Written by A Guest Blogger
Everybody thinks that university relationships won’t survive out in the ‘real world’, but I’m here as testament that, with a bit of work and a sprinkle of growing up, they can. My boyfriend of six years, Joe, and I just got engaged, having got together during our third year at Leeds University.
We met working for the student newspaper. I was the features editor, he was the sports editor, the scene was set for a ‘workplace’ romance. This also meant that when I met a tall(ish), dark and handsome guy who studies English as I did – a rare breed as any literature student will tell you – and he’d lived in Copenhagen for a year like some sort of cliche of the Romantic poets we were studying at the time. I was instantly attracted.
After a couple of socials, pub quizzes, a newspaper away weekend which may or may not have ended up with me vomiting on the floor, my friend in a cow onesie slipping in it and Joe cleaning up… we eventually got together at a Halloween party. A blissful third year passed together, if you don’t count the stress of finals, dissertations and weekly newspaper deadlines.
When university ended a dilemma was upon us – I’m originally from London and wanted to move back there to start my career in magazine journalism, but Joe is from Yorkshire, and couldn’t afford to up sticks and move down with me there and then, even though he was planning to be a sports journalist so needed to be in London too. We didn’t want to break up though, so we didn’t. For a year I lived at home and pursued internships in the big smoke, and he worked as a copywriter to save up to do a postgraduate sports journalism course.
We visited each other every other weekend and managed to keep it going. In a way, I think not being physically together was probably a blessing in disguise during a time of stress and doubt about where the future would take us. I was waitressing in the evenings to be able to pay my way through internships and was regularly tearful from sheer exhaustion, not to mention worries about the future. Having someone to reflect on this at the end of the phone, and weekends together to look forward to got me through the winter. Then I was lucky enough to land a job at a national newspaper.
Eventually we moved in together, splitting a two-bedroom flat three ways with a friend. A couple of moves later, we live together in a one-bed in oh-so-cool Stoke Newington. We’ve worked really hard on making our rented flat a home pulling together second hand furniture, houseplants and proudly displaying art produced by creative friends and relatives, and our ever-increasing alcohol collection.
Because of clashing schedules, spending time together is still a prize rather than a norm, and we supplement a lot of lost time together with big holidays to exciting destinations including Vietnam, Brazil, and New York one too many times.
One night we were trying some the beer we had been home-brewing (could we be any more of a East London cliche?), and sitting on the sofa he began talking about what a wonderful life we have together and how much we love each other, and that he had something to ask me… Having seen quite a few friends get engaged and married, we had discussed getting married some day it wasn’t a total shock, but I was still overwhelmed when he pulled a small box out of his pocket and told me he wanted to marry me. I loved how low-key it was, compared to people from my Facebook feed who were ‘surprised’ with a full photography shoot on top of a building or having the question popped by finding a ‘hidden’ ring in a cake.
Obviously this isn’t happily ever after. I’m delighted, of course, but I also know all too well that getting married isn’t the end of the romcom that is your twenties (that being said, our wedding date is more or less exactly six months before my 30th birthday) – the cost alone stops that fairytale in its tracks.
But what I can say is that you don’t need to assume your university relationship will finish as soon as your degree does. You might also have got together with somebody you might end up growing up and eventually growing old, with. I have…