During the coronavirus outbreak, social distancing and quarantine make it easy to feel isolated and lonely. This is especially true if you and your partner have taken up residence separately in your family homes. Experts predict the pandemic will continue for the next few months, so it’s essential to stay connected to your loved ones for the sake of your emotional health and well-being. If you’re down to get creative, it’s totally possible to maintain intimacy if you’re away from your partner for the foreseeable future.
Thankfully, technology makes it possible to connect for FaceTime dates and happy hours — something you’re probably already doing with your partner and friends. Candice Smith, intimacy consultant and founder of Tango couples’ kits, tells Phicklephilly that setting a routine will help you and your SO stay in regular contact. “Set a time for virtual hangout sessions, like a virtual Netflix-and-chill or a call before bed,” she suggests. Video or phone sex is totally an option, too — but when you’re living in your parents’ house, that option might feel a bit tougher to pull off discreetly.
To help you make the most of this challenging period of long-distance dating, Smith outlines her best tips for staying emotionally connected to your partner, even when you’re miles apart.
1. Get Creative With Video Date Nights.
You’re probably already having regular FaceTime calls, but you don’t have to sit around in your sweatpants every night when you talk to each other. “There are myriads of couples’ fun date night ideas, from drawing each others’ faces while the artist cannot look at the paper, to playing Mad Libs, to karaoke, to learning how to cook a new meal together,” Smith says. “There are literally thousands of different activities online — challenge yourselves to get creative.”
2. Find Ways To Be Playful.
The news can feel super overwhelming right now, and it’s easy to feel anxious. To distract yourself and have fun with your partner, Smith suggests playing games together — board games, online games, even get-to-know-you games. “Not only is it a fun way to connect with your partner, it’s a good escape from focusing on the news of the world around us,” she says. Try to simply enjoy each other’s company and laugh a little, even through a screen.
3. Send Sexy Texts & Photos.
If you’re uncomfortable having sex audibly over FaceTime, use texting to your advantage. Send your partner flirty messages throughout the day, and (if you fully trust them) take some nude photos. “Make time for sexual intimacy together, whether you’re sexting, sending nudes, or hopping on a video call,” Smith says. “Though you may not be physically touching, staying sexually connected will be emotionally fulfilling for you both and keep the flirtatious spark going.”
4. Talk About How You’re Feeling.
Of course you want to keep the mood light when you spend virtual time together, but another important part of intimacy is being vulnerable about your emotions. Smith recommends implementing a practice called the “Intimacy Huddle” to check in on your relationship health. Set aside 30 minutes or so every week or twice per month. “Talk about your goals,” she says. “Congratulate each other: What are ways you have been a supportive partner? Give constructive feedback: What are ways you could be a better partner?” Tell your SO what you need to feel supported during this time, and be sure to ask what they need, too. “Having these little check-ins will keep you both on the same page as a team,” Smith says.
You can’t be together in person at the moment, but you can think back on all the memories you’ve shared and make plans for more adventures in the future. Smith remembers how this worked for her during a long-distance stint in her relationship. “When we were separated for Valentine’s Day for business, my partner and I spent a full day texting our ‘greatest hits’ back and forth, reminiscing about the time we went to Montreal and ate in a pitch-black restaurant, laughing over inside jokes, and otherwise loving each other up,” she says. “We may have been apart that day, but I felt as if he was there with me.”
6. Send A (Thoroughly Cleaned) Care Package.
Is there a special gift you’d like to surprise your partner with, like flowers or a meaningful book? Send it through the mail — as long as your partner makes sure to thoroughly disinfect it upon arrival to minimize the chance of contamination. Smith also suggests checking out a company that creates care packages. Uncommon Goods and Small Packages are two of her favorites.
This will be a new experience for your relationship, but if you’re committed to making it work, many positives can come of it. Maybe you’ll even learn to communicate in meaningful new ways. It sucks that you can’t be with your partner IRL, but rest assured that your relationship can still bring you comfort in this time of uncertainty. Plus, a little sexting might be just the thing you need to spice things up.
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