If you had asked me even just 2 weeks ago whether or not the whole world would be in a long-distance relationship, I would have laughed at you. Today though, on March 20th, 2020 many cities, states, and countries are quarantined, living through a shelter at home order, and either very, very close to their loved ones in close quarters, or socially distant from friends, family, and their partners. Many of us are now in a forced long-distance relationship now with both friends, family, coworkers and our romantic partners.
Here are my tips as to how to manage our long-distance relationships with our loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Remind yourself that this is only temporary.
This too shall pass. Yes, we are in a state of global crisis, as medical professionals, our politicians, and pharmaceutical companies try to make sense of what is going on and help our communities, as well as implement policies to relieve the burdens we are all facing. HOWEVER, we must remember that we all have been through adversity. We have experienced adversity personally, professionally, nationally, economically, etc. Nothing in life is really ever permanent. Emotions are not even permanent. Emotions come and go. And thus, we must do our best to remember that the distance is only temporary.
2. Create date nights and virtual hangouts.
We are so blessed to have technological advances that can help us stay connected while we are experiencing distance with our loved ones. Let's use those technological advances to our advantage. Schedule FaceTime dates, virtual hangouts with your friends, Netflix and chill from your homes at the same time, and do the old fashioned thing and pick up the phone and call your loved one.
3. Maintain healthy communication skills and outline your expectations during this time.
There will be many paradoxes that will need to occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the one hand, you will need to be assertive with your partner while also forgiving and understanding if communication is not fully where it needs to be. On the one hand, you will need to be clear about what your expectations are, while at the same time working to modify those expectations. I say this because we are all living in a state of unknown. Every hour we are getting new pieces of information. If normally your desire and expectations are to speak with your partner two times per day, extenuating circumstances may require you to check in once or change the timeframe of the check-in. This may due to one or both of you preparing to have supplies that you need. You may need to do another Costco run, etc. While being understanding and accommodating, do not lose your communication skills. State your needs. State your fears. State your hopes. Schedule time to talk about it.
4. Be intimate.
Distance should not and will not stop you both from intimacy and connection unless you let it. While we are forced to get creative as to how to occupy our time at home, we must also get creative about intimacy! I suggest the following, and please take what you are willing to try:
Send Suggestive and Flirty pictures
Send love letters (virtual or snail mail)
Express Gratitude for what you love about your partner
Utilize masturbation and self-pleasure individually or together, as long as it is within the confines of your relationship boundaries.
Explore your fantasies with each other
5. For long-distance relationships to work, there has to be a plan to ultimately end the distance.
With the uncertainty currently there may not be an answer to this question, however, it must be explored or talked about. Long-distance does not work when it is indefinite. Humans are animals and we are ultimately relational beings, that require human contact, support, and touch. Have that conversation as to when you both are thinking about the distance ending. Is that a realistic timeline for you both?
With all sincerity, I send everyone my compassion throughout this ever-changing time. For couples who are forced to do a period of distance, it does get easier. Your mind and body will adapt to these changes. We are all resilient beings. Follow some of the steps above and you may notice it isn't as bad as you thought it might be. Happy Netflix and chill to all of you!
About the Guest Blogger
Janet Bayramyan is a Licensed Social Worker in Florida and California who has specialized training in EMDR and Havening Techniques. She provides her services to individuals and couples in person and through telehealth that reside in FL and CA. She also co-authored a workbook for couples in long-distance relationships.