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Column: How the pandemic taught me to maintain long-distance relationships

With the pandemic came physically distancing, which prepared me to maintain my many long-distance relationships.

Pre-pandemic, I was like any other young adult – embracing social outings every day and packing my schedule with activities and trips. 

Leaving home and changing cities at a young age, I was completely isolated when the COVID-19 pandemic hit shortly after I moved. My family physically clung to each other during these uncertain times while I remained alone in a different city, having to settle for text message check-ins. 

It wasn’t long into the summer of 2020 before my family, friends, and I realized the pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon, and we’d have to learn new ways to communicate and stay engaged with one another. 

Adopting a weekly phone call schedule, my friend and I soon learned about websites containing online board games. We would spend three hours every Sunday playing virtual board games and discussing the few life events that we experienced during COVID – in these times, a detailed recounting of our virtual university classes was considered interesting. 

My friends and I started virtually watching TV together. I was soon teaching my grandmother to video chat so I could join her each week to play bingo – a tradition we still do today, I’m happy to add. 

In fact, I still use a lot of the tools I discovered during the pandemic to stay engaged with people. When my life-long best friend moved to Scotland, we continued our habit of watching questionably-good TV together, laughing at the horrible acting and awful storyline. 

I also found love during the pandemic, but like all love stories, ours is not perfect and is tested every day by over 400 kilometers of distance. Luckily, the pandemic taught me how to invest in relationships without being physically there. To adapt to the pandemic, I learned new skills I never realized I needed.

And now, after a year of having two long-distance best friends and a long-distance boyfriend, and my family in another province, I will forever be grateful for the coping skills I’ve learned. Of course, maintaining these relationships has come with difficulties, but I believe they are stronger because of the challenges. 

I now spend every Thursday playing bingo with my grandmother over video chat, I watch every hockey game while chatting on the phone with my boyfriend, and I make a daily three-minute podcast with my two friends to keep in touch.

I have learned how to properly invest my time into substantial relationships with people who mean the world to me – who support and uplift me – even when these people live in different cities, provinces, and even countries. 

Although I wish our lives were never interrupted by the pandemic, I would be a fool not to recognize what the pandemic has taught me. It’s because of these trials and tribulations that I’ve been able to maintain my most dear relationships.


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