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Love in the time of quarantine: 8 Couples on their LDRs, coping in quarantine, and reuniting after months apart

Love in the time of quarantine: 8 Couples on their LDRs, coping in quarantine, and reuniting after months apart

Digital dating

Text: Redzhanna Jazmin

How can we stay connected? How do we keep the spark alight? These individuals share their experiences of being in a long distance relationship and everything that comes with it.

Long-distance sucks. Objectively. There are a lot of factors that could potentially land you in an LDR, but with the ongoing COVID pandemic, it’s pretty safe to say that the phenomenon has become pretty widespread. If, by chance, you happen to be among the unfortunate crowd of pining partners, fret not—you're not alone.

We consulted 8 people in long-distance, short-distance, and recently-reunited relationships to glean some of their best advice. From utilising food delivery services to gaming online, there are some real top tips for any of you out there looking for pointers.

READThe best online co-op games to play with your long-distance partner 

Wei Yeen, 29

Has recently married their partner of 8-ish years after 5 years of long-distance dating and 9 months of (separate) quarantine

long distance relationships quotes
Instagram @lirisaw

How long have you been together/were you in an LDR before quarantine?

“We were together for two and a half years first before doing long-distance for another five (he was in Singapore, I was here in Malaysia). The recent quarantine-LDR went on for nine months—we managed to meet one last time in March 2020 before the first MCO. We used to be able to see each other on a monthly basis but then the pandemic and lockdown made it entirely impossible.”

What was the hardest thing about being in an LDR?

“We were already in an LDR prior to that, so the ways we communicated were still pretty much the same. It was just tough not being able to see each other (completely so) for that nine months—which felt extra long since we were all cooped up at home and stressed about WFH and our future plans (we were supposed to plan our wedding).

“It sucks when your partner isn't there (and vice versa) for the important stuff like birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions with your family. And then there's the inevitable 'what if' thoughts when you're all alone and thinking about the future i.e. What if this pandemic never ends? What if this relationship doesn't survive the pandemic? What if I'll never see him again? What if we had to cancel our wedding/engagement? ... etc."

How did it feel to reunite with your SO?

“It was a whirlwind of emotions, as cliche as it sounds—only because when I got out of the quarantine, I had to make my way to my ROM. It isn't every day that you get married on the day you first reunite with your partner. It was equal parts emotional, "Do we have all the paperwork?!", and relief. Also, it felt very much like coming home after a long, long day (nine months apart and another extra 14 days of quarantine took a toll, not gonna lie). I thought I would've cried or at the very least, shed a tear or two, but I think my mind was more preoccupied with 'OMG we're getting married in a few hours'.”

How did you cope with the distance?

“We did pretty much what we did for the previous five years—a lot of FaceTime/video calls, texting frequently to check in with each other, sharing memes, articles, anything we stumbled upon online that we know would make the other person laugh; talk about things and keep each other in good spirits most of the time.

“I feel that laughter for both of us is important in that sense—having a positive mindset, working towards a goal (if the only way we could meet is to get married, and we were planning to get married eventually, then that's a solution!), just really communicating and taking that extra mile to communicate clearly to prevent misunderstandings (which could happen more frequently especially since we're hundreds of miles apart).”

Do you have any advice for other couples in the same position?

“Don't wallow in the above-mentioned thoughts i.e. 'what if' scenarios! It's easy to spiral down that woe-is-me/us route, which could likely lead to arguments with your partner. It also doesn't help to dwell on those because who knows what may happen the next day, year, five years, 10 years, etc? Nobody has the definitive answers now and the best way to go about it is to manage both your expectations, keep checking in with each other and being *there* as much as you can for each other. Have a bit of empathy and know that whatever happens, you're both in it together.

“Keep yourself busy with friends, family; do things you/you both love together, whether it's having virtual dates via video calls, having a watch party, trying out a new recipe together, playing video games together etc.”

Gaston, 23

Has been with their partner for two (and a bit) years, has been in a long-distance relationship for over a year

Love in the time of quarantine: 8 Couples on their LDRs, coping in quarantine, and reuniting after months apart (фото 1)

How long-distance is your relationship?

