Giggling and stuffing my face with sushi while my boyfriend talks a little too loud for being inside of a restaurant is where I should be as we enter our third month of dating, but instead we’ll have to settle for video calls and Snapchats.
We’ve been dating for a short three months, but one of those months has been spent entirely in quarantine as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With him about an hour away and both of our families taking social distancing seriously, our young relationship has turned into a not-so-long-distance relationship.
And it’s been hard, but it’s also been rewarding.
When I think about a typical week pre-pandemic, I think about how frequently I used to see him. I hadn’t realized just how often that was until it was taken away, and let me tell you, I was spoiled. Now, having only seen him twice since March 13 — that’s 31 days apart for anyone keeping track — I miss him more every day, but I also believe our relationship has grown stronger.
Through the distance, I have learned to slow down and appreciate every moment I have with him, even if that means a five-minute phone call. We’ve learned the value of communication and little gratitudes, compliments and silly care packages.
Some days are hard for him, and some days are hard for me. Making it through this is about recognizing that and being there for the other when we can. It’s about understanding that some days we’re both going to feel off, and some days we may have to cut ourselves some slack.
Dating is supposed to be exciting, not difficult. I guess the thing is, even though this is difficult, we’ve found ways to still make it exciting. We haven’t put our relationship on hold, and we haven’t let it come between us. We’ve taken this as a chance to be creative and find new ways to connect. We’ve learned new things about one another, and we continue to make memories.
Ways to feel connected despite the distance
Virtual dates: Download a free video chatting app like Zoom or Google Duo. Set a time and date, and order delivery from the same restaurant. You can enjoy your lunches together from “across the table.” Make it feel like a date by getting yourself ready, and try to focus on the fact that in one way, you are together.
Netflix Party: Netflix Party is a really cool extension that lets you and your significant other stream Netflix shows at the same time. You’ll even have control over the other person’s screen, so if someone needs to pause to get a snack, both screens will automatically pause at the same time. Now is a great time to binge something new or rewatch old favorites.
Make something together: My boyfriend kept mentioning that he hopes when this is over we still go out and do things together. Scrolling through Pinterest one day, I found a DIY craft for a Year of Dates in a Box. I painted a box and taught him how to fold paper into origami envelopes while we both wrote down ‘secret’ date ideas and activities. Now we both know that when we inevitably get bored after this is over, we can reach into our box and pull out a fun idea. You can make any craft and tailor it to your relationship; it’s just nice to do something together.
Ask silly questions: We spend literally hours asking each other ridiculous questions, and I have learned things about my boyfriend I never knew I needed to know. If you’re intimidated by the idea of spewing out random questions in quick succession, here’s a list of 150 questions you can each ask and answer.
Send each other stuff: This one has especially helped me through the distance. Sure, he’ll send me a hot chocolate or a surprise gift, but my favorite mailed gift was one of his hoodies. In return, I sent him about 12 handwritten letters with instructions to open one per day. I think these gifts top the rest because they both gave us a piece of the other person.