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#ARUInLove: Going the distance

Anglia Ruskin University graduates Rebecca and Ashley

In January 2014, it was ARU’s Doctor Who Society that brought together Ashley Langrish and Rebecca Brown. But would their relationship continue to work once they graduated, and started dating long distance?

As soon as Rebecca saw Ashley across the classroom, she knew he was something special and one of the most handsome people she'd ever seen! They quickly hit it off and started dating. But things took a turn when Rebecca moved back to Northern Ireland in 2016 and they had to break up due to long distance.

Even after breaking up, they stayed close friends for the next five years. Then, in September 2021, they gave long distance another chance and the spark rekindled. Now almost a year and half later, they are happily living together in Northern Ireland with a new addition to their little family in the form of a gorgeous ragdoll cat, Minnie!

1. What was Ashley’s perspective of seeing Rebecca for the first time?
I had tried to arrive early to the club’s first meeting of the year. I’m looking around for a place to sit and I noticed Rebecca sitting alone on a row. I sat on the opposite row and gradually we struck up small talk. Before I knew it, the rest of the world almost seemed to disappear. We exchanged numbers at the end of the group and things went from there. Throughout this I was thinking what a wonderful person Rebecca was and was more than a little shocked that she wanted to talk to me.

2. What made you meet up again in September 2021?
That’s a funny story actually. We had been chatting in July and Ashley made a comment about not having much of a dating life. So to cheer him up I told him a recent dating story I had where my brother had to phone me with a fake emergency to get me out of the date. In response to this, Ashley asked whether if we were both still single when we turned 30, would I be interested in giving us another shot? I thought he was mucking around so I didn’t answer the question and just pointed out the obstacles; mainly that he lived in England and I lived in Northern Ireland.

A few days later, we were chatting again and he pointed out that I never answered his question. I agreed and then didn’t answer it again. I’ll admit I was scared this was a joke and didn’t want to open myself up to getting hurt again. At the insistence of my best friend I then did a video call with Ashley and asked him what he had meant with that question. This is when Ashley admitted to me that he was testing the waters to see how I felt about the idea of us getting back together.

I admitted that it was something I had wanted for a long time but would have never pushed for as I didn’t think it was something he wanted. I also told him I wasn’t willing to wait until we were 30 (we were both 26 at this point). We discussed the prospect of getting back together but decided we needed to see each other in person first as it could have either gone extremely well or been the most awkward situation ever. We both booked a few days off work for the start of September and Ashley booked a flight to Belfast for us to spend a few days together. When we met up, I swear my heart skipped a beat. It was undeniable that we still had really strong feelings for each other and by the time he left we were back together.

3. What would be your advice to others in a long-distance relationship?
Communication. You need to talk to your partner and be honest about how you feel. This is what caused most of our issues the first time around. Neither of us was honest with the other about how we were feeling and it caused a lot of false assumptions and mixed signals that led to us breaking up.

You can’t expect your partner, especially if they are in another country and you don’t get to see them often, to know how you feel or what you’re thinking so you need to clearly communicate. I would also advise that you try to spend as much time together as you can. We used to spend a week out of the month together, either I would fly to him for a week or he would fly to me. Thankfully we both have jobs that can be done remotely which meant we could work from the other’s home but this isn’t always possible.




Ashley and Rebecca graduated from ARU in 2016 and are both part of our Alumni Network, which has 100,000 members around the world.