Dear Captain Awkward,
My relationship with my boyfriend is seriously beginning to interfere with my academic pursuits. I met my boyfriend about a semester ago though some mutual friends of ours, and by all accounts, it has been a truly amazing experience. He is handsome, smart, supportive, and despite a slow start to the relationship we have amazing chemistry; he’s even into geek culture. Honestly, this is the happiest I’ve ever been in a relationship, and I can’t wait to see what our future together is like.
For the past few months things have been all sunshine and rainbows, but then I began to notice a problem: during the time we have been together, the quality of my academic efforts has declined. Not drastically, mind you, but as a student who used to get A’s on her college projects, I’m now getting B’s. Theoretically, My boyfriend and I should not have such incredibly different workloads, seeing as we have similar majors (Comp. Sci. and Engineering) but while he’s already been accepted as a transfer to the four-year college of his choice, i’m still vying for a spot at mine, which essentially means that while he’s taking low stakes pre reqs for the classes he’ll be taking next year, I have to strive to take classes that make my transcript look as shiny and appealing to admissions officers as possible.
How do I explain to him, in a way that doesn’t sound like a preamble to a breakup, that I need more time on my own for my studies? Furthermore, how can I implement this lifestyle change so that he still feels loved and cared for?
“Boyfriend, I need to put more focus on my schoolwork, so going forward, x blocks of time are for us to hang out and y blocks of time are for me to study. I won’t be answering texts or making social plans during those blocks of time until I feel caught up on my projects and my grades are where I want them to be. I wanted to let you know so that we could plan around it. Cool, thanks.”
A good boyfriend goes “sure, ok!” and then enjoys the time you spend together and leaves you alone during your study time. And then you give him your full attention during your scheduled date time and all is well.
A bad boyfriend gets all whiny and sulky and manufactures reasons to intrude on your study time and claims that your studying makes him feel “unloved.” I’ve met many versions of That Guy, the one who always wants to have big relationship talks late at night before you have an exam or when you’re in the middle of a complicated project. The one who stands in your doorway and says “I’m bored!” when you’ve blocked out the afternoon to study. That Guy must be stopped.
I’m guessing/hoping that you have a good boyfriend! So, this isn’t stuff you need to ask permission for. This is stuff where you tell the other person how it’s going to be and then do that thing. This also isn’t something he’s necessarily causing. It’s on you to get your priorities in order, make a schedule and routine, and stick to it. He can help that effort or hinder that effort, but it’s not on him to initiate the discussion. Don’t beat either yourself or him up too much; it’s very common to get caught up in New Relationship Energy at the beginning of a romance and let the laundry pile up and the homework get half-assed. Needing to readjust or renegotiate schedule stuff is normal and healthy, and he’s probably got his own laundry to do/friends to see/homework to do. You’re smart to notice the dynamic and readjust! Hopefully your future with this guy will continue to be great, and hopefully your own scholastic and professional future will be great as well. Love doesn’t have to come at the expense of work, and college is a great time to figure that out.