Your questions answered by our Views Editors.
I recently met a boy through Hinge, and I get on with him so much. We have been on three dates, and I feel smitten, he’s perfect. But due to Corona, I moved out of my flat in January. Now I don't know if I’ll see him again because we’ll be on different sides of the country. I never planned to have a long-distance relationship, but it looks like I have to as I can't imagine not being together. What are your tips for a long-distance relationship, is it possible to make it work? I miss him so much even when we are apart for a day, so I don't know how I will manage this one…
Emily: I’m not going to lie to you, this is tough. Relationships with any distance between them can be really emotionally draining to deal with, and that’s only exacerbated during a pandemic when options to meet up are limited by more than just distance. I really feel for you when you say you just don’t know if you can handle the time and space apart.
The thing is though, there’s a difference between not wanting to be in a long-distance relationship as an abstract concept, and falling for someone first and then circumstances forcing you to go long-distance. When it’s the former, you don’t ever give anyone from further afield a chance as you’re anticipating the emotional weight it’ll place you under; whereas in cases of the latter, although it’s a horrible necessity, its nowhere near as horrible as the alternative, which is breaking things off just when they were starting to get good. And the simple fact is that right now, a lot of couples are finding themselves in the same position of not seeing each other, even if there isn’t that much physical distance separating them.
It is definitely possible to make a long-distance relationship work. First of all, you should remember that if you manage to make it through this rough patch the relationship isn’t going to be long-distance forever. The beauty of long-term relationships is that if it works out, you are most likely going to move in together at some point in the future – and then you might find yourselves wishing for a little more space between you. You may not feel like it now, but there will be an end in sight.
As for how to deal with things in the meantime, you both have to make sure you’re making time for each other equally. Schedule in a specific time of the day or every few days to have a dedicated video call to catch up with each other. Every week or two you can also turn one of those calls into more of a date: watch a film together, or dress up and have a fake romantic restaurant meal together, anything you can do to make it all feel a little less monotonous. When restrictions start to lift, take equal turns visiting each other, and make sure that you do so when you both have dedicated time to spend together – it’s no use being in the same room but mentally miles apart because you’re both working your way through reading and deadlines. It’s also important to remember that although communication is key in all relationships, its absolutely vital to long-distance ones. You need to be telling each other whenever you’re struggling with the distance or with something the other has said or done – you can’t take queues from body language when you’re miles apart, and texts don’t exactly convey nuance well. Check in with each other regularly, and the minute you feel as if you alone are putting in all the effort, tell them. If they don’t then change things pronto then I’m not sorry to tell you that it’s time to end things. If someone can’t make time for you when you’re apart, it doesn’t bode well for when you’re physically back together, and if they can’t make time for you virtually, there is no way you should be wasting time waiting to see them physically.
My flatmates are an absolute nightmare (they leave me dishes, steal my food, and never socialise with me). I don’t want to start a fight by “telling them off” but it’s getting beyond it. I can’t move out, because I can’t afford to live alone, but I’m just not enjoying living here.
Let me begin by saying that I feel you on this. The third time I found chicken stuffed down the plughole was the day I decided I would never live with flatmates again. There’s only so many times you can sift through crusty dishes to find the scrubbing brush before you resort to washing your breakfast bowl in the bathroom and swear off flatmates for life. Frustratingly, living alone isn’t really an option for most students, which often means you’re going to spend a lot of time having to compromise.
Compromising doesn’t mean becoming the flat door-mat of course. It can be hard, but you have to set some boundaries. I’ve been guilty of pinching a little bit of milk for my coffee when I’ve not had the chance to nip out to the shop, but if your food keeps going missing you’re entitled to say something (and really you should). At the end of the day, it’s your food. Inevitably someone will end up doing the dishes more or prefer laundry day over taking the bins out, but it’s important to have a proper conversation about splitting the workload (if you haven’t already). It can be a hard conversation to start, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make the living situation better for everyone. The last thing you want is to grow resentful of the people you’ll likely be living with for the next few months (or longer), and honest communication is usually a good way to avoid this.
Being stuck inside with people can be tiresome at the best of times, but right now it can feel like the worst thing in the world. Tensions are high, patience is low, and the days feel never-ending. It doesn’t make it any easier when those people aren’t being considerate of your boundaries. Don’t feel bad about being annoyed at them, or for needing to let them know how you feel. It might be a little uncomfortable at first, but you’ll likely feel a bit better once things are out in the open. And don’t be afraid to raise how you’re feeling more than once.
Your flatmates don’t have to be your best friends, but it kinda helps if you get along with each other. Maybe suggest something like having a cup of tea and a chat, or having dinner together, once a week, as a way of touching base with each other. We’re all going through a hard time right now, and it helps to keep the people we live with in-the-loop.
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