While couples across the country navigate the realities of spending lockdown together, some couples have found themselves inadvertently separated for the foreseeable future. Here, two writers explore what it’s really like to suddenly find yourself in a long distance relationship.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a definite impact on our relationships. Whether it’s moving family meetups to Zoom, exploring the reality of living with a partner for the first time, or struggling to keep in touch with friends, lockdown has changed our relationships in all sorts of ways.
And while, for many couples, lockdown has led to them spending more time together than ever before, for others it’s meant finding themselves in a long distance relationship with no knowledge of when they’ll see their partner again.
Here, two writers explore what it’s like to be separated from their partners during this difficult time, and what they’re doing to cope.
Sarah Biddlecombe, digital commissioning editor
Relationship length: 6 months
“My boyfriend and I had been together for just under six months when the UK lockdown was announced, and at first I wasn’t too worried about the impact the time apart might have on our relationship. Three weeks seemed like a pretty short amount of time – the year itself already seemed to be flying by, so a quick 21-day stint apart didn’t seem like too much of an ordeal. He already had a two week long holiday to San Francisco booked during that time anyway, so I knew that with or without the lockdown, we’d have 14 days apart. What was another week on top of that?
“Except, we’re now in week six of lockdown, and I don’t have much confidence that it’s going to end anytime soon.
“Rather than flying by, these past few weeks have dragged slowly on, with little to punctuate the days apart from trips to the supermarket and walks around the park.
“Aside from work, I’ve never been less busy, and while my boyfriend and I FaceTime every day, we’re rapidly running out of interesting things to talk about – the most exciting thing to happen to me in the past week was finding a packet of yeast in my local Sainsburys.
“We’ve tried mixing up our conversations, giving each other a daily pub quiz or attempting to join Zoom chats with friends and family, but it’s not the same as spending actual time in each other’s company.
“I’ve always been adamant that I wouldn’t want to be in a long distance relationship, so it feels ironic that I’ve now entered into one with someone who lives less than three miles from my front door. And at least in a typical long distance relationship you’d be able to plan when you can next see each other – the current uncertainty over when lockdown will end means that we can’t even make any plans to look forward to, with each other or anyone else.
“I’m grateful to technology for keeping us virtually connected, but it does have it’s downfalls – messages over WhatsApp are too easily misinterpreted, and when a patchy 4G signal means you’re cut off from a call for the third time in five minutes, it’s easier to feel frustrated rather than comforted by someone’s digital presence.
“Of course, I completely understand the necessity of the country being in lockdown at the moment, and the global fight against coronavirus is the number one priority. So for now, we’ll keep forging ahead with our digital relationships, both with each other and everyone else we care about, and who knows – maybe our bonds will be even stronger when we finally come out on the other side of this crisis.”
Lauren Geall, junior digital writer
Relationship length: 4+ years
“I can remember the exact moment I realised I wouldn’t be seeing my boyfriend for the foreseeable future. When I first came back to my parent’s house to start working from home, I didn’t realise how long the situation would last. One week later, as I watched Boris Johnson announce the nationwide lockdown on TV, I realised I was going back to a long distance relationship.
“My boyfriend and I have been together for over four years now. For one of those years, we were long distance; after meeting at uni and spending two and a half years together, I moved to London to pursue a masters in journalism, while he moved home to Bristol to work for a year and save up some money.
“It was a tough year – with him working a full time job and me studying a pretty intense course, we probably only saw each other face to face a handful of times. But thanks to technology, we still spoke multiple times a day – with FaceTime calls making up for our one-on-one dates.
“With all of this considered, we were pretty well prepared for lockdown. We understood the difficulties of communicating over technology – assuming tone over text has caused plenty of arguments in the past – and we know that expecting each other to be available all day everyday just isn’t realistic.
“But still, there’s something different about being separated due to a global pandemic. We no longer have the option to pack up everything and jump on a train if necessary – our physical separation is completely out of our control, and it’s an upsetting feeling no matter how much long distance experience you’ve got. It’s also frustrating not being able to comfort each other when the other person is feeling down (a hug wouldn’t go amiss right now). Leaving our friends and lives in London to spend lockdown at home has been challenging, and not being able to be there for each other is probably the worst part.
“To counteract this, we’ve been making a real effort to ensure we feel as connected as possible. We FaceTime at least once a day (usually while playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons) and text on-and-off in-between.
“We’ve also set aside Saturday nights as ‘date night’, where we switch off all technology (except from the phone we’re using to call each other, of course) and have a drink together. Last week, I even got dressed up and put makeup on for the event – it’s our slot once a week to spend that quality time together we’re used to having back in London.
“We’re doing good. I try to remind myself that, no matter how inconvenient this long distance situation may feel, we’re both staying safe and doing our bit to save lives. For now, we’ll continue with our makeshift routine. We’ll see each other someday – it’s just the uncertainty which is difficult.”