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When will I see you again? Coronavirus keeps couples apart

Published Mar 24, 2020


MADRID - Andrea Chabant Sanchez, a

Madrid-based publicist, normally travels to Paris once a month

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to see his girlfriend. In January he booked his flights through

to July.

Now those precious reunions are on hold, as ever-tightening

travel restrictions prevent him, and many other separated

couples around the world, from seeing each other.

"I honestly don't know when I'm going to see the person I

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love again," said Sanchez, who has not seen Emma Besancon, 24,

since before Spain declared a state of emergency on March 14.

"I always had a date: one for this month, next month..."

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said Sanchez, who is 29. "Now there's no window."

Andrea Chabant Sanchez, 29, and Emma, 24, celebrate their first dinner as a couple with friends in Paris

Lola Gomez, a 22-year-old drama student from Malaga, is also

feeling the pain of separation.

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"It's only been eleven days, but it feels like I haven't

seen her in a month," she said of her girlfriend Sara Lozano,

also 22.

Lozano left the flat the couple normally shares in Madrid to

join her family in Pamplona the day before national confinement

was ordered.

Neither knows when they will next meet.

"We've been separated before, but this isn't like Christmas

or summer time, when it's long but you're doing a million other

things," said Gomez.

"This quarantine means a lot of time alone, thinking, asking

yourself questions - a lot of time shut in too. You miss your

partner so much more. To be honest, we're having a rough time of



Etienne Berges, a 26-year-old humanitarian policy adviser

working in Myanmar, will not be seeing his girlfriend, Amber

Medland, as expected next month.

On March 16, Myanmar made quarantine mandatory for anyone

arriving from coronavirus-infected countries - meaning Medland,

a 29-year-old writer based in London, would spend her entire

holiday in medical isolation.

"We usually try to manage the distance by setting down

dates," Berges said. "But (the outbreak) upended even our

ability to do that."

Still, the couple is finding ways to be together across

continents: surprise macaroon deliveries, video-calling while

sharing a drink or watching the same TV show.

Gomez and Lozano have taken to dining together, and always

video-call one another from bed at night.

"That way, you give and get tenderness before sleeping,"

Gomez said.

It is not quite the same as the real thing, however.

"The person you love should be the one person you can break

confinement with, completely - because you lay beside them at

night. And I can't," said Sanchez, who stayed alone in Madrid

while Besancon went to be with her family in Normandy.

As the outbreak spreads, separated couples are facing the

fact that days apart turn into weeks, and now possibly months.

"Coronavirus questions the nature of long distance

relationships, erases that peace of mind you used to get

thinking, 'Oh, I can be there this afternoon'," Sanchez said.

"The certainty is gone." 


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