My boyfriend and I were together for three years before we both went to separate universities. Jack, , to Staffordshire University to study Computer Games Design, and myself to the University of Surrey to study Sociology. It was the biggest change we had both gone through within ourselves, and our relationship. We went from living a 5 minutes’ drive from each other in a peaceful Welsh county, to 4 hours via train.
Three years later, and I’m genuinely thrilled to write that we stayed together quite happily, and we’re moving in together for my final year of university (I took a year out to do an internship). I wanted to write about our experiences, and hopefully with some good advice for anyone who is in, or will be going into a long-distance relationship.
- Your relationship cannot always come first.
One of the hardest things to realise, when you’re both missing each other, is that your relationship can’t always be first priority. When it comes to making huge life choices, remember that you both lead separate lives in separate places; relationships can mould around what you both want, be flexible and understanding, opportunities however, often only come once. It’s important to find a balance between when your relationship is priority, and when it isn’t. Realistically, although you’re in love now, you might not be in a few years, or in 5, or 10; you want to be able to reflect on your partner as someone who encouraged and emboldened you to push for great opportunities, not someone you feel you sacrificed too much for.
- Ignore negative energy, what you don’t interact with can’t hurt you.
Jack and I were consistently told how hard it would be to go long-distance, and even throughout our years at university, we were given advice by ‘friends’ to break up, and ‘sew our wild seeds’ (we’ve been together since we were 15, and are now 21). Although it was really upsetting at the time, there was nothing actually wrong with our relationship, apart from this barrage of comments from outsiders.
In the end, it was my mum who told me that by staying with Jack, I was obviously sacrificing the opportunity to go out and meet new people, or to study abroad and other things; however, leaving Jack would mean I would miss out on this amazing bond we have, and the support he gives me. She reminded me that both paths are equal and valid, it was up to me to choose. Clearly I chose to stay with Jack, and the support, love, and calm that I get from him is more than worth it, and I learned to tune out any negative outside opinions on our relationship.
- It’s just shit sometimes.
The truth is that some days, or even weeks, it’s just painful and hard to be away from the person that you love. It’s okay to hurt, and to miss each other beyond what you thought you could. It’s ok to feel like you can’t do things or push yourself without them, because although it’s a struggle, it’s worth proving bitterly that you can. Embrace those days where you feel down or lonely, and indulge in some self-care, you deserve it.
- There are benefits.
It sounds perverse, I know. However, going long-distance for whatever reason does allow you to create your own identity away from your partner. It shows you that you can live and strive independently day after day whilst holding on to something you cherish. It lets you learn how to appreciate your time together more, but also to appreciate your time alone too. You are two strong, collected individuals, who have an incredible relationship based on self-confidence and awareness.
Although, undeniably, long-distance relationships are emotionally straining, if you ever have to go through that experience, just know that it isn’t all bad. Things will be easier and smoother if you’re both chilled out and ready to take things as they come. Let long-distance empower you to both live, and love, to your fullest, and know that it’s not forever.
Written by Katt Skippon