When Tom and I got married we’d spent four of the five years of our relationship not only living apart but living in completely different cities. We were seventeen when we got together and had to sustain our relationship up and down the M5 between Birmingham and Bristol before we could finally move in together when we were twenty-two. Here are our three top tips for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling long distance relationship whilst at university.
1. It’s ok to ignore what other people say is the ‘right’ university experience.
Lots of parents of friends made a right fuss that I was going to ‘miss out’ on what university was ‘really about’ (whatever that means) because Tom and I visited each other most weekends. You need to do what’s right for you, whether that’s spending most weekends together or once a month. Smile politely at people telling you you’re doing it wrong and discuss it instead with your partner and people you trust – the decision is yours and no one else’s.
2. Make sure you spend a fairly even time at each other’s uni.
It’s important that you both meet each others friends, get to see where the other one lives and what the other gets up to. It’s good to share the effort and get involved in each other’s lives. I used to arrange to go and see Tom in his plays at uni and he used to make sure he came to me in my choir concerts. We could still support each other and cheer each other on that way.
3. Use all the wonderful bizarre ways of keeping in touch that modern technology affords you!
We’re so blessed that we can communicate so much more than our parents could, or even students at uni fifteen years ago. Text, Skype, WhatsApp, play silly internet games; whatever works for you and makes you smile and feel close even when you’re physically apart. Tom and I used the graffiti app (it was big on Facebook eight years ago!) to send each other pictures we’d drawn – we still have them now and get them out on wedding anniversaries! They were so much fun to receive when it was a couple of weeks ’til we were next seeing each other.
Finally, don’t be scared to tell the other you miss them. Communicate and talk so that there are no secrets and you feel safe. It’s harder to keep lines of communication open over hundreds of miles but it’s the best way to stay happy and healthy.
Jessica is a Pioneer Community Worker at a church in Bath. A Methodist, she enjoys opera and crafting.