Being in love and missing someone is pretty shit. It’s really similar to falling over and grazing your knees: both result in some serious bottom lip quivering. If you have never been there, then good for you. But after a whole Camp America fiasco, when I see posts about how many weeks till someone is home from university to see their loved one or an article titled “How to make a long distance relationship work” I can smirk in satisfaction. I’ve flown them 3,000 miles to have a dramatic airport reunion and now I’m content that my boyfriend is just… downstairs.
So, I will say it – if you and your potential lifelong partner are studying in the same city, then why not live together? You are going to be hanging out a lot and if you’re serious you will probably want to move in together as soon as you finish anyway.
However, university has that whole epic hysteria that these golden days are to be treasured. That life after graduation is unthinkable because when real life kicks in, it’s going to be tough.
Here are my tips for having a healthy romantic relationship whilst still having a great university experience.
Don’t expect to live in a one bedroom luxury apartment
In all the “stop using my ketchup I know who you are” and for “crying out loud – we have a dish washer and your plates still don’t make it there” glory, a shared house will be the most fun living arrangement you will ever have. It’s like having five siblings who all share your interests surrounding you 24 hours a day. So even though you have committed to living with your partner, you will both agree it will be a lot more fun to live in a house with your best friends, as well.
Don’t become that crappy couple
I don’t think there is anything ruder than a closed door full of secrets and bad smells from days spent movie marathon-ing with your favourite bed bug. What is the point in living with your pals if you never hang with them? Wake up and smell your second year creeping to an end. If you can’t remember when you last went out to a gig with your friend who sleeps across the corridor or if you still haven’t started that project you talked about last year because you spend your waking and sleeping hours stuck to your partner, then it’s time to rearrange your priorities. Use your resources wisely and spread what free time you have between keeping caring friendships, your lover and your interests. Your friends will thank you for it! If you don’t believe me, reading Emma Jacobs’ Message from a friend to find out more.
Doing laundry and making dinner is not a date
Whoever says students have it easy don’t know anything about trying to succeed in today’s world. If you care about your degree you will not have a lot of time for anything. Days blend in to 7:00am alarms, long library days followed by extra curriculum work, shopping lists and chopping vegetables before falling in to bed because you can’t face anything else. Dedicate one day to do something you both enjoy outside of the house. Don’t try and have a date inside a shared house because someone is bound to start practicing their violin. Make sure you communicate: talk about feelings, plans and projects, get excited about things you like and be passionate about things you don’t. Recall why you love each other’s presence.
Love and support
Remember the last time you had a deadline a week away, followed by an exam a couple days later. You had Mount Everest slowly building in the form of pants and t shirts in the corner of your room and ‘the cupboard were bare’ was no longer a hyperbolic idiom from an old rhyme. As your partner slowly approaches this situation, make sure you help them out with chores, keep them fed and charged on some home cooked meals and force them to take short walks around the block. All in the name of that distinct university love and support, I’m sure you will get it in return.
Best study partner
Studying and doing work next to each other is very, very nice. Even if your English Literature degree might be the most boring thing ever to your boyfriend/girlfriend, the benefits of living under the same roof means you can quietly do your own homework, together, and not feel like you are cut off from the rest of the world. You can keep each other motivated and have a personal spell checker but make sure you have a cut-off point, so you can relax and hang out before doing it all again tomorrow.
There is life outside your living arrangements and some external people are really cool. Be the party provider, make an effort to expand your intimate circle and don’t get labelled with being one half of that boring couple. You are 21 for the remainder of the year and that means something.
If you missed our last guide, you can find Rebecca Wilson’s guide to Valentine’s Day gifts on a student budget here.