As the popular saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Being in a Long-Distance Relationship (LDR) for more than five years, I can really attest to this. You’d probably think we’ve got this whole LDR thing figured out by now. To some extent, yes. But that is not to say that we don’t have our bad days too.
Nowadays though, I’ve learned that ‘LDR’ has taken a new meaning: Lock Down Relationships, or couples who used to be together physically but were forced to be apart because of the quarantine. Some couples are having a harder time coping with this unexpected change than others. Some are growing impatient and getting anxious about it as days go by. I, too, felt the same when we started doing long-distance, but let me assure you — things do get better over time.
Lucky for me, I guess, because in many ways, our long-distance setup has prepared us for this ‘new normal.’ So I thought I’d share some of my experiences on dealing with LDR, hoping this can somehow apply to your relationships and ease your anxieties.
1. Communication is everything
With all this technology within our grasp, there’s almost no reason for you not to communicate. Whether it’s a simple text or an hour-long video call, what matters is you both get to talk every day (as much as possible). I cannot stress how important and basic this is. Since you can’t be together physically, this is the closest thing you can get for now.
2. There will be arguments, but that’s okay!
No person is perfect. It follows that no relationship is perfect either. You will have fights and disagreements, as in any relationship. But instead of thinking of it as a problem per se, I think of it as an opportunity to get to know your partner better and to settle your differences. But it only works if you both listen to each other. If something is bothering you, let your partner know ASAP. Since you’re in a LDR, it will be difficult to pick up nonverbal cues, so it’s best to tell your issues straight up. Just get straight to the point and be honest about how you feel. At the same time, be open to hearing the other side. More often than not, it’s just a case of misunderstanding. It’s also very important to learn how to meet them halfway, not for the sake of avoiding conflict, but more of learning to accept them for who they are and understanding where they are coming from.
3. Never break your partner’s trust
A relationship will not last without trust and honesty. Now more than ever, you’ll be relying on your partner’s trust and fidelity. Do not use this distance as an opportunity to cheat! Never give them a reason to doubt you. Ultimately, this will serve as a test on how committed and faithful you are to your partner. If you pass the test, then chances are you’ll still be together once the quarantine is over.
4. Use this time for self-improvement
Since you’re spending most of your time at home, take this opportunity to improve on yourself. Take an online course, exercise, learn a new recipe, start your own garden, make your passion project. Whatever it is, just make the most out of the time you’re apart. So that when you do meet again, you’ll already be better versions of yourselves.
5. Try to do things together even if you’re apart
Last May, I was supposed to fly to Manila for our 7th anniversary. We already made plans. But then, the pandemic happened and everything got cancelled just like that. So instead of feeling miserable, we thought of doing something we’ve never done before — a virtual date. It was basically having dinner together, but through a Zoom call. To my surprise (and delight), it actually felt like a real date! We then tried playing board games online and watched a Netflix show at the same time. There are tons of activities that you can do together even if you’re apart, you just have to be creative enough!
6. Give each other some space too
Nowadays, we are used to getting things instantly — message replies included. There will be times when they couldn’t reply to your messages or calls immediately because they were in the middle of something — it may be a chore, a game, or perhaps a movie. And that’s really okay. Unless you’re in a really important conversation, allow them to have some time for themselves as well. Otherwise, they might feel like you’re too controlling or needy. The best way to settle this is to set each other’s expectations, that way one won’t feel ignored and the other won’t feel exasperated.
7. Make plans for when you see each other again
Think of places you want to visit or food you want to try so you have something to look forward to when this is all over. You will also need some things to inspire you, so think happy thoughts. This pandemic will eventually come to an end, and you will be together again soon.
Every relationship is different, so what works for me may not work for you. Hopefully you’ll be able to pick up a thing or two from the tips I’ve just shared. Don’t worry too much. Try to live and take things one day at a time. Pretty soon, we will be able to hug our loved ones again. But until then, let’s all stay healthy — mentally, physically, and emotionally — not just for ourselves, but also for the people we love. ✳︎