When Ms Zizie Zuzantie and Mr Lim Zhong Hao learnt that they would not be able to meet for a month as part of circuit breaker measures, they were confident their relationship would weather the storm.
The couple, newly engaged last month, have spent weeks apart when either one was on vacation or, in Ms Zizie's case, deployed as part of the Singapore Armed Forces Volunteer Corps. They have been together since 2016.
Still, it has been a challenging 11/2 weeks for the public servants, both 29, who work at the same statutory board.
"We decided to video call at least four times each week, and switched on our webcams while working so we could see each other. But it felt insufficient because we weren't getting enough quality time," Mr Lim says.
Since April 7, couples who do not live together have been kept apart by circuit breaker measures. People have been advised to stay at home and social gatherings with those living in different households are no longer allowed.
Couples who spoke to The Sunday Times admit that they were tempted to flout the rules by "meeting" at a supermarket to buy groceries or going to each other's houses. But besides the threat of a $300 fine, they did not want to put family members at risk or negate the efforts of healthcare workers on the front line.
Although the circuit breaker is meant to last until May 4, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this week that it could be extended.
For Ms Zizie, the uncertainty compounds their separation.
"We don't dare to be certain that it will be over in a month. There is pressure to adapt to the new normal," she says.
Family Life Educator Sarojini Padmanathan, who gives talks to parents and students, says physical distance is the greatest challenge for young couples. "The opportunity to meet, hold hands and do things together has been taken away," she adds.
Text messaging and video-conferencing apps help fill the void. But it is harder to read body language on a screen, and when miscommunication arises, couples can no longer rely on physical touch like a hug or kiss to smooth things over.
This distance will reinforce our bond. All relationships go through obstacles and I am confident that if we can survive this, we can overcome other things together.
BUSINESS CONTINUITY CONSULTANT EDWARD TAN on his relationship with Tan Tock Seng Hospital nurse educator Priscillia Chen
Then there is the question of how much and how often to communicate. Although Ms Therese Grosse and Mr Edsel Chua text daily, they had a minor argument when Ms Grosse, 24, was too tired to video call at the end of a long day.
"He was a bit sulky because I continued texting my friends when he thought I wanted to rest," says Ms Grosse, who is juggling a marketing degree at the Singapore University of Social Sciences and a writing internship at a travel start-up. She adds that video calling requires her full attention, while texting is low-commitment.
"I now better understand what she means by alone time and how she recharges," says Mr Chua, 26, a process engineer. The couple have been together for almost two years.
Mrs Padmanathan suggests establishing a routine, such as a time each day or week to check in with each other. "The circuit breaker is an opportunity to communicate and connect better by being patient and putting ourselves in the other person's shoes," she adds.
From games to watching movies, there is much to keep couples occupied on virtual date night.
Ms Grosse and Mr Chua enjoy battle arena mobile games Brawl Stars and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
Other popular options include drawing game Skribbl, trivia-based Psych and Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing.
Meanwhile, local dating service Kopi Date has launched a couples' edition of its date-from-home kit, which includes a series of discussion topics and surprise challenges for couples to do over a video call.
The kit, which costs $33 a couple and comes with either drip coffee or artisanal tea, will be delivered to two addresses.
Co-founders Lee Jing Lin, 26, and Zhiqun Liu, 28, themRead More – Source