University halls are a messy hotbed of hormones and adrenaline, with the smaller ones often becoming rather incestuous as the year progresses. Towards the end of the first term, with the impending doom of next semester looming upon us, many of these wayward lovers find themselves gravitating towards something more. Spring semester is when tentative pairings, formed from as far back as Freshers’ week, begin to blossom into hopeful ‘relationships’.
If one of these survives the Summer, it seems that nothing will tear you apart. That is, until, Second Year does it for you. I’m sad to say that out of the sizeable group of Fresher couples that I know, only a select few have made it past the first month of this term. Restlessness, jealousy, time constraints… the list goes on. When I look at my own relationship of eight months, it’s sometimes hard to believe that we made the dreaded crossover at all.
The lazy convenience of living in halls is snatched away come September. As it becomes less and less tempting to sneak across Lenton at seven in the morning, sleepovers may become more of a chore than a treat. The comfortable closeness of having dinner presented to you by someone else and then shared with your boyfriend over a relaxing few hours is practically unheard of in Second year. Even being able to pop over to the other’s room for half an hour in between lectures is a luxury, with the two of you being increasingly locked down by various commitments. You don’t realise how much of an impact these small things have on a relationship until they’re no longer there.
So my question is, why do we bother? Impact’s recent article about student engagements was fascinating, but it told a story of those who’d made it past this limbo. For the inbetweeners, the barely grown up how-do-I-boil-an-egg twenty year-olds, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of motivation for maintaining a long-term relationship. But it is possible.
A second house can be an escape from all the pressures of your own. If you make the time, not only can you hang out somewhere else for a while, but you can reinvent your first year in the best possible way. You can cook dinner together, spend freezing nights in watching movies, even work together – if the distraction isn’t too much.
Although it might seem like the end of the world, when your respective schedules keep you apart for days, rather than hours, when you do get to the weekend that Friday night sleepover will become both truly appreciated and the best thing to look forward to.
It’s also fair to say that these few years are going to be some of the most difficult and challenging in our lives. If a couple can make it through the trials and tribulations of growing up and remain relatively unscathed, then there’s a very good chance they’ll be able to make it through anything.
I’m not saying that every relationship falls apart purely because of the Second Year shift. Many just run their course and end because they have to. But, maybe not all do. I think we need to have a little more faith in ourselves. There’s a lot to be said for tenacity, and let’s be honest, if you can make it through the wettest, most disgustingly autumnal October in the last five years without a minute of central heating, you can do this.