The Long Distance Drama

Jessica Carter

So, university has beckoned you far away from home with promises of new friends, vodka-laden nights out and freedom away from anyone who knows you. In other words, the stuff relationship nightmares are made of. Even the most infatuated of love birds tend to set themselves free for this experience, avoiding the arguments and tears that are sure to come from staying tied down. But is this the right decision? Should you try to fight it out and hope your long distance relationship (LDR) can remain university-proof? Is there any such thing?

From all the stories many of us hear of, fresher’s year at university seems to be the place relationships come to waste away and die. Certainly, my first year was relationship massacre and left numerous broken-hearted casualties in its wake. No matter how solid the relationship seemed to be or how long it had been thriving for it was no match for the appetite of the relationship-devouring monster that is student life. The fact is, moving away to university puts long term relationships in a completely different context, there’s no avoiding it- things are going to change.

University throws everything it can at you to make what is already a difficult and stressful commitment into an unbearable, guilt inducing, tear provoking nightmare. In light of this, it is understandable why people choose to cut their losses and start their university career as liberated, carefree singletons, probably breathing a sigh of pity at people like me who have lugged their heavy heart up to university along with all their other belongings, only to find there’s no space for it. After all, who wants to be the guy having to constantly take calls at parties, shouting over the music because it’s the only free moment you both have? Or the girl always having to monitor photos of foggy nights out on Facebook where you may, or may not, have been caught in a potentially incriminating pose with a stranger? Or the one trying desperately to keep the fun alive by emailing your partner teasingly about things you promise to do when you’re alone together again… in six weeks. Yawn.

I was made into that bitter, a-boyfriend’s-the-last-thing-I-want student when my three year (and apparently perfect) relationship became just another fatality of studentdom. It was no match for university, even though it was little over an hour’s journey from home; it would seem whether it’s the next town or the other end of the country, the real distance is in the lifestyles. Within the space of five months my LDR had died a bloody death and I was left in my halls room to clean up the debris while he went back to tea and sympathy at home with his Mum. Luckily my new friends pealed me off the floor, cleaned me up and did what they knew they had to do: get me out for a vino, or six. At least when it does all go down the shared halls toilet pan, (which it invariably does) you are in a place away from the danger of those awkward collisions at the pub or in the supermarket, and you can really just forget about the whole sorry affair. Apart from the unwelcome reminders on Facebook- that cyber demon will follow you anywhere.

Taking all this into consideration, surely it’s best to avoid the situation entirely and end it on good terms before it gets ugly. There’s all the time in the world for responsibility so perhaps the best advice would be to do what students do best: procrastinate. Save it till later to work out the mystery of this relationship stuff; your mounds of coursework and constant hangover guilt should be sufficient grief on their own.

In a change of tune, although I will in no way sing the praises of an LDR at uni, I feel a responsibility to provide a defence, as well as a prosecution for the case at hand. I have known it to work out, albeit in only one case so far, but still, the proof is there that some relationships can and do survive. If you are both hell-bent on staying together and making it work then there’s always a slot open for case number two. Just have no delusions; walking off into the sunset is an endless number of phone calls, probably an ugly mass of arguments and an awful lot of train journeys away. But, if you are adamant the pair of you shall get married, have kids, grow old together and get buried next to each other, then for the likes of you, what’s three years at uni in the grand scheme of things?



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