Ugh is pretty much all I have to say right now about this. It’s gone from more of a long, whiney “ugggggghahhhhh” accompanied by lots of tears, to an angry “grrrrrr” to actually a bit of a pathetic “wehhhhhh” – but now, it’s a despondent, reluctant, over this shit “ugh” – long distance relationships in the face of a global pandemic just really really is not the one. And even if you’re not in an actual LDR, the chances are that if you do not live with your partner, this lockdown has turned your regular relationship into a long distance on even if you only live 15 minutes away. I’ve had people messaging me saying how even though their partner lives a few miles away, it’s been weeks since they have seen them last. It’s tough, but it’s like… welcome to my world, sis. I want to give you the update on us, how we’re coping, and some ideas that may help anyone else cope through these “unprecedented times!!!” (honestly, I am so over the use of that damn word…)
Most of you will probably have read my post about how I’m in a (very) LDR with my boyfriend Jimmy who lives in Australia – and if you haven’t, there’s a chance you may be a bit bored so why not give it a read for context?! Others will know about this relationship simply through my Instagram. We’ve been lucky we have managed to make it work seeing each other for 2-3 weeks at a time, every 3-4 weeks when J is off work. As it’s so far apart, we would use meeting up as an excuse to go travelling and discover a new destination (Sri Lanka) or go back to an old favourite to explore together (like Bali).
We had it all figured out. In early March, he moved out of his apartment in Melbourne so that he could fly to me during his time off from work and live part-time at work and part-time in London with me. And then suddenly, the COVID-19 pandemic which had been bubbling under the surface just completely erupted. Borders were closed. Travel bans were introduced. Whole continents were banned from travelling to other countries. Some countries have stopped their people leaving. Big things happened very very quickly, and this really, really didn’t come at a good time. So what the fuck happens now?
Everything is changing so quickly all of the time. Right now, I’m back in London where we are on lockdown. Jimmy is back in Melbourne, forced into mandatory quarantine in a hotel after being unable to fly back from New Zealand before Australia’s super strict new rules came into play. He’s been trapped in the same hotel room, unable to leave, unable to get fresh air (no windows), being monitored by 2 members of security on each floor 24hrs a day, no choice of what food he gets to eat, unable to order food in, and going to bed hungry each night (the food is apparently vile and the portions are too small) The poor boy is going stir crazy from being stuck in the same room and being banned from leaving. Imagine being told you can only use your bedroom and toilet for the next 2 weeks and you have none of your own things around you… The doors are shut and you cannot leave.
Yes, it’s a 5* hotel, but the fact it is one makes it feel like they can’t complain. But it’s not like it’s 5* service… it’s just a room. A room that’s getting grimier as he isn’t even allowed any anti-bac wipes to clean, hasn’t been given fresh bed sheets to change himself, and he suffers from OCD when it comes to cleanliness – so it’s been very difficult for him. Not to mention, the hotels response to his complaints of post-surgery back spasms were to give him enough strong prescription drugs that he could have overdosed on – not a wise idea considering peoples mental health is being really tested in these rooms and people are finding themselves in dark places. They are being treated worse than prisoners in there, and whilst I don’t dispute the country’s choice of mandatory quarantine, I completely disagree with the way they are been treated. There is zero dignity or respect in what I have witnessed through him.
So, when will we be able to travel to see each other again?
After he leaves, he’s hopefully going back to work (providing he can get there) as he is considered a key worker. But then what? There’s a travel ban in Australia, and after working for a period of time (we don’t know how long this will be) will the world have sorted itself out enough for him to leave the country? The mandatory quarantine has had such a terrible effect on his mindset I would hate for him to come over to London to have to go back and do that all again before returning to work. And I can’t travel there as Australia isn’t letting non-residents in… and really… do I want to travel now considering the government has advised completely against it? Nope. No I don’t. It’s kind of out of the question.
So as it stands, I have zero clue of when I will see him again. I suppose at least I have somewhere to call home – the poor boy moved out of his apartment and on leaving the hotel, is going to have to live indefinitely at his work accommodation…
A TALE OF TWO SIDES
So let me bring this back to you. You’re going to be in one of two camps: you are living with your partner. This is because you either were before lockdown, OR, because you decided to be lockdown lovers and move in temporarily so that you do not have to be apart during this time. Or you are in the second camp, the one previously mentioned whereby you are currently embarking into LDR territory with your partner who actually only lives 8 tube stops away but you cannot see as you’re not allowed to mix households. OR, actually, you’re in the third camp of people who are still going to visit their partners like normal without isolating with them which is very naughty and not government guidelines so that’s bad so you get no attention from me here.
