Love is happiness, love is eternal bliss but can true love really happen in college?
Laiba remembers the “very cheesy” day when Rayan ‘proposed’ to her. The two were only in their A’ Levels and were talking on the phone.
“He asked me how he should propose to this really hot girl he would be meeting that night,” says Laiba. “I felt weird and just hung up. That same night he came to my house and told me that he did not want to date me but wanted to marry me. Imagine, I was just 17!”
Fast forward six years, and Laiba and Rayan have been happily married for three of them.
Most of us will spend our twenties trying to navigate relationships and get a handle on our emotions (read: crying in the pillow all night because that egoistical corporate slave broke up with you), being inspected by the rishta brigade and turning down that Mama’s boy who, despite all his sweetness, would never have made you happy. Because, after all, marriage is a big deal, right? It needs to be a well-thought out union, a mature decision. College and high-school sweethearts turn these notions on their head, when, they succumb to their first love, without the barest idea of what else is out there or what their ‘prospects’ are, agreeing to spend their lives with someone else just because they feel the magic of being together.
While most of us are still wondering what love is at that age, these sweethearts are convinced that they’ve found it in each other. Struck by Cupid’s arrow, they are not searching for someone better – they see their better half as the shy boy/girl that confessed his/her feelings at 17 and has never wavered since. And while some of us might want to go it alone, explore our individuality and hold out for someone better, we can’t help going “Awww” when we hear the sweet stories of these couples who decided on each other young. Ever wondered what constitutes a successful college love saga from start to finish?
Just like Shane West built a telescope from scratch to gift it to Mandy Moore while asking her if she would marry him in A Walk to Remember, that special boy in your life will typically leave no stone unturned to make an over-the-top confession and create a cherished memory. Often the ‘confession’ and ‘proposal’ tumble into each other, as in Laiba’s case.
Sarah played the hard-to-get chick when Rizwan first confessed to her. Both went to the same college and hung out with the same group of friends. But Rizwan, who said he’d known she was ‘The One’ when he first set his eyes on her, was not one to be discouraged. On 2nd January 2008, after a snowstorm in Toronto botched his plans to propose on New Year’s Day, Rizwan walked in with another friend while Sarah was sleeping over at a friend’s house. He presented her a beautiful bunch of flowers as he proposed to her. “I was half asleep,” remembers Sarah. “I took the flowers while still in my bed and was like ‘Mm-hmm… ok!’”
While such idyllic college romances may seem cheesy as we step into ‘real’ life, those who’ve been swept off their feet by their first love speak delightedly of that feeling of butterflies in their tummy. Believing in the fantasies of having a romantic movie ending, they expect their ‘hero’ to seal the deal amidst all the drama surrounding their relationship.
Saeed asked Nina out when they were still in school. After a bumpy relationship in their A’ Levels, they faced their worst nightmare: Nina had to move to Canada to pursue her undergraduate degree while Saeed stayed back in Karachi. Saeed gave Nina a sparkling silver ring the day she was going to take off, a symbol that assured her it was going to last forever. “We went to watch Spiderman 3 with a group of friends. At the exact moment when Peter Parker was proposing to Mary Jane, he started slipping a ring on my finger,” says Nina blushing.
Then there are those special moments when love happens when you least expect it to followed by the excitement of going on the first date, the aimless talking till 4 am in the morning and the nerve-wracking chills of the very first meeting with each other. Tooba and Hassan spent over seven months chatting on MSN, before they actually ‘met’. They’d see each other at their A’ Level school, but they were not quite ready to talk to each other. “It was only a month after he confessed on the internet that we talked face to face for the very first time and I can’t explain how amazingly nervous and excited I was,” laughs Tooba.
We have all come across those couples who hung out in empty school corridors during lunch break or sneaked into the corners of the library. It seemed that they were inseparable – until graduation day, when they waved their final good-byes.
With so many of them drifting apart and breaking up as they grow more mature and see the clashes in their personalities, it is a general perception that college couples are simply do not last
Tooba, who married her high-school boyfriend after a 10-year relationship, says, “I got criticism from literally everyone. Friends, teachers, parents, siblings, everyone was against it because we were too young.”
