Ellie Wilson discusses the pros and cons of maintaining a long distance relationship whilst at University….
Imagine a purely hypothetical situation: you and the ‘love of your life’,or love of the moment, happen to have the same first choice university, by choice or coincidence, you decide. Results day arrives: you get in, he doesn’t. Bombshell. The decision is made to stick it out and see how things work. Many view this as a huge cop out, because it is simply easier to stay together, and there may or may not be a holiday booked that you’d really rather not tarnish with a break-up. Others take a kinder opinion and view the ‘making it work’ plan as a brave one.
This is my reality. September arrives and whilst life in Exeter begins for me, he is many miles up North. Fresher’s week gets underway and the first pangs of jealousy begin to niggle. He gets drunk and takes a few too many clothes off in a dare that leaves me with a red face when I have to discover the pictures through Facebook. But, yes mistakes are made on both parts. Drunken nights in Arena led to dares that may or may not have encountered the same cold reception that a white ass received only a few short days ago. Perhaps returning the slap on the ass that I received was not a thoughtful gesture, despite my feminist intentions.
Fresher’s week spurred fear of how we each would respond to the freedom to do whatever, or whoever we wanted. Uni life is surrounded by so many preconceptions and myths: You will end up sleeping with every person you meet, relationships are not even worth attempting to drag through unless you meet at university in the second or third year when everything settles slightly, and cheating is a given. Oh, and don’t forget the smattering of STI’s that we are told to expect at least once or twice. University seems to be a battle that a long-term relationship simply shouldn’t even bother fighting.
When the mundane routine begins of Skype, phone calls and texting there are those days when it just seems too hard to maintain. The jammy couples who have met at university and get to see each other whenever they choose are hard to see. The complaints about the difficulty of finding the time to see one another, because they each have so much work on can be even more grating. In moments when the ugly head of jealousy makes an appearance, I try to remind myself that they all have their own issues; the difficulty of a fledgling relationship at university can’t be underestimated.
However, I do envy my single friends who have the freedom to go into Timepiece with the possibility of meeting someone through the crowds of costume-clad students all looking for the same thing. The slight hitch is that, everyone is looking for that someone through very cloudy beer goggles, and the overwhelming intention is to find someone for just one night. The crowds, the music, and the knowledge that everyone is looking for the same thing in some shape or form is weirdly appealing when you know that you can’t be apart of it. Appealing, until the lights are switched on.
One option is to experience these ‘typical’ uni experiences through friends without any of the hassle. I’ve spent many a night as wing woman. It’s fun when you can be completely objective about meeting people and avoid all of the angst yourself. The pride when someone you choose for a friend actually turns out to be a nice guy worth talking to makes it worth it. I have had to suffer through standing amongst three friends, who within the space of 5 minutes each peeled off into couples. This was painfully awkward because I had reached that stage of sobriety where the self-awareness was beginning to creep back in.
Now for the proper cheesy stuff. There are times when it is absolutely crap and doesn’t seem worth it, I appreciate that yes, it is rubbish that I have to come up North to see him, but if £60 for a return ticket doesn’t show some commitment then I don’t know what will. I am proud that we didn’t just give up because we were surrounded by doubt, and now I will never be thinking ‘what if’ we tried harder. Hopefully at the end of university, I will not only walk out with a degree, but a stronger relationship that has stood the test of university mayhem, and if not then I know I gave it a chance.
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