Balancing love and learning

Al Cusack met their partner, River Pictou over Tinder. After meeting, the couple realized they had attended many events together before. (Lauren Hoyt/AQ)

When your schedule includes university classes, work, sleep and some time factored in to eat, there’s not much room for anything else. A relationship can seem like a fictitious dream only found in Disney movies. But some students find a way to balance it.

From swiping to small talk

Fourth-year St. Thomas University student Al Cusack officially met their partner, River Pictou, through Tinder, but they met multiple times before that.

“We like to joke that we would’ve met anyway but we were just too awkward to talk to each other,” said Cusack.

Pictou goes to Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The couple found each other when Cusack was living at home in the Annapolis Valley. They officially started dating on Feb. 9, 2018.

“I showed up at their room with a ukulele and serenaded them. I can’t play ukulele,” said Cusack.

The couple is also polyamorous, meaning they see other people while in a relationship with one another. Cusack said this sometimes causes jealousy, but they work through it with active communication.

“We swipe through Tinder together,” said Cusack.

Long distance relationships are infamously hard to maintain, especially while in university, but Cusack said communication is key.

“It’s not good enough to just communicate, you have to be actively communicating before something goes wrong to prevent something from going wrong,” said Cusack.

Carter Scott and Louise Touchbourne met during Welcome Week 2017. (Lauren Hoyt/AQ)

Meeting the old-fashioned way

Third-year student Louise Touchbourne and her boyfriend, second-year student Carter Scott, met during welcome week in 2017.

The couple started officially dating two months into the school year.

Much like Cusack, Scott said communication is key to balancing a relationship while being in school.

“I think it’s about communication mostly, like a lot of talking. Just compromises you have to make as well, and as long as you put each other’s interests and passions first I find it works itself out too,” said Scott.

The couple both said they prefer to meet someone in person than online because it feels more natural to them.

The couple now rent separate homes, but still live across the street from one another. With busy schedules, the time they spend together is special.

“The times where we are together, we get to cherish because we want to spend that time together and we choose to spend that time together,” said Scott.

Zachary Lakes and Sarie Durelle met in their first year of university in 2013. They’re engaged to be married in June. (Submitted)

Taking the next step

Third-year student Sarie Durelle met her fiancé, Zachary Lakes, in their first year in 2013. The couple started dating in January 2014. Durelle took two years off school while Lakes continued at STU. Lakes now works as an admissions advisor at STU. The couple got engaged in November 2017. They’re tying the knot in STU’s lower courtyard in June.

Durelle said balancing school and a relationship takes work, but she said living together helps.

“Just try to make time for each other, even if you live together. Because you get into this mode of cohabiting and not really actually living together,” said Durelle.

With wedding planning, things are even busier.

“It’s a lot. I probably procrastinated on some things a little bit too much and we’re coming up to a deadline,” said Durelle.

The wedding planning keeps them so busy they sometimes forget other important dates.

“We actually both forgot our anniversary this year because we’re planning our wedding, so the date seems a little more not as important,” said Durelle.

Durelle said she knew for a while her and Lakes were ready to take the next step

“We were together for four years and we had lived together for three of those years. So, after living together for that long we got a dog together and all that stuff,” said Durelle.

“It made sense.”