Finding a romantic partner isn’t always easy, but living in residence gives people a unique opportunity to interact on a personal level.
School residence can be a challenging place to build lasting relationships, however. People are in constant contact with each other and that leaves little room for privacy and time alone.
“You have to work on some kind of system whereby you can talk about when you feel too invaded or you need a bit of space,” said Daniel Andreae, a professor of psychology at the University of Guelph-Humber. “Being in the same place doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be with them all the time.”
There could be issues in developing a relationship with somebody you are living with, he said.
“The problem comes along if it doesn’t work out,” Andreae said. “You’re with somebody in residence and then you part ways or something happens and you have to face them every day and that causes stress for the individuals involved.”
Privacy is very important for a person’s mental health, he said.
“We’re all like prisms in a sense with light shining off different parts of us,” Andreae said. “There are times when we want to be social and times when we want to be private and reflect on ourselves… we must strive for a balance in that.”
When the relationship fails, it could be up to the residence assistants to handle the situation.
“Every situation is different and it depends on how we get this information,” said Jeck Baconga, a residence life coordinator at Humber College. “If a student approaches an RA saying they are in an abusive relationship, we would probably call public safety or the police because it is out of our scope.”
“But if it is just a breakup between two students who met in residence, they would manage it as adults like anywhere else,” said Baconga.
“Relationships generally fall under personal counselling,” said Liz Sokol, a counsellor at Humber North campus Counselling Services, which helps with a range of personal issues.
“There is no particular method for dealing with relationship issues. It depends what the person was presented with and how they’ve been impacted,” said Sokol.