Same City, Long Distance: Couples Struggle Through Social Distancing

When we said we wanted some space, we didn't mean quite this much.
When we said we wanted some space, we didn't mean quite this much. Branimir Balogovic / Unsplash
Government stay-at-home orders have left us with a lot of mixed feelings. While a very small percentage may be overjoyed about not having to leave the house or interact with people, the fair majority are feeling sad, anxious and aggressively horny. While single and non-monogamous people have had to refrain from making booty calls during this time, monogamous couples who don’t live together are also finding that they are struggling emotionally.

According to a study by NBC News, 47% of people believe the social distancing directives are hurting their sex lives. Between having to adjust to working from home, learning new software and being bombarded with bad news, people are reporting an increased feeling of anxiety and stress. Additionally, in some households, one or more members may be an essential worker at risk of catching the coronavirus.

Such is the case for Edwin Morales and his partner. Morales works in a warehouse and his partner works in a lab, and both parties are aware of the risks that working in these places poses. Until this period is over, both Morales and his partner have deliberately chosen not to engage in any form of physical intimacy, including kissing.

“We don’t want to chance it just in case one of us gets it and the other doesn’t,” Morales says. “They just this week started giving masks out [at work], so it’s taken my job forever to incorporate safety.”

Morales and his partner are still sleeping in the same bed for the time being, but they choose to face away from each other. While Morales admits that this situation may not be ideal in terms of physical intimacy, he still feels secure in the emotional state of his relationship.

“Does it suck? Yes,” Morales says. “But I haven’t seen or felt emotional distress from it.”

During this period of isolation, medical professionals have warned that even if one person can survive the coronavirus, they can still pass it to someone who won’t. While Morales and his partner have had to make a lot of adjustments in their day-to-day lives, they are grateful to be by each other’s sides. Some couples don’t have the luxury of living together, which is taking its toll on some of the parties involved — especially with the rising rates of unemployment.

Plano resident Jessica Yeatts says she has been able to see her boyfriend when they have time, but coronavirus has made it difficult.

“Don’t isolate yourself from your partner mentally during this, let them be your rock and lean on them because it’s tough to be away.” – Clarissa Reeves

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“He and I are both on edge with all of this uncertainty,” Yeatts says. “We both lost our jobs and are having a hard time finding new ones.”

Dallas resident Courtney Mayden has implemented new boundaries. She says she has not left her house since March 17, although her boyfriend still visits her on weekends.

“We’ve definitely had to cut down on how much time we spend together,” Mayden says. “His grandma lives with him, and I have asthma, so both of us are being super cautious.”

Although Mayden says she and her boyfriend have not made a conscious choice to refrain from being physically intimate, she notices a sharp decrease, for which she cites stress and anxiety.

Last week, Dallas County extended its emergency shelter-in-place order possibly until May 20, though there's speculation that the order will be extended even further. While it may seem uncertain as to when we will be able to go out and about into the world again, couples who were previously in long-distance relationships have offered some advice.

Dallas native Clarissa Reeves was in a long-distance relationship for six months before moving to Orlando, to live with her boyfriend. She recommends video chatting, playing games and continuing to communicate to make the distance less difficult.

“If you’re in quarantine without each other, still pick up the phone and talk to your partner about silly stuff,” Reeves says. “Don’t isolate yourself from your partner mentally during this, let them be your rock and lean on them because it’s tough to be away.”

While Reeves had a set end date in mind, Dallas native Kristen Granone had no idea when the distance between her and her husband would end. For the first 2½ years of her marriage, Granone and her husband served in the military and were stationed in opposite parts of the country. She didn't learn her exact return date until two months before, but during that time, the two managed to remain creative.

Like Reeves, Granone says that communication is vital during this time.

“Even if it seems like there isn’t an end in sight, there is — there absolutely is,” Granone says. “There are a lot of things you can’t control in this life, but you can control your outlook in a crappy situation. It’s also really important to help lift each other up."
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez