The Relationship at Rhodes series aims to provide insight into the different types of romantic and sexual relationships experienced at the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR).
Going the distance
By Teréz Cairncross
As some of us know, long-distance relationships can be hard, but being in one while attending university, in particular, the University Still Known As Rhodes (USKAR), is a different ball game. There is a persistent stereotype that romantic relationships are unable to thrive at the university, but it is fair to say that some relationships can remain strong and long-lasting , while others are only for a certain period of time.
The pessimism surrounding romantic relationships, in particular long-distance relationships, are voiced by students from USKAR and include opinions such as , “It only works when you are both faithful”. “Don’t even think about it! I repeat DON’T!!” and “University is hard enough.”
Being in a long-distance relationship myself while attending USKAR, I decided to interview my boyfriend who is back home in Port Elizabeth. He explained to me that he never expected himself to be in a long-distance relationship. The biggest challenge of being in a long-distance relationship for him is that you can’t physically support and comfort your partner. There are also times where we both feel lonely (especially if everyone has their own partner in the club).
Another challenge is having to adjust the way you communicate with each other since there is a physical distance between you. Despite the challenges, he mentioned that a positive aspect to emerge due to the distance between us is that we were forced to grow our trust in each other.
I spoke to a fellow student at USKAR, asking her how she views being in a long-distance relationship. Before coming to USKAR, she was optimistic about coping with the distance but had a fear of feeling lonely. A challenge for her is trying to find time where they are both free to speak to each other. She can only hope that when she sees him again distance would have made them grow closer in a way, but for now she cannot say for sure. She explained how it is mostly difficult for her being surrounded by the Rhodes culture. “It sucks because everyone is hooking up and there’s always drinking - something she mentioned that I’m sure many of us “taken” students can relate to as a struggle.
Although there are long-distance relationships that work, there are also those that unfortunately do not. I spoke to another student whose long- distance relationship failed to last. Before moving away from home, she was unsure of how to maintain the relationship as she even had doubts about staying in one. In her case, the Rhodes culture didn’t add to the downfall of the relationship at all. The hardest part for her being at Rhodes was trying to let other people know that she was still in a relationship. Being single now, she doesn’t feel like there is a difference in the freedom she had, because she didn’t let the relationship stop her from doing things. It just shows that when a long-distance relationship doesn’t work out, it does not always mean that university and all that it entails are the causes of the downfall.
After hearing from different people who are in a long-distance relationships while at USKAR, I can now conclude that the relationship does not have to be doomed from the beginning. There is hope but it comes with more effort from both parties. If you put your mind to it, and stay committed and faithful, there’s a pretty good chance of you leaving the university with a degree and a strong relationship.