With COVID-19 now causing the majority of the United States to shelter in place for at least the next month, a lot of you are probably separated from your partner. If you don’t live together and you’re taking the shelter in place rule seriously, you’ve basically been forced into a long-distance relationship by this damn pandemic. Now, fortunately and unfortunately for me, I’m very used to doing long-distance with my boyfriend. We started dating in October 2017, and began long-distance when we both moved to separate colleges 6 hours away from each other in September 2018. We’ll be closing the distance this coming fall (woohoooo!!), buuut now that he’s home for spring break, our time together has been taken away because of COVID-19, and we’re staying apart despite finally being less than 10 minutes away from each other.
So, I wanted to write this post to help those of you who are NOT used to long-distance and now need to adapt to it. It’s already such a hard thing to do, but when it’s literally caused by a pandemic, it’s a whole other story. I asked some of my friends who are in long-distance relationships to share any tips they had to give to YOU, if you and your partner are now learning to keep a healthy relationship while being apart. Here are the top pieces of advice I received from fellow long-distance friends about keeping your relationship alive & healthy, and my own ideas for what to do while you’re apart!
Advice from my friends:
“-Letters letters letters!!! Even if you can call and text, receiving a letter in the mail just feels like a piece of their heart was sent to your mailbox.
-Don’t keep yourself locked in your room. I know it’s easy to do when you’re sad. But stay busy if possible. Go outside if possible.
-Praying and journaling and talking to other people about what you’re struggling with. Don’t keep the emotions inside. Let ‘em out.”
“I’ve been in a long distance relationship with Brendan for 8 months and I haven’t seen him in 2 months. My advice is to try and:
-Video call everyday if you can.
-Send pictures of what you’re up to throughout the day, what tasks you’ve completed, or things that remind you of them.
-Be sure to ask your significant other if there is anything you can help them with since there is a good chance they might be feeling overwhelmed right now.
-Be patient if they’re busy and you are not – realize that since you’re away from each other, their attention will not always be on you.
-Send songs to each other or make playlists and update the playlists so they have something new to listen to that they know was meant for them.”
“Communication, even if your S.O. is just doing homework or anything that’ll mean they can’t talk as much – telling them what’s going on so you know why their responses are slower. And getting to hear about their day, even if it was boring. It’s nice to feel like they’re including you by talking to you about it even if it’s nothing special.”
“I usually schedule a “date night” every other day, where we watch a movie we’ve wanted to watch for a while, or a documentary or simply just a time to catch up and share feelings. We also downloaded quiz games and chess apps that are activities we both love to do and want to keep doing together.❤️”
5 Ideas of what to do while you’re apart:
- Find video games that you can play together on your computers! My boyfriend and I have a couple games we bought through Steam (Divinity, Stardew Valley, & Tabletop Games), and we talk through Discord while we play. We often play them at the end of the day and it gives us something really fun to do together if we don’t want to watch something.
- Have a TV show that you watch together! You can use a Chrome extension such as “Netflix Party,” or you can Facetime on your phones while watching the show on your laptops. Countdown from 3 and press “play” on your show at the same time. Having a show to watch gives you a sort of routine – maybe you watch an episode or two each night as if you were together and relaxing at the end of the day. Same goes with movies – watch a movie on the weekend like you would if you were together.
- Mat and I have been watching The Circle & Tiger King lately!
- A few Christmas’s ago, Mat gave me a little jar labeled “Days until we see each other.” He filled it with my favorite candy (blue & red Sour Patch Kids) according to how many days we had until the next time we reunited, and I’d eat one at the end of each day. It felt like I’d accomplished one more day without him and really helped me mentally. As the jar got emptier, the day got closer! I’d refill it after every reunion and start over.
- Right now, that’s a little hard to do, since the COVID-19 situation is so unknown, time-wise. I’d suggest filling it until the end of your shelter in place order, and if it gets extended, keep refilling it. It’s hard to fill the jar again, but you know you’ve done it before and you’ll keep surviving each day.
- Send random Snapchats throughout the day. Mat and I text throughout the day but usually just send random Snapchats so we get glimpses of each other’s faces until we’re able to Facetime.
- BUY COLORING BOOKS! Last week, I placed an online order at Barnes & Noble for two coloring books & sets of colored pencils. I picked them up & took Mat’s to his house, staying a few feet away the whole time we talked. It sucked. I cried. But we stayed safe. Now we just both color when we have time, and it’s just a little activity we can do together or separately throughout the day and think of each other.
- Lastly, look back at photos and videos. Photos/videos of Mat & I that I have on my phone are my saving grace. I look at them when I miss him and they just make me happy, honestly. I also have photos of him framed up in my room for me to see throughout the day!
I hope these tips were helpful, and know that you are NOT alone in being apart from your partner. Remember that this is TEMPORARY, not permanent. You’re always welcome to shoot me a message if you’re struggling or need someone to talk to. We WILL get through this!