My Story: Sex and relationships as a student

A look at the difficulties that come with lust and love at university

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Image courtesy of freestocks.org via Unsplash

When a lot of people think of university, they think of the wide variation of new people an individual will meet, and the relationships and friendships that will follow. But some people come to university already in a relationship and this is difficult, there is no question about it. There are so many opposing stories, in which some relationships thrive in a university setting while others die a painful death. Mine died.

After ending this long-term relationship, I entered the “singleton” life. Being single but with a student orientated lifestyle provided me with a lot of dating options. I was about to discover that becoming single in an unknown and exciting city would change my outlook on sex and relationships and my life in general.

Living in a society where casual sex is widely accepted, finding sex as a “singleton” was almost care-free. I soon discovered the world of Tinder – though very quickly deleted it after some bizarre occurrences, such as finding one guy who wouldn’t eat green items of foods, and another guy who discussed at length how our DNA combination would produce athletic and beautiful kids. I experienced internet dating as well as meeting new people on nights out, university socials and random encounters. I could be whoever I wanted to be with an individual and it was within my control to stay distant from them.

On the other hand, I soon learnt that being single is not as amazing as many people paint it to be. Being single was lonely, and I found that my depression and post-traumatic stress disorder were worsened. Plus, despite having access to new sexual partners, I had no guarantee that I was going to enjoy myself. And there was always the potentially awkward conversation of contraception on the horizon, which I soon learnt was more complicated than sticking with one sexual partner.

I found that I wanted a connection but not the attachment, something that a lot of people didn’t want or understand. I found with a lot of people that the attachment came too soon and that to them, sex meant an instant “green light” to settling down into a relationship, which I didn’t want.

I know it sounds ridiculous, but I didn’t want to feel tied down by someone like I’d felt so many times in the past. I am naturally an independent and headstrong person; I enjoy being able to do what I want when I want. Back then, I thought that getting into a relationship would not only kill my love of sex but also my love of solitude.

Enter Partner B. Someone completely unexpected and different, who didn’t want the commitment that others craved. I met him at a friend’s hen party in Southampton and felt an instant attraction. Luckily, that attraction was mutual, and we swapped numbers – very old fashioned. Speaking to Partner B was uncharted territory for me and, as we lived at opposite sides of the country, the first few months were sexless. But despite this, I finally had the relationship I wanted, free and uncomplicated, minus the sex. I couldn’t be tied down by Partner B because I could quite easily put the phone down and, essentially, walk away.

In a way, having the distance gave me my independence. A chance for solitude and freedom without the need for approval. But it also gave me a companion to talk to during the lonely times. The distance gave me a safety net in which I could be open and honest with someone, knowing that since I’d never see them face-to-face again it didn’t matter at all.

This continued for a couple of months. Partner B and I were free to chat and share companionship while still maintaining the fun that unattached people can enjoy. It was perfect: it was fun yet safe. I couldn’t have asked for more.

But despite the distance, one of us fell for the other in ways that couldn’t be ignored. And for the first time in a very long time, it was me.

I was mortified. Me catching feelings for someone? Nope, not my style at all. And yet it had happened, and I wanted exclusivity with Partner B. Without telling Partner B, I said goodbye to my single ways and hoped Partner B would want the same. Luckily for me, Partner B did.

When Partner B decided to visit me in Lancaster, I was nervous. I was about to briefly lose the distance that had shielded me. Sexting is a risky business which can lead to horrible scenarios, but with Partner B, sexting was our main form of sex. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if the things Partner B and I had spoken about weren’t pleasurable? What if my fort of confidence – whether exaggerated or genuine – came crashing down at the pinnacle moment? Was it possible for sex to thrive in this otherwise long-distance relationship? Would the thought of future commitment be a kill-joy?

Thankfully, Partner B did not disappoint. To describe the sex as “passionate” doesn’t cut it. I mean… WOW! And despite the distance, I haven’t felt bored: the sex is as good as I’ve had with previous partners, and video chatting and sexting are still substitutes. It is difficult, though, and I find myself missing Partner B’s presence more than I’ve ever missed anyone before.

Ultimately, Partner B has given me the opportunity to experiment and exercise my sexual prowess with someone who I have feelings for, without the pressure of a full-blown relationship. I get the best of both worlds: the independence and solitude that comes from being single, mixed with the enjoyment of having someone always available for me. I have learnt that sex is easy: you can learn and improve things every day. It’s love and feelings that are much more problematic.