Going the distance – making relationships last in lockdown

Social distancing and staying home might be keeping us safe, but what toll is it taking on your relationship?

Our lockdown Valentine’s Day date

When Joe moved to London, I was sh*t scared. My best friend and partner who I hadn’t spent more than a day apart from in two years was now going to be 200+ miles away. At the time, neither of us knew a virus was about to wreak havoc and test our relationship in a whole new way.

Like many couples, the numerous lockdowns have forced us apart for prolonged periods of time. It’s been agonising – and I’m sure others have felt the same.

When he moved away, Joe and I made a plan of how we would keep our romance alive long-distance, but we were still managing to see each other on the odd weekend so this plan wasn’t really used until the first UK lockdown. I never thought I’d need to share these ‘tips’ as I thought lockdown wouldn’t last that long but here we are, nearly a year later, and relationships, both romantic and friendly, are struggling.

  1. Have actual phone / video calls
    Not the ones where you both have each other on speaker, aimlessly scrolling while having a natter. Those types of easy-going chats are still important, but you really need to make sure you’re having a conversation, as if you were in the same room.
  2. Don’t be stubborn
    Joe and I could both win gold for stubbornness, and I’m sure an aspect of it will always be in our relationship (nobody’s perfect) but when you can’t see your partner, not taking responsibility, not texting first and being blunt is a real killer. Be open and honest. Always.
  3. Arrange virtual date nights
    Joe cringed so much when I suggested this. And I get why, the concept sounds hideous. But I don’t mean you both make a meal and light candles on your end (although that does sound bloody cute if you ask me), but arrange a night where you both do an activity together, watch a TV show on Netflix and discuss it afterwards, do a quiz, listen to music – think outside the box.
  4. Use social media
    Tag each other in stupid memes, send snapchats/ photos of what you’re doing, send each other funny TikToks. It’s not much but it shows you saw something you enjoyed and wanted to share it with them.
  5. Think ahead
    Yeah we’re locked-in now but what do you want to do when we’re allowed out again? It’s depressing thinking of gigs, holidays, days out that we can’t do now but one day, this will all actually be over. And one thing that’s getting me through is thinking of the next gig Joe and I can go to, when we can get drunk and dance and laugh. And hearing him talk about this makes me feel positive and honoured that he’s thinking about the future too.
  6. Don’t make comparisons
    Relationships move at different paces. I’ve struggled when seeing other couples ‘locking down’ together, and Joe knows I’ve been frustrated that that isn’t us. But what difference does comparing our relationship to others do? Absolutely none. It’s a wasted energy. Focus on yourself and your relationship and remember that not all relationships are as perfect as they seem.
We also got creative with gifts… with some terrifying results.

I think I needed to hear these more than anyone else did. The thing to takeaway is that no one knows your relationship or friendship better than you and your partner, so talk it out and be patient, accept things will get tough but forgive often, and be grateful you have someone there to battle through this crazy time with.

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