Starting university can be super challenging. For many people, it means leaving their hometown and setting off on a new adventure in a new place. It's packing bags, saying goodbye to family and friends and trying to build your dream future career. It's exciting, but it can feel a little overwhelming.
For many fresh-faced students, it can mean leaving their partner behind — their rock, their support; their best friend.
It's quite a step to make in a relationship, and setting off to a new part of the country whilst your partner is somewhere else can take a long time to get used to, especially if you two are really close.
It can make university even harder to begin with, as many people will find themselves wishing their partner was there with them, guiding them and supporting them along the way.
Relationships that start in university can be quite a rollercoaster too. If you both go to the same uni — great! You've found yourself a partner, study buddy and fellow party goer. For those of us in long-distance relationships however, the story can be very different.
Long-Distance University Relationships: How Do They Work?
I'm not going to sugarcoat this for anyone — long-distance relationships as a whole are hard. You'll find that on many occasions, you just want your partner there. Perhaps to celebrate one of your big achievements, or to be there when you feel low and just need a hug.
Your friends might question whether the relationship is worth it — whether you should really be putting that much effort into something when your partner could be doing anything without you knowing. It might make you question the whole thing yourself, feeling upset whilst your friends hang out with their campus partners.
However, like any relationship can be, they are also wonderful. Your partner is still your favourite person, friend, and your support. Sure, most of the time you will see them over video call rather than face-to-face, but if they still put in the effort, it will mean the world.
They will still want to listen to how your day has been, and they will still be there for you when you need them most. Plus, there is no better feeling that seeing their face for the first time after a while of not seeing them in person.
My Personal Experience With A Long-Distance Relationship
I got together with my boyfriend the January of my first year of university. He was a friend from home who quickly became something more after coming up to visit me, and we had made quite an impression on each other on New Year's Eve (it's always NYE isn't it?).
He is everything I could ever want in a partner and I see a wonderful future with him. The problem? He lives 113 miles (ca. 182 km) away.
We have both learnt a lot about trust, commitment and understanding through being in a long-distance relationship. I've had my own personal struggles, including worrying about him finding someone better at his uni.
He has struggled with the idea that I might not have enough time to see him and be with him as I have a lot of extracurricular activities.
Even halfway across the country, he's witnessed me at my highest and lowest. He's been on the end of the phone after he's had a long night out, babbling incoherently, and he's been there when I couldn't sleep at night, his gentle voice lulling me to sleep.
How To Make A Long-Distance Relationship Work
If you are in a LDR currently, or are thinking about getting into one, especially in university, here are my tips for you:
1. Work out your boundaries
It's really important to find out what you and your partners' boundaries are. Do you look forward to those good morning and good night texts? How will you approach the situation of your partner being upset? Can you talk late into the night every night, or do you need to set times when you can talk?
Do you need to tell your partner where you will be all the time, or is there a lot of free rein? Each relationship will be different but as long as you understand your partner, and they understand you, things are likely to go smoothly.
2. Show your partner that you're committed
Remaining committed and loyal is important more than ever in a LDR. With your partner not being there with you all the time, you are putting a lot of trust into them. You're trusting that they will be with you and only you.
Tell your partner you love them when you can. Don't be afraid to tell them that you miss them, and always show them that they're a really important part of your life. It will prevent a lot of excess worrying and sleepless nights, trust me.
3. Work out a schedule of when you can both meet
It may feel like you want to see your partner all the time, especially at first, but this isn't always healthy. Although you two are a couple, you are still separate people with individual lives, friends, and schedules.
Working out a routine of when you two will meet will create a sense of order in your relationship and will make sure that you are seeing each other when you want to, but are still making time for yourselves.
I see my boyfriend once a month during university term time, and we take turns taking the train up to one another. This ensures one person doesn't spend more money than the other, and we create a healthy schedule.
I really underestimated how important my own “me time” was initially, and now I try to indulge in that a lot more by working on myself and spending lots of time with my friends.
Keeping your life busy and varied can really help with coping without your partner in university.
4. Understand that it will be difficult sometimes
Relationships aren't always sunshine and rainbows, and long-distance relationships are no different. They also have the added struggle of not always being with your partner, which can make them more difficult than normal.
You and your partner will fight. You will upset each other. You may feel like the world is against you sometimes, especially when your partner is being distant.
Give each other space when it's needed, but always seek to sort out your problems before they manifest and spiral out of control. Always remember that in a good relationship, it's not you two against each other but you two against the problem.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Understanding each other is the key to a successful relationship. This can be difficult over the phone or over message so it will require taking the time to learn about your partner in a way that you might not have to do in an ordinary relationship.
Listening to them, being there for them, and just spending time with them will help you work out when they're not feeling right and when something needs to be sorted.
It's also important to be clear, upfront, and honest with each other. Worried about something? Tell your partner. Your partner did something wrong? Tell them, but respectfully.
Of course everyone can have their personal details that they keep to themselves, but being open with your partner and not hiding anything will help them trust you more and create a more stable relationship.
Although it can seem difficult at times, being in a LDR and pulling through the hard moments is an incredible show of trust, loyalty, and resilience. Don't be afraid of them -- after all, the world is big place; your soulmate isn't always on your doorstep.