Long-distance relationships during a pandemic: a recipe for disaster?


By Anonymous

The Croft // An anonymous student walks us through the difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship at university, and the additional challenges the pandemic has brought.

Being in a long-distance relationship at university is tough enough – believe me, I know. Arguments. Tearful video calls. Nagging loneliness.

And, worst of all, everyone telling you what the ‘inevitable’ grim outcome will be. It’s going to end anyway. Don’t waste your youth. You’re going to regret it someday. What’s the point? The point is: it’s our choice and our lesson to learn. Isn’t it our right to make our own experiences without unsolicited judgement, condescension and ominous fortune-telling?

That’s not to say that there is no validity in these arguments, but let’s be honest, most of us have already considered them. And yet, here we are, still believing in and fighting for the future of our relationship. That’s actually really beautiful and takes incredible strength. Take a moment to appreciate your resolution and courage. I mean it.

Now, let’s factor in a global pandemic; many of us haven’t been able to see our partners nearly as much as we would have liked to – if at all. This may make the dawn of a new year seem even more challenging.

It is okay to be sad and sometimes lose hope. You are not weak for having these thoughts and feelings

How can we possibly stay optimistic in these difficult times? Truth be told, I think it is unrealistic – and detrimental to our mental health – to chase relentless optimism. It is okay to be sad and sometimes lose hope. You are not weak for having these thoughts and feelings, and accepting them can help relieve some pressure.

Anyway, let’s answer the question posed by this article: is a long-distance relationship during a pandemic a recipe for disaster? Simply put: of course not. It’s certainly not a rosy situation, I won’t lie, but nothing about the ‘new normal’ is. We can never generalise a situation – rather, we adapt in a way that suits us best.

On that note, let me share some tips that I use to cope with my pandemic-exacerbated long-distance relationship.

Something that I have found helpful is to make a list of activities to do together in the future: cafés to check out, movies to watch, weekend trip ideas... anything really.

Long distance really needs to be taken day-by-day and broken down as much as possible

When I feel lonely, I look back over them and remember that my situation and feelings are not permanent. Better times are coming and having that little list can be an excellent reminder of that.

Plus, it is also really fun to share these ideas with your partner, and to look forward to them together.  Turning this list into concrete dates for visits is even better. That way, you are not grabbling in the void of a seemingly endless time apart, but have a much closer, more manageable date to work towards. Long distance really needs to be taken day-by-day and broken down as much as possible.

Another thought that I find encouraging is that I am lucky to miss someone so much. I know that sounds like a cliché, but a little gratitude goes a long way. Having someone that you connect with, and are willing to trudge through the long-distance sludge for, is not something to be taken for granted. Appreciate the strength of that connection, even if it does not always seem tangible.

Lastly, pick a time for video calling that suits both of you (as much as possible)! It took me far too long to realise that calling at night, though convenient, was not a good option for me.

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By the end of the day, I am exhausted and consequently quite emotionally vulnerable. Calling at this time just created a maelstrom of negative feelings on my end – reminding me of how lonely I am and how much I miss my partner. Scheduling phone/video calls for a different time of day, when I have more energy, has allowed us to have much more meaningful and fun conversations.

These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg, I know, and ultimately you will need to discover others that suit your situation best. Long-distance will never be easy, and I certainly don’t have a recipe for guaranteed success. But you are not alone; always remember that, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Just try to enjoy the journey as best as you can and appreciate all that it can teach you. Bon voyage!

Featured image: Epigram / James Emery and anonymous

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