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The Coronavirus pandemic has ever-so seemingly progressed to become an exuberance of pandemonium. However, despite this, there has been a noticeable reflection on what relationships mean to us. Whether friends or romance, the distance between us over the last year has not stopped selfless acts of love.
I am a second-year Ethics, Philosophy and Religion major and, quite terribly, I am in love.
Unfortunately, philosophers can often present a somewhat satirical or futile idea of what love is, even within friendship, let alone within romance. Henceforth, I call upon A.A. Milne – yes, the children’s writer. Milne is famous for writing the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and I’ve often come across many wonderful expressions of what loving someone in any respects, friends or partner can incite. One of my favourites being, “It seemed they had always been, and would always be, friends. Time could change much, but not that.”
I think this is quite a poignant and applicable quotation for the times we face. With further restrictions being enforced over Christmas, a national lockdown following shortly after, our lives have seen considerable change over the shortest period of time. But what I want to express through this quote is that, despite such hardships, our friends and our loved ones have not necessarily been damaged by this experience because love comes in all forms – and it lasts.
I, myself, am in a long-distance relationship with my partner living in Sweden, whom I met just before the pandemic started last year – exactly a month before our first lockdown. The pandemic has seen our relationship become somewhat difficult, especially in terms of meeting; my flights are forever being cancelled. Moreover, I am a clinically extremely-vulnerable person. I have a form of immunosuppression that was caused by previous cancer treatment and asthma. So, for me, going outside even to collect groceries is a pursuit of danger.
This pandemic has left many people in similar positions with their relationships and it is challenging. So, I want to share from my own experience some of the ways I have kept afloat during these times – how me, my friends, and my partner have continued to love each other despite the uncertainty of everything.
- Phone/Video Calls
Me and my partner have been apart for around 5 months now! When my partner first moved away, he had little access to Wi-Fi, so I didn’t get to see his face too often, which was incredibly hard (I remember actually crying the first time we managed to do a video call).
From talking to a lot of my friends, the recent lockdown has seen their relationships affected too, a lot of them now having to be distanced. Even in the few lockdown breaks we have, vulnerable people or those shielding are missing out on the normality of being able to meet up with others.
One of the most helpful things for me is to have phone (or video) calls with people as often as possible. For example, I call my partner every night, and call my friends around once a week. Having those normal conversations with your friends or partner over the phone makes things that bit less isolating. And it’s also nice to be in a call that’s not a lecture or seminar!
- Movie Nights/Watch Parties
Another fun idea is having a watch party! Although not everyone has the access to Netflix watch parties there are numerous ways you can still have them without a subscription. For example, if one person in a group has a subscription, but you do not, it is always possible to download Zoom and share your screen so you can watch too!
There are tutorials of how to do this online, so just google if you get stuck – maybe get a snack too!
- Letters and Care Packages
If you are in a long-distance relationship, these are already quite a staple. But it’s still wonderful to send letters to friends, family, or anyone you care about. One of the ways I like to do this, as a shielding person, is to send cards from online card retailers – there are some very reasonable ones – this way I don’t have to go to the post office to buy stamps and the card still gets to them!
Care packages, small parcels containing gifts for your loved ones, are also really wonderful but they can be expensive. My advice for sending care packages is to do it mindfully: don’t spend excessive amounts of money because the person you’re sending it to will love whatever you put in it. Letters, drawings, a bar of chocolate – what matters is the thought. If you’re a person who is shielding and wants to send a care package, try asking your housemate if they would go to the post office for you so you don’t have to.
- Being honest if you’re struggling
Finally, one of the most important things in my opinion is to be honest. Lockdown, distance, the pandemic – they’re all very hard things. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to be honest to people if you’re struggling.
Personally, I have found the pandemic to put a strain on my mental health; this then puts a strain on my work ethic and my interactions with other people. And it’s important to be honest about this. But the best thing to do is to tell someone if you are struggling, even if it’s not your friends or partner, because you need to reach out.
Places to contact if you’re struggling –
Lancaster’s Nightline – 01524 65201
Samaritans – 116 123, Jo@samaritans.org
Any of the CAT teams.