It’s common knowledge that having shared interests and values is crucial in any relationship, but what happens when nighttime rolls around and one of you can’t wait to go out and hit the town, while the other is already in their PJs ready for a Netflix marathon? College campuses typically have a large party scene, but that doesn’t mean every college student wants to go to fraternity parties or drink until the early hours every weekend. If you find yourself in a relationship where you or your SO likes going out more than the other person does, don’t be discouraged! There are many ways to make the relationship successful and focus on what really matters: the quality time you spend together and what you love about each other.
We talked to current college women, as well as Rhonda Ricardo, relationship expert and author of Cherries Over Quicksand for advice on this potentially tricky situation. Here’s what you’ll need to know:
Learn to compromise
Most people would say compromising with your partner is an essential part of maintaining a relationship. Doing a little of what the other person likes can go a long way in making them happy, even if it’s outside your comfort zone.
“If one person does not want to go out it’s alright to stay home sometimes but memories are built on adventures,” Ricardo says. “Maybe the couple should find something like rock climbing, volleyball, the gym or go on a local train excursion to get out and have fun together after a long week of responsibilities and deadlines.”
Even if you both decide on an activity together, you can always compromise by doing lunch with one another then having separate night plans.
Accept your SO for who they are and don’t try to change them
Don’t pressure the homebody in the relationship to go out, in the same respect the person going out shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for leaving the other alone. “My boyfriend LOVES going out with his friends and I’m more of a stay at-home-and-watch Harry Potter kind of girl,” says Kayleen Parra-Padron, a senior at Florida International University. “I’m only human; of course I get jealous but I won’t stop him from going out just because I’m a home body, it’s not fair.”
Even if you two don’t share the same idea of a perfect weekend night, you should always focus on what you love or value in your partner by giving verbal compliments such as, “I love how much you prioritize your education” or “You’re always able to make everyone in the room feel comfortable.” Accepting them for who they are and what they love is key.
Build, maintain and practice trust
Trust is the foundation of any lasting relationship. Both partners should feel comfortable with the other going out without them there, knowing there will be no flirting or infidelity.
“When there is (earned) unshakeable trust present, a valuable carefree spark is added to the relationship,” Ricardo says. “This couple will most likely have a great time with their friends while apart but will also miss each other and look forward to spoiling each other when they reunite! Time apart is healthy, keeps the relationship spicy and fun.”
If you’re the one staying home, don’t assume if your SO doesn’t respond to a text for ten minutes it’s because they’re hitting the dance floor with a hot single. And if you’re the one going out, don’t abuse that trust by acting single just because your SO is not physically there.
Related Link: 5 Signs He Loves You (Even if He’s Not Saying It)
“It sounds formal, but my boyfriend and I had to sit down and have an honest conversation about what we both need to be happy,” says Dartmouth sophomore Rachel. “He agreed to not post multiple snap stories with single girls, because it always made me a little worried and I promised to not get upset if he takes a while to respond to a text.” Have an honest discussion with your SO about what you’d like the next time one of you goes out solo. For example, how much you’d like to text, letting the other know when you have gotten home safely and what behavior or social media postings you both can agree are appropriate.
Focus on your similarities
Although your idea of a perfect Friday night may be different, it’s important to remember what made you decide to become a couple in the first place. Make spending time doing what you both love to do a priority by working out together, watching a sports game or trying a new restaurant near campus the next time you both are free.
If you're the person who loves going out...
If you’re the person in the relationship who loves to socialize and get wild, there are ways to make sure your partner does not feel left behind. “When the party person comes home they could bring back food, flowers or better…a fun story, as to share their adventure,” says Ricardo. “Also, significant others get extra points for letting him or her know that everyone at the party said hello! This helps make it clear there are never any secret agendas when out with friends.”
If your partner does decide to join you one night, Ricardo suggests “holding their hand, touching their shoulder or offering to bring them a drink at times during the night. If the extrovert completely disappeared and leaves the introvert alone for disrespectful amounts of time the introvert will not want to attend parties with him or her and might see the lack of attention as uncaring or worse, an insult.”
Let your SO know they are always invited to go out with you. If there are certain events throughout the year that you really don’t want them to miss, such as a semi-formal or friend’s birthday party, make sure you communicate that so you are not left feeling resentful that they are present.
If you'd rather stay in...
If you’re one who’d rather order take-out, watch a movie, attend a club meeting or just lay in bed when nighttime roles around, there are steps to make life easier for you as well. “After a busy week, I’d be so excited for a calm night in to myself,” explains Laura, a senior at Virginia Tech. “But then I would find myself checking Snapchat every five minutes to see what my boyfriend and friends were doing while out. I’ve finally learned to put my phone down and realized by staying in once I’m not going to miss the most fun night ever.” Make your decision and stick to it without any regret. Find something to do other than constantly checking your phone, such as reading a chapter in a textbook, cleaning up your room or a DIY pampering night.
If you find yourself constantly worried about what your partner is up to when you’re not around, Ricardo suggests taking a look inward. “Accusations of cheating behaviors that are not true, not fair and foolishly destructive to the relationship are HUGE red flags. Hopefully the false-accuser cleans up their actions and realize they could lose a great person in their life if they don’t raise their own standards for cherishing their relationship before it is too late.” Don’t accuse your SO of unfaithful behavior if you have no real evidence, but also trust your own intuition if something feels off in your partner’s behavior.
So maybe your SO wants to hit the bars on Thursday night, but you’d rather get a head start on a big project due Monday. Or you can’t wait for the weekend to roll around for your sorority mixer and your SO just wants to have a Netflix marathon for two days straight. There’s no reason a relationship can’t last with these differences if both people appreciate who their partner is and are willing to compromise a bit.