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Lessons learned: Long-distance relationships

Long-distance may seem daunting, but it can often improve a relationship.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely to be in a relationship, and with the end of the summer approaching fast, the ‘University question’ facing your relationship is looming above you. If you’re anything like me this time last year, you’ll have read reading dozens of articles desperately looking for reassurance that your relationship can survive the distance. Like me, you also may be surrounded by friends who have already broken up for university and it may seem as though the odds are against you.

Yet, a year later, I am here to tell you your relationship can not only survive, but also benefit from long-distance. Here are some lessons I’ve learned over the last year in a long-distance relationship.

Lesson one:

Plan your visits. Choose a date when one can travel to see the other, but remember that the first month of university is usually quite hectic, so make sure to give yourself enough time to settle down so that you’re comfortable travelling to see your significant other. Oxford terms can seem like an intense 8-week marathon, so being able to escape the bubble is something I personally began to look forward to when visiting my significant other.

Lesson two:

Be clear about each other’s expectations. This will be relevant if one or both of you has a heavy workload– understanding the demands of your significant other’s course will help you plan your time accordingly. Although working whilst with your significant other may seem like a waste of time, there are some things you may not be able to avoid, and it can certainly help to have someone to talk through your ideas with freely.

Lesson three:

If they are at university, explore their city or campus. Truly integrate yourself into the life at your significant other’s university, even if only for a weekend. Meeting each other’s friends is the key to tackling jealousy and maintaining a healthy relationship; and it is more than likely that you’ll make good friends too. If they are still at home, this can give you a chance to visit family also.

Lesson four, and perhaps the most cliché:

Trust each other. There is perhaps no better way to learn what trust really means than by being in a long-distance relationship. The process of learning how to trust each other is rewarding too. There is a sense of self-confidence that comes from being in a room full of people with your significant other, meeting new people and knowing you’re both really just thinking about getting back to each other.

A long-distance relationship helps you learn how to live as an individual in a relationship, which is easy to forget when you’re with your significant other virtually all the time. You may have been warned or even discouraged by your family and friends, but there will be other people in the same situation here, counting down the days until their next trip across the country.

The support of your significant other at the start of this new chapter of your life is something I know I wouldn’t have been able to manage without– knowing that they’re there for you despite the distance, always ready to give you that pep-talk before your first tute or listen to you complain about annoying neighbours. That feeling you get when you’re just about to see them at a bus or train station; the pure excitement as if it were your first date, will remind you why you’re so good together.

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