When most of the country went into lockdown with stay-at-home orders amid the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I, along with many others, wasn't prepared. Because I have a parent who works in public health and was transparent about what could happen as COVID-19 continued to spread across the world, I didn't have time to consider the effects all of this would have on my relationship. I've been social distancing away from my partner of almost two years since this all started, and while it was a choice we had to make quickly and one I know was right, I had no idea it would be this hard.
Communication is difficult when you're both 10 feet from your family members at all times and run on completely different schedules.
Many people are in similar situations regarding their relationships. For me, I share an apartment with two other women my age while my partner lives with his parents. Since his parents are over 65, that puts them at a higher risk if they contract the virus, so it was an easy decision to have him stay with them and help with any errands or emergencies instead of staying with me. I headed back to my hometown about three hours south to be with my parents. As of today, it's been about two months since I last saw my partner . . . and I have no idea when I'll see him next.
I've done long distance with my partner before, but there's something distinctly more challenging about it in the age of a pandemic. When we did it before, we constantly had weekend visits to look forward to. Now, a weekend visit could mean accidentally picking up the virus and infecting two high-risk people. It's irresponsible and out of the question, which means neither of us have an answer as to when we'll be reunited. There's no set date to look forward to.
I know how minor a problem this is in the bigger picture. There are so many people around the world who have lost family members or friends, and others who have been laid off from their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. Being away from a partner is just an inconvenience more than a tragedy, but it does come with its own unique set of obstacles. Communication is difficult when you're both 10 feet from your family members at all times and run on completely different schedules. I'll be the first to admit that we have not been prioritizing our relationship as other things have rightly become more important. And I do know that when we see each other eventually, it'll be a little different and we'll have to rebuild some of the strong bond we worked two years to create.
When I look at other couples that are social distancing together, I feel deep envy because I wish that had been a feasible option for us. On days when we don't get to talk much, I begin to doubt myself as a priority to my partner and question our dedication to each other. I know this is a toxic game to play as we made the best decision we could at the time, but the lack of time together has taken a toll.
We're both trying to remain optimistic that we'll see each other soon, but we also know that we have to be prepared for more setbacks if they come. While I don't regret social distancing apart for the sake of our families, I do recognize that our relationship is being tested by the boundaries of virtual communication and the exhaustion of existing during a pandemic where hope seems difficult to muster. I just have to trust in our love for each other and my gut feeling that our relationship is worth fighting for.