So, perhaps you had just worked up the nerve to ask out a cute classmate or gone on a first date with someone you really liked before lockdowns across the country confined us all to our computer screens. Or, maybe you’re in a long-term relationship which just went from seeing each other almost every day to being quarantined hours apart. Either way, COVID-19 has wrecked a lot of plans, including those having to do with our love lives.
Whether you’re currently in a long-distance relationship or not, it’s likely that you could be at some point in the future, especially given the constantly shifting life circumstances and locations of college students. I’m no expert, and I haven’t always handled it well, but my fiancé and I’s relationship has been on-and-off long-distance ever since we began it, with one period of 10 weeks apart when he took on a 60 hr/week combination job and internship in the Adirondack Mountains. Currently, we’re locked down hours apart, three weeks after getting engaged. While long-distance is the furthest thing from easy, it’s worth it with the right person. Here are my tips for a love that can thrive even when distance (or, you know, your run-of-the-mill pandemic) threatens to keep you apart for the foreseeable future.
Stay Away Even When It’s Hard
This one is quarantine-era specific. If you and your partner are within a reasonable driving distance of one another, it may be tempting to visit one another despite social-distancing guidelines. However, this represents an unnecessary risk to both of you and is disrespectful of one another’s families and/or roommates. No one is immune to this virus, and if staying healthy means staying apart even though you miss one another, it’s worth it in the long run.
Make Time for FaceTime
My fiancé and I make a concerted effort to FaceTime as close to every day as possible when we’re in a season of long-distance. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, and it doesn’t have to happen that day if either of us is tired or exceptionally busy, but we find it makes all the difference just to see one another’s faces for a bit. I believe that if you make this commitment with your partner, you will feel more emotionally close to them, and it will provide you with an opportunity for intentional conversations about your relationship that are better held face-to-face than over text.
This one ties in a bit with my last tip. If, for example, I am unable to FaceTime until later than usual one night, I let my fiancé know as early in the day as possible, and in similar situations he does the same. In addition, it is good practice to check up on your partner often, especially in emotionally draining times such as now. Make sure they know you care for them and are available to talk about whatever is on their mind. That kind of support is irreplaceable and especially comforting when you’re stuck in the house with the same people for the fourteenth day in a row.
Send Little Surprises
I recommend this with a grain of salt, given the current situation. However, if you and your family are healthy and you feel you can safely send something to your partner, I highly recommend this as a way to let them know you’re thinking of them. Personally, few things make me happier than receiving a surprise in the mail, especially from someone I love. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive—last week I sent my fiancé a card I had drawn by hand. He loved it, and it made me feel good to do something special for him. It may sound cliché, but when you’re far away from your partner, it truly is the little things that matter the most.
Be Grateful for Time Apart
There’s a reason Ariana Grande said that “time apart is beneficial”— it is! Try to use this time to practice self-care, learn that hobby you’ve always wanted to try and enjoy the company of your family or whoever you’re quarantined with. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder (again with the clichés), and when you can finally be with your partner again, you’ll find that you love and appreciate them even more for having been apart for so long.
Above all, stay positive and know that you are much more emotionally strong than you may feel at any given moment. You and your partner can and will get through this period of separation, and with both of your commitment, you’ll come out stronger than ever on the other side.