Advice: starting uni in a relationship

Kaitlyn Maracle shares her advice for how to maintain a relationship when starting university.

Kaitlyn Maracle
5th September 2020
Image: Ameena Farooq (Pinterest)

Navigating relationships whilst at university can be an incredibly difficult thing to do, even without that significant other. So, when you already are in a relationship whilst starting university, is it any harder?

It's not! And if you think it is, or might be, it doesn't have to be!

The first step to surviving is, weirdly, space from each other. I began university living with my partner. If you're living together, that means you're going to be doing pretty much everything with your partner. Sleeping, eating, shopping, cooking, cleaning, showering and general sitting in your home. Whilst at first it was great being with them 24/7, eventually you might start bickering, falling out and getting annoyed with them. To avoid this, try to do some things separately. Go out with your own friends (social distancing of course), travel to university or the city centre alone and spend some time with yourself, or your friends. You'll find that you appreciate time with your partner more and fight less.

"Setting times where you can just be with your partner is vital."

Contradictory to my first point, I would advise that you set time aside specifically for each other. Tasks at uni can quickly pile up. Social life, keeping fit and healthy, your own time, time with your friends, assignments, seminar readings, exams, visiting home, the list goes on. Setting times where you can just be with your partner is vital and will help improve your mood during the stress of uni life. You could set time for a nice evening date at one of the many romantic spots around Newcastle, or you could order in some greasy takeaway and watch TV or play a game together. This shows that you're both putting effort in to keep the relationship healthy, and gives you time dedicated to each other away from all the other factors I mentioned before.

You also need a healthy dose of trust and communication. That goes with any relationship, but even more so when starting university together. Perhaps before you were at the same school/college, whereas now you might be on different courses, different universities or even different cities. Maybe you live together, maybe you don't. Either way, trust and communication is a must-have. You have to trust your partner to stay loyal and to make it clear to others that they have a partner. You need to communicate with them if you're ever unsure, uncomfortable or unhappy. You also might need to trust them to do seemingly simple things, like cook or clean (especially if you're a bit of a control freak like me and need everything done a certain way), or tell them how you like things done. Trust them and trust the process.

"If the worst happens and you break up with your partner, you have a group of friends separate to those of your partners to fall back on, and to help build you up."

The final piece of advice I have for you if you're starting university with your partner is to make sure you make time for your friends. University is an incredibly social space. Lots of group work, society events, nights out, flatmates and general social interaction. Setting aside time to nurture your friendships outside of your relationship is crucial. Maybe you need someone to bitch about your partner to, or somewhere to go when you're a bit fed up with them, or to help take your mind off an argument. That's what friends are for! Plus, if the worst happens and you break up with your partner, you have a group of friends separate to those of your partners to fall back on, and to help build you up. Missing events with your friends can seem like a great idea while you're snuggled up watching the final season of Gossip Girl together but you're going to feel a strong sense of FOMO when you see the pictures going up on Instagram.

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