“We have known each other for 3 years and have actually been together for a total of 2 and a bit. Although, it feels like I've known her my whole life and still any amount of time we spend together isn't enough.

“We've been away from each other for a solid year and a bit now too and that has been rough. In terms of actual physical distance, though? I have bounced around a lot of countries in the last year, so the distance changes. We're currently in the same time-zone which is miles better than the 13-hour time difference we were doing beforehand.”

What is the hardest thing about being in an LDR?

“I don't think there's one particular thing that's hard, I think it's just how moments lose their intimacy over the internet. We call so frequently that it's difficult to make things feel special. For example: Celebrating birthdays, consoling them, congratulating them on their promotion, having to post their gifts and missing their reaction—you get the gist.”

How do you cope with the distance/spend time together and stay connected?

“We're coping okay. I wouldn't say we're in trouble or anything. Mostly, we play a lot of games and watch a lot of Netflix together. You can't constantly be on the phone with someone and try to chat the whole time away; it's unsustainable. Especially at the moment, everything is locked down and so nothing is happening in my life that warrants more than a 10-minute segment of the conversation.

“Plus, it's important to recreate the moments you would have otherwise—like being snuggled up on the sofa binge-watching some 15 season show (I’m definitely talking about Supernatural). Gaming has really helped us find places we can cooperate and interact in some manner, like furiously hugging in Stardew Valley over and over (don’t @ me. It's been a rough year).”

Do you have any advice for other couples in the same position? (if not, no worries)

“My advice would be to plan ahead. Things get easier when you're counting down to something. We've lost that due to COVID and it's a real bummer, so I'm just constantly looking for a solid date I can say 'this is when we'll see each other'.

“Otherwise, I'd say that even when your whole being just wants to curl up and feel sorry for yourself, just try and just get on with your days and live in the moment a bit more. My philosophy is that if time flies when you're having fun, the more enjoyable your days are and the sooner you'll see your other half.”

Jane, 23

Has been in a relationship for 4 years, and long-distance for 6 months

Love in the time of quarantine: 8 Couples on their LDRs, coping in quarantine, and reuniting after months apart (фото 2)

What was the hardest thing about being in an LDR?

“Honestly, just being able to chill and interact. When you are together, you don’t have to actively come up with conversation—everything comes naturally. But if you’re long-distance in quarantine, you can’t cuddle, you can’t physically annoy each other, and the only thing you have left to talk to each other about is your day in quarantine, which can get repetitive or boring. Nothing beats real-life interaction and doing things together like walks, exercise, cooking, et cetera.”

How did it feel to reunite with your SO?

“So nice. I actually couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen each other for half a year—but, luckily, everything went back to normal like before.”

How did you cope with the distance?

“We called a lot, had Netflix parties, tried playing video games through Steam because it felt more interactive, we played chess (shoutout to Anya Taylor Joy and Queen’s Gambit), and just really tried talking about everything we could.

Do you have any advice for others in an LDR?

“Watch anime together. That’s it.”

Sam, 26

Has been in a relationship for over 9 months, met their partner in quarantine

long distance relationships quotes

What is the hardest thing about being in an LDR?

“The hardest thing is probably the lack of physical presence of the other person. Especially since we started our relationship during the MCO, we haven’t exactly had the time to really go out and do things together as a couple. Also, I’ve realised that I definitely find it harder to have meaningful conversations through text (or even phone calls) compared to in-person, so we have felt that our communication over the last few weeks since the MCO 2.0 was implemented has kind of been slipping—at least before we finally had a proper talk about how we were feeling.”

How are you coping with the distance?

“We, as I’m sure many others have, have turned to finding things to do online together. We've managed to find games to play online together such as Stardew Valley or Among Us, and we also try to watch Netflix shows together using Netflix Party (now known as Teleparty). We've also been planning things to do for once the MCO ends (which, hopefully, isn’t too long from now…).”

Do you have any advice for other couples in the same position?

