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The Scene Long Distance Relationships: A Couple’s Real-Life Account During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Long Distance Relationships: A Couple’s Real-Life Account During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Long Distance Relationships: A Couple’s Real-Life Account During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Lifestyle Editor Coco Marett and her partner Zaran Vachha talk candidly about spending the last year in a long distance relationship due to the pandemic. (Image: Coco Marett/Instagram)
By Annie Simpson
By Annie Simpson
February 21, 2021
Tatler Asia's own Lifestyle Editor and her partner share a candid account of how they have navigated being in a long-distance relationship for the past 12-months due to Covid-19

A full year into Covid-19, life as we know it has changed for many. From forgoing luxuries such as travelling abroad, to the daily habit of mask wearing, we've all had to adapt. But when it comes to relationships, many have had to face unprecedented challenges––including navigating the world of dating during a pandemic, postponing weddings, and tackling long-distance.

When it comes to long distance relationships, Tatler Asia's own Lifestyle Editor Coco Marett fills us in on her own experience. Based in Hong Kong, with her boyfriend Zaran Vachha in Singapore, the couple were well-versed in travelling between the two cities, until Covid hit. As it approaches a year since they have been in the same country––let alone the same room––the pair let us in on how they have faced the challenge, how they have made it work for them, and what they'll do once they're finally reunited.

(Related: Editors’ Picks: The Most Romantic Restaurants in Singapore)

What she said

When was the last time you saw each other?

I was in Singapore last year in late February/early March.

How often did you used to see each other before Covid, and how did long distance work then?

Quite regularly, I would say at least twice a month. We had a good system going––Zaran travelled around Asia for his work, more or less splitting the bulk of his time between Singapore and Hong Kong, and I was able to visit him and work out of our Tatler Singapore office from time to time.

Do you think being apart has strengthened your relationship, or made you learn more about yourselves and each other? 

Absolutely. Particularly during Covid, it’s been a hell of a lesson in humility and has forced us to face some pretty uncomfortable truths about ourselves.

It’s strange to say, but we’ve both agreed that we’re kind of glad we’ve been put through this. It’s been a hard push in the right direction for both of us in terms of personal growth, where we want to go in our careers and where our relationship is going.

It has been challenging but I have no doubt that we are stronger––individually and as partners––for it. We were best friends for eight years before we became a couple, but I feel like in this process I’ve gotten to know a whole new side of him, and have come to love and respect him on a whole new level.

(Related: Date Ideas in Singapore For Every Type of Couple)

How do you think this experience will change your relationship in the future?

I will never take the simple things, like a hug or a date, for granted again.

How have you made time for each other in your own daily lives?

It’s really as simple as that––just making the time for each other.

I think the fact that we were best friends before dating has helped. It doesn’t feel like an obligation for us because we’ve always been the first people we go to when we have good, bad, funny or mundane news. We honestly text all throughout the day. He’s my best mate.

Something we have been good at is not putting unnecessary pressure on our relationship. We’re pretty easy-going with each other and know the importance of us having, and focusing on, our own lives. Especially during the madness of Covid.

Like, if we have plans and something comes up, we just make new plans. If I have one word of advice for couples doing long distance, especially right now with Covid, it’s to be adaptable and pick your battles.  

What have you done to keep the spark alive?

Z is the most thoughtful person I know. He is always surprising me––whether it’s ordering my favourite food for me when I’ve had a hard day, or sending me a little gift out of nowhere, just because. Little things that let the other person know you’re on their mind are key in a long-distance relationship.

More recently, we’ve started doing staycations, booking a hotel for ourselves on the same night and FaceTiming, doing activities or watching movies together. I know that sounds a bit corny, but you really just do what you can to feel close to each other when you’ve been apart for almost a year, haha. I can confidently say that the spark has not waned.

What is the first thing you’re going to do when you can finally be together again?

Honestly, just make up for lost time. While it’s been a huge year of change and growth for the two of us, it’s a bit sad to think that we’ve had an entire year without creating any new memories.

I’m just looking forward to us finally being able to get back on track with building a life together.

Do you have any tips or takeaways for others in long distance relationships?

It seems obvious but communication is everything. Without being able to physically be together, without being able to have fun and do things together, all you have is communication. Don’t leave important things unsaid, express your love generously, take nothing for granted.

