How I made a long-distance relationship work

08 Feb 2022
By Leah J., Student at Oxford Brookes University at

Having a long-distance relationship at university wasn’t always easy. But while travel expenses and finding time for proper communication was difficult, I found a few hacks that helped my relationship work and survive the long distance. Here they are.

Finding cheap travel

Getting a train from one city to another was expensive. For me, I had to get two (sometimes three) trains to get from Oxford to Nottingham. While travelling often was tricky because of how much it cost, I did find a couple of ways to make train journeys cheaper.

1. A student railcard

Setting up a Student 123 Current Account with Santander makes you eligible for the 16-25 railcard. This is a four-year free pass which can get you up to a third off your ticket price. This made a massive difference when it came to cutting down on travel costs.

2.TrainSplit app

Rather than booking a journey with one or two changeovers, TrainSplit divides your journey into smaller routes, saving you money on ticket prices. I used this all the time to travel to Nottingham, and although it meant having multiple changeovers and spending a little more time at each train station, it saved me a bit of money.

I could also put my railcard into the app, applying a discount on the cheapest tickets anyway. Sometimes, I did pay a little bit more on the TrainLine app for the convenience of a shorter journey, but I found TrainSplit helpful when money was particularly tight.

Being okay with having different experiences

To begin with, I found it really hard to accept that what I was experiencing at university wasn’t the same as my other half. I’d get a feeling that I was missing out on all the things they were doing, and vice versa.

But I realised that this is all part of the experience of a long-distance relationship, and it felt so much better to embrace the different experiences we were having rather than feeling sorry for myself. This helped us be happy for each other, and live our lives as individuals while we could.

It might not feel like it now, but university doesn’t last forever, and there will be plenty of time for making joint memories after.

Finding your communication style

There were definitely times at uni where I’d feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and unproductive. It was impossible to get a hug from my partner with them being 100 miles away, and this sometimes made me feel worse.

But there were also many ways I could communicate with my partner that made the distance between us seem smaller. We used FaceTime all the time, as it felt like I had them in the room with me and conversations felt more natural than over text. This offered a good pick-me-up if I ever found myself struggling, because although my partner wasn’t next to me physically, hearing their voice and seeing their face would lift me up.

Talking every day, whether it was through FaceTime or text, felt right for us. We kept each other in the loop, and we encouraged each other from miles apart. I can’t read minds, so it was important to understand how they were feeling to be able to offer support in the right ways.

Every relationship is different, but distance never stopped me from being who I wanted to be with. My long-distance relationship worked, and we are now living together after three years apart.

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I'm a third year philosophy student at Oxford Brookes University.