Is it worth being in a couple at university?

In this season of fluffy teddies holding giants hearts, Helen and Katherine Burch argue the pros and cons of being a plus-one or single figure

Helen believes that university experiences are better when they’re shared

Back–up

'You have somebody who will notice if you die.' This is Katherine’s phrasing, which I feel is an unnecessarily harsh way of putting it. However, when learning how to live alone for the first time, it is good to know that that that you have somebody who cares what you’ve been up to, who will  pick up the phone to if things go wrong and will even listen to you talk - to an extent - about your dissertation. I am certainly not saying that friends and family don’t fulfil this role, but a good boyfriend or girlfriend has got your back as you battle through piles of work and bitchy social groups.

Getting to know you...

Unlike awkward first dates in restaurants, where heavily edited versions of you stutter at each other, uni dating is more informal. Even if your sole contact with your prospective partner was locking lips as the lights turned on in a tacky night club, if you are both genuinely interested, then you will quickly learn a lot about each other’s lives, and it won’t be restricted to evenings and weekends. It is also a lovely feeling to go for a night out and not feel the least bit concerned about who catches your eye. There is nothing more fun than getting raucously drunk as a couple. However, the whole urge to go out can suddenly seem overrated, as you decide that an evening snuggling with your one and only is preferable to an intimate table for ten with trays of sambuca shots.

Home comforts

Similarly, university life gives you the opportunity to spend days at a time living together, this gives you a good insight as to whether you would be suited to cohabiting in the real world. It can be more affordable to share expenses and shop for food as a couple, and this gives an incentive to create, if not gourmet, then at least edible meals for each other. You can move in together, which is great for actually having time to see each other in the stressful third year. It’s always heart warming to have somebody respond to your cheery cry of “honey, I’m home!” If your relationship does go horribly and traumatically wrong, it’s still a lot less scarring than being locked into a mortgage.

Katherine knows that singles really do have more fun

Valentine’s Day is the day that many single people dread; the excuse for couples to rub their happiness in the faces of everyone else. Contrary to popular opinion I (and every other person in the world not currently in a relationship) will not be spending Valentine’s Day this year crying in a corner with a bottle of Vodka. Clichéd as this may sound I actually embrace my single status at university. There are a number of reasons for this.

Work

When I put all those gruelling hours of slog into my A-levels and personal statement, I did not do it to ruin my degree with a relationship. I came to university to get a degree, not a boyfriend; my studies are genuinely the most important thing for me. And whatever many may maintain, having a boyfriend or girlfriend does provide a distraction from studying. Whether it be because the love you hold is so all encompassing that you feel the need to spend every moment together or that your relationship is one of constant quarrels, this all takes up precious time that you need to study and develop your own interests. Even those couples with perfectly healthy relationships involve time and effort; this is something I would prefer to put into my subject. I want that First!

Cost

The term ‘poor student’ may be tossed around like a pancake on Shrove Tuesday but having a partner can be exceedingly costly. For instance, I like to buy my own food and eat it for myself, rather than find everything in my cupboards devoured by my significant other. As a couple there are so many happy occasions to celebrate: Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s day, anniversaries, Easter and Halloween (depending on how demanding your partner is). While it is charming to receive gifts for all of these precious occasions, it is not quite as charming to have to buy presents for all of these on the student shoe string budget.

Free and single

There is a definite freedom in being able to go out socialising and not worry about whether your other half is having a good time and when they want to leave. Moreover you can go out on the lash and catch the eye of that attractive person in the club without the guilt of a faithful partner sat a home. Besides it is good to spend at least a portion of your life alone, giving you the skills to fend for yourself and the knowledge that you can achieve what you want unaided. This also helps you when you are in a relationship because you know your own worth. If your romance should unfortunately fail, your life has not been ruined; you can thrive when you are independent too.

So while I may follow my friends on our Valentine’s day outing this year with the poorly scrawled words ‘single and ready to mingle’ in marker pen across my forehead. I have no intention to rid myself of the first word in that sentence.

Katherine and Helen Burch are in their second and third years respectively at the University of Exeter.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing software co...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate / Digital Account Exe...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to join...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick