One Student’s Story of Romance and Respect
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One Student’s Story of Romance and Respect

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

romance and respectStrong interpersonal relationships may come from friendships, neighbors, coworkers, romantic relationships, and all play a part in achieving an overall balanced quality of life that we work to support at CLE. One type of relationship our students express needing the greatest level of assistance building and exploring is a romantic one. We often coach students through understanding romantic interest in someone, when and how to ask someone on a date, how to plan a date, treating your romantic interest respectfully, and understanding boundaries.

Parents share with us that they are uncertain what the future will hold for their son or daughter’s relationships and question: Will they date? Be married? Have kids? All are possibilities and take support to help students learn and grow in their relationships. As educators, we do our best to provide strategies to process the nuances and confusion of dating, but what it truly feels like to each student is so unique. Ultimately, we have to listen closely to how each student feels and is interpreting these new experiences.

One of our students recently shared a personal story of the self-discovery that took place from her dating experiences. It is an honest portrayal of the highs and lows of dating, and how she has grown that we wanted to share. Others may read and have a chance to consider how love and respect of oneself is first and foremost with each relationship. More than anything, this recognition on her part demonstrates a level of maturity she as reached that can best happen when someone is challenged, yet has the chance to become stronger as a result. Out of respect to our student, we have altered her name. We appreciate her willingness to open up her voice so you can consider how to use her self-discovery to prompt evaluation of what young adults seek in relationships and how they can grow from them.

Romance and Respect

by Ann Simpson, CLE Student

couple with respectMost of the relationships in our lives are built on shared interests, similar experiences, and, most importantly, mutual respect. Respect is equally as important, if not even more so, in our romantic relationships. I’m sure we’ve all had that one relationship that wasn’t necessarily bad, but still made us feel unfulfilled on some level. Usually, it’s a lack of respect from one or both parties that makes the relationship suffer, which is why it’s important to always remember to have respect in any relationship both for yourself and for the other person.

My first real relationship was in high school. He was a junior, I was a sophomore, and we’d been good friends since my freshman year. We were unofficially voted the cutest couple on campus, and I thought that he was ‘The One’ (fellow chicks out there – you know what I mean!). After three months, though, it happened. He ended it over text, no less. I thought I was heartbroken, and it took lots of coaxing from my friends and hanging out somewhere else at lunch to get me back to my old self. A few months later, the reason why he broke up with me so abruptly came to light — one of our mutual friends confided in me that he still wasn’t over an ex of his who had moved to Japan. I felt betrayed, and used. What if I was just a rebound, I wondered? Fortunately, I talked to him about the whole thing, we cleared up what we needed to, and now he’s in a happy relationship with another mutual friend. I wish them the best.

My second and most recent relationship was with a person I met after I’d moved into my new apartment. We met at a mutual friend’s party, and hit it off due a shared interest in video games and our (mostly) similar music tastes. This seemed like the perfect chance to experience the ‘normal’ college life every student graduating from high school pictures—friends, parties, and dating. After a few months of being friends, we both decided to take our relationship to the next level, and agreed that we would cordially go our separate ways if any feelings came up. The first time we had sex, of course, we made sure to take all the necessary safety precautions. Often, lines are bound to get blurred when sex is involved, regardless of what we may tell ourselves to feel, and I soon found myself falling for him. I brought it up to him, and he immediately dropped me, claiming that while he liked it whenever we were together, he ‘wasn’t ready for a committed relationship’. I’ll admit that I didn’t handle the situation very well — I went back home and ended up eating ice cream and crying myself to sleep, then avoided him for a week. My resolve was almost shattered when — surprise, surprise — he texted me a couple days later at one in the morning asking if I ‘wanted to come over’, but I just turned off my phone, queued up some relaxing bluegrass music, and went back to sleep.

Standing strongThe most important thing I’ve learned from both of these relationships is that if I don’t respect myself, anyone I enter into a romantic relationship with probably won’t respect me either, even if the disrespect isn’t a conscious effort. While self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect are still issues that I’m working on to this day, at least now I know not to settle for anyone who can’t or won’t give me the respect I deserve. And although I may sometimes doubt that I deserve very much respect, my friends are always there to tell me that I am a wonderful, unique person.

Everyone deserves respect. Respect yourself, and respect other people. And even if you can’t find yourself respecting someone, be civil. Don’t be mean. Remember — you don’t go looking for love; love finds you all on its own. I can tell you this — romance is much more attracted to people who respect themselves and others.

Newsletter Articles – September 2014

First Date

That stomach-churning, nerve-inducing, awkward yet exciting day is here. Yes, you are indeed headed out the door for your first date. Here are some tips for your date to run a bit more smoothly, make a great first impression, and find out if you are truly compatible. These tips will keep your date fun, smooth, and memorable.


Twenty-first century dating has introduced a variety of new potential opportunities to meet others through the internet, and our students may be particularly drawn to online dating and social media. Dating is an important developmental experience for our students and it’s important to teach them how to make good decisions in order to effectively and safely navigate in a complex social world.


I see dating like training wheels for a romantic relationship. Once we get comfortable with each other, we can be more serious. When those wheels come off, we will either fall or take off. Getting to know someone in a romantic way helps me to determine if it is a good fit for our personalities. I look for compatibility and good communication skills. It is very similar to hanging out with a friend, but having a romantic twist. There may be flirting, asking about what they want out of life and seeing how much that matches my own life purpose.

different levels of friendship

Young adults in CLE programs have a wide variety of experiences in making friends. For some, past social interactions were limited to being with high school peers during class with little to no socializing after school or on weekends. Other CLE students created and maintained friendships from elementary school, and easily make friends when they come to CLE.

The post One Student’s Story of Romance and Respect appeared first on College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future.