Could I get any more use out of this map of the world photo album? Probs yes.
So bit of background for you, my boyfriend Joss (have I mentioned his name before? Maybs not but I'm sick of calling him 'my boyfriend' so there we are, that's his name) and I got together when we were 17 and in 6th form. We muddled our way through learning to drive, doing our A Levels (we got matching grades at AS, ain't nuttin but committed) and leaving school and then all of a sudden he was off to university and I wasn't.
When we were 18 he left home and moved to Bristol (about an hour and a half away, less on a train) to do his degree and I stayed at home and commuted to my Foundation Diploma every day. To cut a long story short he had a really rubbish first year at uni, he quit in March of that year and moved home again and then reapplied to the same uni to the same course (yuh huh for reals) for the September when I was also going to uni.
Cue September 2012 and I bundled up my car and moved a whole 4 hours away from home and he bundled up his car and moved back to Bristol and all of a sudden we were in a 3 year long distance relationship and around 5 hours apart. Fun fact, Wrexham and Bristol don't have direct train links so it would take a few trains, a long long time, a lot of money and not a lot of fun to go to stay with eachother. I think he came to me maybe 6 or 7 times in 3 years and I went to him about 4.
We did see each other quite regularly don't get me wrong. First and second year was quite good, we had timetables that coincided with eachother and we generally just had a lot of stuff planned at home. There were birthdays, events, tickets to rugby matches and we always had an excuse to go home every fortnight so we'd just meet in Cardiff and back with the parents because it was cheaper and easier to go home home than meet eachother somewhere.
Third year was a bit more weird. I did go home still a reasonable amount because there was a lot going on in our families personal lives I had to deal with so he dutifully came home too so he could see me (he's a good egg). During our last term things got busy, we went to London one weekend with his family and he got off the train in Bristol and I watched him walk away and didn't see him for another 6 weeks which was probably the longest we spent without eachother. I missed his birthday, we missed our anniversary, he missed my final exhibition, exams and finals took over and we simply couldn't get it together to find any time but knowing when we did go home it was for good meant it really wasn't so bad.
We never planned to go long distance when we went to university it's just the way it happened. We applied to the unis we wanted to go to and chose the best ones for us with almost no second thought to eachother and our relationship. It was like a given that we'd both just go of and do our own thing and get our education in the best place and then come home at the end of the 3 years and that's what we did.
Long distance for me worked out. It was three years and although day to day might have been a slog, it did go really really quickly. Long distance worked for me because it gave me the chance to be me and to become independent and not 'one of a pair' and that's something that I think has stuck within our relationship. We have different interests, we have different friends, we enjoy doing different things, we are two individual people in a relationship and I think that's really important. I'm not sure if we would have grown into the same people we are today if we'd both stayed at home or both gone to uni in the same town and had grown up together instead of learning to live alone.
My parents always thought I'd be one of these kids who was a pushover and wouldn't stand up for myself and wouldn't move out of their shadow until I had a boyfriend and then I'd just move into his and going to university had the opposite effect on me. I went from a nervy anxiety riddled kid who was afraid to do anything new to moving 4 hours away from home, making friends with strangers, happy to travel on their own and it's made me a bit fearless in my every day life in a way I wasn't before. Would I have done all that with my boyfriend in town? Probs not.
Meanwhile he lived completely alone, he didn't have flatmates, he lived in a self contained apartment and he worked damn hard on his degree. If he wanted to see his friends he couldn't just jump over the top step to their bedroom like I could, he had to plan, had to organise, had to traipse halfway up Park Street only to find they were on Whiteladies Road or summin. And he smashed it against all the odds, against leaving once and people not being convinced he'd go back and got a higher degree than me. Not bitter. Nope.
Long distance worked for me because we had a pretty solid relationship to start with. Idk, we grew out of that teenage petty relationship you have at 17 after about 6 months and we were never really the same. My mum says I'm older than my years anyway so maybe it transferred to him through like osmosis or summin. We were pretty solid before we went so far away and so the change, whilst huge to our relationship didn't really faze us, we just moved with it.
I think THE most important thing is making time for eachother when you can. If you need to put aside a takeaway this week to afford the train fare you probably should, your relationship will be richer for it. The second most important thing is communication. We skyped when we could but it was only once every few months or so but we spoke on the phone every week probably once or twice but we texted every day which was the key. Literally just one text a day to say this is what I did today, this is how I am, what've you been up to? When it came to finals this is ALL it was, one text a day but it was enough to know they're safe and they're thinking about you. You have GOT to keep the other one updated with even the most mundane part of your day, it makes you feel a million times closer.
Long distance worked for me because we were solid and it only confirmed what we already know. I read somewhere some crazy stat about how many couples who go long distance end up engaged because it's like you've made this crazy commitment to eachother anyway. Trust me, you wouldn't go long distance lightly and you plain won't last if you don't make the effort and you aren't solid. There needs to be communication, there needs to be respect and there needs to be trust above all else. University environment is all encompassing and it can get quite overwhelming and intense. Trust is everything.
At the end of the day, when you come out of the other side of a long distance relationship it gives you that certainty that it's what you want in life. You don't go through the struggles (because believe me, it is SHIT at times) and then go nah wasn't worth it. You come out the other side more committed because you know what it was like to be apart and you don't want it to happen again. It makes you smug over all other couples because you survived long distance and you lord it over everyone else cos look what you did.
This is probably the most serious, least funny post I have ever written so I should probably end with the reminder that not all long distance relationships work. It's hard work, it's a tough slog and it's really not for everyone. However if you are in one, it's possible to make it against the odds, it's possible to get through it and be stronger after all.
And anyway, when you do come out the other end and live together you swear you'll kill him if he leaves another dish on the side and you'll pray for a night on your own in the bed. Silver linings and all that.