Dating in College

Vanessa and Jamil on their wedding dayVanessa and Jamil are seniors at Southern and newlyweds! Here’s what they have to say about dating in college and their own relationship.

Did you meet here at Southern?

V: No, actually. We met at Georgia-Cumberland Academy our senior year. We started dating in the fall of 2013. We dated all the way through college and got engaged our senior year.

Did you know right away you would get married? How did your relationship develop?

J: Within the first year, I felt pretty sure. At one point I was really sick. She took care of me, but I looked awful the entire time. I always felt like people liked being in my life because of how I looked. But during that time, I was just feeling awful and looking awful, and she still took care of me. I thought, if I’m going to marry anyone, it’s going to be this girl.

V: I always knew from the beginning. I had been in other relationships before, but compared to the other people, Jamil treated me completely differently and made me feel completely different. I remember, before we got together, I prayed, “Jesus, if this is not for me, take it away because I feel like, if not, this is going to last a long time.” And he didn’t take it away, he actually opened up all the doors for it to happen, against all odds.

We always knew we were going to get married, but there was always the thought of when. We didn’t want to be ridiculous in freshman year, living on the street and married. We were praying about timing, graduation was close, and God kind of let us know. Things we were praying for really checked off. Parents are good, check, finances are good, check, Jamil spiritually, check, Vanessa spiritually, check. All of those were good, so we didn’t prolong it.

J: When we say spiritually, “check,” We don’t mean we’re perfect. We mean we’re at the point of progress necessary to get married. Just so you know.

V: Yeah, we mean the progress we needed. I needed to grow with Jesus up to a certain point, and we will always continue to grow, but now we can grow together with Jesus in marriage.

What are the differences between dating in high school and dating in college?

J: You have to actually make time for the relationship. In high school, you’re just kind of around each other all the time. In college you have to prioritize time for each other along with school.

V: There is the issue of maturity. We were just in a different mindset in high school. When you’re in college, you form who you are, what you want to do, and who you want to become. So if that doesn’t align with the person you’re with, it can cause a lot of strife, but if it does, it is a big blessing.

J: A lot of changes come in college too. So you can’t expect college to be as smooth as high school. When you get to college, it’s like so many doors are open. This is sad but, in high school your graduation class may not be that big. So, the person you found you think, this is the best I can do. Then you get to college, and you see all the other girls (or guys). And you can question your relationship.

What made your relationship last the high school to college transition?

J: Viewing the relationship as something you choose rather than something you feel. As humans we rely on feelings a lot. When it’s a choice, you’re choosing every day. I woke up, and I made a decision to continue to be with you. I’m making a constant choice to love you and prioritize my life around you. It’s a choice rather than just feelings.

V: I think the biggest thing for us was deciding what we would become. I had an idea of what I wanted, he had an idea of what he wanted. His idea completely changed. He started with physical therapy to wear scrubs every day to work (J: *laughs* I wanted to wear tennis shoes. Close). Now, God has given him new purpose in his life. Now he has an idea of who God wants him to be, where he wants him to work, and that really aligns with what I want to do. That’s how we’ve been able to be sure that God wants us to be together.

Mythbusting: The “perfect relationship timeline”

J: Actually, I have a question for you. Are there any myths you would like us to talk about?

I: Sometimes there is this expectation that everyone will follow a certain timeline in relationships. You meet either at the end of high school or the beginning of college, date throughout college, get engaged at graduation, marry, and live happily ever after. What is your take on that?

J:I think people make the mistake in creating this formula. They think if you do everything right, you’re going to come up with this equation that works every time for everyone. But, it’s definitely not like that all the time. Some people will have that formula in their mind, so they’ll force something in college. Then they’ll get divorced early. I have some friends who I went to middle school with who are divorced right now, and they’re my age!

I would say for everyone, you shouldn’t be looking to the right or to the left, you should be looking forward at your passion. When you’re going toward your passion, God’s call for your life, then you may see in your peripherals that someone is there. You look and see they have the same goals, passions, and level of relationship with Christ as you. But some people, they see their road and they think, “Man, that looks lonely. Let me go on someone else’s.” They start walking in someone else’s passion. But when something doesn’t work out, they feel lost.

V: Okay, I’m going to summarize everything you just said, ready? Seek purpose before a person.

Just find your purpose. Once you’re on that road and you’re where God wants you to be, your partnership will be even more meaningful.

J: People often find themselves seeking happiness with someone, when God may be intending them to seek holiness with someone else. In trying to seek happiness, they come up empty because they were looking for the wrong thing in the first place. Think instead, “How does this person assist me in fulfilling the purpose God has for my life?” That goes beyond happiness.

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Vanessa and Jamil Hairston Story by Vanessa and Jamil Hairston Published: Last Edited:

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