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Long-distance relationships during lockdown

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The lockdown has made us face some harsh life truths. In terms of making us accept some unpleasant facts about life, this period of isolation has also changed our outlook on life and relationship. The world has come to a standstill and reuniting with our loved ones has become impossible until we overcome this pandemic and it is frightening. In this difficult time, the Internet remains the only bridging medium.

You finally found someone worth holding on to after endless searching and from there, you were truly happy. However this time, you find yourself divided by miles and miles apart from the one you love.

But like any other part of life, the mechanics of romance also changed during the age of lockdown due to pandemics. Recent dating partners yearn for one another because of the quarantine.

And while lockdown has led to a lot of couples spending more time together than ever before, for others it involves finding themselves in a long-distance relationship without knowing when they will see their partner again.

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Especially as the days turn into weeks and months, you run out of tales to tell, communication can get difficult. Messages over WhatsApp are too easily misinterpreted, and when a patchy 4G / LTE signal means you’re cut off from a call in five minutes for the third time, it’s easier to feel frustrated than comforted by someone’s digital presence.

A relationship’s biggest test is whether or not it will survive distance and loneliness.

The extra distance makes a lot of things impossible. Things can get complicated, and sometimes you can feel depressed and lonely.

Not everyone can easily switch over to a long distance. Especially in relationships with the freedom to meet is a distant dream now, it would be difficult to rely suddenly on only virtual communication. The burden of the change is lower for friendships as the standards are different from a romantic relationship but still exist.

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Isolating together simply puts forth its own stresses. We are losing our limits in the current situation-things are too blurred. When work stops and the relationships begin, it’s hard to learn.

But on an intimate level what are we supposed to be doing to keep our relations during the pandemic happy and healthy? Lockdown could go one of two ways; unexpectedly, it could mean we spend much more time together or much less around each other.

Try to be there for your partner even when you can’t actually be there is the key to smash this pandemic.

Decades of studies suggest the most fulfilled partnerships are those in which each partner responds effectively to emotional calls from the other. The thousands of tiny attempts to communicate with each other are emotional calls.

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With not much to do, nowhere to go and no valid reason to give, efficiency, motivation and excitement depends on the need to keep the conversation going somehow. In any relationship, finding new ways to get to know each other, keeping friends happy and making sure you are not bored can lead to stress. It’s like challenging times for everyone — some are fighting to keep alive, while others have steered cautiously away from rough waters.

You can use video chat to have regular bonding moments, preserve some of your couple activities (like cooking dinner together or watching your favourite Netflix show), and even have unique date nights. I suggest using video chat instead of (or beside) a phone or email because there is something special about seeing the face of your partner.

Experiment with sending recorded voice messages via WhatsApp, Voxer or another enabling service. That way, if you want to tell them anything you can record a short message right, and send it. Then, when they wake up or have a rest, or when they are in the right mood and have time to respond, they can listen to it.

There are thousands of games you could play together. “Truth and dare” questions, “never have I ever” questions, and “would you rather…?” questions might just help the involved individuals to better know each other.

You may even consider creating a pandemic playlist together. Make sure that at least one of the playlists is full of bright, happy music that can help lift your mood.

Now is the time to engage in those deeper conversations you couldn’t have before. Talk about your future plans, fears, what you expect to do to improve your life during the lockdown, etc. Take advantage of this time to converse more meaningfully.

Lack of physical contact is one of the drawbacks of being separated from your partner. Touch is one of the most important ways in which we express intimacy and it can also ease stress. Sadly, there’s no decent substitute for touch but think about your favourite hugs or snuggle sessions, which can be a fun way to keep your link alive. You can share the fantasies that you used to have at various points in your life, or make a list of sexual buckets that you want to work through together. Many of us have fantasies that we wouldn’t want to do in real life, but thinking about the scenario is quite fun and you don’t have to be together physically to do that.

Find creative ways to connect, you’ll feel less powerless about your separation like creating a new routine, like a nightly check-in with each other before you go to bed; Visit a museum online together; Read the same book and create a book club for two; Have a separate tasting party, Buy a few of the same wines, chocolates or cheeses, and compare tasting notes over video chat.

There is no doubt that separation is difficult right now. You will ease some of the pressure by mutually daydreaming about what you are going to do together when you are released from the lockdown orders. You can schedule a dream vacation, make a list of restaurants you will be visiting, or start searching for apartments to move in together. A bit of hope can keep this spark alive.

Know that there’s a major reason you’re living apart from the one you love right now. Don’t let months or years of progress go to waste to finally be together out of impatience.

It too shall pass

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Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh
Currently head of Department of Holistic Medicine & Wellness at Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon Dr. Rachna Khanna Singh is a mental wellness expert with expertise in relationship, lifestyle & stress management. The founder and director of The Mind and Wellness Studio Dr. Rachna Khanna has worked with leading hospitals like Fortis Escorts, Dharamshila Cancer Hospital. Her specialties include stress management, lifestyle management for heart diseases, supportive care for chronically ill patients, work-life balance, parent-child bonding, cancer support care, ante/postnatal care, relationship counselling, pre-marital & marital counselling, adolescent counselling, psychiatric & psychological illnesses like depression, anxiety, insomnia.

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