Love is Blind, Part Four: Thankful for What COVID-19 Taught Us About Relationships

Speech bubble with a heart in it connected to another speech bubble with a heart in itIn the first 3 parts of this series, I talked about the transition between “just friends” and being in a relationship…slowly. Our first date, my first solo flight, and the aftermath of spending a week together.

We’ve learned a lot since then.

One morning during his visit back in September, I broached the subject of the post you are reading now, and asked him if he could help me write this by sharing some things he’s learned — either from me or this experience as a whole. I wanted to hear his perspective, and I also wanted this to be more about us, not just about me. “This is such a great idea,” he had said enthusiastically. So I pulled out my phone to jot down some notes and made a list.

  1. We both learned about patience…very quickly. I’ve made some light-hearted mentions of my level of patience — or lack thereof — in previous posts. But as visits got pushed back due to travel restrictions and quarantine, I had to learn to be patient — to remind myself that this was not a reflection on him, but this was out of our control. He wasn’t blowing me off, we just couldn’t travel. We discussed this further as I took diligent notes to prepare this post, and he added something that I loved and asked if I could quote. “I learned about being mentally strong,” he told me. “Like, you can’t give up so easily, no matter what life throws at you.”
  2. It’s important to stay connected. I’ve mentioned previously how anxious I can get, jumping to worst-case scenarios. I did this pretty early, saying I was worried we’d grow apart with the time and miles separating us. We’d be away from each other much, much longer than we had originally planned. He listened intently and let me get everything off my chest before talking it through with me. To help with this, he was the one that came up with ways we could stay connected. Sometimes he’d send me episodes of a show he was watching and we’d watch it at the same time. Most recently, and my absolute favorite, is participating in discussion groups through the Hadley Institute. Hadley offers a variety of discussion groups, and the one we participate in together is called travel talk. These take place online via Zoom, but you can also dial in via telephone and enter the meeting ID. The Zoom app mutes all other notification sounds while a meeting is in progress, so the dial-in method is the one he and I prefer. Sometimes we text our commentary as we listen in so it feels more like we are doing this together — we want to make sure we don’t miss each other’s messages!
  3. Consistency is so important. Having a routine (good morning messages, regular phone calls — some of them scheduled, others just random check-ins — throughout the day) helps so much. A common misconception of long-distance relationships is that they “aren’t real,” because there isn’t regular face-to-face contact. Having consistency makes us feel more connected and involved in each other’s day-to-day lives.
  4. This one is just for me personally, I cannot speak on behalf of Juan, but I learned how important it is to be with someone who is good for your mental health. I wrote a previous post opening up about how I was doing during quarantine. Some days were really hard. This made for a lot of long phone calls, some of which were one-sided, as I was having a bad mental health day and I just needed to talk about it. This pandemic taught me what people really mean when they say “It’s okay not to be okay.” Things were so much different here than they were in Houston, and sometimes he’d forget that, until I’d bring it up and say I’m struggling. And so, we’d talk about that.
  5. Lastly, while routines are important, it’s also important to include some spontaneity. Surprise each other. This is easy with technology. Send things to the house. Back in August, when I knew Juan had a particularly tough week, I used the Uber Eats app to send breakfast and coffee to his house.

This year has thrown so many things at all of us, and in those times when I become overwhelmed with everything that has happened this year, I remind myself of the good things that came out of it. Even though we won’t be seeing each other for the holidays, I’m still so grateful for our relationship. I’m happy to be with such a kind, caring, amazing person who’s a good listener, whose creativity has strengthened our relationship, and who cares about the people I love.


 

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