Coming to terms with a long-distance relationship…

Hey, I’m James and I’m a English Literature and Philosophy student from London. Here’s my blog about my long-distance relationship.

Starting university can be a difficult time, socially, for some people. You make so many new friends but you’re also trying to keep the old ones, from back home, as well. For me this was especially hard. Back home, in London, I had just gotten into a relationship in the May before starting first year and we were determined to keep things going whilst I was at Hope. We were concerned about the distance being a problem, as she stayed in London whilst I’m up in Liverpool. I realised that, before I even stepped foot on campus, we had to prepare ourselves for long distance.

I was so used to being able to jump in my car and seeing her within 30 minutes, but now the journey is close to three and a half hours. We knew we had to find a different way to be able to actually see each other. The first thing we did was establish a set day to FaceTime in the evening for a few hours, to make sure that there time was dedicated to us. It really helped to be able to see each other’s faces as well, and to be able to talk to each other, not just through texts. I found that we were Face Timing more than just once a week, often every day, but that one evening every week was a fixed point that we both knew we would always see each other. We do all sort of things when we FaceTime, my favourite being movie club. We both watch the same movie, on Netflix, at the same time but being able to see the others reaction to the things that happen on the screen makes me feel closer to her. Of course this isn’t the same as watching a movie together in person, but it really helps. Although I can’t touch her, I can see her smile and hear her laugh.

Another thing which we found really useful was to write each other letters and post them. It’s a bit old fashioned, I know, and you may ask “Why don’t we just text each other?” Well we did that as well but the letters were reserved for pure emotional content, like how much we miss each other or how excited we are to see each other again. We started off sending letters once a week but now we only send letters when we have something we want to say. They can get a bit repetitive but that doesn’t matter because you can never tell someone enough how much you love them. Recently I decided to buy coloured envelopes to add a little bit of colour to the letters!

For me, as a man at Hope where there’s slightly more females than males, it was really important to introduce my girlfriend to my friends and flat mates as soon as possible. I didn’t want to let my girlfriend get jealous, as nothing was happening, but obviously it was difficult for her to be sure that I wasn’t going to be taken away from her. As like many members of my gender, I’m pretty clueless when a girl is interested in me! I made sure to get her on a train up to Liverpool within the first few weeks of my first semester and introduce her to everyone I was living with, so she could put faces to the names I’d been telling her about.

However, this created another problem… Before I had my girlfriend up, one of my flat mates had the same idea. He, however, made the grave mistake of secluding himself and his girlfriend in his room for the duration of her being here. Although I understand that he wanted to spend time with her, it created a barrier between him and the rest of the flat, because we never really spoke to her or even met her properly. When my girlfriend came up to visit, before she even got here, I told her that we would be going to see the others in the flat and spend time with them because I didn’t want to make the mistake my flatmate had made. Ultimately, it was a good call, as now, halfway through the second semester, we don’t talk to the other flatmate much anymore, but everyone always asks how my girlfriend is doing…

The last piece of advice I would give is that it gets easier. The first term was really hard, especially as the days got colder and darker. All I wanted to do was to go home and see my girlfriend, but you just have to push through, make the most of the time you have for the Christmas holidays, and when you come back in the New Year, arrange when you’re next going to see each other so you have something to look forward to.

By James Williams.

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