How to Manage a Long-Distance Relationship During a Pandemic

As of right now I have been dating my boyfriend for two years, and the last eight months have been a long-distance relationship. Before Covid-19, I was able to see him whenever I wanted as we were both in St Andrews. We both went home in March and beyond one brief afternoon, I have not seen him in person since we left. For medical reasons, neither of us have been able to visit, and with no end to this craziness in sight, I’m not sure when I will have a chance to see him in the near future.

Now that we live in a technology-filled world, long-distance relationships are so much easier, but they have their challenges. It can be a difficult adjustment, so here is my advice for anyone in this position.

Communication

This is absolutely key in any relationship, but especially when you’re apart. Now that we can text, snap, call, or FaceTime our significant others, this part is a lot easier. Talk often, discuss how you’re feeling, and if any issues come up, address them as soon as possible. Between school and social commitments (hopefully socially distanced!), it can sometimes seem easy to fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” pattern. Actively make time for your S.O. and plan a time with them to talk. The flip side of this is to also respect when they might not want to talk. Having space is important in relationships, and the same rules apply when you do long-distance. I find this can be difficult because my boyfriend is not physically there and I want to stay as connected with him as I can, but everyone needs some alone time. 

Understand and Support

The transition to a long-distance relationship means you are going from parallel lives to multidirectional ones. When I asked my boyfriend what he thought was the most important part of a long-distance relationship, he said it was to understand that even though you are not together, it does not mean you are cast aside. He also said support is critical. Especially right now, when we all feel a bit stuck and isolated, it is important to celebrate the little victories you each have (my boyfriend and I both write for various student publications, so when one of us has an article published, we make a point of reading it ASAP). If your S.O. is having a bad day, be there to listen to them. A group of therapists created a list of tips on how to make long-distance work, and one of their tips is to “be there” even when you aren’t. They say that long-distance couples need to be more intentional and proactive about this and to make a call with your partner a priority, just like you would if you went on a date with them. 

Making it Fun

Just because you aren’t together doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Pick a shared interest and discuss it together, send each other things that remind you of them, hand write letters to change it up from technology, etc. My boyfriend and I love thriller/horror novels, so when we find one, we send each other copies and then we discuss them together. When I see something that reminds me of him I send it, whilst he sends me the one thing I love more than him: chocolate.  Send each other pictures that will make the other laugh, discuss politics, debate theology, or share recipes. Basically, whatever you like to do together, keep it up over the distance. Maybe take this chance to explore new interests together or to learn more about an interest or hobby that your S.O. has that you don’t share with them and surprise them with your knowledge. That’s how I ended up watching (and loving) Star Wars.

Virtual Dates

Another thing we have to thank technology for is the “virtual date”. There is so much you can do with this. Same with setting up times to talk, make it a priority. The chrome extension, Netflix Party, is now Teleparty and you can use it to watch Disney+, Hulu, and HBO as well as Netflix. It may not be as fun as an actual date, but a virtual date allows you to spend quality time together even when you’re too tired or burnt out for a long phone call.

Making Plans

Right now it is so hard to make firm plans. But just saying “when we can see each other again…” brings some excitement and anticipation back. Having something to look forward to makes the waiting worth it. Maybe make a list of all the things you’re going to do when you finally see each other, or meals you’re saving to make together. This gives you something to focus yourself on when you’re missing your S.O. more than usual.

Long-distance relationships are not easy, nor will they ever be. But if both of you put the work in together, it will be fine. The age old saying is that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, and I hope that when you get to see your S.O. again, you will like/love and appreciate them all the more for the time you had to spend apart.