Rechkemmer: Navigating relationships in a pandemic


Columnist Gracie Rechkemmer refutes the tale that long-distance relationships are not a daunting task; in fact, they’re the opposite. 

Gracie Rechkemmer

During a time of self-isolation and social distancing, many of us have been forced to confront our most daunting relationship fear. It is one of the biggest taboos in the modern dating world, threatening to dampen or destroy friendships and romances alike:


Our home towns are spread across the country and the world, and when we must stay inside to protect ourselves and our loved ones, even five miles can feel like five hundred. Although today’s technology allows real-time conversations with people anywhere, virtual communication can make it difficult to maintain meaningful connections. For people like me, face-to-face interaction and quality time with loved ones are necessities. 

Can friendships and relationships survive months with no contact? What happens if this situation stretches past the summer and into the future? Uncertainty is stressful, painful and can make the time apart seem impossible to weather. 

It may not be easy, but there is hope.

Throughout my life, I have navigated many long-distance relationships. In fact, every single romantic relationship I have been in was at least partially long-distance. Whether it is due to bad luck or just the nature of being a college student who loves to travel, I seem to be always destined to be apart from my loved ones. Honestly- this really sucks sometimes. 

But it is worth it.

Relationships are equally valid and can be equally healthy, whether you get to spend time with your partner once a day or once a year. The critical difference is, believe it or not, communication. Long-distance forces friends and couples to evaluate their communication styles and learn how to communicate intentionally and effectively. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the effort you are willing to put into your relationships. While communication in a long-distance relationship can take more time and effort, it has the potential to create a deeper, more meaningful connection that transcends mere convenience. 

Over the course of my past relationships, through the highs and the lows, I have learned some lessons that make it possible to survive- and even enjoy- times of long-distance. 

Be mindful of each other. In all relationships, but especially in those that are long-distance, it is imperative that you are aware of and considering your partner’s needs. Communicating virtually can leave a lot of room for misinterpretation, so thoughtfulness in what you say and do is vitally important. 

Give yourself and others grace. Understand that a relationship is a learning process, and you are in it together. Be patient with mistakes, and don’t expect perfection. Do expect effort and growth.

Finally, stay positive and recognize that this is not forever. For me, this is the most difficult and most important thing to remember. Hard times can seem eternal, but they will pass. This pandemic will end, and you will see your loved ones again. 

Hold on to that hope. 

I will leave with this thought: If you are willing to put in the work, distance cannot kill a healthy relationship. It will make you a better communicator, a better friend and partner and a better person. 

We all need connections, now more than ever. Don’t let distance take these away from you.


Gracie Rechkemmer, junior in environmental science and global resource systems.