Maintaining a Relationship (Friendship or Romantic!) in Lockdown | Long Distance Relationships

A few months ago, almost everyone’s relationships — romantic or friendships — became, in effect, long distance relationships. I have had some experience of being in an LDR before, but only for short bursts of up to three months. And even then, we still saw each other regularly as we were about 100 miles apart, and had public transport to use at will. Things are a lot different in lockdown. This post is going to be coming at you in two parts, part 1 being about how suddenly being in a long distance relationship might affect your relationship, and part 2 will have some ideas for social activities you can do together. This post is absolutely, 100% NOT just about romantic relationships. Long distance friendships are also a struggle and emotionally taxing, and that needs to be normalised! Especially for university students in a similar position to myself, where I went from living with my friends at uni to living with my parents, it is a big shock. It’s almost a kind of homesickness! So please, interpret the word “relationships” in this post to mean platonic or romantic unless specified. Also, this is all drawn from my own experience, so you may have very different experiences! I’ve tried to draw on things I think others will relate to though.

So, how might my relationship change?

  1. Difference in frequency of communication
    I would say this is one of the biggest factors in the change. Long distance puts a strain on the majority of relationships. The more you see each other in person, and the closer/more intense your relationship is, the more you are likely to notice this. I personally find the more relaxed relationships far easier to maintain over long distance. For example, one of my closest friends from college was someone I never spoke to every day, and we never texted. Since we both went to uni in different cities, we’ve managed to stay good friends though sporadic texting and meetups when we’re both back in town! Our friendship doesn’t really feel like it’s changed since not living near one another because it was always quite low-key. In contrast, I now barely speak to a lot of the people I saw every day in college, and I think a part of that reason is because it was very difficult to maintain that level of communication when we no longer saw each other in person regularly, and so the relationship changed a lot. However, it’s absolutely not all doom and gloom! While some close friendships I had have drifted since no longer living near each other, I am still regularly in touch with most of my university friends.
  2. Having to adapt your socialising
    Naturally, when you’re long distance, you can’t do many of the things you would usually do when you’re hanging out with your friends/partner. No more dinners out, or cocktail nights, or shopping trips. If these kinds of activities are a big part of your relationship, chances are you’re going to notice this aspect a lot more than if you usually go for things like movie nights, or just chatting in the living room as these are things that are more easily adaptable to long distance (but we’ll get to that later!). Of course, right now, everyone’s socialising is very different to what we’re used to, and people have been coming up with lots of creative things to do to maintain social lives while in lockdown.
  3. Shift in the dynamic of your relationship
    Usually as a result of changes in your communication and the activities you do together, the way you feel about the other person and your relationship with them will change. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although it sounds scary. Yes, in romantic relationships, it’s not uncommon to have some feelings of jealousy if your partner is spending more time with friends, but you could also find that distance really reaffirms the strength of your relationship. Being in a long distance relationship does allow you to take a little bit of a step back emotionally to check in with yourself and make sure you still want to put the effort into this relationship (and this is about platonic and romantic ones!). If you are having feelings such as jealousy, try to evaluate why this is. Is your partner/friend actually neglecting your relationship with them in favour of other relationships? Or are they finding a healthy balance between seeing the people that live near them and spending time with you? It’s important to try to think about this a bit more objectively as this will help you untangle why you’re feeling this way. If you feel as though you are being neglected in favour of others, try to bring this up to the other person. Communicating and being honest are the key to any relationship, and especially in long distance when your friend/partner might not have the chance to interpret your emotions through body language, saying how you feel is key.

Okay, so I’m in a long distance relationship now… What do we do to stay connected?

