As I write this article I can see waves rushing to the shore from a train window winding its way through Devon, headphones in on my way to see my boyfriend. In all fairness a two-hour journey nowadays is nothing, considering how we keep in touch in between. But the honest truth is that long distance is in no way ideal, and it definitely has its pros and cons.
You discover yourself at uni, and God knows it’s cheesy and I cringe at the sight of the words on my screen, but it’s true. A new experience, full of new people, fending for yourself against hangovers and freshers flu. Personally, I’m glad I broke up with my boyfriend who I’d been with for three years before university. It gave me time and space to grow apart from someone who had essentially framed my life before then. When you’re young and you grow in relation to someone else, it becomes a defining part of your life. I was determined to grow up and become my own person, and I feel more mature and ready for my new relationship now than I ever did before.
Not worth it?
The fact of the matter is that long distance means visiting and that can sometimes be a real issue when it comes to making friends and keeping up commitments. If you’re jetting off every other weekend to see your significant other, are you fully engaged in the life and experiences that uni can offer you? Are you able to maintain work, life and relationship? Some people can, and it takes time to know if that’s what’s best for you.
Watching other couples or even watching friends find a guy in Unit 1 can be hard and it’s frustrating sometimes knowing that one of your favourite people isn’t there. (But then I get over it and I make some pasta – ultimate comfort food – and I remember that at the end of the day I’m stronger than people snogging in a club or strangers holding hands.)
But so worth it!
It’s not all doom and gloom folks, because of course some people make it work and if you feel like you want to then go for it, I encourage you to do it. Long distance relationships mean you never take your significant other for granted. The space and time away gives you time to appreciate what you have and the feeling when you see them after a long while is one hard to re-create.
Having a boyfriend or girlfriend somewhere other than home can be good too because you have another place to be, away from the goldfish bowl of Exeter and off somewhere new. Space from the stress and drama of friends and work. It’s a break, a change of scene and something to look forward to, which is never a bad thing.
What to do?
- People rarely know if their decision is right or wrong when they’re making it. Try exploring options with your significant other. I have friends who stayed together and faithful, I have some who allowed some breathing room for drunk kisses, and others who became fully open in their relationship. All these are perfectly viable options, and there’s no shame in choosing to do any of these or anything else that is good for you and your SO. No one else has any business judging your choice, it’s to do with your emotional wellbeing and what you know is best for you.
- In the case that you do choose to stay together, keep the conversation going. Make an effort to listen and share. Also, ask if they’re still doing okay. Although it’s an awkward conversation no one wants to have, it’s important that the dialogue is there to talk through issues and problems as they come up rather than let the resentment build up.
- Equally split the time that you spend together, if it’s one weekend at yours then one at theirs. It’s fairer in terms of money and it means one person isn’t prioritising their friends, time and money over the other person.
it’s important that the dialogue is there to talk through issues
- Keep time for yourself and your friends, and obviously make sure you’re keeping on top of uni work, because stress can creep up on you and it’s crucial you look after yourself and keep a healthy balance.
Pros, cons and advice is all I can give, because at the end of the day it’s about you. Rest assured no one newly starting uni – or at any other point in their university career for that matter – knows what they’re doing anyway.