Navigating the morass of travel restrictions brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic is hard for anyone. But if you’re in a long-distance relationship, it could actually destroy any chances of you getting together in the near future. Worst-case scenario: it could be the end of your long-distance relationship if you decide to give up the game altogether. The problem is, the international travel restrictions and border blockades that most countries have implemented aren’t going to go away soon, so it’s better to get ready for the longest separation of your life. To help you prepare and fortify yourself mentally, we’ve come up with some salves and band-aids (yes, we recognize that these are all short-term solutions) that you can use to stay emotionally connected during these trying times. And, if all else fails…well, read on.
Find Creative Ways to Communicate
If FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype just doesn’t make the cut, why not try something innovative to fill the comms gap?
Idea 1: Friendship Lamp – A pair of lamps that connect to each other from any two locations around the world using their respective local Wi-Fi signals. After setting them up, if one of the lamps is touched, the other lights up instantly in a pre-designated color. A simple and effective tool to let your significant other know you’re thinking about them. Also works great for families or friends separated by distance and travel restrictions around the world.
Idea 2: Send Secret Morse Code Messages on iOS or Android – Huh? Is that even possible? The answer to that is a resounding “-.– . …”!!! That means “YES”!!! And, surprise, it’s Google that came up with the idea. The latest GBoard mobile keyboard for iOS and Android has a morse code option. It even claims to teach you how to morse in about an hour. Long-distance couples can absolutely use this to send secret messages to each other!
Idea 3: Write a Letter in Invisible Ink or Use These Alternatives – If you want to go ‘old school’, you can write a letter using lemon juice (messy) or actual invisible ink. Or, how about writing a coded message with a key to decode it? The reverse alphabet code is a great one, and easy to decode. Just write A to Z on a sheet of paper, and write it in reverse – Z to A – right below it. Write your secret message by replacing the actual letters in the blue rows with the reverse letters from the red rows.
Set a Schedule for Talking on a Regular Basis
Communicating in creative ways alone is not enough. If you’re in a long-term relationship, communicating regularly is crucial to staying connected with your overseas spouse or partner. Even if it’s just ten minutes every couple of days, it should be a fixed schedule. Of course, you can be flexible with your Skype or FaceTime schedule but try and stick with it as much as possible. It’s important.
Idea 1: Use a Shared Calendar with Reminders on your Smartphone – Most of us have a Gmail account, so sharing our Google calendars is probably the easiest way to do this.
To do this:
- Open Google Calendar and hover over the calendar to be shared; you’ll see it on the left-hand panel under My Calendars.
- Click the three vertical dots and go to Settings and Sharing.
- Scroll down and enter the email address of the person you’re sharing it with (in the “Share with specific people” section) and click the ‘Send’ button in the dialog box.
That’s it! Your significant other will receive an invite and can view your calendar. Schedule a repeating meeting for whenever you want to talk and make sure you add them as an attendee.
Idea 2: Put up Post-It Reminders – Write up some sticky notes and put them up where you frequently spend your time during the day. Just a simple “Call her” will do.
One of you should take over the responsibility to make sure the calls happen. Not everyone is super-organized, so let the one who’s better-organized take the reins. A point to note here is that both of you might not be free to take every call on schedule. So, keep it a little flexible. It helps if you have a ‘text signal’ to say you’re busy, which you can send if you’re going to miss one of the pre-scheduled calls.
Send Random Gifts
Postal services are still active around the world, and courier services are allowed in most countries – even those with high infection rates or undergoing a second wave. Take advantage and send each other small and inexpensive gifts to let them know you’re thinking of them. The long-distance lamps mentioned above (Friendship Lamps) are perfect for that. You can also consider these great gift ideas that are fun and unique:
Idea 1: Send your Heartbeat – Yup, with just a simple iOS or Android app and two metal rings, you can send your long-distance sweetheart your actual heartbeat. The Touch X HB Ring app with the custom rings allows your heartbeats to be sent over the Internet to your significant other, and vice versa. In short, these are smart rings that track and transmit your heartbeat via the mobile app.
Idea 2: 3D Pop-up Greeting Cards – We think these fantastic gift ideas have been underrated for far too long! There’s something about a 3D scene popping up when you open a greeting card that gets your pulse racing and your adrenaline pumping. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s still a fun gift to open up when you aren’t expecting anything. Sites like Hallmark have amazing collections of simple and intricate 3D pop-up greeting cards that you can order online.
Idea 3: iPhone Battery Case – If your long-distance bae is on his or her iPhone a lot (who isn’t?!), they’ll know the frustration of hearing the low battery alert all the time. Get them an authentic iPhone battery case from Apple that will increase Internet use time from the standard 13 hours to a hefty 20 hours, and talk time from 25 hours to 37 hours.
Dealing with Travel Restrictions: Be Realistic
Border closures, limited flights, frequent regulatory changes, and unpredictable political climates seem to be the order of the day. Instead of worrying about what can’t be done, focus on what you can control. If you can’t physically be with your significant other at this time, try some of the short-term solutions we’ve outlined for you here.
A Friendship Lamp, for example, can serve as a constant reminder of each other; a gift wisely chosen can help bridge the physical gap; a simple message sent periodically can be a powerful bonding tool. Don’t be quick to dismiss these seemingly insignificant acts of love. They could be the very things that save your long-distance relationship in the age of COVID-19.
And, with not a little trepidation, we give you this final piece of advice: think about whether you’re both willing to tough it out over the next several months. Be honest with yourselves. If you’re not strong enough or your relationship not deep enough, it might not be wise to apply a band-aid to the already-fraying thread that you’re hanging by. Take stock of the situation and act accordingly, even if it means letting go. And if there’s a chance that you can get back together as a couple when you’re physically with each other again in the future, you can decide when you reach that bridge.