“The importance of being on the firing line of feeling”
It’s a fact that University either makes or breaks relationships. The distance between the two of you, the new faces you’re introduced to, and the new way of life makes it difficult. It puts more strain on you than you think, when you’ve become an entirely different person from what you’ve learnt yet still have that someone at the end of the day to come home to. Here are a few tips for keeping it going and why sometimes it’s not the best idea.
don’t make a chore of it
If arranging to Skype them or call them becomes something that you can’t be bothered to do, don’t feel guilty about it. Don’t force yourself to interact with them in fear you’ll grow apart if you don’t. Relationships aren’t about forcing yourself to do something, so if you simply have too much work, want to go out or need to sleep, don’t be afraid to postpone or cancel. There is nothing worse than returning home to see them after a semester and realising that you’ve been too scared to turn them down so you’ve been stringing them along all this time. Sometimes it’s just nice to get on with work and have the phone on speaker so you feel as if they’re behind you just talking to you about their day, and the benefit of Uni is that you’ll both have so much to talk about without the other person being there to know that your conversations will be so much more exciting. Also don’t be offended if they cancel on you either - no one can predict the spare time they’ll have in Uni, you just take it as it comes.
don’t idolise uni relationships around you
There’s always one couple who will meet at University and become inseparable by Christmas. Don’t make yourself feel bad if you’re surrounded by new and blossoming relationships - their lives don’t make you any lonelier and you were them once. They’ll have to bear the same struggle as you do now when they go home for the holidays or move on from University. Perhaps being away from your partner makes you realise the things you miss about them more, which if anything will only make you stronger when you’re together again as you’ll realise what matters. So what if the couple two floors up can’t stop having sex and spend every day holding hands in your kitchen - their time will come.
make the most of the little things
If you’re struggling being by yourself and want to see them, even making a few hours time to see them if you can afford it counts. Getting a bus or a train just to stay the night and maybe walk the dog, have a nap and cook some Spaghetti Bolognese can mean everything in the world if it’s with the right person. Any decent person would realise the financial and geographical stress you might be under so every effort made to see them would be graciously accepted as you would do for them. Utilise the time you get with them in any way you can. If that’s by going out and having coffee and seeing a movie, then good for you. If that’s by sleeping the day away in bed together and watching daytime TV then even better. If it’s having sex all day then by all means, go ahead.
it’s not meant to stress you out
There are inevitable days where you’ll have to choose between travelling to see them for the weekend or having a piss up with your mates, and sometimes you really need the latter. As lovely as they are, they’re not going to understand this bitch of a lecturer, or why you hate this module or how loud that guy is down the hall. You don’t have to choose them over everything to be in love with them; University is demanding but allows for balance if you let it. If you fall into a trap of being obsessed with your partner as they’re so far away, you might find that if it fizzles out or you fall out, you don’t really have any other mates as they’re sick of hearing about this person they don’t know. Don’t be that person who can’t shut up about their ‘other half’ - it’s an amazing aspect of your life but fits in alongside everything else that you can enjoy just as much.
If your partner has done things before to make you worried about the distance, ask yourself why you’re with them. If it makes you feel better, be honest and explain that you’re concerned and at the very best you want total honesty. Don’t forgive them because it makes your Freshers easier as you know nobody - shitty people are shitty people regardless of how you dress them up to be. Plus no Freshers sex scandal I’ve ever heard of formed into a genuine relationship or even a strong friendship. If your paranoia leads you to harassing them whenever they’re out, they’re more likely to crave that independence if they’re trying to enjoy themselves. If your partner does do something and you choose to forgive them, then you should be willing to also forget.
treat it as a normal relationship
‘Long distance’ is a horrible label that convinces people your relationship is like everybody else’s but more difficult. It doesn’t have to be. If you’re going strong, act like it. Discuss where you want to go in the summer, book a weekend away or a dinner halfway between both of your locations. Have little reminders around you like you would your own room - little photos on the walls or a nice note they left you. Don’t litter yourself in relationship muck to compensate for the distance, but don’t make it apparent that you’re trying to downplay how much you love them and miss them. Calling them to see how they’re doing or tagging them in old photos can sometimes revive the feeling of being together all the time.
be a little soppy
That person means an awful lot to you, and they need to know that now more than ever. Distance can create uncertainty without the right amount of communication, and the last thing you want to do is hassle them but you’re also worried that they haven’t been saying much these last few days. Just letting each other know where you stand is often perfect, and waking up to remember that they still feel the same way about you from miles away is a great feeling. If they’ve gone to bed and you have a spare five minutes, write them a little note about why you miss them, why they make you happy or what you’re looking forward to. Go the extra mile for Valentine’s Day, each others birthdays or Christmas. You’re still every memory you have from the past, the same people that went skiing together or pulled an all-nighter watching Tarantino movies. Don’t lose what’s important because it’s a time for new things as well.
don’t force the twO LIVES to merge, but let them co-exist
Introduce them to your new friends if they come and visit - it helps both parties out as they’ll both know who you’re referring to if you ever start talking about something off topic. There’s no harm in your boyfriend/girlfriend coming for a night out with you and there are no better new friendships made than drunken ones. Show them around the city and find brand new little quirky places that you can enjoy together. While home and University may be entirely different, it’s still a spectrum of your life so there’s no reason why the two have to be separated at all times. This website has tonnes of suggestions for where to eat when your partner is visiting, suggestions for fun stuff to do and some ideas for places to explore. Check them out!
don’t be afraid to let go
If it genuinely does become hard work, or you simply feel that you’ve developed so much as a person that you can’t cope anymore, don’t feel bad ending it. If you’re both moving on there’s no reason why you can’t be friends or give it a go again in the future but what’s important here is the manner in which you choose to end things. If you want to leave the door open to a future relationship, be as respectful and kind as possible through what can be a painful process. Think about how you would like to be treated if it were the other way round.
Written by Hannah Newberry, 10 months ago
Agree? Disagree? You can tweet them here @hanxnewbs