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When COVID-19 Separates You From the One You Love

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistMarch 30, 2020

COVID-19 has forced us to distance ourselves from one another physically – and for some of us, that means being apart from the one we love. Being separated can feel like an additional layer of difficulty on top of an already stressful time. But there are ways that you can bridge the distance during this pandemic.

Take action that will keep you centered and happy as an individual: By having a full life, you won’t ruminate about COVID-19 or about missing the person you love and miss so much. Instead, you will balance your upsetting feelings with positive ones. Also, by engaging in a full life, you will have more to talk about with your loved one, continuing to deepen your relationship.

There are innumerable ways to bring pleasure, happiness, and positive engagement into your life. Some great tips are:

  • Go outside for a stroll or just to breathe in some fresh air.
  • Exercise by turning that stroll into a brisk walk or jog, joining an online exercise class, or using your at-home exercise equipment.
  • Be sure to keep up with friends, preferably including some face-to-face interactions with Facetiming or video chatting.
  • Engage in hobbies or find new ones.
  • Enrich yourself with free online classes and cultural experiences (like streaming opera performances offered for free by the Met).
  • Maintain a connection with your place of worship.

Be grateful for your partner: It is important to consciously appreciate your partner. This is where the adage, Distance makes the heart grow fonder, comes into play. Use this time of imposed distance as a reminder of what makes you yearn for closeness to your partner, such as your partner’s loving ways, earnestness, or wonderful sense of humor – you know, all those things that make you want to reach out and give them a huge hug.

Set aside time each day to connect: Commit yourselves to connect with each other every day. Stay in touch with texting, video chatting, or even phone calls. It can help to have established times when you connect, such as texting good morning each day, phoning mid-day, and Facetiming each night.

Continue dating: Whether you’ve been together for years or are just beginning a new relationship, it’s important to enjoy special time together. Being apart physically does not need to be the end of dating. You just have to get creative. You might Facetime while preparing your dinners and then sit down to eat together. Extend this date by watching a movie together. Or, you might go for a virtual walk together, if you don’t live geographically close enough to actually meet up (of course, while maintaining social distancing).

Make small gestures to show you care: Even at a distance, you can show that you care. You can send a kissing face emoji; text or email “You are the best thing that ever happened to me”; or send a love letter (yes, through the postal system). Even if you are under a stay at home order, there may be times that you need to go to the store, such as for food or medicine. You can use that time to pick up a small gift that you can mail or deliver to your loved one’s doorstep. 

Talk openly: During your regular check-ins, be sure to use that time to share personal information, not just to vent about how aggravating it is to work virtually or to report on how many tiles on are your kitchen floor.  Talk about something you learned that day, how you feel about your personal world, your hopes and concerns for your relationship, and other larger life issues.

Although you have not chosen to be apart, your relationship is currently a long distance one. So, keep in mind that many people survive and even thrive in long distance relationships. Between now and when this pandemic ends, nurture your relationship so that it is healthy when you can once again be in each other’s arms.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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