COVID-19: the impacts on long-distance relationships

James Troughton discusses how the coronavirus is affecting long-distance relationships

James Troughton
16th March 2020
The coronavirus panic is rapidly ramping up as it spreads, and as a byproduct, the US and other countries are limiting travel, but an unspoken group is being caught in the crossfire - long-distance couples.

Maintaining a long-distance relationship is already a difficult uphill battle, with visiting time being a blessing that is seized at every opportunity. The coronavirus' unwavering stampede has shut down flights, keeping couples across waters separated with no means to reach one another. Toppled with information being so contradictory and stances changing out of the blue, optimism is at an all-time low and things are truly looking bleak.

The Vice President Mike Pence was put in charge, a man who notoriously mishandled the aids epidemic in Indiana.

When Trump announced that those living in Europe were no longer going to be able to travel to the United States of America, many were worrying about the UK's recent future, and calling up Delta airlines to find that their lines were too busy to even put you on a six-hour hold made it abundantly clear that there were a lot of distraught travelers thrown to the wayside.

It's an understandable call of action that the US is not alone in making, but it seems almost redundant to make such a move when their healthcare system is failing their citizens as is - who knows how many are truly infected? There are reports of people being turned away from testing. America's acts are no doubt confusing, especially given the fact that the Vice President Mike Pence was put in charge, a man who notoriously mishandled the aids epidemic in Indiana. Will cutting off travel even help them? There's a lot of questions to be asked, and a lot of people stranded.

For context, I'm dating an American and I had a flight booked to visit the country at the end of March, and after the news, I decided to call Delta to find out whether my flight was canceled, given that I've heard nothing from them. To give an inside perspective on those who are struggling with travel in the context of the recent outbreak, all I can truly say is that it's heartbreaking and bewildering. With phone call hold times being too long to sit through and no updates or communication being given from airlines, it's tough to figure out what's going on, and catching headlines is the best that can be done at the moment.

Related: Coronavirus sends high school students home after travelling to Italy for ski trip

The worst part is the uncertainty - when will travel resume? When will the coronavirus scare die down, allowing for normality to return? How long will it be before I can next book a flight? I'm hoping the answer is soon, but President Donald Trump snapped from calling the Coronavirus a democratic hoax to declaring a national emergency, so looking to those in power for help is like jumping into a pool of piranhas and expecting to find the cure to cancer. It's not going to happen.

Featured image credit: Nirajan pant, Camille Trinidad and Jayzam Manabat (Wikimedia Commons)

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  1. I have the exact same situation. Was going to visit my boyfriend in the US at the end of March, and now I can't. Or I guess I can't. I don't know what's going to happen and I'm having a very hard time 🙁

  2. Thank you for this post, I'm heartbroken over the news of being unable to fly to see my boyfriend, we were so close to the date (April 5th) and now we just don't know. It's been a long hard time waiting and now it's just uncertainty and a heightened sense of loneliness. But it feels a little better to know that we're not the only ones. Hope it gets better for all of us.

  3. I feel this on a deep level. I'm from Australia & was flying to see my fiance in USA in 2 days.

    It's been almost 6 months. I haven't seen him, since we got engaged.

    Our borders in AUS have closed. Officially. So that will not happen & there is no way of knowing when we can fly again.

    If a vaccine is 18 months away, when the bloody hell will we be able to fly?

    By the time we see each other, it could have been almost 2 years... That is a daunting, heartbreaking & stressful notion. I cannot even comprehend it. That is a lot of life to miss out on, in a world where tomorrow is evidently never promised.

    Tough road ahead.
    A WHOLE lot of missing our humans.

    Not to mention, I'm assuming there's a stay in Greencards processing. So all that hard work & patience in the application will have basically gone out the window for now.

    Crikey, what a bloody mess.

    1. I am an Australian in a similar situation. Have you tried applying for a travel exemption through the Australian Gov? I'm wondering if it is worth trying for one myself.

      1. Just wondering if either of you have applied for an exemption if you are in a LDR? Im in a LDR as my partner lives in Germany. The plan was for me to move to Germany this year indefinitely (Im a dual AUS/EU citizen) but have not lived overseas for the last few years.

        1. It’s heartbreaking that it’s been almost 4 months and there have been no real change for so many couples in this situation. For instance I’m from Canada and my boyfriend is from the states we live in border cities and are only 20 minutes away from each other but we aren’t able to see each other. Canadians are able to fly to America but the passport hasn’t opened and I didn’t have one before the pandemic because he came here. It’s just sad that these governments don’t care about our mental health and the pain of being away from the one you love. We will get through this, all of us will hopefully we need to fight for change and make sure that we are heard!

