Young student couple choosing books between the shelves in the library

Young And In Love: What You Learn When You Meet ‘The One’ In College [Opinion]

At a time when hookup culture seems to dominate our global conversation, the idea of meeting your soulmate before college graduation can seem like the stuff of fiction. After all, no matter how independent and self-assured you may feel, most of society still considers you to be a kid until you’ve settled into your long-term situation, traditionally speaking. How could you possibly know who the love of your life is a quarter of the way in?

For most of your time on Earth, you have seen this as a pretty valid point. If morning show pop sociologists and cynical grandparents and that one friend with commitment issues have taught you anything in their decades of philosophizing, it’s that every single romantic impulse you have prior to your 24th birthday is the wrong one.

In the past, this had always seemed to prove true- until it didn’t.

You meet someone, and this one is different (if you’ll excuse the cliche). Suddenly your plan for the future has their name Sharpie-d all over it. You wonder how every other person on Earth isn’t just as enamored with this person as you are. I mean, have they seen that smile? How anyone could experience that and not fall head over heels is bewildering.

Marshall and Lily of CBS' How I Met Your Mother get married in "Something Blue"
Marshall and Lily made for some of TV’s favorite college sweethearts. [Image by Pamela Fryman/CBS]

As the months turn into years, you have no clue where you would be without them. An obstacle here and there does nothing to throw your mutual journey off course. While every love story is different, one thing connects them all: meeting your soulmate transforms your life for the better, no matter how early it happens.

Here are seven lessons you can expect to learn along the way.

It’s actually pretty easy to avoid urges to “have fun and explore” in your youth because, at least for you, nothing is more fun than knowing that you already found what all of that exploring is in search of.

You will never be perfect and neither will they, but the only things you would ever consider changing about them are things that cause them pain.

Your pasts are not some shady, untouchable subject — they are endless collections of funny stories and valuable experiences for you to share with each other, no matter how private the subject matter may otherwise feel.

Even when you feel like you are so full of adoration that you’re about to burst, it is always possible to love them more. After years together, it still astounds you that you can continue to wake up loving them more than the day before.

Lovely young couple cuddling in bed among pillows.
The hard work that comes with a long relationship feels fulfilling with the right person, no matter what your age is. [Image by klublu/Shutterstock]

Though you know they would support you no matter what, working hard feels a lot more important when your success reflects on your loved one too. Their pride and confidence in you empower you to achieve things you would have never thought possible.

Your relationship makes you inexplicably more empathetic to everyone and everything. So what if you were never one to cry at sad movies in the past? You have something to lose now. Suddenly you’re whipping out the Kleenex over a vaguely nostalgic tourism ad for the state of Michigan.

Last but certainly not least: if your only doubt in the situation is that people your age don’t usually have relationships this serious, you probably have nothing to worry about. Other people are not you. There is even an old saying made just for this.

“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”

Now, of course, every relationship is different and unique to itself. That is the beauty of the whole “soulmate” concept. Using your best judgment to individually explore your own situation is always the healthiest approach, and what you take away from those explorations may differ from other equally happy couples. The important thing is to remain open to trusting your gut. After all, the town elders may be wise, but only you can accurately dictate your mindset.

[Featured Image by Vladyslav Starozhylov/Shutterstock]