By Raimondo Partito
How We Met
My girlfriend and I are no strangers to the difficulty of long-distance relationships. In fact, we spend nine out of the twelve months of the year physically apart. So yes, we are used to being apart, but not in the way the pandemic has forced us to be. Angelica lives in Puerto Rico while I live in Philadelphia. We met each other during our freshman year at Providence College in Rhode Island. When she is at school and I am home, we are still a five-hour train ride away. It is never easy for us, but that doesn’t stop us from being together!
We are not used to being apart without knowing when we might see each other again. Before COVID, we could plan trips to see one another. Due to the shut downs, Angelica was forced to move back to Puerto Rico. This affected our relationship tremendously. We may have been able to lay out our life plans and talk about where we would go next but all of that was put on pause for months. We were not even allowed to travel to one another. We had absolutely no idea when we would see each other again. We were not the only couple who was dealing with this. My fellow classmate, Doris Zheku, who is also in a long-distance relationship said, “If it were not for being able to fly to see each other basically like once a month..if it happened during COVID then I would have never been able to see him.” She then went on to say, “My boyfriend does not think flying is safe so if I flew to him, he probably would make me quarantine for two weeks first.” It is important to understand you and your significant other are not the only ones going through a long-distance relationship during a global pandemic. You are not alone!
One of the biggest factors with long-distance relationships is how the couples have two completely different schedules. I will be the first one to admit it: not talking to your partner all day and not knowing what they are doing is extremely hard. Doris mentioned how “it felt more like long-distance because there was no divide between home and being at work. I was home all day doing nothing and he was home all day working. As soon as you know it, the day is over and we barely spoke.” Long-distance relationships are all about patience and resilience. Patience with your significant other when, for example, they’re not able to communicate back as quickly as you’d like and resilience to deal with the worries and frustrations that can come with this. Not being able to talk to your partner throughout the day because you have different schedules is very difficult, but nobody ever said it was going to be easy. You just need to be patient.
Use Various Forms of Communicating
This might be advice one already knows, but it is only omnipresent because it works. FaceTime dates have kept our relationship strong while we are separated states away from each other. Scheduling them in advance gives us something to look forward to and face-to-face conversation feels special when seeing each other in person is not an option.
Adopting an “it is what it is” mindset has been crucial for both myself and my girlfriend. She is much more free-spirited and easy-going than me, so I would say this specific part has been exponentially easier for her, but both of us realized early on that nothing could be set in stone. I had to accept that the pandemic overturned our lives and any plans we had. Though it is still tough to not know when we will be able to live together again, I have learned that it is not worth destroying myself over.
Just Embrace It
My girlfriend and I have learned to appreciate little things, as well as appreciating each other and our relationship. If we can make it through this, I really think we can make it through anything. It is important to remember you’re not alone. Lots of people are sharing their stories about long-distance relationship challenges during the COVID-19 outbreak and sometimes it really helps to know that others are dealing with this too. It is important to know there is no one-size-fits-all formula to maintaining a long-distance relationship and couples have to figure out what works best for them.