COVID-19 affects every aspect of life. Even if you haven’t lost your job or taken a pay cut, your personal life is still affected in one way or another.
Long distance relationships and globalization go hand-in-hand. A married couple might be divided by jobs in two different countries. A pair of lovers might be divided by an ocean. A couple met online may be divided by a continent.
Before COVID-19 and travel restrictions, what they all had in common was the ability to travel to see their loved ones. But not anymore.
Here are five Bangkokians who share their stories with us.
Roy Wadia, 58
I’ve been married to my husband, Alan Hsiung (60), for 31 years now. We met at a university in the US when we both were international students. He is from Taiwan, I am from India.
Ever since we got together, we have had to do long distance quite a few times in several countries because of our jobs. But it’s just the way it is. I don’t have the answer to how I did it, spending so much time apart from my husband. I just did it, because we had to do it.
Right now, we both live in Bangkok, but this past few months he has been spending two to three weeks every month in Taiwan to look after his elderly father. He is stuck there and hoping to return on May 8. Though he has had to change his ticket twice already.
We are doing whatever we can to support each other. It’s definitely hard work, I can’t lie, there have been some tough times.
Long distance is actually easy in some ways, because you meet for a short time and you enjoy it, then you leave again. When we first started living together, it was very difficult, we had many arguments about little things. Now we are like best friends. We’ve been together for so long, I think that’s the way it should evolve.
You have to be prepared to give up yourself because how else can you be in a relationship? It’s two people putting themselves out there. Communication is also very important. Learning to share what bothers you, what works or doesn’t work. You can never take anyone for granted, even after 31 years.
We have to be very mindful and not just assume that the other person is just going to take your crap.
Kitikhun Rungvanichkarn, 36
My boyfriend is in South Africa. Two years ago he messaged me on Instagram and based on our conversation, I thought he was quite ok, so I flew to see him in South Korea, where he was living and working then. We’ve been together since.
We used to see each other every two months. We would take turns flying. I flew to see him on February 14 in Busan, then he moved back home to South Africa. He was supposed to fly to Bangkok a few days ago, actually. But all of that had to be cancelled.
My feelings are affected by this. Usually I would have the freedom in doing what I want with the time and money I have, but that doesn’t mean anything during this pandemic.
Thanks to all the online platforms that keep us connected. Right now, we are thinking about where to travel next after COVID-19. We are trying to keep positive. We are thinking whether in the future we want to open some kind of a business together. So now, we are saving and seeing what we can do with this money.
Depends on how long COVID-19 lasts. I think for us, one year we would still be fine. If more than that, we would have to have a talk. We would have to see how we can handle this. How we can be happy when we can’t see each other. If he meets someone else better, I would have to let him go and vice versa.
My fiancé lives in Chicago. She is an old college friend in the US. We have been together for a little over a year. We got together after I got a divorce.
My plan before COVID-19 was to fly to Chicago today (Apr 14). I had been planning to move there. But right now, the earliest flights available when I checked about a week ago would be May 2, and they only have business class, which cost 8,000 US dollars one-way.
It was genuinely heartbreaking. We have been long-distance most of the time, I saw her once when I went to visit her in December for three weeks. I’ve been living in my house in Bangkok for five years and after those three weeks, my home has stopped being a home.
We had difficulties in this relationship in terms of distance and we were depending on a lot of hopes and plans. Now that has been delayed indefinitely, it has been difficult for the both of us. It was easier when we had a certain date of when we would see each other again, and the fact that we came so close has been devastating.
She and I have come out [as trans women] quite later in life. We decided to take this journey together. We both have had a divorce. We both went through difficult times and we rely on each other a lot for support.
COVID-19 has affected my relationship, but it would not break us. There would be smaller effects, but this would not break our relationship. I was here in Thailand to support my ex-husband, but that is no longer a concern, so moving there is what I want to do.
My partner and I have known each other for about two years, but we met through a group of our mutual friends in Bali on New Year’s this year, and we’ve been pretty much dating since.
He is based in Singapore, which is not difficult for both of us to fly. We saw each other twice after Bali, he came to Bangkok, and I went to Singapore. Right now, he is stuck with his parents in Australia.
Things are super new and we haven’t labelled anything yet, but things were moving into all the right directions then suddenly COVID-19 happened and kind of put a pause on everything and we both want to go forward.
This is so out of our control and it’s upsetting. He was supposed to be in Bangkok this week.
We are still pretty excited to make plans to see each other again and we still make plans even though without any exact dates. We still talk to each other every single day, since we started to see each other in January, every single day. Video call every single day. It’s become a part of our daily routine. He’s always there and I’m always there.
I’m coping with it by buying myself “Wilson” – my vibrator [laughs]. For people with little patience like me, this COVID-19 pause is a big challenge. You learn to communicate with your partner more. Or find interesting ways to spend time with your partner online. Sexting. Also, stop asking questions like, “Is this worth it? When are we going to see each other again?” helps.
In a way, I think COVID-19 allows us to build a more quality relationship based on communication and connection, rather than on physical connection.
My boyfriend and I have been together for six years. We met at school in Switzerland, did an internship together in Dubai and now he lives and works in Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.
I had a plan to go see him in Cayman in March. I was supposed to go on a business trip to London and I was going to fly there from London.
We thought about meeting somewhere else later on this year, but it seems like we would just have to wait until next year now, considering the situation. It looks like I’ll definitely not be able to see him this year.
I’m fine. I just do the things that I have to do. I just live my life. And when things are back again, we will make some plans to see each other.
You have to live your life, but also make sure to spare a suitable amount of time to connect with each other. We text everyday, but we don’t talk on the phone everyday.
Not being able to see my boyfriend this year doesn’t add any more difficulties to my life. I’m just sad.
*Names have been changed.