How being apart for COVID-19 changed these couples’ relationships

From circuit breaker to Phase 1, Singaporean couples have been separated for over two months.

Low Jia Ying

Published: 12 June 2020, 3:46 PM

It’s been 66 days (not that I’ve been counting, right?) since I’ve seen my boyfriend and it hasn’t been the smoothest ride.

For one, this time apart since the start of the circuit breaker on Apr 7 has revealed some problems in our relationship we didn’t realise were there before.

It was a huge change going from seeing each other almost every day in school to not at all, and it didn’t help that our waking hours overlapped so little during the day.

One thing that came as a shock to me was discovering my boyfriend’s insane sleep schedule. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/LOW JIA YING

This time apart also made us realise how overly reliant we were on each other for companionship. It was only when we were forced apart that we noticed the extent of the problem.

Identifying these problems and working on them has made our relationship a lot stronger. But this experience made me wonder how other Singaporean couples have adapted to this “new normal” in their relationships.

I spoke to three youths to find out how their relationships have evolved during this time apart.

Developing a deeper connection

“I actually deepened my relationship with my girlfriend of almost a year over the past two months. Since the circuit breaker started, we have been setting aside an hour each night to text.

“We talk about more serious things now, which we normally didn’t do as much when we went out on dates. When you’re out on dates there’s so much to distract you and you may not end up talking that much to your partner.

Going on dates to museums sometimes meant Joshua was more focused on the exhibits than his girlfriend. PHOTO CREDIT: JOSHUA LIM

“Because these are such uncertain times, and we are both at such pivotal moments in our lives, transitioning from university to the working world, it was good that the circuit breaker gave us time to just sit and discuss how we wanted to move forward and build our relationship.

“I don’t think we would have had such deep conversations if it weren’t for this time apart.

“It’s still difficult not being physically there for her during this time. She’s moving house and it’s stressful. I do feel helpless at times so I try as much as I can to be there for her over text.” – Joshua Lim, 25, Software Engineer

A strong foundation made this period easier

“Although these two months have been the longest time me and my boyfriend have been apart in our four years together, things have been stable for us.

“I think it’s because we’ve already built a strong foundation for this relationship, and we’ve had a bit of experience being apart during his army days, so it wasn’t a total shock transitioning during the circuit breaker.

“Something we both really value in the relationship is our independence and it was good that we both kept ourselves occupied separately with internships and projects during the circuit breaker.

“Being clear in our needs and expectations of each other is something that we’ve worked on in the past. For example, I don’t expect him to reply to my texts immediately because I understand that he may be busy.

“My boyfriend has also become a bit more affectionate during the circuit breaker. He’s a lot more expressive over text now, which is a nice change. Not being able to see me in person meant that he had to adapt his way of showing affection.” – Teo Zhiying, 21, Student

Zhiying’s boyfriend also showed her affection by sending food to her house. PHOTO CREDIT: TEO ZHIYING

The circuit break-up

“Things were already rocky between me and my boyfriend before the circuit breaker started.

“We went on a break two weeks into the circuit breaker, and expected it to only last a couple weeks till we could meet in person and talk things through. But the extension of the circuit breaker and Phase 1 meant that this break lasted a lot longer than either of us anticipated.

“I feel guilty because it’s rude to do a break-up over text, but this circuit breaker meant that there wasn’t another option for us.

“Not being able to meet had taken a toll on our relationship, but the time apart also gave me a lot of time to reflect on whether this relationship was right for me.” – Vanessa, 23, Marketing Assistant

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