The majority of Oxford students are free spirits, rakish profligates or ‘single pringles’. Many lead, I imagine, a passionate life, filled with whirlwind romances founded on a shared appreciation of Tesco’s vodka and Hassan’s. Others curl up with a new brand of confectionary each weekend. Significantly fewer pine away their solitary hours hoping beyond hope that they will lock eyes with their Prince/Princess Charming across a packed lecture hall, and instantly find true love. Sadly, no matter how many Disney movies you watch, this scenario is very unlikely to occur outside the animated world. But as ideal as it may sometimes seem, the ‘Oxford Relationship’ is not the dreamy, enlightened partnership of your imagination.
Term-time stress affects the Oxford couple just as it affects every other aspect of life. It takes an astonishingly short amount of time to realise that the guy or girl you imagined was the sexiest being alive, is actually just as weird and average as you are. By the time you’ve experienced a couple of essay crises together, you’ve seen the worst. It’s a wonder that any couples manage to survive this phase. The shouting, the crying and the slightly questionable hygiene are much easier to conceal in a room of one’s own.
The liberal interpretation of ‘masculinity’ by Oxford’s males may leave you wondering whether you’re in a relationship or have unintentionally become a care worker. This feeling becomes particularly problematic when your partner begins to take more of an interest in knitting than having sex. “Not tonight dear, I’m busy making a penis-shaped USB stick holder on my round loom” is never a good sign. A single life has never sounded more appealing.
Women are equally to blame in the weird world of long-term Oxford relationships. Constantly sending out your heroic partner (in his hand-knitted balaclava) at 2am to seek the holy grail of fast food may well be a test of true love. It may also be a sign that you’re not willing to admit to your addiction to chips, cheese and beans or you are too embarrassed to show your face more than once a week at your local kebab van lest you become a ‘regular’.
Arguably, when your expectation of a couple’s night in is reading Milton and Proust in mutual silence, there is a sense that Oxford is pushing you both relentlessly into a lifestyle of the middle aged. The freedom and higher standards of singletons seem ideal yet unattainable especially as your idea of a ‘sweet gesture’ has now descended to leaving your partner’s room before farting. Having said that, there is nothing more heart-warming in the morning than walking out into the corridor and hearing your boyfriend singing his heart out, unabashed, whilst on the toilet.
The almost unquestioning support and having an ever-present eating partner is nice, but please don’t lament your single life too soon.