’s busy and has “more to balance”.

STUDYING TOGETHER???

I often ask myself, does this method really work? I mean, when I look back to those times I studied with friends I just couldn’t stay focused and found myself either scanning through social media or talking the entire time.

Sunny Wild studying with her boyfriend Nathan.

However, Velonis’ boyfriend, Nick Perry said he manages to find this balance by studying together, “that way we don’t sacrifice one over the other”.

Contrary to this, O.T student Phoebe Skinns’ experience has taught her that “designating study times” in which both partners understand is your time for study, is “probably the best method” for her.

While I personally think Skinns’ approach would suit me more, I liked Perry’s take on studying together in that it benefits with his relationship as they “can bounce ideas off each other”.

But what if we added studying together….in a public place? There’s quite a difference between studying together in a room than sitting next to each other in the library. Maybe, this is the trick, and even better if it’s in the quiet study area of the library, therefore you are practically refrained from chatting, or anything else for that matter

A FORMULA ISN’T ALWAYS NECESSARY

Casey Schmidt is the perfect example of this. Studying a design degree at Deakin, she claims that she doesn’t balance this at all. “I just go day by day” putting “work and uni first”, then the boyfriend works around that.

Casey Schmidt spending the weekend with her boyfriend.

Laid back 21-year-old, marketing student, Lawrence Twirdy and his girlfriend Zoe don’t “depend” or feel the need to see one another 24/7. They both lead “pretty full on” lives, and therefore “it’s understood if we don’t see each other one week”.

For Melbourne-based relationship psychologist, Lauren Sokolski, everybody is different, and this means “it is hard to paint everyone with the same brush”.

Clearly finding this balance isn’t easy, but, hey, nothing good in life is. So, before getting caught up in your relationship and letting that darker side of study suffer, don’t forget these handy tips and remember when you mix anything with love it’s going to get complicated.

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