Kissing and cuddling look a bit different this summer.
As coronavirus cases continue to spike throughout the nation, social distancing rules remain heavily enforced. While many of us have been quarantining with our loved ones, other couples aren’t as fortunate and have been temporarily separated by stay-at-home orders meant to minimize contact with non-family members.
Cue in the start of many unexpected long-distance relationships.
It’s important to remember that while distance may be difficult and frustrating, it’s not forever. From phone apps to traditional love letters, here are some creative ways for you to stay connected with your loved ones while staying apart.
Watch a movie with Netflix Party
While it might not be the same as going to the movie theater together, you can still stream your Netflix favorite with Netflix Party, a Google Chrome extension that allows you to synchronize video playback. You can even chat while you watch together.
Carmelia Ray, a celebrity matchmaker and star of the reality series “Mom vs Matchmaker,” suggests alternating who gets to choose the movie, adding that “it’s really great when you can learn about each other’s interests through Netflix choices.”
Send some cute (inexpensive) gifts
We’re all trying to save money during the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find inexpensive ways to show our love from a distance. Ship your loved one some homemade baked goods, or a cute stuffed animal.
“Little caring acts can have a big impact, and they have the power to redirect your mind away from what’s missing in your life,” says couples counselor Alicia Muñoz, author of “The Couple’s Quiz Book.”
Take walks together (virtually)
The next time you go for a stroll or take your dog out, bring your partner along via FaceTime.
“When you’re outside, you feel better; when you feel better, you look better,” says psychiatrist Ish Major, host of TV’s “Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.” “When you look better, you do better, and that includes doing relationships!”
Make a digital photo album or slide show
It’s sad to not be able to see your boyfriend or girlfriend in person, so try compiling a digital photo album.
“Looking back at past memories is a bonding experience that allows each of you to express how you both felt in those moments and why they were special,” says Ray.
Share Spotify playlists
Let your partner know which tunes are stuck in your head by creating a playlist on Spotify. You can even make a collaborative playlist that allows you both to add, delete or reorder songs.
Ray suggests personalizing this activity by creating playlists such as “Shane’s workout songs” or “How I feel about you.”
Sit down for virtual dinner dates
Who says you can’t have a romantic dinner? Synchronize a time to cook or order dinner together, and video chat as you eat and talk. Major recommends treating it like a “real date”: getting dressed up, having a glass of wine, and setting the scene.
Mail handwritten love letters
Tell them you love them with words, not emojis. It’s intimate, meaningful, and, most of all, tangible.
“Time and space aren’t such insurmountable obstacles when you can still hear about each other’s lives and express love,” Muñoz says.
Play Words with Friends
You might want to hang out with your significant other without always calling or video chatting. Play games such as Words With Friends together to stay connected while having some fun. Ray suggests spicing things up with a friendly competition like loser buys Uber Eats.
Ditch the texting, try some voice memos
If you want to give your thumbs a break, try sending each other audio recordings about your day, what you plan to do later, or rants about cabin fever. (You can also use walkie-talkie apps such as Voxer.)
Voice memos are “a powerful and efficient way of letting someone know they’re on your mind,” Muñoz says.
Learn their hobbies … and record it!
Have you been meaning to learn how to play guitar? To bake that intriguing recipe? Now is the time, and you can show your partner your progress.
“Even if you don’t share the same interests, the fact that you care enough to share it and watch it shows your partner that they matter,” says Ray.
Start your own book club
Choose a book together that both of you will enjoy, and give yourself a week to read it independently before discussing on Zoom. (Hint: Maybe bring some wine to make your book discussion a little more exciting.)
“It’s a shared experience that only the two of you know about, and those types of experiences lead to a deeper bond,” says Major.
Work out together
Stay in shape by taking a virtual yoga or workout class together and video chatting during the process. Muñoz suggests lifting weights or even taking the same Peloton class on Zoom or FaceTime.
Learn a new language together
You can use Duolingo, a free mobile app, to pick up a new language or even take an online course with your significant other.
“If visiting the Great Wall of China is on your bucket list, perhaps studying Mandarin or Cantonese together would be a practical way of spending time and planning your future vacation,” Ray says.
Get to know each other even better with personality quizzes
Try taking free online personality assessments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. You may surprise each other to see how much or little you differ on traits like conscientiousness or extroversion.
Another game to get to know each other is “What I Thought Was True.”
“Name three things you used to think were true about yourself, but now you think differently. Name three things you thought were true about your partner when you first met but no longer believe to be true. Share those things with each other. It’s the equivalent of a software update for your relationship,” Major says.
Plan your next trip together
Map out your next in-person date – and make it extravagant. Take a road trip. Make that fancy brunch reservation. Book a hotel in a tropical area. Seeing your partner for the first time since being apart will be a memorable experience, says Muñoz.
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