My 2020: Getting into a long distance relationship despite living in the same country

With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a distance between us, my boyfriend and I had to navigate the early stages of our relationship virtually.

Shannon Kuan

Weird talents include playing the violin, but with a ukulele and a clothes hanger.

Published: 24 December 2020, 10:15 AM

In this MY 2020 series, Youthopia writers explore everything that happened in the past year – the good, the bad, the ugly – and also share their hopes and dreams for 2021. What’s yours?

The whole of 2020 passed by in a blur.

With the world falling into the same mundane routine of working from home and limiting our time outside as much as possible, months of being cooped up in my room all blended together and I eventually lost my sense of time.

But in the early months of 2020 when Singaporeans were sheltered from the severities of COVID-19, I got together with my boyfriend in mid-March, unbeknown to what the rest of the year had in store for us.

We went on dates like any other couples who have just gotten together, finding new things to explore together and wanting to be next to each other all the time. We met up almost every alternate day, all starry-eyed and smitten in each other’s company.

But not even a full month later, the circuit breaker started. 

During the ‘honeymoon’ stage of a relationship, most couples typically would want to spend as much time as possible with their partner, getting to know each other and bonding through shared memories.

But we got robbed of that by the circuit breaker, although we did get to enjoy a few weeks of it. 


Singaporeans were not allowed to leave their house for unessential purposes, and meeting your significant other was one of them. PHOTO CREDIT: SHELDON KENNEDY VIA UNSPLASH


The sudden switch from hanging out almost every day to only being able to see each other through our laptop screens caught us unprepared. 

Instead of holding hands and cuddling, we could only text and video call each other. Heading out for physical adventures were replaced with going on Minecraft dates and gifting virtual flowers.


As we couldn’t go on movie dates, we settled for watching movies while on call with each other; but it would often lag and buffer. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA.SG/SHANNON


That transition was tough. The first few days were bearable as we had just met up a day before circuit breaker was implemented.

However, it eventually dawned on us that we wouldn’t be able to see each other for an extended period of time. We ended up building our relationship through texts and calls for three months, while being physically 15km away from each other. 

Thankfully we still could communicate, but seeing each other in pixels versus in person just wasn’t the same.

There were times where I wasn’t in the mood to talk and just needed his presence around but that was impossible.

The tone of text messages were also hard to decipher online and sometimes there would be miscommunication, leading to unnecessary arguments that could be avoided if we communicated face-to-face.


We were both afraid that circuit breaker would negatively affect our relationship. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA.SG/SHANNON


As someone who preferred solidarity and was fine with not seeing my friends often – as long as we could still text – it was surprising to know how much this distance between my boyfriend and I affected me.

Yes, we texted and called everyday, but I missed seeing him and all I wanted was a hug.

When Phase 2 arrived in late June, we both couldn’t be happier.

However, many social activities were still restricted for the safety of everyone, such as places like cinemas, which normally intakes a large number of people.

While I completely understood why certain restrictions were in place, it made it harder to plan dates as we couldn’t go to certain places. Although all these factors made it harder to bond and communicate at times, I learnt the importance of strengthening our emotional bond first.

The forced distance apart taught us not to be too dependent on each other and gave us the space we needed to grow as individuals.

Having a relationship doesn’t mean you can forgo your friendships and family members. Your significant other shouldn’t be your only source of comfort and support.

With lessened restrictions, especially with the start of Phase 3 nearing, I’m grateful that I can meet my boyfriend whenever I want now.


I was thankful that we could at least celebrate our six-month anniversary together. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA.SG/SHANNON


As the new year arrives, I know that COVID-19 will not be eradicated that easily, but I just wish that 2021 will be less harsh on us all.

While 2020 definitely taught us all invaluable lessons, I hope the next year will let us spend quality time with our loved ones and help strengthen our relationships and bonds.

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