Harper and I started dating the summer before our sophomore year of high school when he called me on the phone and asked me to be his girlfriend. He is the yin to my yang, the sugar to my spice, and my best friend in the whole world. When it came time for Harper and I to decide where to spend our college careers, we were bombarded with warnings from our families and friends advising us not to base our decisions on one another. We didn't completely dismiss their advice, but in the end we both chose IU not only for each other, but also because IU was the perfect school for each of us individually. Now as sophomores in college, we are still the only ones for each other. This happiness was not achieved without great effort, however. Here are some tips to help high school sweethearts prove the skeptics wrong.
In high school Harper and I were both very involved in our own activities. He played his trumpet in multiple orchestras and bands and was in the marching band. I spent my time at my dance studio and in the newspaper room. While we always made sure we made time for each other, we didn't give up the things we loved. When we arrived at IU Harper got a job and joined the Marching Hundred, and I started teaching dance at a studio in Bloomington and continued to train on my own. For us, it is important that we each have a bit of our own "me time." It's not that we would get sick of each other if we didn't, but we appreciate the time we spend together now more.
Between sharing a dorm with roommates and spending free time with our friends, it was hard for Harper and I to find time to be alone. We started planning dates so we could get off campus and focus on each other and only each other for a few hours. There is no better place to go on a date than Bloomington. There are so many cool things to do, a lot of which are free. Spend a Saturday morning at the farmer's market. On a clear night make a visit to the Kirkwood Observatory. Go play with the puppies at the mall. Go ice skating. Eat at one of the countless ethnic restaurants in Bloomington and challenge each other to try something new. Regardless of the date destination, make sure to make an effort to keep the flame burning.
When I say this, I mean it both figuratively and literally. As easy as it may sound, high school sweethearts can't spend all of their time in their dorm rooms watching Netflix together. Harper and I knew if we wanted to make friends, we would have to sacrifice some alone time. I became close with the girls on my floor, and Harper made friends from the marching band. Eventually, my friends became his friends and vice versa. This would never have worked out if we had literally clung to each other either. PDA is the number one no-no when a couple is trying to make friends. It makes everyone in the situation uncomfortable and makes them feel as if they are intruding on private time.
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of no parents and no curfews. We can hang out whenever we want, for as long as we want, until as late as we want! But it's important to remember why you are in college and why you are in Bloomington: school. Set aside time to work on your schoolwork together. Quiz each other with flashcards. Take an interest in the other's academics and grades. Celebrate when the other does something successful, and help them form a game plan when they get a grade that isn't so great. After all, each will benefit from the other's success and feed off of the other's positive energy.
Harper and I are just one success story. There are plenty of other couples who dated in high school and are still going strong in college. If there are any high school couples out there who are worried about making it last in college, know that it won't be easy but it is most definitely doable. Remember, love only dies if you let it.