As Valentine's Day nears, couples in long-distance relationships (LDR) don't have to feel so far away.
One of the few good things to come from the COVID-19 pandemic after all is the popularization of online platforms. Aside from distance learning and work-from-home, these digital solutions have also empowered a range of socializing and dating options.
To help inspire so-called LDR lovebirds to get in the mood for love month, PhilSTAR L!fe listed virtual date suggestions for those who will celebrate together remotely.
Go on a walk 'together'
Going on a really long walk where you can have an extensive talk with your partner is a foolproof date idea suitable for all ages.
If you think about it, the Before trilogy of films is just Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy walking about as they fall deeply more fond of one another. Of course, they walked in scenic locations like Vienna and Paris, but you get the gist.
Walking like any exercise releases endorphins to give us a natural high. Hence, walking dates are perfect to initiate good vibes.
Pick a safe, suitable location where you can walk for about 30 minutes up to an hour before you both decide to retire for the day, or even take things to the next step—remotely still, at each other's respective homes. Make sure to pick a spot with stable data coverage and bring earphones so nosy parkers don't get to eavesdrop on your intimate conversation.
In the Philippines, you can try walking in university premises or public parks for good measure. The UP Diliman Academic Oval in Quezon City, for instance, is a 2.2-kilometer loop that will guarantee uninterrupted, open-air walking accessible to the general public. Avoid spots that are too small and repetitive in terms of scenery while being too densely populated, like a common area at a condo or mall.
Eat the same food
Basically, Eat Pray Love your way to your "live laugh love" era.
One tasteful gesture is to order the same food, either delivery or takeout. You can order options from the same restaurant, or even from different brands but are spiritually in the same food category.
Another alternative is to choose the same recipe to cook up for yourselves, to varying results maybe, but it's the thought that counts. Think Julie & Julia. Finding your way through a cookbook or internet recipe will surely be a good bonding opportunity for you both before the actual dining part.
Try simple recipes that don't require the use of fanciful culinary techniques, such as one-pot pasta recipes or stir frys. There's nothing like an undercooked chicken or burnt casserole to really spoil the evening's mood.
Before you dig in, remember to go overboard with the plating and table setup. Why not go for a candlelit dinner just to make that grand gesture a little more extra? Finally, savor your food...and each other. All that's left is to remember to chew before swallowing.
Hold a private watch party
Movie dates are another tried-and-tested measure that serves all purposes.
If you have nothing to talk about, at least not verbally, movie marathons are perfect for the occasion. That's why they invented "Netflix and chill" and "HBO Max and climax."
At the very least, you can pick films to set the mood. It's best to queue movies you have already seen and can guarantee that the ending will be happy. There's nothing like watching a soul-crushing conclusion followed by you both sitting in silence during the end credits.
Watch a guaranteed guilty pleasure or rom-com with that happy Nicholas Sparks ending, à la The Notebook. That is the only right Ryan Gosling feature as others will ruin the mood like Blue Valentine or La La Land.
Simply make use of free teleconferencing watch party platforms available online.
Deliver a surprise gift
If you can time a gift to be delivered during the course of your virtual date, perfect. If not, don't fret.
What matters more is that your gift reflects your knowledge of that person's interests rather than your own. Worse than having no present at all is giving one that is a dead giveaway that you know little about them to begin with.
Look first for an indication that your partner is interested in anything, material or otherwise. Some don't really have the gift-giving love language and prefer concrete acts of service or quality time.
Ensure that you don't overspend on one gift. Aside from blowing a hole in your wallet, this could make it awkward for your partner if they feel the need to reciprocate but cannot afford to do the same. A small token of your appreciation for your significant other is more than enough.
Thoughtful gift ideas include books, music albums, jewelry, accessories, as well as personalized couple memorabilia.
Listen to a playlist simultaneously
Last but not least, a good end to your date is listening to a playlist that is meaningful for you both.
It could be a soundtrack to a movie or TV show that you enjoyed together or an album by a mutual favorite artist. You can even curate a custom playlist together for no one's use but your own.
Similar to movie dates, you can use available software online to listen to music synchronously.
Feel free to have a conversation and don't be afraid if either of you falls asleep. If you do, that's bonus points because you are their last memory for that special day.