How to keep a Relationship Going at University

By Sai

When I got into first year, there was a lovely lad, in my student flat, offering me tea. Naturally I was smitten, and we started dating. However, I still had Uni work to do, and he had graduated that year and lived in west Wales, 4 hours away via public transport. We made it work and are still happily together!

The key was telling each other what we were expecting from the beginning. We told each other what we wanted from the relationship, what the bottom lines were and what we hoped we could do. For me, one necessary thing was seeing him regularly. And so, in first year, he visited me once a month, and I went to his place in the holidays and during the strike in spring. 

Even if both people live in Cardiff, and both go to university, I think it’s vital to say what you want of a relationship before delving into it. Whether it’s something massive, like the relationship being strictly monogamous, or small things like establishing that you want to be taken out on dates on a regular basis. Laying out your expectations helps the other person as much as yourself. Like that you can also talk about what is feasible and avoid disappointment later, when your other half has to focus on work instead of you. 

However, it is also about compromise. I had Uni work to do, and so it was mostly up to him to come visit me. In first year, I was ok with only seeing him for one or two weeks every month or two, but in our second year I wanted to see him every week. Even though that was difficult and did lead to quite some tears on my side, ultimately, we found a way around it. This would not have happened though, if both of us didn’t say what we wanted and were willing to put an effort into our relationship. My compromise was, that when I did see him, we mostly stayed inside, watched TV or played games. That’s not to say we didn’t go on dates. We loved going to Bute park for a picnic, grabbing a coffee in town (which was our first ever date) or going to Cardiff bay. However, both people should enjoy it and sometimes to get one thing you have to give back something else. 

No relationship will be absolutely perfect, and rarely everything will go right. There will be major disappointments, and you might even end up questioning whether this is really what you want. But at one point, you must decide whether it’s worth it, whether you are happy to drop things, to put an awful lot of effort into it, and whether you want to do that for a very long time to come. 

On the other hand, you also shouldn’t rush things. Of course, it depends on what you want from your relationship, whether you really think that you’ll stay with this person forever, but usually it is better to get accustomed to another person taking up space in your life, than throw yourself into commitments. Even though distance can hurt a lot, I wouldn’t recommend jumping into living together after only a few months. And whilst spending time together can bring you immeasurable amounts of joy, it is also important to still be able to be alone. Friends and University should not be pushed away for your relationship (and your partner should definitely not expect that of you). 

Ultimately, it has been said plenty of times already: relationships are about communication. Say what’s on your mind. Establish baselines very early on, make it clear that certain things, for example university, friends or a job can not be dropped, and work it out from there. Be willing to put an effort into it as well! But always always always keep in mind that a relationship is supposed to add to your life, not take away from it.