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The effects of COVID-19 have been catastrophic.
It has ripped through millions of families, leaving gaping wounds where their loved ones were merely days ago. Incomes have been lost, and parents have become full-time workers or 24-hour caregivers overnight. The strain becomes increasingly unbearable by the day.
At best, the world’s economy is on its knees, with any future prediction of recovery being a year away. It is terrifying. But there is also another group of us struggling in a different and unmentioned way.
To some, we are an unimportant group of people—the “long-distancers.” We are a group that has been having a hard time long before this crisis. Those who have been in a long-distance relationship before will understand and appreciate the struggles that a “local relationship” doesn’t have.
A long-distance relationship is littered with loneliness. There is a constant countdown until we will see each other again.
Anyone like me in this situation is working hard to get to a place where we can finally live with our significant others. We are constantly dreaming of the day we no longer have to part ways again for weeks or months. That day is one that continually looms and engulfs the precious time we have with them.
Now it has consumed the relationship entirely. COVID-19 has impacted my life, not because it has taken a family member (for that I am grateful), but because it has taken my boyfriend. My life is on hold until further notice.
I have been jealous of those who can go through this crisis with some form of support and comfort. The ones who are in their bubble, with their partners and families, while I remain alone.
I feel in between until normality resumes. Some people have been able to carry on with their plans for this year, albeit somewhat restricted, while mine has crashed and burned.
I am devastated for myself. After years of unhappiness with men, I finally found my soul mate, the love of my life. The price of long-distance was a short-term payment that I was willing to pay, but that happiness is likely to be short-lived—COVID-19 may be our undoing.
The uncertainty of the new normal terrifies me. Our income has suffered. My boyfriend’s business has gone under. A flight to see him that typically costs between £400-£600 is currently priced at £3,000 for 2021. As it stands, I won’t be able to afford to see him. Not to mention that this is all contingent on the fact that the servicing airlines don’t go bust before then.
At the start of lockdown, I was being told I was selfish for worrying about my relationship and whether it will still be here when this crisis is over. But how do we know it will? Isn’t that a fair question?
These unmitigated circumstances have the power to break us, and I won’t be able to fix it from hundreds of miles away (it could possibly be fixed if I were in the same country).
I’m angry and upset for being told I’m selfish by people who have everything they need on hand. These are people who will never understand what this feels like to wonder when they will be able to see their partner again. Or what it feels like to be willing to give anything (within reason) to touch their partner’s hand or see that smile.
I don’t typically tell anyone when I cry (which is a lot) because people don’t say anything that helps. But, maybe people don’t have any sympathy for me because I am the one who signed up for a long-distance relationship.
Either way, I have to deal with it. They won’t understand, because they don’t know how it feels. They’ll never know the despair that occurs when reading yet another headline that dashes all hopes of seeing their partner before the end of the year.
COVID-19 is the real deal. For all long-distancers out there, all those feelings are valid. There is no carrying on for us; our lives are on hold and lonely until everyday life resumes. Or, even more terrifyingly so, if a new normal does not incorporate air travel for a long time, this period of emotion and loneliness may just be grieving a relationship we do not realize is ending.
I see you. I feel that pain. Please know you are not alone in this, even though it feels exceptionally lonely. The worry and tears are not selfish. For us, this is the real deal. And it sucks.