The Upsides of Long Distance Love in the Time of Coronavirus

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About five years ago, a friend texted me out of the blue, instructing me to , “Text this guy!” Always a skeptic I responded, “Just like that?”

She didn’t give any more information, except for attaching a strange selfie of the man in question.

Slightly confused but intrigued, I opened WhatsApp and wrote: “Hi I’m Ami”, to which he promptly replied, “Hi I’m Tino!”

And just like that I ‘met’ the man who would be my future husband.

Sounds simple, but it wasn’t.

I was finishing up my residency training in Miami, Florida and he was in Hamburg, Germany. Nevertheless, we began our long distance courtship. For several months, we communicated via WhatsApp. We messaged each other and Skyped; counting down the days until our first in person meeting. Despite months filled with the angst of the unknown, looking back, I’m grateful for our initial geographic separation, as it helped to cement the structure of our relationship.

So for all of the newly dating couples who are quarantining separately, here are some of the upsides to being separated from your partner:

1.Develop strong communication skills

Intense conversations are the mainstay of long distance relationships. Through lengthy chats, individuals get to compare/contrast their value systems. This allows them to learn what each person holds dear. Since honest communication is the foundation of a functioning relationship, it’s key to learn each other’s manner of conveying thoughts and feelings.

2.Increases patience

When one is long distance, certain relationship milestones like saying ‘I love you’ and meeting parents, may take a bit longer to reach. Having to take things a bit slower, allows one the time and space to ask, “Is this what I really want?” Also, with less pressure to share physical intimacy, each individual is more likely to reveal their true self.

3.Distance can be an incubator for growth

Without the influence of friends’ opinions, parental judgment, and everything that comes with living in our modern world, a new couple who are separated by distance, can create their own microcosm. To me, an ideal relationship embodies two separate and unique spirits, making the choice to walk the same path in life, while maintaining their individuality. During separation, the primary elements of who they are, regardless of different backgrounds, family structures or socioeconomic groups, can grow uninhibited. Due to geographic distance, there’s a decrease in some of the external pressures, that can normally complicate a fledgling relationship.

So for all the lovers who are separated due to quarantine, use this time to explore the other’s core values, their world view and future goals. And when you’re finally reunited (who knows when) the time together will be so much sweeter.

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A psychiatrist writing about mental health issues, through a black female lens.