Anna*, 34, lives in Mt. Pleasant, a 15-minute walk from her boyfriend’s house in Petworth. Except a 15-minute walk may as well be light years right now, as they’re officially in a short-distance, long-distance relationship, one prompted by the Covid-19 crisis.
It’s a common phenomenon now: Couples living in the same city, used to easily traveling back-and-forth to each other’s homes throughout the week, are now being forced to endure what is essentially a long-distance relationship when one of them is self-quarantining.
Anna, a librarian, had just made a batch of cookie dough to take over to her boyfriend’s house on Tuesday night when, seeing her thermometer out, she decided to take her temperature quickly. She had a fever. “It went from, ‘Oh, we can still see each other,’ to ‘Oh, no, I guess we can’t,’ ” says Anna.
Anna has decided to self-quarantine for two weeks, which also means she won’t see her boyfriend for two weeks. The couple has been dating for a year-and-a-half, and, up until now, the longest they’ve been apart is one week.
They’re currently getting through it by talking on G-Chat throughout the day, which Anna likes because “it’s an all-the-time communication platform,” she says. “It’s really nice to be able to just say things when you think of them instead of being like, ‘Oh, where did I put my phone?’ ”
Anna, who has previously been in an actual long-distance relationship, says this quarantine-induced version may actually be more difficult. “At least then we knew ‘Oh, this is when you have plane tickets, this is when I’m going to see you,’ ” she says. “But for now it’s like, ‘I don’t know when I’m going to see you.’ ”
It’s the same boat that Juliana Katinas, 30, of Glover Park is in with her boyfriend, who’s a firefighter in Prince George’s County. Katinas wants to keep herself healthy in case she has to help her parents get groceries and supplies, and since her boyfriend interacts with a lot of folks as part of his job and has a higher chance of getting the virus, they figured it’d be a good idea to keep their distance for…the foreseeable future?
“I think that’s what’s crazy—it could be like, two weeks, it could be six weeks, it could be longer,” says Katinas. Over the past year-and-a-half she’s been with her boyfriend, they’ve spent almost every night together. But now, she’s trying to figure out how to be together, apart.
“I don’t really know what people do for long distance. I might get in touch with some friends who’ve been through long distance [to ask],” she says. “But he has an Android and I have an iPhone. I don’t even know if we can FaceTime.”
So, what to do? Seth Bosco, 38, of Del Ray and his Petworth girlfriend have come up with plenty of virtual activities while social distancing (which they decided to do since his girlfriend’s roommate has asthma). It’s been over a week since they’ve seen each other, and in that time they’ve hosted a virtual dance party and listened to music over FaceTime together. Up next? A virtual movie night (she’s never seen The Royal Tenenbaums, which is Bosco’s favorite movie).
And, okay, yes, one of those activities is also FaceTime sex. Bosco and his girlfriend have already knocked boots virtually during the quarantine, and, as the Virginia-to-DC distance makes the heart grow ever fonder, he suspects it’s going to become a recurring event.
Meanwhile, Lawren Geer, 26 of Glover Park, is playing Words With Friends with her boyfriend, who she hasn’t seen in a week, even though he lives a few minutes away in Adams Morgan. Geer has cystic fibrosis, and her boyfriend traveled through an airport recently, so they figured it wasn’t worth it to see each other for a while.
“It feels extremely similar to [a long-distance relationship], which is weird, because I can run to his house right now,” says Geer. But she’s trying to make the most of it, and is using this period to have some time for herself. “I feel like in relationships, you get really wrapped up in the other person and their schedule,” she says. “I’ve just been embracing [being alone] and when we get back together, we’ll be like new people and get to know each other all over again.”
Katinas is trying to make the best out of the situation, too. “I was feeling kind of jealous of my friends who where like ‘Oh, I get to hunker down with my person, it’s so fun,’ ” she says. “But I’m trying to think bigger picture, and that would definitely have its challenges, too.”
It’s still hard, though. Anna reflects on that cookie dough she’d made for her boyfriend before she found out they wouldn’t be seeing each other for a long while. “[It’s] weirdly become the symbol for not getting to see each other,” she says. “It’s in my fridge, and I keep making just two cookies at a time.”
*Name has been changed to protect anonymity.