Relationships and university - don't feel broken up!
By Jess Baker,
Broadly speaking, each year's university intake includes two types of people: 'single' and 'taken'. It's not for me to say which status makes the transition to university life easiest, but as somebody who left home (and still remains) in a very committed relationship, it can be incredibly scary to face the idea that come September, the dynamics of your relationships (not just with boyfriends and girlfriends, but friends too) will change dramatically.
My expertise on 'single life' is limited given that I haven't experienced it since the age of 13 (my boyfriend and I are what you might call childhood sweethearts) so I can't offer much advice there. But I like to think that after what was a very turbulent period, my relationship with my boyfriend is now stronger than ever, and I'd like to share a few ideas for anybody feeling stressed and panicked about the daunting task of maintaining a long distance relationship through university.
First of all, university is a big change for anybody as an individual, let alone as a couple. It's important to allow yourself a cooling period to settle down before you go shooting off to visit your other half. (Or, indeed, before you rush home to visit your parents and friends!) During the first few weeks of lectures I kept hearing snippets of stories about a girl who had already dropped out because she spent so much time going back to see her boyfriend that she couldn't call her university ‘home’. As much as your relationship means to you, your education should mean a huge amount too, so don't sacrifice one for the other! If your boyfriend or girlfriend is worth it, they will understand that you need time to yourself. After all, at the very least you'll be spending 3 years and £27,000 on your degree, so it's essential that you settle in as soon as possible!
Secondly, budgeting is clearly going to be a major part of all aspects of university life, and travelling to see your other half will only contribute to that. As it happens, my boyfriend jetted off to Asia for five months the day after I moved to Reading, so I didn't have to worry about affording the train fare to Cambodia and Vietnam. But if you're lucky enough to be on the same continent as your boyfriend or girlfriend, then make sure you work out how much things like your food, gym membership, sports clubs, and other societies will cost BEFORE you log on to First Great Western.
On that note, it's important to remember that having another person staying with you will, of course, increase your food costs (this applies for when friends visit too). Make sure you clarify BEFOREHAND whether or not you'll be contributing to each other's grocery bills - you don't want to spend the weekend snuggled up watching films and eating junk food only to find that the Ben and Jerry's and Pringles you bought in especially have lost you an evening meal during the week. It's obviously not very romantic to have to look at your relationship as another expense, but it's essential that every aspect of your budget is balanced, and that includes cuddle time!
Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, YOU HAVE TO TRUST YOUR OTHER HALF. As tricky as it might be, the green eyed monster will do nothing but harm to your relationship. It is obvious that your boyfriend or girlfriend will meet new people, but if they're worth their clout, all they'll be is friends! It's no good Facebook-stalking every new person who appears on their profile (regardless of whether or not they're prettier than you) because it will just cause angst and bitterness, which is much harder to resolve over the phone or on Skype than it is face to face.
I don't claim to have all the answers when it comes to relationships; everybody is different. Above all else, talk at length with your boyfriend/girlfriend/friends/parents about how regularly you want to see each other, so that expectations are matched and nobody is disappointed. And remember, absence, for the most part, really does make the heart grow fonder.