Going the distance – Relationships whilst at University.

So you’re at sixth form and you’re applying for uni and you’re excited and everything is going swimmingly – you can almost taste the freedom! And then you fall in love. What happens next?

It’s a common question for new students wondering if their relationship can survive university. After all, three years is a long time! It’s a new chapter and you have a lot to look forward to.

If you and your partner plan to go to different universities; it’s not going to be easy! The prospect of living apart and only seeing each other on weekends (if that!) is daunting and so there’s a clear dilemma: do you give it a go or do you break up before you set off?

For me, I never had this dilemma. My boyfriend and I met when I was in my first year of sixth form and he told me almost straight away that he was going to university in Stafford that same September.

Now, I’m originally from Southampton so it’s fair to say that Stafford was a good old trek away, but it was January and I tried not to think too much of it. I enjoyed his company too much to worry about what was inevitable in nine months’ time. But off he went and so we embarked on a “long distance relationship”.

From someone with first-hand experience I think it’s safe to say that it’s challenging and it definitely depends on how good the relationship is before you move away. University is a time of significant personal growth, and in doing so, people grow apart – be it friends or relationships. But it’s definitely a lot easier than ever before with Skype, Facetime and Unlimited minutes.

I found it a lot harder when I was living in Southampton and my boyfriend was in Stafford, it’s almost a four hour journey on the train and even with a railcard it cost over £40 for a return. But I knew I was starting at Uni in Worcester the following year so we stuck it out – and I’m so glad we did.

We saw each other as often as we could, and because I was still at sixth form, I had half terms which meant I could still visit then for longer periods of time as well as seeing him back home over Easter and Christmas.

For me, it was great because I got a feel of what uni life was like before I set off myself. I got on really well with my boyfriend’s new friends and it was nice having a balance between my home life with my friends and cracking on with my A-Levels and then spending quality time with my boyfriend when I saw him.

When I started at Worcester, I knew things would be easier and we would see more of each other. Stafford is only an hour and a half on the train and a return only costs £12 – much more manageable! But for me, the best times would be when we’d see each other spur of the moment, when it wasn’t planned and I’d get a phone call saying “Put the kettle on, I’ve just got off the train and thought I’d surprise you!”

When we did spend time together, we made sure we done fun things like going to Alton Towers, going to the cinema, going away for the weekend and out for dinner as opposed to just sitting in watching a DVD.

Assessment periods are by far the hardest. Stress levels are all over the place and more often than not you’ll take your stress out on those closest to you (not the best idea when they live far away and you can’t make up quickly) It’s so important that you realize it’s not easy for either of you.

My boyfriend and I said at the beginning of our relationship that “if we both want to make it work, we’ll make it work.” and we have. Five years later and we’re still plodding on, the distance as cliché as it sounds, really has made us stronger and I appreciate the time that I do get to spend with him a lot more than before.

But what if you do break up? I guess one good thing would be that you don’t live near each other so the distance is a kind of consolation. You have your friends and your own lives.  A break-up whilst at uni will be difficult regardless of how long you’ve been together so you need to give yourself time to grieve and be with people who will support you. Go out and have fun and take time for you.

Relationships require work whether you’re at the same uni or miles away but as long as you’re honest, committed and trust each other; every relationship has a chance.