Long Distance Relationships And COVID-19

by Julianna Marie

I’ve been a long-term relationship (on-and-off, but that’s a different story) for the past five years, and three of those years have been long-distance with me on the West Coast and him on the East. Whenever my boyfriend and I started dating at the ripe age of 16, there were a few things we didn’t think the future was going to slap us in the face with:

1. Him moving an hour and a half away one day after graduation.

2. Me enrolling in a school across the country.

3. Him staying on the east coast for college.

4. A seven month breakup that happened out of the fear of a long distance relationship.

5. A global pandemic that was going to force the entire world into a series of lockdowns and send many happy couples into a sudden long-distance relationship in 2020.

Be honest, did anyone see that one coming?

There are a few people that I have bones to pick with: the inventor of the spork, the studio executive who decided to cancel Pushing Daisies, and whoever said, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

The sentiment is correct. I just wish it didn’t hurt so bad.

In addition to the 3,000 miles and 3 hour time difference, the world decided to add yet another barrier to my relationship and the relationships of so many: a global pandemic. Long distance relationships are hard enough without the threat of catching a deadly, highly contagious virus. It’s like the universe decided to add another 10,000,000 miles to my relationship just for fun. I couldn’t help but to feel jaded, selfish, and hopeless.

It’s been over a year since the initial lockdowns due to COVID-19, and what a “traditional relationship” looks like has changed drastically. Movie theatre dates are now over Zoom, and Friday night dinners are matching takeout over a Facetime call.

Why does it have to be distance, of all of the things in the world, that makes the heart grow fonder?

I wondered why it took being away from someone to, theoretically, love them more. Other couples would be together all of the time and be perfectly happy. But, for some reason, we couldn’t be like other couples. It didn’t seem fair, it wasn’t fair. And I know I’m not alone in thinking that.

But then, I took a step back and wondered why I was in this relationship. Why do I continue the facetime dates and phone calls and months of falling asleep alone, when life could be so much easier without it?

Because it’s worth it.

One of the most valuable things the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me is that the very quote I detested (“absence makes the heart grow fonder”) is actually true. I realized that there isn’t anyone else I’d rather go through all of this with. I never thought that falling asleep on Facetime and Zoom movie nights would be the highlight of my week, but 2020 taught me to expect the unexpected and to never take simple things for granted.

Long distance has taught me how fragile life and love is.

Throughout the pandemic, I realized that it is of the utmost importance that you let the people in your life know how much you love them. Even if they’re miles away because, think about it, if your relationship can survive the heartache, the distance, a global pandemic… then it can survive (mostly) anything.

Long distance sucks. It’s confusing and heartbreaking and awfully lonely at times. It’s normal to be sad: to lay in bed for a bit and think about your person or to binge rom-coms and eat an entire pint of sorbet. But just know that you aren’t alone.

Whether you started out long distance, have been in an LDR since before the pandemic, or have been thrown into a long distance relationship due to COVID, just know that what you’re feeling is okay. And, eventually, if you continue to put the effort in, everything will work out in your favor. Because in the end, when you’re finally together, you can look back at this time and reflect on how it made you love and appreciate each other just that much more.

And if you don’t believe me, you can believe them:

“The most important thing someone should know about being long distance is that it’s the truest test of love available.” – Mike and Elle, together for a year and a half.

“I fell in love with my boyfriend while we were long distance. Having that never ending love and support is always worth the struggles of not physically being together.” – Stephanie and Riley, together for 4 months.

“If you’re in love, in synch, and in harmony with that person…it’s worth it. I think love is always worth it.” –Athena and Mark, together for two years.

COVID forced us to learn how to manage being present for ourselves rather than just each other. We had to learn to find healthy ways to be independent people while also being in a relationship.” – Clarisse and Jason, together for one year.

“It’s one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it’s definitely worth it for the times that we are together.” – Gemma and Bobby, together for one year.

I’d rather wait to be with him than physically be with anyone else.” – Joy and Erik, together for two and a half years.

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