Illustration by Emily Perkins

Dear Shrink-In-Violet, 

I am currently talking to this guy and things have been going well, but the problem is he is going to Cambridge and I’m not sure if it’s really possible to have a solid relationship over that distance, or whether I can manage that myself… Advice appreciated.


Disclaimer: The following piece contains references to C*mbridge.

My dearest reader,

What we have here is a tale as old as time. Two universities, both alike in dignity. A pair of star-crossed lovers. Young and foolish, doomed from the beginning, but irrevocably devoted to one another. Alas, sometimes the price of love is treason.

I get it. As the modern Shakespeare, Taylor Swift, said: there is something so alluring about ‘illicit affairs, clandestine meetings and stolen stares’. Although not an official Oxonian, she too fell victim to the charms of a Cantabrigian once who goes by the name of Tom Hiddleston. And we all saw where that ended: in a Getaway Car, with one of the greatest pop songs ever written. So, it may not be all that bad. But unless you are a song-writing mastermind in hiding, I fear there is naught to be gained from such an arrangement, bar a therapy bill.

The felonious-ness aside, the distance (geographically, not in the league tables…) between your two warring factions is another concern. There is a mere 106 kilometres between Oxford and Cambridge as the crow flies, or rather, as Cupid does. Such spatial and even temporal separation couldn’t keep the likes of Captain America and Peggy apart (Marvel I still hate you for that ending). If he can travel back in time 70 years to be with his lover, I am sure you can manage a 2-hour train to Cambridge. True love knows no distance. Limerence, however, can be more like a Bluetooth connection: not good over long ranges, or through thick (emotional) walls.

In the flower of youth, absence can make the heart grow fonder, or make the legs wander… to the club… then back to another girl’s bed. You ask, ‘Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?’ to which he doesn’t respond, because he’s off committing collegecest at King’s. But do not fret, any man worth your time would not let a meagre 66 miles come between you. Couples that give the reason of ‘distance’ for a breakup are most often not only referring to the geography…

We must also note that you are only in the infant stage of your infatuation, the dreaded talking stage. What terrible terminology. No one except for your grandmother would think that ‘talking’ to a man implied anything remotely romantic. Whatever happened to the ‘wooing’ stage? Oh, how the ritual modern courtship has crumbled.

My thoughts and prayers go out to you in this befuddling time of engagement. Are you exclusive? By what title are you expected to introduce him? Must your brother challenge him to a duel for your right to marry? Ah, it takes me back to those tempestuous times, when you’ve *flashed him your ankle* but are still unsure whether it’s acceptable to double-text him. How it is not missed.

But much like my patience with the Wi-Fi in the Rad Cam, the ‘thing’ between you and your… betrothed, shall we say…  is fragile and easily breakable at this stage. I fear it is premature to be worrying that distance may separate you two, when something so simple as finding out he calls his mother ‘Mummy’ could create a divide much larger than the width of a few counties.

So, I advise you to just see how things go. Don’t go climbing over any garden walls to see him, or pine at your balcony, but don’t hold back in fear either. Hesitance creates more distance than 106km ever could. If it is meant to be, the distance will be manageable, or you will be brought back together when the time is right. If he is just another mansplaining Cambridge boy (run now if he’s a Land Economist, I beg of you) then he is not worth your time: shoe that tab.  

On a final note, I do hope that whatever happens, your love, unlike your predecessors’, shall not end in any tragic premature deaths.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Your Shrink-In-Violet


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Elyse Airey

Elyse (she/her) is a Biology student. When not dissecting plant tissue, she can be found anatomising Taylor Swift's discography, experimenting with acrylic paint, or sampling the vegetarian food scene in Oxford. She also enjoys reading, and reorganising her 117 (and counting) Spotify playlists.