One of the side effects of social distancing is that many of us have suddenly found ourselves in Long Distance Relationships (LDRs). I met my girlfriend, H, about two weeks before staying home became the cool thing to do…so actually, the majority of our fledgling relationship and dates have been digital. Video chatting and texting are great, but when you’re home all day, sometimes you run out of things to talk about and you need activities to do together. We need social distancing dates.
We took on the grueling task of going on and reviewing five LDR dates over the course of one week. This guide is PG, so baes of all ages can make use of it.
1. Netflix and (Actually) Chilling
This one got off to a rough start. We tried a Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party, which we couldn’t get to work properly. So, we settled on video-Skyping each other—then pressing play at the exact same time.
The science may be inexact, but it’s fun. Since, of course, we’re both sci-fi fantasy gals, we’ve been watching Sense8. Why bother with the video chat? It’s fun to occasionally look up and see H’s reactions or blow her little kisses…
H thinks that watching together at the same time, at the same second even, is much better than each watching an episode and sharing our opinions at a later point. Sure we aren’t hugging or actually in the same room, but it’s a close approximation. She enjoys watching my reactions (and sending me screenshots of my face).
2. Drawing Together
We didn’t do this together exactly, but we gave each other “assignments” and painted and drew throughout the day, then sent each other what we came up with.
I liked this because not only was it a fun challenge, it was a relaxing task that soothed my anxiety; and I am not sure I would have motivated myself to do it otherwise.
H tells me that drawing brought up a lot of feelings for her. Before people had words, they used painting and other art to express their emotions, so this brought up the deep stuff for her. She ordered paints and wants us to create a “Quarantine Series”.
3. Reading to Each Other
You can do this by video or regular phone call. Whatever floats your boat.
My girlfriend isn’t a native speaker of English, so this was particularly interesting. She’s never really read a book in English before. I chose to read her the first chapter of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. H is still a little shy about reading to me, but that’s OK. I love reading to people; it was one of my favorite parts of teaching kindergarten. I used to act and this let me do that a bit. I also love sharing something I really enjoy and seeing her immediate response.
H admits that while it was calming and entertaining to listen to me read, it was difficult to listen to a book in English. She thinks it’d be better if we read a book she was already familiar with next time.
4. Virtual Museum Tours
The simplest way to make this experience a social distancing date is to screen share on your computer while being in an online audio call. We found that the video exhibits were the most interesting and effective ones.
I loved this! The only museum we’ve “visited” so far is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it was so fun; we can’t wait to visit more. It’s not at all like actually being in a museum, but it felt like something really different to do. I could imagine doing this on a rainy day even when we’re not social distancing.
H says every one of these dates feeds a different part of our souls. Museums satisfy our needs for knowledge, arts, history and exploring that together is that much more fulfilling.
We tried a few different methods here, each to varying degrees of success.
Pogo.com Monopoly didn’t work very well for us because there were just so many ads and game play was quite slow. We tried to do story dice, which is really fun in person, but it was difficult to figure out a way to play remotely. When we found the Plato app, game play changed…it has many different options, from versions of pool and battleship to Draw Together. We were able to spend hours playing different things, while chatting in the app and talking on the phone (we’re weird like that). We’re not big on games like Fortnite or Call of Duty, but I’ve heard those are really popular choices as well.
Playing these games brought up some major nostalgia for H, taking her back to childhood, even though it’s all on a cellphone now. She says it’s almost as if we’re sitting across the table from one another. H wants to extend our game play to other people we know who are social distancing—as a way to introduce each other to our friends and family.
I hope these ideas for social distancing dates help you have fun while you’re out there doing your part. Remember, absence make the heart grow fonder and you will see each other again—at least that’s what my girlfriend and I keep telling each other. Stay safe out there.
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