It’s October, meaning the temperatures are dropping, fall foliage is outside your dorm window, football and spooky season are in full swing, and the hunt is on for a cuddle buddy during these cooler nights. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which largely impacts us as students, but is oftentimes hard to detect. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, over half of all college students say it’s difficult to identify dating abuse.

As life gets busier and the season changes, it’s important to ensure that the spookiness stays in our Halloween activities and not our interpersonal relationships by being cognizant of what to look out for.

Spooky Signs to Watch For

  1. You have an eerie, uncomfortable gut feeling.
  2. Your partner is not respecting your boundaries.
  3. The relationship between you and your partner seems codependent.
  4. There is a lack of trust between you and your partner.

If you notice these signs becoming a pattern and resonating for you or one of your friends, know that help is available and accessible. The first step to action is acknowledging and validating your feelings; then, be sure to seek out community, because we cannot heal in isolation! At Syracuse University, we have various resources available, ranging from the Sexual and Relationship Violence (SRV) Response Team at the Barnes Center at The Arch, Title IX, your Resident Advisor in your dorm, or even a chaplain at Hendricks Chapel. Please remember that you are supported, and your safety should always be the first priority.

Tips to Nurture a Healthy Relationship

Allow Space for You and Your Partner to Learn and Grow

With seasons changing, in your life and literally, there comes both growth and decay. As a college student, you are given an opportunity to get to know yourself in a new environment, with new structures and people. Do not be afraid to take this time to express your desires; in fact, that’s what you’re encouraged to do! Learning what feels right for you and what you’re okay with is an essential part of growth as a student and as a person.

Make Time for Yourself and Your Responsibilities

Being in a relationship in college is not always easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It is incredibly important to ensure that your partner, similar to other loved ones in your life, are champions for you becoming the best version of yourself. With tackling all the things on your plate, it may be important to establish times where you and your partner are available to hang out in more creative ways, whether it be study dates at Bird Library or “romantic” dinners in the Ernie Davis dining center; a key point of relationships is establishing your priorities as well as committing to spend quality time with the other person.

Conflict ≠ Unhealthy

Having a healthy relationship does not mean having a relationship without conflict, but having a healthy relationship is about developing the tools to ensure you both stay warm and held during those times. This can look like adopting healthy communication patterns, practicing self-care during arguments, taking space from each other when necessary, and always maintaining mutual respect and care for the other person and yourself.

Overall, remember to stay cozy, stay open, and most importantly, stay safe!

Written By Kayla Turner ’24, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences, Barnes Center Peer Educator