  1. Phone calls and video calls are key!
    I’ll be honest, half of the things in the list to follow are all things you can do whilst video/phone calling one another. This means you can have a casual chat while also enjoying a shared hobby or interest together. It also adds in things like tone, facial expression and body language, which helps to make sure your meaning isn’t misinterpreted as it so often can be over text!
  2. Movie nights.
    This is a classic one. Call your loved one, put on a movie in sync and sit and watch “together”. If you’re into talking during a movie, go for it, or just be quiet, but present. If you haven’t yet heard of Netflix party, it’s a Chrome extension that allows you to synchronise Netflix playback so you can make sure you’re matched up. If you’re not using Netflix, or you’re not using Chrome, there’s always the “count down from three and hit play” that should get you pretty much synced up. This goes exactly the same for watching TV shows as well.
  3. Coffee Mornings/Cocktail Evenings
    So I’ve put these together because they’re just night/day versions of the same thing, but the idea is literally just to sit down with your drink of choice, be on a call together, and natter away. It’s a great way to catch up if you haven’t called for a while, and also a good way to celebrate if any celebration-worthy events happen! It’s a great way to have a laid-back interaction, but also do a lot of socialising, whereas a movie night might not contain much catching up, especially if you’re anti-talking-during-the-movie!
  4. Play games together
    There are a few ways you can do this! You could just use your phone or laptop to find some free games that you can play with other people. Even just on Facebook Messenger there are a few mini-game type things you can compete against each other at. One thing I do a lot though, is console gaming together. The most obvious way of doing this is to use multiplayer and join the same game together, but what if the game you want to play doesn’t support that? Enter: the synchronised gaming. Did I get a sceptical reaction when I suggested this? Yes. Does he now love it? Yes. We’ve been playing through The Last of Us Part II together, trying to keep as in sync as we can. We do this most evenings at the minute, and we do get a little bit out of sync if one of us does better in a section than another, or if one of us does more exploring, but we do sometimes wait for each other if we get too far apart, and we aim to finish at the same place. Alternatively, there’s nothing wrong with both firing up different video games and just narrating your progress to each other. Gamer rage shared is gamer rage halved.
  5. Cook together
    This isn’t one I’ve tried, but I’d love to give it a go someday. This can also be extended to having a meal together and again, it’s just about doing an activity at the same time while on a call to each other and chatting. Having a meal together/cooking together does have slightly more romantic vibes to me because it feels so domestic, but there is nothing to stop you doing this with your pals. You don’t have to make the same meal, but it would be fun to use the same recipe and compare results! Just beware if you want to eat together that you try to plan what time you’ll be eating in case one of your meals takes longer to make.
  6. Read a book together
    Okay, now we’re straying away a bit from the phone and video calls. I know a lot of book bloggers will be familiar with the idea of buddy reading, and that’s what I’m suggesting! If you haven’t done a buddy read before, it’s essentially just breaking the book down into sections, and you both read a section, and then chat about it before moving on to the next bit. You can be fairly structured with this, and that’s helpful if you want to do it as a group book-club type thing, but you can also just decide where to stop and discuss when you’re all ready if you prefer a more flexible approach. I recently did a buddy read with Amy @ ReadDreamLiveNow, and I’m planning to do another one soon reading George Eliot’s Middlemarch.
  7. Learn a new skill together, or learn about something together!
    In my favourites post I mentioned the website Future Learn, and I think it would be really fun to take some of those courses with someone else so you can discuss the course content each week, or do something like Duolingo together. I definitely learn best from having conversations about something, so doing this would help me get things stuck in my head. Just gotta find the right friend who’s willing to commit to several weeks of Jane Austen to join me!
  8. Send each other memes or funny messages, or just any messages!
    If you’re like me, you feel like you need to message someone with purpose. The “hi, how are you?” is just uncomfortable to me, and always feels like a conversation doomed to be short lived. To combat this, I send people things that make me think of them to spark a conversation. I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a great way to start a conversation that doesn’t require you both to be 100% committed to the conversation like video calls kinda do, so it’s a good way to fit chats in around daily life.
  9. Write letters instead of just texting
    This one perhaps works better for friendships than romantic relationships, because it means less frequent communication. You absolutely could still write a letter to your partner, but if you text them every day, you might find there’s not much to say. Whereas if you’ve not texted your friend for a week, you might have enough to tell them that it’s worth actually writing it down and posting it! It’s always a little bit of joy to receive some friendly post, and you could also send little gifts or photographs in your letter. Handwritten letters are definitely one of the least common ways of communicating for young people these days, which makes it all the more special.

That’s it for my tips! If you have anything to add to either how your relationships have changed when they’ve become long distance, or about activities to do when you’re in a long distance relationship let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

6 thoughts on “Maintaining a Relationship (Friendship or Romantic!) in Lockdown | Long Distance Relationships

  1. Totally agree with you on every aspect! My boyfriend and I also got separated due to the barriers being closed for 3 months and as I’m still living with my parents and being a student it wasn’t possible for me to stay at my boyfriend’s place. So we talked every day, wrote each other messages, face-timed for hours but it still wasn’t the same as the usual physical contact. Our relationship came out stronger after this so the whole lockdown didn’t have only negative impacts on our lives.
    Video Calls are definitely helping with mental health during such times! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Video calls are so so useful at the minute. Fortunately with lockdowns lifting now a lot of people will be able to reconnect in person but as you grow up and move away to new cities etc there will always be people you’re further away from so I think learning to maintain long distance relationships is an evergreen skill!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a powerful post! I’m lucky that I’ve lived with my BF for 5 years now as I would have really struggled not seeing him during lockdown. I can imagine it would be difficult as a Uni student. I used to find going home for the summer bad enough and that was without a global pandemic! The most difficult part of lockdown for me was not being able to see my mother. We’re really close and this is the longest I’d ever gone without seeing her. It was tough but I’m so grateful we could stay connected through social media and that she was only a phone call away!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I’ve been living with my mother so on that front I’ve been fine, its my friends & partner I’ve been missing 😦 social media is a lifesaver though!

      Like

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