Love is in the air at Exeter summer — well, along with exes. All the single ladies, put your hands up. (Sorry single men, you don’t have an anthem.) Sixteen-year-old Alicia Freiin Von Richthofen from Cilli dorm would know. She has been in two relationships previously. 

One, she said, was paramount, “because it felt a lot more free” — she felt safe and loved. 

“We were very similar in many ways. Like, We had similar interests and very similar personalities. And I think we definitely brought out the best in each other.” 

But if this relationship was so liberating, why did it come to an end? I wondered.

“I think we brought out such extreme goodness in each other, we also brought out the worst in each other,” Alicia said. “So when it was bad it got really bad.” 

The breakup occurred after she had switched schools. 

The sixteen-year-old explained that one relationship turned sour in several ways. So, what makes a healthy connection between two people? She told me what every classic rom com likes to portray, but this time, with more detail.

“Opposites attract, you know. So, I think for me, personality wise, people who are willing to listen to me, and kind of like are very chill and more relaxed are good people to go for.”

 I asked Honor d’Andlau-Hombourg from Bancroft dorm her thoughts on love and relationships. Her story was quite different than Alicia’s love journey.

This Exonian, who has long curly, chestnut-colored hair, came with her boyfriend, Benjamin Levi, from France. The young couple have been dating for one year.

“He cares a lot whenever I have a problem, and he helps me a lot with homework,” Honor said. “Like, I’m like my best when I’m with him. So, we met in school when we were like twelve years old, and I had a crush on him when I was twelve years old. And then we got together,” Honor said about their meet-cute.

“When we’re together I like everything about him. He’s probably like the most caring person I’ve ever met,” Honor said.          

In terms of advice for young couples today, she told me that she sees challenges as a natural part of the relationship. Her take is that fights are natural–so long as they are not too big

Her boyfriend Benjamin had a lot to say when it came to what he loves about his special someone. 

“She can stand up for the people she loves, in any situation. I find her beautiful as well, and she’s really nice to everyone–to people she doesn’t know, and I think that’s great. It took a little while, but it was last summer that things got a little more serious, I guess.”

In terms of challenges, Benjamin mentioned small bumps in the road. “Sometimes long distance is kind of hard. Sometimes we don’t see each other for a month–when we don’t communicate.”

But all in all he could not be more smitten for his girlfriend. “She has this countryside house we go to often, near the beach in Paris. It’s two hours away. It’s really nice. And, I mean, really any time I spend with her is nice.”

For a bonus Benjamin told me his partner’s favorite song, “Save Your Tears” sums up these young lovebirds’ relationship.

Sixteen-year-old Kristen Hurtado from North Carolina is in a committed relationship with a person outside of Exeter. (Gasp, a non-Exonian! How crazy!) 

“My partner is um my, like my intellectual other half.,” Kristen said. “We have very deep conversations which I appreciate. He’s very intelligent, and um he kind of keeps me grounded, because he’s intelligence-based; I’m more emotions based. So, we kind of level each other out.”

“We had been friends for a while and just randomly I got this shock, and I knew he was the one I wanted to date,” she added. “We’ve gone thrift shopping. It was a small store and exotic animal type of thing. We go for coffee, and we went crystal shopping. He spent $100 —  wait, $130 on me. Yeah, he spoils me rotten. I love him,” Kristen exclaimed with a grin.

“We actually get along perfectly fine. I think the challenge was when we were first getting together, but after that I can’t name a single thing I want him to change.”

She said that the main challenge of first getting together was exploring feelings, and the large, and always prevalent question that frequently comes up in relationships, would this even go anywhere? “We kind of had to trust our guts, and not what other people would think,” Kristen said. “He was my best friend for the longest time. He was the person I could trust the most. I saw him as platonic and then one it just–it was a switch I can’t explain and I realized that I really liked him. You shouldn’t find the person — they should find you. And don’t ever deny your feelings, cause your emotions are there for a reason.”

Maybe you are a person coming from a series of less healthy relationships. Maybe the one you love is also the one you fear. You’re still searching. Or perhaps you found a romantic connection with your best friend, your platonic buddy, your middle school shorty. You could be the one who has known exactly who you’re going to wind up with since age twelve. But the advice is all the same–challenges are natural, go slow, find someone who brings out the good in you. The unspoken message across the board seemed to be the same for everyone: balance is good. So next time stop doing too much work in your relationship and start asking yourself the simple question “Do we create a good balance?”