Competitive programs, competitive couples



Dating in a college program can be a bit of a balancing act since couples spend most of their time with each other.

Romance can sometimes be hard to maintain and competition can lead to conflict.

Sheridan’s Animation program is competitive and demanding. It attracts students who want to be the best at what they do. Then throw dating into the mix.

Christine Le, 21, in her second year of Animation, admits one of the drawbacks of constantly being in a classroom environment with her boyfriend, is they don’t see each other as romantically as before.


Second-year animation students Christine Le and Jonathan Kang practise drawing in their sketchbooks.

“You know the honeymoon phase? I think it would have lasted a lot longer if you weren’t in the same program,” said Le. “It’s not that comfortable is a bad thing either. Comfortable can be good.”

Jonathan Kang, 19, Le’s boyfriend, who is also in second-year Animation, admits the competition can get in the way, but they deal with it by helping each other.

“We are in a competitive program, but the thing about art is everyone has their strong points. We have different interests and that takes the heat off,” said Kang. “She prefers painting when I could care less about painting. I’m into drawing.”

While some couples get competitive when looking for jobs, both Le and Kang say they want to be freelance artists. They think being in the same program makes them stronger.

“I guess it’s good because we share similar interests. In some relationships they don’t work out because they have nothing in common,” said Kang. “We also bounce ideas off each other and try to help the other one improve on their weaker points.”

Clairelise Folch, a psychotherapist, says couples that share the same working environment should no longer consider themselves a couple when working together.

“In class, you’re classmates, not a couple. You need to make the separation clear,” said Folch. “But even as a couple outside of the class, you need to draw your boundaries. Everybody is an individual and sometimes you need space. It’s very important to tell the other you need space. “

Le agrees.

“I haven’t been very good at it. Sometimes I’ll just be like go ahead without me. I’m just going to stay here and do work,” said Le. “I’ve never said the actual words, ‘I need space.’ ”

Rob Kiss, 19, and his girlfriend Paige Reid, 20, are both second-year Media Arts students. They find themselves in a similar circumstance as Le and Kang.

“We don’t really have boundaries,” said Kiss. “We can sense when the other is not up to being around the other or around people in general. We know how to distinguish times between when we are being serious or being playful.”

Kiss and Reid find the time-consuming program to be more of an issue than the competitive aspect.

“The most competitive part is trying to be as good as the best in the class,” said Reid. “We’re both so busy, we can get stressed or annoyed very easily and will take it out on each other when we don’t mean to. “

While Kiss would like to work as a camera operator in the media field, Reid wants to explore a career in sound.

“It’s not so much her and I competing, but it’s the groups we’ve been put into. There’s always competition between crews and not so much individuals,” said Kiss.

They agree it’s nice to have someone who supports and understands you.

“We have worked on the same crews as well as different crews and it’s never really competing but more supporting their work and decisions they make,” said Reid.

“We give each other suggestions as to what will make their piece look better, sound more interesting or what needs to be taken out overall.”

When problems do arise, they’re often easily fixed by communicating.

“There are times when we stress about finishing a project or one of us cares more than the other,” said Reid. “We recently had to finish a final project and one of us thought the other didn’t care the way the other did, but everything worked out and the end result of the film looks good.”

Folch thinks the key to a healthy relationship is making sure you’re both on the same page.

“You can bring this up with your partner very gently,” said Folch. “Every couple needs time as individuals as well. This conversation is very important. It’s all about respect. You need to talk about your needs.”

While there can be downfalls of being in a competitive or time-consuming program with the one you love, there are also perks.

“People who have the same interests sort of see the world through the same glasses. They have the same perspective about something in life,” said Folch. “You have a lot to talk about, and that’s a good thing.”