Further Than an Ocean
This is a challenging time in the world, especially for those in long distance relationships. Here's a look into how my boyfriend Jelly and I are navigating it.
Long distance relationships are challenging enough as it is. Managing time differences, coordinating schedules to determine when we can visit each other, relying on FaceTime calls to feel closer to one another, and now, there is a pandemic in the mix. I recognize that with this global health crisis, there are much more pressing issues in the world currently than when I will see my boyfriend again. But my relationship is a big part of my life, and in this post I wanted to focus on how it's being impacted by Coronavirus, because it is.
In March, I had a trip booked to visit Jelly in France for my spring break. Unfortunately, Coronavirus had other plans and about a week before I was supposed to leave, I had to cancel my flight because the virus was starting to really take its toll on European countries. Jelly and I were very upset as I'm sure you can imagine, but we were hopeful that I might be able to go see him after I graduated in May. It is now mid-June and I still have no idea when I will be able to see him. That's one of the main things we are struggling with: The uncertainty of when we will be reunited. Currently, the external borders of France and the U.S. are closed to travelers, so we physically cannot see one another and we don't yet know when those borders will reopen. Being an ocean apart from each other is one thing, but it feels very different when you know you couldn't get to the other person even if you needed to. It's also really difficult not having a set date to look forward to. I last saw Jelly on January 12th, and it's now June 16th so it's been just over five months which is the longest we've gone without visiting each other. Having a date to look forward to and countdown to in the past has been very helpful in managing my stress about not seeing him for extended periods of time, but no longer having a date is very challenging. With that, we also now are worrying about flight costs increasing once travel becomes safer, making it less affordable to see each other.
Another aspect that I'm personally struggling with is the fact that our countries are in different phases of the pandemic. In France, everything seems pretty much back to normal and there are very few cases now. Jelly is able to attend parties and see friends and go out to places without having to worry too much. On the other hand, in the U.S., cases are continuing to increase in many states and while Connecticut is moving into Phase 2 of reopening tomorrow, things don't feel anywhere near normal. It's still a risk to go out in public. It's been difficult for me to watch Jelly get back to a somewhat normal life, while I'm still stuck in my house. It's also hard for me to watch him get back to normal because I feel like I'm missing out on more and more of his life and there's nothing either of us can do about it. It's challenging not to be jealous of his friends who get to see him and make new memories with him, and not knowing when I will be able to make new memories with him.
How We're Coping
We've been together for almost a year and a half, so when presented with this challenge, we knew we would need to push through and find solutions because we want our relationship to continue to grow. We know that once we make it through this, we will be able to make it through anything together.
One thing we've been trying to do at least once a week is have some kind of virtual date. We've been doing movie dates pretty often where we'll watch a movie together (both play the same movie at the same time while we're on a video call). We've also had little dates where we'll just have a drink and talk to one another for a while. It's not the same as being together in person, but it definitely helps us to feel closer to one another.
We weren't able to send packages directly to one another due to the borders and post offices being closed, but we found a way to order things through the Amazon in the other person's country and have that item sent to them. It's a bit more challenging for me since France's Amazon site is in French, but I managed with a bit of help from Google Translate.
On a more personal level, we often talk about the future and things we will do together one day and places we want to travel together. This gives us hope and helps us to look forward to our future instead of feeling stuck in the present situation. It's also been helpful to us to reminisce about the wonderful adventures we've already had together. Looking back at pictures and bringing up little details and moments that the other person may have forgotten has also helped to keep us hopeful and positive. Reassurance is another important element. It's easy to let your negative thoughts get the best of you, especially in a situation like this. But to have Jelly reminding me that he loves me, he's here for me, and he's in this together with me, gives me the confidence I need to keep persevering.
The main thing I keep trying to remind myself is that this situation is temporary. This time apart will end and we'll see each other again and be able to make new memories. We still have our whole lives ahead of us to spend together.