Single but without the perks? Long distance relationships at University
Like opting for Vanilla and missing out on the sweet taste of Raspberry Ripple, long distance relationships can often come with feelings of regret and what if’s.
What if I was single at university? What if I have made the wrong decision? What if I have made the right one by sticking with my safe, trustworthy vanilla? The truth is, I ask myself these questions nearly every day and I don’t have the answer, and maybe we are not supposed to know the answer. Perhaps one day, we hard-core long distance relationshippers will wake up and know for sure that we are doing the right or wrong thing.
I have found, and I am sure I am not alone, that saying you are in a long distance relationship attracts two common responses. Firstly, you have the cliché ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’ reaction which often provokes the dreaded marriage card; “If you can make it through university, you will definitely get married”. The tones of their voices seem to be impressed, almost surprised that we’ve made it, so what the hell, let’s give ourselves a pat on the back. When I hear this, the little doubtful devil who often sits on my shoulder, disappears into thin air. I feel proud that I have almost made it through University in a long distance relationship. It has not been an easy ride I know, but we have resisted temptation and fought hard to make things work. However, I do also want to say to these Tom, Dick and Harry’s…hold your horses. I don’t want to think about marriage for at least another five years, I don’t even know if I want to get married! Why does making it through a long distance relationship mean that marriage is suddenly on the cards?
Personally, I have found it so important to focus on the present when in a long distance relationship. Thinking about the future simply complicates things and stirs up feelings of anxiety deep within me. Ghandi said “The future depends on what you do today” so I try to live by this, the future is a product of the present. Despite this, we cannot all be ignorant to the future. Discussing life plans with your partner is part of the beauty of being in a relationship. However, you and your lover, distant or not, should try your best to live in the present as much as you can. Be happy spending time together, without worrying about the next time you see each other or about what the future has to bring. Unfortunately, I am sometimes faced with this second response, in all its pessimistic glory: “It won’t last”. I mean, thanks for your kind words of encouragement. But despite my pro long distance relationships campaign, I fully acknowledge that they are hard work. They require you to really try, more so than in relationships where you both share a post code. I shall not tell a lie, I ask myself too often whether my long distance relationship will last. I quiz myself, demanding evidence and answers as to why I’m doomed or why I’m not! We must all accept that a long distance relationship is not easy, and we will second guess ourselves. This doesn’t mean we are bad people. However, a testing relationship is not a reason to give up hope and listen to the ‘It won’t last’ers.
It is no myth that many students have tried and failed to make their long distance relationships work, so I wanted to look into the reasons behind this. Mima Edye-Lindner, English student at The University of Sussex, said about her experience: “For me, the downhill spiral stemmed from an absence of effort from my ex. If you are not going to be 100% committed, save yourselves the heartbreak by admitting that you are not ready”. Mima and her ex-boyfriend were in a long distance relationship for one year out of their two year relationship. Her ex boyfriend moved to China for his placement year and it was this move abroad which ultimately ended their relationship.
Living in different countries definitely comes with added pressure and complications such as time difference and travel expenses: two aspects of being in a long distance relationship I have resented. When in a long distance relationship, you will find yourselves arguing over the stupidest of things because you are frustrated and you miss each other. The Skypes and Facetimes are not always exciting, they often involve, tear stained faces, snotty noses and in my case, a double chin from replacing my boyfriend with chocolate digestives,
However, as a final year undergraduate student, I can say that I cope better than I would have at the start. I have outgrown the world of excessive drinking and the desperation to be liked. I honestly don’t care if you don’t like me for I have found my true friends and I am in love with a beautiful bearded Parisian man. Perhaps my age has influenced my positive outlook on long distance relationships because I am not embarking on University for the first time. I no longer feel the need to spread my wings and fly, be the overly-social butterfly I used to be and find myself. I used to feel like I didn’t want to be tied down to one person. I now like being tied to that one person. Although I am not ‘free’ to misbehave with other men, there is something truly liberating about feeling so secure in a relationship, that you don’t have a care in the world about them behaving badly because you trust them totally. How can you trust someone you wake up next to, after meeting them in the smoking area at Coalition the night before?
I don’t doubt that you one night standers may be smiling to yourself, thinking that long distance relationships are like ‘being single but without the perks’ and yes, sometimes it can be difficult. However, when it is with the right person, it makes everything worth it. It has taught me so much about myself, things that perhaps I would never have learnt had I not been in a long distance relationship.