In Defence Of Staying With Your Uni Boyfriend
The Debrief: Is going out with someone you meet in Freshers' Week really the worst thing you can do?
Three months ago I married my uni boyfriend. We met in our first week – his first day actually; he arrived three days late with a broken jaw, he moved into the room across the hall and hey presto! I was hooked. Within two weeks we were ‘an item’.
I had reservations at first: everyone knows you’re supposed to be single at university – sow your wild oats/meet as many people as possible. And that did sound tempting. But as he put it at the time: ‘no matter what you do tonight, whoever you meet, it’s still my room you keep coming back to.’ He was right. Why deny how well we got on, how addictive his company was and how much I wanted to be around him? So I didn’t. We just went with it and it just so happened we’ve carried on doing so for nearly a decade.
We weren’t alone though – despite numerous parental warnings (‘you’re young! You don’t even know yourself yet!’), many of our friends coupled up and many of those couples lasted years. Most of them aren’t together now but I would argue that they enjoyed impactful and rewarding relationships together and I doubt that any of them would change that regardless of the outcome. Of course, some were just duds.
Isn’t university the best time to be single?
We definitely thought about it. Or more like, I insisted upon it. After three months, we broke up for two weeks. TWO WHOLE WEEKS. For me, it was all too much: so many new people, a new place, all this new found freedom AND a new relationship with someone under the same roof! We wound back together after just a short while but only on the condition that we lived in separate flats. Though I’m still not forgiven, it might just be the best thing we could have done. Knowing that we really couldn’t be apart when offered it, seemed to be some kind of proof that we should stick together, yet we managed to reclaim our own space as individuals at the same time.
Didn’t it ruin your uni experience?
No way. We certainly must have been in a similar place upon arrival at uni – we were both reinventing ourselves, and I think it was mostly luck that we were both into whoever it was we were both hoping to become – and it is exciting to explore these new selves with someone who was on your team. We had an enormous web of friends, and at times, were the bridge between the boys and the girls in our gang – so it certainly didn’t hamper our social lives. Uni is all about exploration, and finding someone to grow with – who was also growing too – to challenge you, to sample new things with was an amazing gift. Though obviously that’s not always how it goes, especially if that person doesn’t grow into someone as cool as you’ve imagined them to be.
But you have no way of knowing what sort of person you’d be if you were single
That’s true. Over the years we’ve definitely both had to adapt to make room for one another. Goldfish only grow as large as their tank and all that (note: that’s ACTUALLY a myth). But when we consider just how much we’ve both got from this mutual appreciation thing, the rewards – for us – are incomparable to being single... not to mention there was definitely more sex. Over the years (sadly, uni was actually the easy bit), the enormous amount of support – emotional, organisational, financial – and inspiration – in work, art, travel – that we’ve given each other is worth so much that there seems very little point comparing the shimmering appeal of being single with a good relationship.
So, should we stick with our uni boyfriends?
Only if you want to! Only if being with that person is better than being without them. The Daily Mail says that researchers found that 51% of people think the place or situation where you meet someone can affect how successful the relationship is. But then, the New York Times says that your relationship is far more likely to succeed if your spouse teaches you new things and helps you to be a better person – and I know who I’d back in a fight. You can’t pre-empt failing. You just have to know that you could leave whenever you wanted. That’s when love, laughter, energy and compassion become way more important than where/when you met.
Our London Town Hall wedding was quite a celebration of the university life that got us there. Five out of six bridesmaids were university friends (yes, I know that’s a lot – but they weren’t in matching dresses, so I think that’s fine?!) and everyone who spoke (including my Maid of Honour) were and still are, our nearest and dearest from the days of Skittles vodka and the first (this time round, anyway) skinny jeans. You can meet your friends for life at university – yes, some come and go but you wouldn’t shy away from a potential bestie at Freshers, thinking you needed to play the field. Girlfriend or boyfriend, if you meet someone fabulous, just let it play out – you never know where it will take you.
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