Dear freshers, don’t break up just yet

Don’t bin off your relationship just because some dork on the internet said so

Far too often, as an incoming Fresher in a long-term, soon to be long-distance relationship, I was inundated with the general notion that ‘no one makes it through uni’. Admittedly, there is some truth to this idea. By the end of Freshers’ Week, the rumour mill is always buzzing with news of the latest break ups, and the salacious rebounds that inevitably follow.

First of all, let’s stop gossiping about other people’s sex lives, you incels. Second of all, let’s start recognising that this incredibly common story isn’t as ubiquitous as it may appear.  

Before delving into the ins and outs of long distance relationships at Cambridge, let’s talk about me. Finally, the good bit. So why am I writing this? Is it because I’ve been reading too many self help books and now think the world needs my two cents? Is it because I’ve got a horrible sob story and I need your pity to fuel my ailing self-worth?

No, it’s because therapy is expensive, and The Tab submissions are free (excluding the cost of my valuable labour). It’s also about time we heard a bloke speak publicly about relationships without using the phrase ‘high value man’. 

A romantic at heart (image credits: Ben Carr)

Long distance relationships are hard, believe me. I was in a relationship for over two years with someone I met back home in Teesside, starting in the spring before my first year at Cambridge and ending mutually towards the end of my second year exams. After a long and healthy relationship, we both needed a break to get to know ourselves as individuals, cement the growth we’d experienced and live life as single adults. Disappointing sob story, I know. 

I discovered a few things as a result of my decision to ignore the advice to break up, in order to chase the ‘uni experience’. The principal argument to break off your existing romantic engagements before the matriculation bells ring is that, as I previously stated, ‘no one makes it through uni’. This is categorically untrue.

While many newly long distance relationships do break down at uni, many don’t. Some people, believe it or not, manage to work through the difficulties of long-distance and the stresses of academia, to have fulfilling and happy relationships that survive well beyond graduation. Weirdos. They’re rare, but they do exist. I’ve met them. You tend to gravitate towards each other, as people going through shared hardship often do.

On the notion that pre-university relationships don’t last: so what? Why does it matter if your relationship ends? If you go through life only investing your time and effort into things that last forever, you’ll be sorely disappointed to realise that we are, at our core, finite creatures. One day, we’ll all be skeletons. I’d rather be a skeleton who had long, happy and healthy relationships, even if those relationships ended when further growth was no longer possible.

Cambridge doesn’t have to spell doom and gloom (image credits: Ben Carr)

At the end of the day, if a relationship makes you happy, makes you feel loved, and facilitates self-development and new experiences, then why worry about when it might end? More precisely, why cut it short for the sake of having a few awkward hookups and avoiding a few FaceTime arguments? Regardless of the plethora of advice out there, ending a relationship is a decision only you can make (or your partner I suppose, which sucks for you), and sometimes the more difficult path will be the most rewarding.

Am I telling you to stay in your relationship, despite the feeling that it has run its course, and you’d be better off alone in this new, unfamiliar and terribly exciting environment? God no. End that relationship, have a good cry, and get yourself to Wednesday Revs. What I am actually saying is that if you love your partner, and the inescapable barrage of pessimism from TikTok gurus and student journo nobodies is making you question your relationship, then stop. Chill out. You’ll be fine.

The day that relationship becomes unhealthy, or you feel like it’s limiting your growth, or getting in the way of what you want in life, end it. Until then, enjoy having someone on the outside to spill all the Union/ADC/Rowing gossip with, and occasionally impress with the Hogwarts-esque sights and pretentious particularities of Cambridge student life. It’s not all doom and gloom. 

Even if it does all come to an end the night before your Soc 3 exam, when the tears dry and the dust settles, you’ll probably still be glad it happened.

If not, I’ll be long gone by then, so you’ll just have to blame yourself for trusting the advice of some dork at The Tab.

Featured image credits: Ben Carr

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