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The college years are often a little tumultuous, especially when it comes to relationships. Heck, this is probably pretty true for everyone in their early 20’s. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to start meaningful relationships, though. We’ve pulled together some tips on doing just that.

Set the Bar Right

When you’re envisioning your expectations, try to avoid setting it too high (this person will fill absolutely every hole in my soul) or too low (ignoring my texts and making fun of me to my face is normal).

Learn How to Talk

In your early adulthood, you’ve likely learned how to absorb information in school or talk to your peers about shared interests. A relationship often requires communication skills outside of those two.

Get Ready for Changes

Especially at this time of life, you’re going to want to get ready to either go with the flow or break up if things aren’t working out. The worst scenario is when you both limp along while growing apart, making each other miserable in the process.

Learn to be Dependable

No one wants to date someone who’s constantly flaking on plans. If you want the relationship to last, that means learning to be a dependable partner.

Keep Tabs on Yourself

How is this relationship making you feel? How are you feeling in general? Are you getting the support you need?

It’s Not a Test

Relationships, especially early in adulthood, aren’t a test that you have to pass. You’re often both just trying to figure out if you make one another happy. It’s not a moral failing on your part if your relationship doesn’t work out.

Learn to Argue

This is going to be an important one. You’re almost certainly going to have arguments, so figure out how to make them productive ones.

Don’t Let the Image of the Relationship Matter More

In early adulthood, we’re often getting caught up in comparing ours lives to the ones we see. It could be fictional or our parents or even our peers. Don’t base your decisions in the relationship only on how it’ll look to the outside world.

Stay Balanced

Your romantic partner isn’t going to provide for your every emotional need. It would be pretty stressful for them if they had to! Make sure you’re maintaining friendships when you start a new relationship.

Lean Into the Process

Relationships really are a process, not simply a state of being. Kind of like how some people will say love is a verb, not just a noun.