Having been together with her boyfriend for almost eight years, the writer has never experienced being in a long-distance relationship with him. The circuit breaker period marks the first time she has spent so much time apart from her boyfriend and she shares how it has changed the way she spends her free time, the way she dates and the impact it has on their relationship.

Our old routine

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Before the Circuit Breaker was implemented, we used to meet up at least once every two weeks (and if we were feeling fancy, we’d meet up more than once a week). Our dates consisted of the usual suspects: dinner, movies and some shopping. But because both of us are homebodies, we’d also spend a fair amount of dates watching TV shows at home. 

And yet, we’re by no means a physically clingy couple. If one of us has to cancel a date because of work or other commitments, we go digital. A 40-minute chat on FaceTime before bedtime always works out for us. We have our separate groups of friends and spend ample time with our respective families without the other party. 

I spend a lot of time reading and watching sitcoms. He’s not a big reader or a sitcom fan, so what I do is to simplify the book or show into a 20 min explanation. Then, if the story interests him enough, we’ll be busy discussing theories and what-ifs for the next 30 mins. I know, how entertaining!  

Our new norm

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At this point you may wonder, so what’s the problem? 

It’s funny because we’ve actually had this discussion over the past couple of weeks. And it’s safe to say that we’ve been feeling rather...sian. We didn’t always feel the need to meet up or head out, but the idea of not being able to hangout whenever we want is kind of a huge damper. 

Not being able to shop together is another downer – we only relayed the most frank of comments every time one of us stepped out of a changing room. We were each other’s most honest critics. And like how our enthusiasm for shopping has gone down, so have our snarky banter. These days, sending occasional screenshots of clothes and Amazon links have become the norm…

Also, long weekends now feel…well, really long. And that’s because we haven’t got much planned these days. We’ve also exhausted the online dating options (Netflix Party, play Jackbox Games, Zoom workout sessions and virtual lunch dates).

But that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing to be away from each other. In fact, we’re more tolerant of each other now that we don’t have the opportunity to physically hang out. I have to confess, I used to feel irritated whenever he disappeared from a video call to do something without telling me what it was. But now, I simply leave my computer or phone on and go about doing other things. And that’s just one of the things that are different. 

We’re also more on-time for our “dates” now – if we’re going to watch a show at 8pm, we’re both online then. Previously, we’d take turns being late and I’d get hangry a lot. These days, I’m only hangry (at myself for ordering food during peak time) when I wait over an hour for my food delivery. 

Discovering our passion for charity has also surprised me. I’ve always done what I could for charity on my own, just so I wouldn’t feel pressured to participate in something I wasn’t sure about. But with so much time to think about the world, we started our first ever co-charity contribution to FoodBank last month. That’s definitely a positive thing.

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A photo of the writer and her boyfriend taken in 2017

I guess it’s safe to say that we aren’t exactly wilting from the lack of physical connection but we’re definitely looking forward to more regular days. The circuit breaker has definitely taught us new things and made us appreciate what we have. So no, this isn’t the said “big test” for our relationship, but we’ve made a ton of changes to how we see each other.

Taking each other for granted is a natural slip-up in many relationships and we’re guilty of that all the time. But these dark times have reminded us to be grateful for the technology we have access to, our safety and Singapore’s stability. 

Text: Hayley Tai / Her World / May 2020
Additional reporting: Valerie Toh
Images: Unsplash, Envato Elements, Hayley Tai