You’re either lying to yourself or remarkably stupid if you believe that moving to university isn’t going to affect your relationships. Moving away forces you to spend less time with those closest to you. Somehow this only really sinks in when you’re actually at university (the majority of people crying into their tub of Ben and Jerry’s). You go through the summer spouting the same list of clichés many morons before you spouted before; ‘of course nothing will change’, ‘we’ll still be just as close’ or ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’. All of that is a load of bull. Distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, it just grows lonelier and depressed.
Sorry to any fresher who might read this and is still in a relationship from back home. Simply put, dear, you need to drop that person like a sack of spuds and run. Better to cut off that tumour at the beginning of the year. If you let it grow over the coming months it’ll just be so much more painful when it inevitably has to be cut out. Sorry, but it’s just not sustainable.
Of course I couldn’t make such a sweeping statement without any supporting evidence, so I decided to do some private research. Through this study I found that 100% of couples in volatile relationships, obviously incompatible with each other, didn’t make it until Christmas. That’s both of them! By the way, just for clarification, I mean the relationship ended not that they died prematurely. If those two couples couldn’t last six months, what makes you think you’re so special?
So that’s my point and concrete evidence out the way, now all you need is an explanation as to why. The truth is, I’m not entirely sure. My hypothesis is that deep down humans are cruel, heartless creatures. You get on so well with people in person because your brain is distracted. When you’re left alone, your brain goes back to functioning normally and starts to destroy any happiness you have just built up. Although I’ve been told this may just be me; I may or may not have issues. Hey, don’t judge me. You might think you know me, but you don’t know my story!
(Disclaimer: I’m not really one of those overly emotional, unhinged Tumblr types. I’m just unhinged.)
Picture the scene: I’ve been away from home for two months and the two of us are watching television together. The conversation stops and there’s an uncomfortable silence. I can feel his eyes turning to me.
“We need to talk.”
Four words that make my heart stop. Four word sentences never have happy endings. I’ve heard them all, but never from him before: ‘It’s me, not you’, ‘He died this morning’, ‘The police are waiting’, ‘Father Christmas isn’t real’, ‘Get in the van’, ‘I’ll blow my whistle’, ‘Is it in yet’ and ‘I can’t, I’m fifteen’.
“Do we really though?”
Aha, take that four worder!
“Yes, things have changed. We’re not close anymore. Not like we were. We don’t talk anymore.”
Who the hell is this heartless monster? Taking me apart with one four word sentence after another. Does he know no mercy?
“What are you saying?”
I know my own four words are nothing in comparison to what’s about to come. I’ve essentially set him up to hit me for six.
“You’re not my best friend anymore.”
Forget every four word sentence ever spoken, nothing could hurt more than the six I just heard.
“I got a new one at school.”
Replaced so quickly by a five year old. In the summer all I had to do was kick a football around and I was his best friend. Now I’m nothing. He had just broken up with me.
“What’s his name?”
I ask but I don’t really want to know. I guess it’s another man because at five years old, girls still creep boys out. Thank God you grow out of that by the time you’re 20… Well, people tell me I should have.
“Everyone knows that a loser’s name!”
Yeah, it turns out that after being emotionally trampled on my comebacks weren’t exactly strong.
“They weren’t with you through all your nappy days. I bet they wouldn’t have been willing to clean up all your mess after you. And your first tooth! I pulled your first little wobbly tooth of for you so you could leave it for the tooth fairy!”
Upon reflection it appears I didn’t handle it as well as I could have. It kind of resembles a hysterical middle-aged woman finding out her ex-husband has moved on. There was another uncomfortable silence as he stared me out for a few seconds.
“I’ll get back to you.”
And then he left me to sit alone. I tried to stay strong and not shed a tear, I told myself he wasn’t worth it. Looking back I think I reacted fairly well to that, if we ignore the dismantling of his bike and pissing in his sand box.
The point is that a romantic relationship is not the only relationship that is changed when you move to university. The first two basic relationship groups get affected as well: friends and family. Trying to maintain perfect relationships with these people can prove just as frustrating, simply because there are usually a lot of them. Unless you’re an orphan with bad social skills and moved to university because there was nothing (literally nothing and nobody) left for you at home.
Another popular cliché you hear when you move away to university is, ‘You find out who your true friends are when you move away’. There is an element of truth in that statement, but it would probably be better to say, ‘You find out which of your friends are boring when you move away’. When you’re at university you don’t just miss having familiar people around, you miss having interesting familiar people around. If you have a supposed friend that you can’t recall making you laugh at least once in the past few months, treat moving away from them as a blessing. You can now ignore their calls, texts and Facebook messages without facing the consequences until Christmas when you’ll probably bump into them. Repeat this for both of your terms at university and you’ll be incredibly thankful. It’s like the perfect diet; it requires no effort from you at all and you still trim the unwanted fat.
However, sometimes it might not be you cutting the fat. Instead you might find yourself drifting from people you thought you were close to. (Side note: This hasn’t happened to me. I’m a fantastic person to be around and you’re lucky if I give you my time and attention. I think people are attracted to my modesty). If you do find yourself drifting from that person, accept it and try to fix it. Well, to a certain extent. If they ignore your first text, don’t then send a second, third, fourth and fifth desperately seeking their attention. One of the biggest appeals of university is that you leave home for a fresh start. You can move away to a different city and leave any emotional baggage you have at home (remember to only leave emotional baggage though, please bring suitable baggage with you to university). Sometimes people like to keep their university and home life completely separate. Maybe they see it as that they can come back at Christmas and pick up where you left off. If that’s how they feel, leave them alone. This shouldn’t need to be said, but, harassment isn’t cool on any level.
Did you hear that parents? Harassment is not okay. Phoning someone every day and wanting to speak to them is not okay. Texting when we purposely ignore your calls is not okay. Turning up uninvited on a weekend to spend some ‘quality time’ together is not okay. Accept that we leave university because we cannot bear to live with you for another three years with your constant presence. I won’t lie, Leeds is the perfect city away because it is close enough for me to go home when I need to, but far enough away that my parents can’t just pop up on a surprise visit for the day. This means I only have to deal with them when I want. Plus, they don’t know what you do during your days. Miss one of their calls? You have countless excuses- I was in a lecture, I left my phone at home for the night, I was downstairs cooking, etc. If you’re smart you can probably get away with this for the entirety of your degree.
However, just before I moved back for my second year I had a conversation with my uncle that completely changed my view on the relationship I have with my parents. He turned to me and said:
“Your parents are like your erection.”
Yeah, I was puzzled at first, but it turns out it was a pretty accurate analogy. He had had both of them in the palm of his hand for a long time, he’s a very persuasive bloke. I’m joking, I don’t have one of those Uncle Johnny’s (Chris Rock knows what I mean). It’s actually true because my parents are massive dicks. Thank God he went on to explain what he meant because I was jumping to all the wrong conclusions.
“Your parents are like your erection. When they pop up unexpectedly when you’re younger they can be humiliating and make you want to crawl into a hole. But when you get older, you’re just glad you still have them.”
I hope that advice is as valuable and disturbing to you as it was to me. Simply put, moving to university means you have to work to maintain the relationships with the people you love. When it gets annoying just remember that you’d rather have the odd moments of frustration than suffer from erectile dysfunction.