Dating long distance is arguably one of the hardest challenges to overcome in a long term relationship. You’re physically apart from the one you love most, often by several hundred kilometres, and only get to see each other a few times during that period of being away from each other.
Most couples come out stronger than ever after having done the distance, as absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. But for those in the thick of it, there’s no beating around the bush: it really freakin’ sucks.
To throw an added spanner in the works, the COVID-19 pandemic has made long distance dating even harder, with firm border closures in some countries — including Australia — quite literally banning you from seeing your betrothed.
We spoke to two couples who are going through it right now, to get an insight into how it’s going.
Zoe and Raphael, Australia and Germany
Zoe, a lawyer from Sydney, met her German boyfriend in Marrakech, Morocco in 2018 whilst travelling. Australia’s hard border closure has meant there is no current possibility of them seeing each other in the near future. Prior to the pandemic, the couple had planned to explore Zoe’s home country together.
“Raphael landed here as an emergency last resort on March 19, the day before Australia closed its borders, and left on April 24 to go back home, but we didn’t do much since that was already peak lockdown in Sydney,” she says.
The global pandemic has made an otherwise already tough time doing long distance extra tough, with the uncertainty of when they will meet again.
“It’s definitely rough because long distance is already fraught with uncertainty at the best of times, coupled with Australia’s complete and indefinite border closures and prohibition of entry of foreign nationals, as well as banned interstate and international departures for its own citizens. It sucks a hundred per cent,” she says.
On keeping the relationship going, Zoe and Raphael stick to a schedule to ensure they’re keeping communication strong.
“We video call twice a day always — morning and night for both of us — and have movie nights on the weekend where we stream simultaneously whilst on video call and tile our screens.”
They’ve also tried to introduce a tangible element to their relationship, with care packages, but it didn’t quite go to plan.
“Care packages failed from him to me, because Sydney blocked his parcel from entry and he received it back a month later… So ridiculous. He then sent the package to my friend, who was in Holland and landed in Australia yesterday, so she will give it to me after her two week mandatory quarantine.”
Other than waiting for the borders to re-open, long distance has also been hard for them as a couple that was primarily sharing new experiences together whilst travelling.
“It’s hard a lot of the time too, because both our lives are boring AF and we can’t share any experiences. He hasn’t even met any of my friends in Australia,” says Zoe.
With Australia’s major airline, Qantas, stating it will ground all overseas flights until at least July 2021, there’s not much Zoe and Raphael can do but continue to wait it out.
Peta and Mark, Sydney and Perth
Peta and Mark met at uni a few years ago. Earlier this year — pre pandemic — Mark relocated from Sydney to Perth to complete a one-year work placement graduate program.
“I stayed in Sydney to complete the final year of my university degree,” says Peta.
The couple had been planning to see each other mid-year, but Western Australia’s border closure to New South Wales residents has changed that.
Now that the pandemic has created uncertainty regarding when they will see each other again, Peta says it has certainly been tough.
“We have been apart for over six months now. Much of the advice given to me before embarking on a long-distance relationship was to ‘have an end in sight’. While good advice, WA’s border restrictions make it almost impossible (or at least unrealistic) to set a time to see each other again in person.”
Whilst this is frustrating, and Peta says their time apart can feel never ending, she takes comfort knowing that the decision of when they can meet again is out of their hands.
“When it is made, which will hopefully be soon, we will have our flight credit at the ready!”
Whilst care packages haven’t really been for them, Peta says they have been sneaking in little gifts here and there, like surprise flowers.
“What we lack in romantic gift planning skills, we make up for in commitment to doing the Good Weekend Quiz. Putting time aside at the end of the week to tackle the quiz together over FaceTime is a fun break from our daily conversation, and it gives us an activity to look forward to.”
To go the distance (pun intended), she affirms that communication is key.
“FaceTime has been an absolute godsend. We each make the effort to have a daily FaceTime call, or at least a telephone call to check in.”
She advises others in a similar situation to keep their communication with SOs constant and honest.
“Feelings of distance and uneasiness will undoubtedly arise, among other things. Work through these feelings as quickly as possible and both of you will always be on the same page.”
If you’re doing long distance right now, know that there will be an end in sight! In the meantime, stay strong and keep those communication lines open!