Coronavirus Means I Can’t See My Partner. Here’s How We’re Making It Work.

Even though he’s in New York and I’m in Toronto, we won’t let this isolationship be the end of us.

My boyfriend and I met on a press trip. He was an account director for the brand hosting the event, and I was invited as a journalist. The destination: a pop-up sex camp in upstate New York. That’s right, I met my boyfriend at sex camp.

Since we’re a long-distance couple (he lives in Brooklyn and I live in Toronto), we’ve learned to maintain a closeness despite the many miles between us. I spent January and February with him in NYC, and before I left, he booked a flight to visit me in March. Then, boom—coronavirus! (I write this shrieking like Cardi B). Now I have no idea when I will see him again.

My boyfriend and I are optimists, so instead of wallowing, we’ve decided not to let this isolationship get us down. Instead, we’ll carry on like we always have.

The anxieties of the situation can get the better of anyone, so we’ve vowed to call each other every morning to chat over coffee and calm our nerves. We text occasionally as we work and will Facetime in the evening as I cook carb-heavy dinners, and he pounds Muscle Milk and Huel protein shakes.

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Before the pandemic, we would have virtual date nights twice a week. Now we have them every night. Last week, he and I finished watching the best and trashiest docu-series ever–Tiger King, obviously!—over Facetime, though apps like Kast can also be used to host private viewing parties. He and I have also taken time to learn TikTok dances together and watch online drag shows via Instagram Live. (Support your local queens!)

Something I’ve found comforting during this time is falling asleep to each other. It’s easy to do: Just place your phone or laptop on a neighboring pillow and point it in your direction. Make sure that your screen brightness is low and that you’re on WiFi because an all-night, long-distance call can get pricey.

Admittedly, we’ve gotten a little extra since isolation. He and I now write good morning messages to each other over email. Since I have no designated hours, and he’s still working 9–5 from home, I go to sleep long after he does. Once he’s fallen asleep, I write him a good morning email that he can wake up to. And while I’m sleeping in, he does the same for me. Is it excessive? Yes. But do I look forward to his message every morning? Most definitely.

We’ve also made a habit of surprising each other with snacks thanks to Seamless and Uber Eats. Last week, I sent him an advertisement for jalapeno cheesy bites, a new item from Burger King. Within an hour, he surprised me with two orders, plus a Whopper with cheese, via gloved messenger. I can now verify that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

We both own Nintendo Switch (yet neither of us own Animal Crossing, the “it” game to play during the coronavirus, according to the New Yorker). We will connect over our headsets and play co-op titles like Overwatch, Splatoon 2, and Overcooked. If these don’t appeal to you, this website has every conceivable co-op game across each system.

He and I, along with our roommates, even hosted a Jackbox party last week, where we played Fibbage 2 (highly recommend) on our respective TV sets and Skyped each other. We ordered pizza to our places, drank out of red solo cups and gamed-out for a couple of hours. It was a blast. This can also be done over Zoom with larger groups of people.

“The House Party app has become all the rage again,” Patrick, 33, shares. The app hosts titles like Apples to Apples, Pictionary, and Heads Up. DJ, 32, and his partner look forward to their weekly RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing parties, and James, 31, favors happy hour dates, where he, his partner, and their friends make drinks and play games like Never Have I Ever. They’ve even collaborated on playlists to listen to when they’re feeling down.

If you’re horny (and, bitch, are we ever), do the right thing and send each other some sexy pictures and videos. Get creative—you have all the time in the world to take a really good one. Hell, I used a ring light to take a photo of my ass earlier this week. My boyfriend and I have yet to try anything over Skype or Facetime, but I’m sure that’ll be happening very soon.

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There are app-controlled sex toys you can use for a more interactive sexual experience with your partner. Or toys from KIIRO, which use “teledildonic technology”—i.e. tactile sensations that are communicated over a data link between participants—so that couples of any gender and orientation can have as authentic a sexual experience without actually being together. These toys respond to your actions and send signals to your partner’s device. For example, if someone were to purchase the Onyx (a robotic cock sleeve) and the other purchased the Pearl2 (a phallic-shaped vibrator), the person could penetrate the Onyx and those actions would be transmitted to the Pearl2, and vice versa.

Most recently, we’ve begun planning our next vacation together. We’ve created a shared Google Doc and are entering potential destinations, complete with fun videos, images, and very loose itineraries. We realize this is all theoretical at this point—who knows when the world will return to normal—but it’s mostly about looking forward to something together and escaping our current circumstance.

Admittedly, because we aren’t up to much, we’re finding less and less to talk about with each phone call. But at this point, it’s not about the intricacies of our conversation. Our dependable contact and the habits we’ve developed together are daily comforts, like morning coffee. It’s something that’s guaranteed in a time that’s disturbingly uncertain.

We’re all feeling alone right now, so do your best to put your partner at ease and let them know you love them. That means checking in regularly, and maybe sending a butt plug vibration their way.

Hope is all we have, so be generous with it.

Bobby Box is a freelance journalist and editor whose work on sex, relationships, culture, and sexuality has been published in the Daily Beast, Playboy, Them., Into, Women’s Health, Complex, PopSugar, among others.
@bobbyboxington