Starting college or university is a big life change. If, like many young students, this is the first time you are leaving home, it might be an exciting and daunting time. The prospect of studying, living, and partying in a new place with new people could fill you with a powerful mix of emotions.
But nothing dampens the excitement of a new start like an existing relationship. If you’re in a long-term relationship, or even if you’ve just started seeing someone over the summer, it can be hard to know how to handle a move to college or university.
If you’re both moving away to study, you’ll be meeting new people. If one of you is staying at home, it could bring up a whole other set of challenges. The impending change might force you to assess the relationship. You might start wondering what they future holds, and if you can cope with a long distance relationship.
If you and your partner haven’t talked about your plans, it’s worth initiating a conversation. Have a think about your hopes and worries, and talk to you partner about how you’re feeling. Ask them how they feel about the situation – their answer might surprise you, so be prepared to listen to whatever they have to say.
If you and your partner are confident that your relationship is strong enough to last, then you can try having a long distance relationship. Many couples manage this successfully, staying in touch by text, phone or email during the term and catching up in the holidays. Depending on how far apart you are, you may be able to visit each other more frequently.
How often you communicate is something you’ll have to work out together. Some couples choose to have set times, which can help avoid conflict about who’s turn it is to call whom. When you are studying in a new place, you will need to take time to pursue new interests, make new friends and, of course, study. It’s important to make the most of these new experiences, but it can be difficult for your partner. They may feel left out or worried that you’ll forget about them.
It may take a few goes to get it right, but once you start communicating with each other at long distance, you’ll find there’s a balance that works for you. If you can’t visit each other during term time, plan something special for the holidays so you’ve got something to look forward to.
It can be easy to get caught up in the passion of the present. You may be tempted to choose a university that’s closer to your partner, or even give up your studies altogether. It’s important to remember that this stage of your education could have profound consequences for your future. If your relationship is strong enough, it will survive the distance. Your education may not be quite so forgiving. Stop and think about which matters most to you before you commit to a decision.