In 2018, 14 million couples reported themselves being in a long-distance relationship, with one of the most common reasons being university. In fact, over a third reported to find themselves miles away from their love due to higher education. One of these 14 million couples locked eyes 4.5 years ago, under the sultry Italian sun. Francesca was seventeen when she met the tall, dark and handsome Niko, in the small town of in the north of Italy.
The romance kicked off thanks to the “send to all” feature: “he was hanging out with a friend of mine and sent random silly selfies of himself to her entire contact list; one of them was me.”
Francesca had known about him for a while, happy to finally have found an excuse to talk to him, it didn’t take long before the two went on their first date. “It started off really well, but by the end, he had drunk just one too many to calm his nerves. I’m almost ashamed to say I thought he was a little annoying. Luckily, I decided to give him another chance.”
Luckily by the second date, Niko had his nerves under control, resulting in the two being inseparable for two years. This until Francesca moved to Scotland.
Initially, the plan was for the couple to move across Europe together. However, due to Niko’s limited English, they decided to let go of the idea.
“I was born around London and I wanted to go back to the UK. I always had the vague idea of going to Scotland for uni. He was always aware that it could happen.”
While the first year was difficult, the two slowly worked out a routine that worked for them. Besides frequent flights, daily communication is key. “Facetime is a big one, we message all the time. When he comes home in the evening, we usually skype.”
“We thought about ending it a couple of times. But we knew there was an end in sight, it wasn’t going to be a permanent situation. He was following his own path and started his own career. I think that helped a lot, just knowing there would be an end to it.”
The move proved to be challenging, “we went from spending pretty much every day together to not seeing each other for months at a time. We never went that long without seeing each other, the longest has been 3 months. It was definitely different.”
However, the distance remains challenging. “The biggest challenge is when we have arguments. I like to work things out very quickly. He’s the opposite, he wants to calm down first. When you’re in a long-distance relationship and he’s not answering the phone, there’s nothing you can do.”
When asked about issues surrounding jealousy, Francesca’s answer is simple: “You can have trust issues whether your living next door to someone. It doesn’t necessarily make a big difference, someone can cheat on you whether they live on the other side of the world or if they live in your street.”
Issues revolving around jealousy have risen both before and during the long distance part of their relationship. With Francesca pointing out that it has been more challenging for Niko than for her. “He is living in a small town with friends keeping an eye on him. He, on the other hand, knows no one in Scotland”.
Despite all the challenges, it doesn’t take Francesca more than a split second to answer the question ‘would you do it again?’ “Yes, I think it strengthens a relationship a lot. Honestly, if I had stayed it might not have worked out the same way. We might have gotten bored with each other. Having some form of separation did us good, it helped us be more independent from each other.”
“I have a habit of when I’m back home of wanting to do everything with him. When I’m here, I spend more time alone or with my friends which is quite nice. We’re more independent when we are back together now.”
The big question is how do you do it? The answer: “if you care enough about a person you put up with it. You want that person in your life. You’re going to work through the harder parts, and it gets easier.”