My boyfriend and I spent just three months together before the first COVID-19 lockdown drove us apart. Since then, we’ve spent the majority of our relationship adjusting to various government restrictions. With just a 10-minute drive between us, our lockdown separation has felt bizarrely like going through a breakup, while we tried to find fulfilling ways to maintain our relationship at the same time. Spending time away from your partner is testing in normal circumstances, let alone with the emotional weight of a global pandemic on your mind!
For all the loved-up ones among us who aren’t spending lockdown with their partners, there’s still plenty of heart-warming ways to keep the sparks burning bright. Here are a few tried-and-tested ideas for keeping your relationship alive while we endure this unsettling period of our lives.
Take advantage of technology
Soulja Boy was really ahead of the game when he sang ‘Kiss Me Thru The Phone’. Setting aside time for a face-to-face phone call is one of the best ways to connect with your partner! While texting can feel easy and convenient, it allows for a lot of miscommunication and often prevents you both from having a proper conversation.
Video calling has its undeniable benefits in this situation but the transition from meeting up with your partner multiple times a week to just seeing their face on a screen can be quite a difficult adjustment. I sometimes feel quite isolated when a video call finishes and I suddenly realise that I’m sat alone in my bedroom. Unfortunately, video calling is never going to be quite the same but we’ve got to try and make the best of a bad situation!
Planning virtual date nights is another way of making video calling more exciting. Ordering food and watching a film while you chat is super comforting if you’re missing cosy Netflix nights-in! You could also make a shared Spotify playlist, where you both add your favourite songs and listen to each other’s recommendations.
If you’re often sitting on your bed, scrolling mind-numbingly through social media and stumbling across videos that make you chuckle, share them with your partner! I get endless joy from sending my boyfriend random content that we can both laugh at, without having to discuss anything too serious. It’s a fun way to stay in touch and distract ourselves from the current situation.
Focus on your interests
Focusing on your hobbies is a great way to keep your relationship alive and helps you adjust to your alone time! Whether you enjoy reading, baking, or gaming, there’s nothing better than spending an evening catching up with your partner to talk about how you’ve both spent your day. I personally find engrossing myself in an activity to be a wonderful distraction from my general feelings of sadness about the situation, as well as potential relationship overthinking. While spending so much time on my own was scary at first, I realised just how important separate interests are for maintaining a healthy relationship.
After concentrating on our own pastimes, my boyfriend and I are able to teach each other new things and discuss the activities we both enjoy. As an avid reader, I love to chat with him about ideas and themes in my current book, or even about the TV show I’ve been glued to. Doing the things you love and supporting one another are definitely needed during a time of crisis. Even if you have completely different interests, giving each other the time to speak about your own hobbies can help you reflect on the positive aspects of your day.
Go for socially distanced walks
If you’re lucky enough to live in the same local area why not head out for your daily exercise together? Going for a socially distanced walk allows you to spend time with your loved one and the fresh air will be sure to lift your moods. While keeping a 2-metre distance might not be the physical contact you’re craving, you’ll still experience a form of closeness when seeing your partner in person.
It took me quite a while to see the positives of the socially-distanced walk. While the two of us were surrounded by nature, it was anything but natural to avoid coming within 2 metres of each other. Our pre-pandemic arrangement consisted of seeing each other most nights out of the week, so the restrictions felt like a sudden all-to-nothing change. At least during the first lockdown, we were blessed with gorgeously sunny days, making walks a lot more bearable. Sliding along the icy pavement in gloomy January, seeing your own breath in the air, and wondering how long it will take for your frozen fingers to fall off, is perhaps not quite as romantic. However, if walking together within the guidelines is a chance to feel some sort of connection with your partner, it’s worth it.
Check in on each other
Along with fun video-sharing and virtual date nights, it’s also important to check in with your partner. Whether you’re having worries about the relationship, or you just want to share how you’re feeling, openly communicating with one another will ensure your bond is as strong as possible.
These conversations can be quite difficult when they are taking place virtually but sharing your feelings is ideal for clearing your mind and keeping your relationship on track. It’s useful, albeit more daunting, to have these conversations on the phone to avoid text message misinterpretation. If you’re already having a delicate heart-to-heart, the lack of emotion sent and received through messages can often lead to unnecessary added problems. There’s no doubt the pandemic has been emotionally draining so making sure you’re able to properly communicate and respect each other’s needs is key.
Remember, this is temporary
It’s very easy to feel miserable but try your hardest to remind yourself that even though the past year has been challenging, this strange situation won’t last forever. Instead, think about how fantastic you’ll feel when your relationship will no longer be restricted by government guidelines! I always tell myself this when I’m feeling down, and while social media may be flooded with pictures of cute couples spending their lockdown together, I know I’m not the only person in this situation.
An enjoyable way to stay positive is to write a list of all the things you’d like to do together when the pandemic ends. Planning a trip away, for example, is perfect for occupying your minds and giving you something to look forward to. It’s perfectly natural to miss your partner and feel every emotion that comes with it. I can assure you though, reuniting will be nothing but rewarding.
Words by Alanah Reid
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