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Long distance relationship tips from a serial LDR couple 

IMAGE VIA HBO
WORDS BY JASMINE WALLIS

What to do when a global pandemic throws a smoke bomb into your love life.

This time three weeks ago you might’ve been going on a date to your favourite restaurant, jumping onto a packed tram to stay at your partner’s place, or having romantic picnics in the park on a Sunday afternoon. 

Fast forward to today and our lives have been drastically altered in a bid to flatten the curve of a global pandemic. This means a massive change to our lifestyles; beers at the pub have become Facetime drinks on the sofa, our daily commute is from our bedroom to the dining room table, and for some, it means unwittingly beginning a long-distance relationship. 

I myself have been in a long-distance relationship for almost four years now. At certain points, we’ve lived together or had holidays to each other’s countries but for the most part, we’ve lived separately. And it was all supposed to come to an end when I was set to move to the UK next month. 

Obviously that’s not happening now, and while I’m devastated to have to push the end of our long-distance-love back, I do feel for couples who have suddenly found themselves trying to navigate their relationship in the unsteady waters that is the coronavirus pandemic. 

Between state borders closing and social distancing rules getting stricter every day, here are some tips on how to make a long-distance relationship work during this period of uncertainty. 

Figure out your communication styles  

This is number one, always. If you’re used to seeing each other every other day and not relying on texting or calling then that’s all about to change. Your phone will basically become the third person in your relationship but aren’t we lucky that we live in a time where you have almost immediate access to your partner in your pocket? And no, that’s not a double entendre. 

You could play some games over the phone like Would You Rather or 21 Questions or even buy Flex Mami’s Reflex card game to really get the questions flowing. With all of the extra time to chat, you might come out of quarantine knowing your partner on a deeper level than before. 

To make this work, you have to figure out what your communication style is and set some time aside where you can talk about your days. Whether it’s a quick call in the morning to hear their voice or a Facetime after dinner to have a deeper convo, by scheduling a time to chat you’re being fully present and creating space for your relationship. 

Make lists to look forward to 

If you’re anything like me and my boyfriend, there’s only so much to talk about during quarantine. How long can you keep a conversation going about how you took your daily government-approved walk and then baked banana bread? 

That silence isn’t your relationship crumbling under the weight of a global pandemic, it just means you need to talk about things outside of your daily life.

One thing that helps me feel positive about our long-distance relationship is making plans for when we’re reunited again. Start a list in your notes app and write the activity down every time one of you says “Hey, when we get out of here we should do that”.

For example, some of ours are to visit the Isle of Skye in Scotland and see more of England, but it could even be as simple as going out to a new cafe when the lockdown is lifted or as big as deciding to move in together. 

It doesn’t matter what it is, if it creates excitement for your future together and helps you stay positive during this time then that’s all that matters. 

Distance makes the heart (and desire) grow fonder 

Stressful situations can do different things to people’s libidos. You may not be thinking about sex at all right now, or your sex drive might be off the charts. But for everyone new to a long-distance relationship, don’t freak out about your relationship fizzling just because you can’t physically get it on. 

Some things you can do to keep the flame alive when the mood strikes are sexting, sending pictures of yourself and phone sex. It’s obviously up to you as a couple to set boundaries around what you’re comfortable doing and whether you trust them enough to send private pictures, but by teasing your partner with what they can’t have right now, it’s sure to make it all the sweeter when you are reunited. 

You could also make a separate list for some bedroom activities that you want to experiment with when you’re not social distancing like a Regency-era couple, forbidden from being within six feet of each other. Everything is hotter when it’s forbidden though, right? 

Netflix and chill, separately but together 

Isn’t technology great? The clever minds at Netflix have created an extension called Netflix Party where you can watch movies and TV shows with your friends or long-distance lover on the same platform. It may not be the same as going on a cinema date IRL but it does make you feel closer knowing that your partner is watching Tiger King at the same time as you (no secret binge watching here). 

You could even have a Facetime afterwards to chat about your highlights and plan your next virtual date. Consuming the same content can make you feel closer to each other and, most importantly, it gives you things to chat about once your sourdough starter convo has run dry.

Stay busy  

You’re going to miss each other, that’s just a fact of the situation. But for me, the worst times of missing my boyfriend – when it feels like years since I’ve seen him and like we’ll never be reunited again – come when I’m not doing anything. 

I’m not saying you have to work yourself into a frenzy to distract yourself, but by giving yourself a routine during your isolation at home, it helps break up your day and keeps your brain from straying into melodramatic territory. 

And don’t forget that this is temporary. Although no one knows exactly when this pandemic will be over or when social distancing measures will be pulled back, there’s always comfort in knowing that this will pass, and your relationship will be all the stronger for surviving it.

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