University is not a primarily sexual experience, although a recent TCS column would suggest otherwise. In response to a Newnham student struggling to stay faithful, the piece dismissed long-distance relationships at university as a misguided way to satisfy our love lives. Apparently, first year is all about promiscuity and drunken mistakes.
It is no one’s place to pass judgement on those who love one-night stands and sleeping around. But neither does anyone have the right to scoff at people who choose Skype over Cindies. There is no ‘real’ way to experience university. There isn’t one perfect mix of sex, socialising and studies. Some students want to try sleeping with strangers, others prefer to go clubbing with friends – as long as everyone is safe and consenting, there’s no harm in either.
It is indeed perfectly possible to keep up an LDR at university. The commitment might not work for everyone, but plenty of first years are still in relationships they began at sixth form. The key is to make time to talk when you can, to be patient, and to know that this is what you want for now. If you can visit each other sometimes or post the occasional card or keepsake – even better.
For the Newnham student seeking advice, such a strong desire to be with people other than your boyfriend may indicate that it’s time to end your long-term relationship. For those students currently content in their LDRs, don’t let baseless assertions of how you should be spending your time take away something which makes you happy. Trust your own judgement.
The advice piece did get one thing right – university is supposed to be where we become independent. But that doesn’t have to mean experimenting romantically and sexually if we don’t want to – the whole point of independence is that we do what makes us feel comfortable and don’t let anyone else control our choices.
University is where we learn to balance our budget and to form healthy, long-lasting friendships. It’s where we learn to motivate ourselves and to keep working when we’re bored, tired and convinced that the avalanche of poorly-scanned PDFs for our next essay have all merged into one. We signed up to pay accommodation fees, keep off the grass, and hopefully get a degree along the way. If there’s a matriculation stipulation instructing everyone to break off their relationships and live as promiscuously as possible, I’ve certainly never heard of it.