Image: Relationship/Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Maintaining a long-distance relationship under quarantine

It was the second Monday of the Easter holidays, and up until the evening it had been a fairly normal day. Due to having an underlying health condition, I had been social-distancing for the past week – but had still managed to spend time with friends and go out and about. It was just under a month until my twentieth birthday, for which I’d made serious plans, and my boyfriend was due to visit in a couple of weeks for our customary mid-holiday, long-distance relationship meet-up.

Soon after, I saw a notification on my phone that turned my world upside-down – ‘UK in Lockdown.’ To say my heart sunk is an understatement. As a self-proclaimed extrovert, I find spending a lot of time alone draining and the plans I had made for my boyfriend to visit were all that was keeping me afloat. Going from waking up next to someone every day to not knowing when you’ll see them again is heart-breaking, so much so that I found myself crying in the shower à la Tobias in Arrested Development.

When things get tough it can be easy to forget what we value in others

This is a deeply troubling time for anyone in a relationship, regardless of the distance. As always, social media worsens this. Constantly seeing photos of happy couples telling you to take this time to appreciate your loved ones and showing the joy of being isolated with your soulmate are beyond heart-breaking. For many of us, the reality is an even harsher extension of an existing long-distance relationship. The same can be said for friendships.

While such posts are jarring, their sentiment is still useful as it isn’t necessary to be geographically close to someone to show them appreciation. Maintaining a good relationship or friendship is not just about the time spent together but the time spent apart too. When things get tough it can be easy to forget what we value in others, especially if added stress leads to more arguments.

One way to combat this is to appreciate them in any way natural to you – whether this is through gratitude lists, making photo albums, video compilations and Instagram posts of you together. If they aren’t already your lock screen, they need to be as this can help you to keep them in your thoughts. Giving yourself little reminders of why you care about someone so much is the best way to come out of this stronger as finally seeing them again will make it feel all the more special.

It creates a sense of lost normalcy and stability which can be deeply comforting

If you really want to earn big points, share these things with them and tell them why they mean so much to you. This can encourage the kind of closeness in a relationship that can only otherwise be gained by a cuddle and is the best long-distance equivalent. Showing your loved one kindness has the same effect. Whether it’s helping them find a new laptop online or sending them something they need, this tells your loved one that you are here for them and you aren’t going anywhere.

The most important part of long-distance is actually talking to your partner and ensuring that you have something to talk about, which can be hard when all you do is sit in your respective homes all day. While the situation is by no means ideal, we are lucky to live in a time when technology provides a light at the end of the tunnel. Dropping your friends a message is always good but it doesn’t come close to the act of physically talking to them. However, through the advent of video calling, we can almost substitute any in-person interaction for a virtual one. We can circle for live-stream pop together, go to the ‘pub’ quiz, grab a coffee, eat dinner, workout, or just simply have a chat in our pyjamas. Integrating fun activities like this is an amazing way to keep your friendships and relationships strong, as it creates a sense of lost normalcy and stability which can be deeply comforting in times like these.

The key, really, is to try to keep things as normal as you can

If you’re not much of a ‘sit down and chat’ person, there are plenty of great games you can play with your mates or loved ones across the country. Games I’ve played with my friends include House Party, where you play party games such as Pictionary while on a video call, PSYCH, where you basically choose who makes the funniest joke at the expense of your friend (not too wholesome, grounded in reality), and Facebook and Snapchat mini-games, which can be fun to dip in and out of.

The key, really, is to try to keep things as normal as you can, and to remember why you value those around you so much. This situation is by no means easy, but if you put in the effort there is no end to what you can achieve, with many relationships coming out stronger than ever before.

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