Maintaining a relationship during exams

Last semester boyfriend and I broke up during the exams over something really small and idiotic. We were both so stressed and tired and put pressure on each other. It all just blew up! We got back together but I’m already really anxious about my studies and fear that I’ll stuff up our relationship in a stupid reactive way. I don’t trust myself to manage this. How do we get through this time?

Yes, managing both a relationship and exams at the same time can seem a difficult combination. However if you support each other well, then the relationship may become even stronger. Here are a few tips;

1. Work with your boyfriend to support each other’s study routines, while communicating how you each like to manager your stress levels. This can help you to figure out whether it’s possible to support each other, while also trying to manage and reduce your own stress levels.

2. Consider whether you might be better off just having some space during exams and then coming back together to celebrate when they’re over. Sometimes it’s hard for two people who are very close to support each other when they’re both going through a hard time. It might be easier to spend time with friends, or someone who isn’t so stressed.

3. Welcome and manage the stress to your advantage. Be aware that in order to give a good academic performance a certain amount of stress can be helpful. However, too much stress will tip you over into being reactive. Read here, here and here for some helpful tips on how to manage stress during this time.

4. Set aside a weekly time to meet and debrief, but have no expectations it will be a fabulous date. Just listen to each other, be supportive, and get regular sleep.

5. Agree ahead of time not to have a deep and meaningful “about the relationship” until one full week after you have both finished exams and handed in every assignment. Get some sleep; recover your sense of humour; get perspective; etc. If you MUST talk about your relationship then consult a close friend or family member first.

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