By Josh McGlynn
As a young kid the summer holidays was a time of blissful simplicity, with nothing to do but eat ice pops and go to the park with my friends; playing football well into the light evenings. But as I grew older, I found that that simple care-free summer life became less and less easy to live. With big decisions to make about my future and all my friends doing likewise, summer had, before I knew it, morphed into an extended period of change and transition.
And no-one is immune to it. Whether we were looking for jobs, applying for colleges, writing our uni personal statements, or heading off for an apprenticeship, everyone seemed to be heading off in their own direction.
Looking back, on the whole this time is a fantastic opportunity for growth, self-exploration, travelling and generally bettering yourself, either through education or employment. However, there are some people who are lucky enough to have found themselves a person that they love (or at least like very much) whom all of these new decisions and experiences also impact.
It is the truth that being in a committed relationship will result in making decisions for your future much more complex. There are now two people’s needs, wants, thoughts and opinions to consider when deciding what to do in the next major step in your life.
If you have found yourself in this situation, in a relationship which is about to become long-distance, please rest assured that though these waters are tricky to traverse, they are not impossible. If you and your significant other do choose to make different decisions when, for example, you both leave school, this is definitely not a nail in the coffin by any means.
In an ideal world my hope would be that you have found yourself in a loving and committed relationship where you both have each other’s best interests at heart; where you want to become the best version of yourself for your partner. As I said above, moments such as leaving school, or moving town to go to uni, or starting a new job, are incredible opportunities to grow and experience new things. There is so much more to learn after leaving school, and following your passions and desires is how you become the best version of yourself.
But this creates a problem at the same time. What if your passions and desires lead you to uni in Devon, and your partner to Glasgow? What if you start working night shifts and they’re working in a bar? What if, all of a sudden, your lives become completely incompatible? Have you made a mistake?
The problem is that there is no one simple answer to all of these questions. No two couples are the same and no two situations identical. The reality is that it won’t always be easy, and some sort of sacrifice will need to be made. Whether that’s long train journeys eating up hours of your time so you can visit them over the weekend, or missing out on a night out so you can Skype together, relationships nearly always require you to give something up to make them work, and this is accentuated when it’s over a long distance.
There is one thing, a crucial piece of the puzzle, that I believe any relationship (long-distance or not) needs, which is trust. When a relationship becomes long-distance, or your lifestyles drastically change, you absolutely have to trust one another that you’re both making decisions for the correct reasons. You need to know you’re both doing it to become the best versions of yourself for the other person’s benefit, and that you’ll both be as committed to trying to maintain the relationship during this time.
Trust, I think, comes hand-in-hand with honesty. You need to explore yours and your partner’s intentions when making these decisions. If you both want to move to different parts of the country on a permanent basis, you’re both entitled to want to do so. If this is the case, being upfront and clear with each other – so you both know what you’re getting into – will make sure that there’s no surprises coming further down the road.
I’ve watched friends both fail and succeed at having long-distance relationships over the past few years. They have struggled as they’ve watched their partner grow and mature sometimes without them. They have loved the awesome concentrated moments of happiness when they finally get to see each other after weeks. They haven’t enjoyed the monotonous train journeys up and down the country. They’ve loved to see their partner grow and develop new skills and equip themselves as best as possible as they’ve prepared for the life they’re building together.
There’s no simple answer as to whether carrying on a long-distance relationship is the correct thing to do. But if you trust each other, and are honest and know there’s a future beyond your temporary separation, it might just work out. It might not. I would simply say give love a chance.