By Eímear Nig Oireachtaigh
I’m three and a half years into a relationship with someone who lives in Maynooth. That’s a three-hour journey by train, and then bus while I was living in Galway. There is also the stellar option of taking one very long bus route, which drives through every single town between Galway and Dublin, which could take anywhere between three and a half and four hours, depending on the driver.
To say it hasn’t been easy would be an understatement. Luckily, the experience has made me an expert in the area, and I’m ready to help all of you who have found yourself in a long-distance relationship in the last year because of our friend Corona.
A lot of relationships are the same, whether long-distance or not. You need good communication, to be able to have fun, someone who respects and trusts you, the list goes on. These qualities become so much more important when you can’t see the person every day. A small miscommunication can become a fight very easily when you’re not physically there to read body language, the inflection in their voice, and so many other small cues.
Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful:
Remember that it’s temporary.
Whether you’re long-distance because of COVID-19, college, or any other reason, the plan is never for it to be like this forever. This separation is temporary. Although in my case it’s been a very long ‘temporary’, COVID will pass, college will end, and you’ll be able to see each other every day at some point in the future. I know it’s hard now, but working towards that future (even if it’s a year or two away) makes the present a whole lot easier.
Plan things to do for when you do have time together.
This is more helpful pre-COVID, but it still stands! If you know you only have one weekend a month with a person, make sure you plan. You don’t want to be going home on Sunday disappointed because you didn’t do anything that you wanted to. That’s the keyword here – want. If all you want to do is curl up and watch The Office for the twentieth time, then you do that! Your time together doesn’t have to be action-packed to be enjoyable but putting a little thought in can make such a difference.
Organise dates that you can do remotely
This is the only thing that has been easier in the last year because a whole new group of people are suddenly in this position. Some ‘dates’ that we’ve had in the last year include making the same dinner and eating at the same time on a video call (this can be tough to time properly, but it’s the closest to sharing a meal you’re going to get!) and watching Netflix together through Netflix Party (a handy Chrome extension).
Having food sent to their house is also a firm favourite of mine. For Easter last year, I was sent a gorgeous hamper full of my favourite chocolate. If they’re more of a savoury person, try ordering from their favourite takeaway. A nice gesture and they don’t have to cook dinner, it’s a win-win!
Another activity we’ve been doing is playing games together! I’m not a huge gamer, but I do like Scrabble. At this stage, just doing something slightly different from my everyday work is so exciting to me! Also, as everyday communication goes, don’t underestimate a video call. Just seeing their face can make such a difference.
I could write an entire thesis on this, but honestly, the most important thing is to remember that you’re on the same team. The situation is out of your control, but you can use this time to build a stronger partnership so that when you do have the chance to spend time together again, you’re ready to pick up where you left off.