Uni is a weird time for relationships. Some people are going long distance, some go to uni together, some get together at uni, and others want to be as untethered as possible. None of these options are wrong. Here are some of the things my friends and I have learnt about navigating university relationships.
We’re doing long distance
Communication is key in any relationship but it’s especially important to have clear communication in a long distance relationship. Check in with your partner often about how they feel, and voice concerns you might have. Try not to bottle things up for fear of upsetting them. You don’t just have to voice issues though, you might also want to let them know how you appreciate when they send you a funny post or interesting article. Try to video chat once or twice a week to really connect and catch up on what is going on in your lives. A great way to stay connected that I love is to watch a TV show together. Whether watching each other’s reactions on Skype, or texting about big plot developments, something to share when you’re apart is important.
Being a student is hard when it comes to money, but try to visit each other when you can. Buying a rail or national express card is essential for saving valuable pounds. Don’t get hung up on doing lots of activities when you are together. Just spending time in each other’s company is the most important thing in staying connected. Try not to reject spending time with flat mates or classmates just to talk to your partner though. Make sure you both make new friends, or you’ll have nothing to talk about in those twice weekly FaceTimes.
We met at uni
Meeting your partner at uni is great, because you don’t have the added strain of being apart for long periods of time. Don’t use this excuse to live in each other’s pockets though. Whether you started as flat mates, course mates or met at the SU, make sure not to spend every waking (and sleeping) second together. You might just end up bored of each other. If you are flat mates and spend most nights out as a group (and therefore together) try to do things with friends on your course, or hang out with a different flat mate in your group.
One thing I have learned is try not to distance yourself from friendship groups when you get into a relationship. You obviously want to spend time together, and you might think you’re saving other people from PDA or making single friends feel lonely, but too much time doing things alone can isolate you from the group. If you met somewhere random and don’t share a group of friends, then definitely invite them to join, but check with people first. I’ve experienced the awkwardness of thinking it’s a girls night and having someone’s boyfriend come too.
We came to uni together
This might sound like an unusual one, but I know couples who came together deliberately, but also ones who are together by chance on the dreaded A-level results day. Spend time with each other’s flat mates and course friends; this is a great way to meet even more people that you might have things in common with. It also means if you don’t get on with your flat mates (or vice versa) that you can hang out more in the preferred flat.
Like I’ve already said, spend time apart doing individual hobbies, so you have things to talk about. Relationships can change dramatically from school to uni, so make sure you’re open with your partner about what you want from your relationship, and how you see it progressing. You don’t want to agree a house to live in together and then realise you want different things! It’ll definitely make first year less scary having someone you trust to run to when you get stressed or homesick.
I want to be single
Uni is an exciting time for everyone, and some people aren’t looking for relationships. (If that’s you, thanks for getting through the first three sections!) Whether you want to be totally free, or are looking for something casual, be honest with yourself about what you want, and don’t let other people alter your perceptions. If you want to have casual flings or one night stands, go for it! Just remember to be safe and sensible. Join societies, hang out with class mates and fill your spare time with everything you love doing. This is your time to really understand what you want from life. Being single means not having to plan around someone else, so enjoy it!
Whatever your relationship status, the best use of your time at university is to foster genuine, meaningful relationships. Whether they are platonic, romantic or professional, surround yourself with people who make you the best version of yourself
Rebecca studies English at Keele University and writes a weekly advice column for First Years.