While she admits that the criticism was valid, Tooba never considered any other options because the relationship felt so right and natural to her. As wonderful as being in love can be, having that special someone in your life can cast a shadow on your social life as he is the only person that you hang out with most of the time. Not only do you forego making new friends, you grow apart from your old ones because you did not share the same experiences. Young couples worry so much about spending every second together that they often end up completely disregarding family, friends and even themselves.
“You only grow as much your relationship allows you to grow,” agrees Nina, “But if you are committed to making it last, you must give each other significant space to develop a separate identity.”
Your late teens and early twenties are a period of immense change. When you look back on this time, you will probably laugh over how you wanted to be a pilot or how you thought turning your uniform shalwar into a ‘patiala’ was a good idea. But for a young couple committed to each other, it can sometimes feel as if the relationship held them back from developing and exploring different facets of their personality. At a time when you are struggling to deal with family obligations and charting a career path, planning the destiny of your relationship can be a burden.
Such complications can make a high school/college relationship difficult to maintain. “It wasn’t always rose-tinted. Many a times we felt like pulling each other’s hair out!” admits Laiba. “But then these difficulties only made our relationship stronger.”
And It Continues…
So why would couples go through such nerve-wracking complications when they can enjoy a period of freedom before finally settling for someone better?
The answer is as simple as it can be: because they are sure that they are right for each other.
“I knew I was going to marry him the moment we became friends, though for him I was ‘The One’ as soon as he set eyes on me,’ smiles Sarah. After a six-year relationship, Sarah and Rizwan tied the knot last year on the same date as the proposal, 2nd January.
As long as you are willing to bring out the best in each other, you are bound to be in a long-lasting relationship. “We fought, we adjusted. With time we wanted to become better for each other. My husband left drinking for me and I didn’t have to ask him to do so,” agreed Sarah.
Nina and Saeed stood the test of time and distance. Living in separate corners of the world, having only two lunches together every holiday season served with a heavy dose of family drama, they have managed to stay strong without any official guarantees. “It’s because I have complete faith that it will happen,” says Saeed. “I just cannot imagine a life without her. Nobody would have gone through as much as we did and it makes this relationship all the more special.”
Having someone to share life’s ups and downs with is a powerful motivator for these couples to work hard on their relationship. Having spent so much time growing with and loving each other, these young couples seem to have an edge over the skill of navigating married life.
“I think it makes me a lot better at marriage because I was virtually married to him all this time, except that we weren’t living together,” says Tooba who believes she is better at dealing with married life because she has been with her guy from such a young age. “I know what he needs and when, I know what will annoy him and what will make him happy.”
A deep, meaningful college/ high-school relationship is a safe place to grow, to love and be loved. He will praise you, he will spoil you and he will make you feel on top of this world. He will make you smile and he will make you cry because he knows you in and out and has a right to. So, let’s celebrate the sweethearts that sailed through the test of time. Who stayed far apart and yet very close, who remained near and yet allowed each other to explore new horizons and who worked hard to make it last without really knowing if they would be together forever.
Power Couples who were College Sweethearts
Bill and Hillary Clinton
Two of the most powerful personalities in the world met each other at Yale Law School. After going out for a few years, they said their vows in 1975. After 38 years of both personal and political ups and downs, they are still standing strong.
Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky
Brought up in strong political families, Chelsea and Marc first met in 1993 at a Democratic political retreat. It was in 1997 that Chelsea followed Marc to Stanford University but 2005 was the year when their romance became public. The two tied the knot in 2010.
Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan
The man behind Facebook met his wife while at a party at Harvard University. The two got married just last year at a quiet ceremony right after Chan completed medical school.
Prince William and Kate Middleton
This beloved royal couple first set eyes on each other while attending St. Andrews University, Scotland. After dating for seven years straight they finally got their fairytale wedding in 2010 with more than a million people sharing their moment live on TV.
First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity, said GB Shaw. But sometimes that first love goes a long way. This story is for all those high-school and college sweethearts who stayed together through thick and thin
Published in The Express Tribune, Ms T, February 17th, 2013.
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