In the age of dating apps and online communities, it’s no surprise that many of us were able to make love connections during quarantine. It seemed romantic, even, that we could communicate with these people who we were so separated from, especially since we were so isolated from everything (and everyone) else.
I, like many others, had a few different talking stages that spanned over quarantine. I was already an avid user of dating apps for fun, and as my level of boredness in quarantine rose, so did my use of the apps. It was a fun way to pass the time, especially since Hinge allows you to drop your location anywhere so you could feel like you were traveling and meeting new people, even while staying inside your house. (Pro tip: Montreal is one of the best places to set your profile to.) I mostly found guys to text when I wanted to have some fun, and many conversations faltered after the dreaded, “So when are we meeting up?” I had to make it clear that I wanted to take proper precautions, and have more virtual dates than in-person hookups. Mainly because of this, I didn’t intend to actually start anything serious.
But you never really do, do you?
So when I started talking to this guy – let’s call him Sam* – I was taken aback. He really seemed to get me, and he was funny and kind. Annoyingly enough, I started to really like him (though I should say for transparency reasons, we aren’t exclusively official or anything). But we lived in different states; not too far, but far enough that meeting up in person would be hard. This posed some difficulties in building our connection, but we’re figuring it out, and I think it’s something many others are, too.
While we’ve been apart (…the whole of our relationship), we had to find ways to still connect. FaceTime is great, but always a little awkward at first. Sam and I worked our way around this by having movie nights. We started with the classics: you know, Scream, Friday the 13th, The Twilight Saga. Now we have a list of things we both want to watch, and we try to find time at least once a week to just settle in and watch a few.
But it doesn’t have to be movies! FaceTiming during the day is a good way to form a connection with a potential SO, too. So even if you’re just doing work, listening to music together, or playing videogames, do it while video chatting.
As with any relationship, communication is key. In particular, communication about boundaries – especially regarding COVID precautions – is vital. Planning to meet up is always nerve-wracking in relationships that start online, but in a world where someone can catch and spread a virus just from going to the grocery store, a date is much scarier. Sam and I actually planned a date, something socially distanced after we had both tested negative. But while keeping an eye on the current surge, especially in both of our states, we realized that meeting up in person wouldn’t be the best idea. So what was the next best thing? Planning a remote dinner date via FaceTime! Order in the same food, set the scene, get dressed up as you would for a regular date, and have a date-like convo! Personally, I’m very excited.
But really the most important part of any relationship, long-distance or not, is being together. So whether that’s sending each other memes, live-chatting the current TV show you’re watching, or just texting about your day, find something to make it feel like you’re in this together. It doesn’t have to be all lovey-dovey and mushy; it just can discussing Reddit’s AITA threads at 1 am, or debating between which Kaiju titans you think are the best ones.
Creating a long-distance relationship (or beta flirtationship, more accurately) online in the pandemic is hard. It requires both people to be willing to make it work, willing to have mutual respect and an abundance of kindness. But isn’t that what makes relationships work anyway? Maybe this is just setting the framework for something amazing, but it really is some great framework. And the biggest thing to remember is that we’re all in this together, all of us fledgling and succeeding COVID-ationships.
And, TBH, it’ll all make for a helluva meet-cute story one day.
*Name has been changed.