Making Your Relationship Survive the University Test

Deputy News Editor Shay Gray discusses how to make the secondary-to-university shift work in relationships.

I was 17 years old and had just started my final year of sixth form when I began my first real relationship. We were an inseparable, strong and loving couple. Despite our devoted appearance, the one question that seemed to keep cropping up from friends and family was “Do you think you’ll break up when you go to University?”. It felt insulting. Shocking, even. And yet it wasn’t until I arrived at University, miles away from my partner, that I began to understand that it wasn’t actually an insult at all. I began to see relationships triple the length of mine fall to pieces within weeks, and relationships half the length of mine strengthen at full force. This was the milestone that separated the dedicated from the convenient.

And one year after successfully passing the University test, I’d like to share my advice for keeping relationships strong, successful and happy. Disclaimer: I am not a love guru, so please take this advice with a pinch of salt.

1. Trust your partner.
If you are with someone you cannot trust, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to jump the University hurdle. After all, University is a whole new world with all new experiences, and you need to trust your partner enough to know that they won’t start searching for new experiences behind your back. Trust that your relationship is stronger than a couple of shots of tequila during fresher’s week, and if it is, you’ll make it through this.

2. Talk about every single detail.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that someone you used to spend every day with may now not understand basic landmarks in your life. Try to get used to the “what?” and “huh?” responses to your trip to Medicine, the Packhorse, then Stumble Inn, all in one crazy night. Slow down and explain the little things. The more you tell them about your life at University, the more you involve them. Integrate Holloway lingo into their everyday life. Integrate their University lingo into yours. The small things are important too.

3. Bring up your insecurities and emotions!
This is a super important part of the University transition. If you bottle up your feelings of insecurity and your relationship fears, they’ll likely consume you and lead to outbursts, arguments, or even a full force break-up. Pick up the phone at 3am and tell them you’re scared that their housemates are more attractive and convenient than you are. Talk about everything you can talk about until you have no insecurities left.

4. Make the effort to visit, if you can.
If they’re international, skip this step, your loan won’t cover this. If they’re national, this is a key component of your relationship. Video and voice calls are fantastic, but they also won’t hold your hand or make you tea in the mornings. So make the effort to book a train ticket every now and again. You’ll be grateful for the hugs every time you do.

5. Make sure you’re truly committed.
At the end of the day, nothing else really matters if you haven’t made sure that the person you’re with now could be the person you end up with. I’m not suggesting a full blown wedding proposal (though, if the mood strikes you…), but merely a small moment of introspection on the future of your relationship. Basically, make sure that you’re with someone you’re comfortable with. Because if they aren’t, well none of this advice was really worth a read. But if they are, then give it all you’ve got.