A closer look

Romantic relationships find new ways to survive the distance

More stories from Ta'Leah Van Sistine

Life in the city
December 8, 2021

All relationships encounter struggles and obstacles, but when a pandemic strikes, unforeseen hurdles begin to appear — some more difficult to jump over than others. 

Since COVID-19 is causing most of the world to shut down, people have been retreating into their homes and love itself has been put under lockdown. 

Social distancing has both increased and decreased the physical distance between significant others, pending whether they are quarantined together or not. It has also made the possibility of starting a new relationship quite difficult.

However, a Brooklyn, N.Y. freelance photographer, Jeremy Cohen, found a way to secure and have a date with someone from afar. 

“Cohen sent the modern-day equivalent of a message in a bottle: he flew a drone with his phone number from his balcony to someone on a neighboring rooftop,” an article by TIME magazine said. 

According to the article, the girl who received the drone-delivered message was Tori Cignarella. She was doing the High School Musical “We’re All In This Together” dance on the roof of her Bushwick apartment building when Cohen spotted her from across the way and waved. 

“There were people in the direction I was facing and I just started dancing,” Cignarella said. “I like making people laugh if I can, and I like making myself laugh, too.”

When Cignarella waved back to Cohen, he said he remembered an idea he and a friend had to send a phone number via a drone, so he pursued it with Cignarella and taped his phone number to the drone he flew over to her. 

She received his number and texted Cohen soon after; they eventually set up a virtual date where they sat down at separate tables on their adjacent rooftops with a video call set up. 

“It went well,” Cignarella said after the date. “Whether anything romantic pursues out of this or not, at the very least, I’ve gained a friend. Especially because he lives just across the street.”

There are couples around the world, though, who now find their relationships abruptly turned into long-distance ones. 

In an article by CNN, Henny Ansell, a woman living in Wellington, New Zealand, finds herself in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend who only lives about five miles away. 

“It’s very tempting (to meet up), and it’s frustrating because it’s like, oh surely we could just meet up and hug,” Ansell said. “But you can’t — that destroys the whole purpose of it.”

Ansell said she and her boyfriend still text each good morning and good night and watch Netflix shows together during this time apart. 

Another couple living in England were due to celebrate their one-year anniversary until the coronavirus shut down the country.

James Marsh said he and his girlfriend typically see each other every day, so quarantining separately for the next three weeks will be the longest they have gone without seeing each other in person. 

The couple continues to FaceTime every day, and although it is not like being in the same room together, Marsh said he thinks the long-distance will strengthen his relationship with his girlfriend. 

“I think it’s really important to be able to tackle stuff like this,” Marsh said. “You can’t always just rely on that person being there if you want to stick it out for the long haul.”

Van Sistine can be reached at [email protected]