Another thing is… don’t get mad at things that are out of your control. It’s so easy to fall into feelings of frustration and resentment, which happened a lot at the beginning of the worldwide travel shutdown.

But we had to regroup and refocus on what’s important, and that was being each other’s rock and support system. At the end of the day, it comes down to this––forget any petty bullsh*t and just take care of each other the best you can.

What he said

When was the last time you saw each other? 

Last time we saw each other was last March for Coco’s birthday. We had a couple magical weeks and planned to see each other very soon after that. We had no idea the world would turn on its head like this. 

How often did you used to see each other before Covid, and how did long distance work then? 

We saw each other every month. I travelled a lot to HK and Coco came down. We made our stays count and we had a very good flow. It was kind of nice to miss each other and gave our relationship the space and time to blossom. If we lived in a city together we wouldn’t be afforded that luxury. 

(Related: The Best Hotels For a Romantic Staycation in Singapore)

Do you think being apart has strengthened your relationship, or made you learn more about yourselves and each other?

This past year has been the most trying year of many people’s lives. I lost all my business in 2020 and had to shut two venues down. It was a very painful and discombobulating time. We both were away from our families and felt lost. I had to re-establish my identity, as it was intrinsically tied to my work which for most of 2020 was non-existent. The only thing that could make it better was seeing each other but that wasn’t possible. 

We went through some dark times. But we picked each other up every time. I’m so grateful for her support throughout all this. Our relationship has blossomed into the strongest, most balanced relationship I have ever been in. The main reason being we can only talk and listen. 

It has been a one year-long therapy and personal growth session with my best friend. It’s freeing. We can talk openly about what we want out of a partner, a relationship and truly start to plan for a future we both want. Once we got over the challenge of letting the other person in, it allowed us both to enjoy what it really means to have a partner and a support system. We definitely fell more in love through this process and realised we were in this for the long run. 

How do you think this experience will change your relationship in the future? 

I believe we have put in the work to make a solid foundation for our future. We had hard conversations that we would have struggled to have if it wasn’t for this separation. I honestly think this was somewhat of a blessing for our relationship. We waited eight years before we started dating, what’s another year! But enough! I just want to see my girlfriend now!

How have you made time for each other in your own daily lives? 

We always joke about how much we are in contact with each other. If people read our texts and messages they would think we are crazy. We are in constant contact and confess our love to each other every hour or so. It’s like being teenagers again. It’s kind of cute. We are always there for each other, good or bad. Honestly, we have been so great at keeping in touch I really hope we are the same way when we are able to see each other again. I know this is a lame thing to say, but I’m really proud of us.  

What have you done to keep the spark alive? 

I don’t know if my answers are suitable for the public domain. The spark has not died, let me tell you that for free. 

What is the first thing you’re going to do when you can finally be together again? 

Apart from the obvious, I believe we will just enjoy each other's company. Just excited to live life together. Eat together, drink together. I'm very sure you will not see us for a few days. We will escape into our own little world and enjoy the little pleasures that we have taken for granted. One thing is for certain––I won’t be able to let her go when I see her next. 

Do you have any tips or takeaways for others in long distance relationships? 

Give each other the space they need. Not everything is about you or a reflection on the relationship. Sometimes things come up on the other side. Let it be. If this relationship is to last, realise it is for life, not for this second.

Make the time you spend together enjoyable not a chore. Being regimented sucks the life out of any normal relationship. Be spontaneous make sure the person on the other side of the phone is loved at all times. Covid has made the world, at times, a very cold claustrophobic place. Be there for each other the best you can. Distance is difficult enough as it is. Realise times are not normal and that people, including your partner, are affected in different ways. 

(Related: Jeremy Jauncey and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach Reveal The Full Story On Their Romantic Relationship)

If you could, what is the one thing you would say to yourself before this experience? 

Though you are far away, use this time to get closer. Get to know each other in ways you never dreamed possible. Experience being in love and being loved in a whole new landscape. Never will you have time and space to truly listen to your partner. Remember this is no one's fault. Just know this time is not forever. But if you are patient, loving and supportive your relationship will be. 

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The Scene Overcoming Covid-19 covid-19 love dating relationships long distance relationships dating in a pandemic travel restrictions

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