Earlier this month, Guardian writers, Tess Reidy and Sarah Raphael boldly doomed all high school relationships to failure. They advised new university students to “ditch their partners before freshers week and make the most of the university experience”, much to the outrage of infatuated first year students across the UK, who have all recently bid tear stained farewells to their first loves.
Their article got a reaction- and not a completely positive one. However, all pre-conceived notions of student relationships aside, it’s important to note that Reidy and Raphael’s argument actually makes some solid points.
Starting university in a relationship is challenging.
Going to university is a massive, pivotal point in your life. Across the country thousands of wide eyed students pack their bags and move away to the “big city”, with new friends, experiences and illicit hook-ups awaiting them. Our time at uni defines us as adults and individuals, giving us the opportunity to broaden our interests, and discover new passions, and in doing so; we leave behind the person we were during our school days. Like it or not, university will change you, you’ll mature, and as you do you, you’ll outgrow old friends, and to the dismay of loved up teenagers everywhere, your high school sweethearts.
Real relationships at every level are difficult, they take work and commitment, and, while maintaining a fledgling romance at school is new, exciting and easy, the transition to a “student relationship” with adult pressures is difficult. Your narrow view of the world is blown wide open, and you find yourself surrounded by thousands of brogue wearing, waistcoat-clad students with similar interests, and your relationship becomes less of a priority- before you know it, it won’t just be geography separating you.
Words come easy, and it’s all too convenient to make wild declarations of love, and half meant promises before Fresher’s week dawns. Then your thoughts are more preoccupied with assignments, and deadlines, and soon remembering to find five rushed minutes to facetime the other half between classes and your new, packed social life isn’t easy.
Speaking as someone who was in a relationship when starting university, I know first-hand the problems you face adapting a relationship to the “uni life”, and can report that said relationship didn’t even last the first semester.
Of course the dating game is by no means formulaic. There’s no instructions; no “right” or “wrong” way to do it, and of course, there will be a handful of childhood sweethearts who manage to beat the odds and stay together all through their time at university- and hats off to them! Unfortunately, for the rest of us, life gets in the way, and in decades to come you’ll probably struggle to conjure up an accurate image of your high school beloved’s face- and that’s nothing to feel guilty about!
If you’re starting university in a relationship, go in with an open mind but a cautious heart- like with everything, relationships and love are something we learn as we go through life- if it works out then great, and if it doesn’t, then don’t be too disheartened, I can assure you there will be others, and it will get better- this time it just wasn’t meant to be.