THE NEW SHORT DISTANCE/LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP
For anyone in a regular long distance relationship, or one of these new short-distance-long-distance-relationships (SDLDR?!) you are going to know how this sucks. It sucks balls. I have found myself unable to watch the Instagram stories of my coupled-up pals who are living with their boyfriends (be it temporary for isolation measures, or a more permanent situ) because of how desperately low it makes me feel. It’s hard because I’m happy that my friends have someone and have company, but it is achingly painful seeing them having fun where I’m sitting alone, thinking it could quite possibly be 4-6 months minimum before I see J again, and pondering if I am actually in love with a real person or if I’m in love with a computer-generated image of a man that talks to me on video call every day. Is this real? Or just an image on my phone? Is it a new Instagram filter?
I remind myself Instagram is a highlights reel – she actually hates the food that he cooks for her despite posting it on her stories each day #blessed #luckygirl #mygordonramsay, he just wants to play FIFA with the lads instead, and they’re probably not even shagging that much.
How me and Jimmy are making it work and some ideas for you guys too
For us the distance isn’t hard. We’re used to long video calls, stupid time differences, and switching up schedules to accommodate these things. But what is quite honestly the most difficult thing is not knowing when we will see each other again. I’m used to going a month without him… but I always have an end date to how long I’ll be missing him for that I can count down towards. Now, missing him will be indefinite.
It can feel like that for anyone finding themselves not living with their partner – no matter how much distance. It’s supposed to be announced on Thursday that in the UK, our lockdown is going to be extended by 3 more weeks. So for those of you not isolating with your boyfs, that’s potentially at least another 3 weeks without seeing them. How I’m dealing with it is taking each day at it comes and reminding myself that everything is temporary – including this absolute shit storm. I find it hard not to look and plan ahead, but right now, that makes me feel worse, so I try and keep myself happy in my relationship and work with what I’ve got for now, day by day.
Also, trust me… the best feeling in the world for me is when I am reunited with Jimmy after time apart. Spending so long apart makes you really value what you have with someone (or, it might make you realise that actually, it’s not what you want?) – distance can give a lot of clarity … so if there is one positive, that moment you reunite with your loverboy/gal, it’s going to feel a m a z i n g. Or maybe you’ll realise you don’t want them and dump them and I guess that’s cool too.
What we are doing to keep things feeling more normal and more connected is trying to spend time together like we would be if we were physically together… but on video call. So each morning, I go for a workout in the park and we take it in turns to write our daily plan, and do our session together on video call. He plays music loud in his room and I have him on my headphones and we just have our own personal Instagram live workout. It helps motivate each other and stay on track. I then head home and we’ll watch something on Netflix together (check out Netflix Party if you want, or if you’re both watching on a TV you’ll both have to get the timing that you press play on the remote perfectly in sync) – it make us both feel less alone. We even ran a bath the other day and just sat in the bath on video to each other because we are sad and lonely. Oh, and it was our one year anniversary last week so we shared a glass of wine together, even though it was 11am for me and 8pm for him… cool. Fine. We are used to these kind of things, but it feels much harder than ever as not knowing when you will see someone again makes you ultra sensitive to all of the happy couples around you.
Nothing compares to real life human contact. I know it. But just try adapt and make these changes as like I said before, it will not be forever!
Just a little FYI…
I’m going to caveat this whole post of frustrations with the obvious: I know it could be worse. I have to say this as I know people will think I haven’t considered these things – but of course I have. I could be sick. I could be living with an abusive partner. I could have lost a family member due to COVID19. But the honest truth is that each and every person is affected in some degree by this real life version of Black Mirror that we’re living in, and each and every persons feelings are valid. Yes, it could be worse. But it could be better. We are all in this together, so allow people to feel valid in their struggles and their pain. We are just human. Be kind.
This Is Going to be Testing
If there’s one thing we can all be sure about, it’s that this is going to be a tough time for couples – whether you’re locked up together in lockdown or in a newfound short distance/ long distance situ. We all have to have patience and understanding and communication has never ever been more important than it is right now. But I just wanted this post to help you feel perhaps a little less alone. My relationship with J managed to develop, grow and flourish with us being 10 thousand miles apart. So I think that should hopefully give some hope for you guys who are grappling with the idea of it all. And please just try remember, everything is temporary and we are all going through this together. Let’s try find comfort in each other.