COVID-19 has hit us hard globally. Across the world, we are seeing the collapse of many things we sought to preserve; tourism and global connectivity, work-life balance and job stability, industry and the economy. And perhaps, something essential to all of us is faltering—our personal relationships.
Finding new ways to navigate our relationships through quarantine has been something every single one of us has had to adapt to. The words "facetime" and "zoom" have worked their way into our language as not only a platform to speak but a verb that translates to speaking itself, to spending quality time together. We zoom with our professors and facetime our friends. Video chat, instant messaging, and phone calls, once an option, are now a necessity.
But what about a now long-distance relationship with your significant other? You might live not-so-far-away from one another, but quarantine is now preventing you from spending time together face-to-face. Or you might be trying to meet someone new online, but the reality is that you likely will not meet in person for quite some time. Is it worth investing your time in a virtual quarantine relationship? It certainly can be. Long-distance relationships can be healthy and fulfilling.
Some people would never even engage in a long-distance relationship if it were up to them. Without expecting or preparing for a long-distance relationship, you might be trying to navigate a kind of relationship you never thought you'd be in.
It's natural to have an aversion to long-distance relationships. The truth is; they are a bit harder to maintain, the distance might put stress on the relationship, and you'll both need to put in the effort if you want it to work. But, if you can create a healthy atmosphere for you and your partner, your relationship post-quarantine will be stronger than ever.
So, how are we supposed to maintain our relationships while the world around us is altered forever?
Set Aside Time for Your Partner
Whether you've met recently on a dating app or are used to spending time together pre-quarantine, it's essential that you both set aside time for one another.
Spending quality time together is important in any relationship, but that time might be harder to come by in a long-distance relationship. For some, planning time to talk on the phone works best. For others, spontaneity is easiest. Whatever methods you choose, the most important thing is that both you and your partner are comfortable and happy with how you arrange time together and how much time you spend together.
If any conflict arises on the topic of spending time together, it's important to address the issue as soon as possible. It's common to run into roadblocks in any relationship, so don't let disagreements determine the health of your connection with your partner. Instead, examine how you found the path to a solution or compromise.
Many relationships we have in life are born out of convenience rather than passion or common interest. Consider whether you are with your partner because you have the desire to experience life with them. Do you have a mutual interest in each other's lives and want to see one another succeed? Do you want to support them when they struggle? Or are you with them because it is convenient when you want company?
The test of time, and of distance, is an examination of your motives—and theirs. Are you both invested in the relationship? If setting aside time for your partner is too difficult for one or both of you, maybe the relationship is not as healthy as you once thought. The key in any relationship is to promote a space where you both feel safe, supported, and happy.
If you are struggling with this, don't give up! There are many solutions to make your relationship work.
Make 'Keeping in Touch' Exciting
This is perhaps another obvious tip to making a long-distance relationship work during quarantine: stay in touch. Don't let the physical distance between you create an emotional gap. Keep tabs on what is going on in each other's lives. Fill each other in on the little things.
It's also important to keep in mind that a repetitive routine of chatting could make both of you feel like your relationship is getting boring. Talking about what you ate for breakfast gets bland after a while, so make sure to switch things up often.
Continue to do things together—virtually. Have meals together, chat before bed about your days, watch shows or movies, do an at-home workout routine, or go for a walk. There are plenty of ways to integrate real-life experiences into a virtual exchange. Utilizing all the tools possible will help you and your partner avoid getting bored. Talking is great, but sometimes we feel like doing it.
The Netflix Party Google Chrome extension allows you to sync up your screens to make streaming together easy. The best way to do some stretching, practice yoga, or work out together is to use a laptop video chat option like Zoom or Skype, so you can see each other from further away. Sometimes being connected while you both make dinner, read a book, or do more individualized tasks can give you a sense of togetherness when you're not feeling very chatty. Try new methods of keeping in touch, and see what works best for you and your partner.
Continue to explore the activities you would enjoy doing together before quarantine—including spending time in bed. If both of you are comfortable and consent to sexting, Snapchat is a great app for sending risqué clips from your shower or quick sexy photos. Getting down and dirty on Facetime is also a great way to bond with your partner in a new way when you both have some alone time. Watching your partner masturbate might be something you've never done before—use this opportunity to explore and learn about what your partner likes in bed.
Communicate Frequently and Effectively
At the center of every healthy relationship, there is good communication. While it's important to maintain the day to day experiences you had pre-quarantine, it is equally—if not more—important to talk about how the experience is affecting both of you. How do you feel about the relationship? How are you both coping with the pandemic in and out of the relationship? When do you think you will see each other again? What are your plans for the future?
Talk about how much space you're getting and how much space you need. Do you want to spend more time together or less? Is spending time together enjoyable for both of you? What makes it more or less enjoyable, and how can you use that information to improve your relationship?
Be clear about your expectations and needs, and don't let negative emotions simmer. Be open about how you're feeling—and why. A supportive partner will be there for you no matter what—even if that means spending more time apart.
As long as both partners are willing to put in the work, your long-distance relationship during quarantine will thrive!