How a Transcontinental Couple Established Texting Routines to Make Time For Each Other
In this 10-part series, we explore how Indians are embracing digital connections under the Covid19 lockdown in the absence of in-person intimacy. Here, 27-year-old R. Thakur breaks down the routines she established to make everyday communication not seem like a chore.
I started seeing someone during quarantine while I was in the U.S. — we did some socially distanced dates before I had to come back. Talking on the phone doesn’t work for us, so apart from our scheduled dates, we text to talk casually.
The problem with texting is that I just see texts hours later and feel like, “Oh, maybe I didn’t get the urgency of this!” And then, sometimes while we’re texting, one of us passes out because it’s way too late at night. We both have that sort of weird FOMO — emotional FOMO, I guess? So we text each other at specific times to keep the conversation going back and forth. This happens every Monday/Tuesday morning and on the weekends because he teaches at a high school which can get super hectic during his workday. The timing thing started because I know how much time he takes to get ready [in the mornings], so I figured if I text him then, he’ll respond immediately. It also helps that it’s convenient — so that one of us doesn’t feel too obliged. I mean, we’re both too nervous about inconveniencing each other — that’s just how we are. But what’s happening is we both just sort of mildly inconvenience ourselves to not inconvenience the other person.
I don’t think we even decided this, it ended up just happening. The idea, of course, was to devote time to each other. Time away from not just our regular routine but also time spent away from having to even think about the daily grind, to focus attention solely on each other, at one person’s convenience at a time (at least). I think my motivation is also to get away from the noise and despair and the (attempted) “productivity” cycle nonsense of the day and spend some just enjoying myself and the person I love. Even when we’re usually just sending each other Covid19 numbers, or articles to have opinions about, or just something one of us saw while out on a walk or something. We have this understanding that this shouldn’t feel like a chore — it’s not an expectation, because stuff is hard enough due to the pandemic. So even if the texting is happening two to three times a week, we try to aim for quality over quantity. Doing this around the beginning and the end of the week feels better because it’s lighter — things are ending or just about to happen and work hasn’t gone full speed, especially for him because of his school stuff.
There is value to staying up/waking up at odd hours thrice a week just to reply to each other’s texts immediately — we both seek comfort and not so much an escape as much as a kindred spirit who feels the same anxieties and wants to spend time knowing how the other is feeling. Some time just to ourselves with each other as best as we can manage to just feel close. When you’re in an uncertain, long-distance relationship, trying to do something as simple as texting each other at once together…just…it adds an undeniable human element to it. The delays, the overstimulation, the “hold on let me check my connection.” There’s a togetherness of even powering through these problems… and sometimes even these flaws themselves add to the experience of talking together. Just to know that we are here just as how we remember each other, beyond snippets of text sent over a couple of hours through the day/week.
This project was done in partnership with Tinder India.