“Have an open and frank discussion with each other to set expectations such as if you want to have a video call every day or want to set aside a day on the weekend to 'hang out' with each other. I think for guys, it might be a bit easier to adjust to lockdown by turning back to gaming with the guys, but it might leave your partner sitting there at home bored out of her mind (I’m guilty of this).

“Also with food delivery being so easily available, a random act of food delivery is quite cute—its quite easy to surprise your significant other with a mid-day bubble tea for a little energy boost to help them get through the rest of the workday.

Kat, 24

Entered a short-distance relationship two weeks before the MCO 2.0 was implemented

Love in the time of quarantine: 8 Couples on their LDRs, coping in quarantine, and reuniting after months apart (фото 3)
Instagram: @lirisaw

What is the hardest thing about dating during the MCO?

“Not being able to spend time together in real life…”

How did it feel to reunite with your SO?

“It felt like we were able to cherish our time together more. Also, the distance allowed us to experience our relationship in different ways—we’re both not very good with our phones but it showed that we could still communicate clearly and grow together even while we were physically apart.”

What are your coping mechanisms?

“Mostly checking in with each other regularly and making sure we’re both on the same page with how we feel.”

Tash, 27

Has been together with their partner for 9 years, has spent 7 of those years in an LDR

long distance relationships quotes

How long-distance is your relationship?

“Long enough—I’m in Dubai and my partner is in KL, so that’s a four-hour time difference, a seven-hour flight and one tightly closed border.”

How are you coping with the distance?

“Not well, and especially not with the pandemic. Pretty much everything about being in an LDR is hard—staying connected, updating your partner on both the small and big things, the feeling of FOMO, etc. We usually just video call frequently and watch movies over Zoom. That’s pretty much it.”

Do you have any advice for other couples in the same position?

“Um.. don’t do it (lol). But also, if you do, just be patient. It will all (hopefully) be okay in the end.”

Isabel, 25

Has been in a 4+ year relationship that has recently become long distance

long distance relationships quotes
Image: Unsplash

How long-distance is your relationship?

“We were together for 4 years+ and practically stayed a few minutes away from each other, but now he’s back in his hometown and that’s about a 4-hour drive away.”

What is the hardest thing about dating during the MCO?

“Not being to hold each other! Specifically, those days when all you want is a hug and not talk.”

How did it feel to reunite with your SO?

“It felt like I just came home after a long day.”

How do you cope with the distance?

“We do video calls every night before bed so we can update each other about our day. Most of the time we game together, or otherwise, I would watch him game through streams. We often send each other food too!”

Do you have any advice for other couples in the same position?

Distance means nothing when they’re the right person. Patience is a virtue so hang in there! The moment when you both reunite will make every waiting moment worthwhile.”

Fran, 22

Has been in a relationship for around a year, which has been sporadically long-distance

Love in the time of quarantine: 8 Couples on their LDRs, coping in quarantine, and reuniting after months apart (фото 4)

How long-distance was your relationship?

“We currently aren’t in a LDR but when my boyfriend lived in his family home we would be a 4-hour drive apart. But, given the current COVID circumstances, it can feel like an LDR wherever.”

What is the hardest thing about being in an LDR?

“When you are in an LDR there is less emphasis to set aside time for quality time with one another—you wouldn’t necessarily set aside an entire weekend for a FaceTime call. So, quality time often has to get integrated with the hustle and bustle of every day.”

How are you coping with the distance?

“The best way we have coped was to try and have a set date to look forward to. We’re lucky enough that that’s a possibility for us.”

How do you spend time together and stay connected?

“We normally text throughout the day and call if and when we can. Then, we stick to a longer call in the evenings when can properly chat and the conversation isn’t just limited to ‘ok I have a meeting in 2 minutes byeee’.”

What was it like reuniting with your partner?

“It’s always been quite surreal seeing my boyfriend after a long time apart, as you get so used to them existing only virtually. You get used to leaning on them emotionally but then you can actually lean on them in real life!”

Some names have been changed for privacy. Find more on relationships here.