  4. This is heartbreaking. My partner and I just got married but I haven’t transitioned over to his country. And now all borders are closed, his and mine. I was hoping I can get in by being a spouse but we haven’t even started the visa process that can make me eligible for alien residency. We were waiting to start the visa process until I got there but my flights were cancelled and everything is up in the unknown.

  5. I live in the UK with my son and we was going to fly to panama to see my fiance, last April was the last time we had seen each other. We was going over to plan the big day.

  6. I feel the same thing... I am Portuguese and was visiting my boyfriend in Scotland at the end of March... i hope we can see each other's really soon....I miss him so so much and the uncertainty is not helping at all! Wishing all a lot of strenght!

  7. I married my soul mate in July, I came back to Canada in Aug to prepare to live in Africa until my husband until he gets immigration. While I was waiting to return to my husband my dog Mimi got killed, I was so distraught that my family help me to go back sooner than anticipated. I was with my husband for 6 weeks, with my other Chihuahua Suge in Africa. I had a bad fall and was struggling, when another tragedy hit... my uncle died. I returned to Canada without my dog since I was unable to carry him through all the layovers, ( its about 24 hrs). Suge got sick and died from Parvo, just three weeks ago. I am still in Canada and now separated from my husband grieving and lost.

  8. I'm so sorry to hear this...I understand how you feel. My boyfriend lives in America too and we haven't seen each other in a year. I finally got my money together and booked the flight for July 1st last december. Ever since then we've been counting down the days and looking forward to the day where I come over....but am I even going to come over?
    Everyone here has been telling me to "Just give up on it, cause the corona virus will cancel all flights"...But I was so excited. We were both excited. And being away hurts so bad

    I wish all of you that you can meet your partner soon <3

  9. Wow I don’t feel so alone now, was due to fly in 2 days to from the Uk to the states and as we all know that’s not happening, just got off the phone crying to him and not even knowing the next time we will see each other is real hard.

  10. My fiance live in the US and i live in Canada, he is not allowed to come to Canada because of misdemeanor in the past. The last time i pass the border i had to do a mandatory quarantine back home.

    I’m a nurse, i’m afraid that even this summer when people will go back to work, some measures will continue to apply, social distancing and the borders will remain closed for many months, a year maybe.

    Because i’m a nurse if i go see him i wil have to do a mandatory quarantine. I’m discouraged, hopefully we can talk and videochat everyday, it’s not like at the time of the war where you could receive a letter after a couple of months or not at all.....

    Anyway, i have to be strong and pray it won’t last 1-2 years that i will see him again 😷😢

  11. As devastating as this situation may be, I’m glad I’m not alone in this.

    I’ve been in an LDR since last November and was due to fly from Australia to the States to see my man at the end of March. My flights were were cancelled and now, like you all, I have absolutely no idea when I will be able to travel. The unknown is killing me! I’m grateful for today’s technology, but wish I had a date to look forward to.

    Keeping my everything crossed that this virus is controlled ASAP and we all get to see our loved ones soon.

    Take care everyone!

  12. I know the feeling. I’m in the U.K., my boyfriend in the US. Last time I saw him was January second, was meant to be flying off to see him this coming Saturday, that’s well and truly not happening now. All that kept me afloat was knowing when I’d see him, now the grim but possible chance I might not even see him this year is dawning. He’s hoping to start the process of a study visa to come to my country, so we can finally be together, but I don’t know if that’ll fall through, I really hope not. We hope to see each other before august, but I don’t know. Sometimes I wish I had someone to talk to who’s going through a similar situation, I don’t know anyone who is, but hearing other people’s stories makes me feel better at the fact I’m not alone.

  13. My boyfriend is in Mexico and I'm in the UK. Wev not seen each other since January and he has flights booked to come to the UK in August. I'm hopeful that he'll still be able to come but every day it seems less and less likely and its so scary/stressful to think that we might not see each other this year. Reading all your comments makes me feel a little better . Things have been changing so quickly with this virus, lets hope in a 2/3 months we'll all have a better idea as to when we can see our loved ones again.

  14. Finally found my people! After meeting him in the US in January 2019, my partner moved out here (Aus) in July. We lived together until March, when we got engaged and began applying for the US fiance visa. Two days later, he got a call from the consulate to move home.

    Now we're stuck in separate countries. We've done long stretches apart before but not with this much uncertainty. I wish you all good luck. Just remember that every day, we are one day closer to the situation changing.

  15. Can't believe I found so many ppl here in my situation! I am in the UK and feel I am never gonna be able to fly to USA. My boyfriend is there and like someone else has said,if only there was a date to look forward to! The states are having a bad rate of infection and I just keep hoping I will now see him for xnas. Itd so hard and my mental health is being tested. They are starting air corridors but the stares are not going to be on the list. I'm broken and so low...

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