Lockdowns. Closed borders. Travel restrictions. Stay-home orders. Couples, lovers, and socially distanced singles share how love, sex, and intimacy survived a global pandemic.
KATE & AVI
Relationship status: Together for 1.5 years
Current status: Long-distance between Greece and Singapore
What’s been going on: “We are both young and have been separated because of COVID circumstances. We don’t know when we will meet each other again, to be honest. Not being physically together… sucks. What sucks even more is that we are not very positive about being together again. Our families are also very against our relationship due to our ethnicities. All sorts of fucked up.”
How they make it work: “No sacrifices, [we] just did what felt right. [We’re] going with the flow. We also keep the spark alive with constant communication and lots of zoom sex. Have you heard of zoom sex? We got a bunch of sex toys before separating and now we experiment with them. We even have a vibrator that sends vibrations from across the ocean – basically being as creative as possible.”
Relationship status: Single
Current status: Making virtual dating as IRL as possible
What’s been going on: “I met someone during the pandemic. [With restrictions in place] we would chat everyday. We would have virtual wine sessions together, play games, or share recipes (mostly him). We aren’t dating anymore, but the pandemic wasn’t the challenge. It’s the same for me as when you first meet someone online – you usually wanna get to know them better first before meeting up. I saw it as an extended opportunity. Personal space can be super helpful when it comes to dating; you can actually learn a lot about a person based on what they do in isolation.”
MELODY & JOHAN
Relationship status: Together for 3.5 years
Current status: Together in Stockholm
What’s been going on: Melody: “We didn’t meet for 6 months, during this time Singapore was on lockdown or ‘circuit breaker’ for three and a half months whilst there were no restrictions in Stockholm. I think that made it difficult for him to really understand what I was going through at the time. Johan was out and about doing fun activities during the summer in Sweden, which is beautiful. He was busy golfing, going for barbecues, and attending parties with friends. And as for me, I was not allowed to leave home unless necessary. It was a huge mental toll on me and our relationship because I wasn’t very happy. I do not blame him at all because it couldn’t be avoided but I don’t think he understood. The time difference itself is bad enough, but he would be too tired from his day of summer festivities to speak to me properly. It was only until he broke his foot and had to be ‘confined’ (restricted) because he couldn’t walk [that] I think he started to understand a bit more.”
How they make it work: Melody: “I dropped everything to come to Sweden for three months and counting. I spent weeks prior researching and advocating to our ministers and government to open borders, same with Sweden. When I arrived, the Swedish border was still closed but I took the plunge and tried my luck, with a folder of Johan’s information and our past flight tickets, pictures of us together. It was a nerve-wracking experience from start to finish and travelling during the peak of the pandemic was daunting. It also is a big cost as upon my return to Singapore, I will likely have to pay SGD 2300 to quarantine in a government facility. Same with him for when he comes to Singapore.”
Relationship status: Single
Current status: Social distancing in Malaysia, but still looking for connections online
What’s been going on: “I used to prefer meeting up once I matched [with someone] but now will chat with them for a while to see if we actually click. I’m not sure if meeting people is safe or not. I don’t know where they’ve been and whom they’ve met. Can’t get intimate without worrying also, which means can’t whore out. Most interactions are talking terms only; one ghosted me; one I’m about to meet up; another one is stuck in another state (can’t do cross-state due to COVID-19 restrictions). I also low-key hope they are as paranoid about COVID-19 as I am with all the precautions.”
STEVE & LIAH
Relationship status: Together for 27 years
Current status: Separated for four months in 2020, now together in Singapore
What’s been going on: Steve: “I was stuck in Bali from March to June after coming back from a work trip. [During that time] we just did video calls, messages, and phone calls. But when I got back after “prison” (quarantine haha) I cooked dinners, we watched tv together, and did short walks to the shops, stuff like that! We have been married for so long that it was just nice to get back to our routine.”
How they make it work: Steve: “We had to give each other space after coming back home. It was a bit unusual to not be alone. It was hard to do anything exciting while doing long distance but when I got back I cooked lots of food for her. And we planted plants.”
Relationship status: Single
Current status: Bumble-ing through COVID restrictions in Singapore
What’s been going on: “Since COVID, you can’t go out as freely and stay out as late, as there’s an alcohol ban after 10.30pm. But I feel this has resulted in more quality conversations actually. You gotta be interesting when communicating over text or social media, etc. I guess if you’re an interesting person, it will all reflect, instead of just having fun on late nights. It’s more real [and in this way] a refreshing change for the better.”
GRAHAM & PRAGUE
Relationship status: Together for 6 years
Current status: Separated by Covid, Graham in Sydney, Prague in Bangkok
What’s been going on: Graham & Prague met in Bangkok & lived there together for many years, in 2019 Graham moved to Australia, with Prague planning to join him in 2020, with nuptials & making a home together on the cards. Covid 19 radically altered their plan.
Graham: “Instead of being together, cooped up in isolation during the Pandemic, we found ourselves in separate households, in separate countries. In separate timezones. Both of us balancing the reality of being a part with the total uncertainty of when we’ll see each other again. It is only the belief in our future together that has gotten us through all of this.”
How they make it work: Graham: “We had to make real that idea of a future together, make it more tangible to stop it drifting from us – we did it in 4 key ways:
Suspend all judgement; when we were in the same household, and someone stayed out late or had one too many boozy lunches, we’d say hey pull your head in. But now there’s none of that at all – we give each other all the space & freedom the other needs.
Creating something physical; when our big plans fell apart we had nothing that we jointly owned or were working on together. So I made a spreadsheet of our savings plan, every month, we both screenshot the remittance note and send it to each other, then I capture it in our spreadsheet. The extent of our future together is manifest in this little google spreadsheet.. this little ritual confirms our financial future together.
We talk to our friends about each other – it keeps us alive & real.
Relinquish all plans – I was going to pop the question in the summer & ideally that would now happen next year, but with no certainty on when we’ll travel together.. So who knows, if we don’t plan we can’t get disappointed.”
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