Couples share how they kept the romance alive during the Circuit Breaker
We asked two couples how they maintained their relationships despite being unable to meet, and how the distance made them stronger as a couple.
By April Zara Chua
Derrick Zou Chengyang & Gwyneth Lim
Prior to the Circuit Breaker, the longest that Derrick Zou Chengyang, 24, and Gwyneth Lim, 22, have been apart was two weeks when Derrick was overseas.
The couple met in 2017 when they were in the same CCA together. “Our CCA required us to do lots of presentations and speeches, so we had no lack of common topics to talk about,” shared Derrick. Their mutual interests and weekly CCA meetups eventually led to their blossoming romance.
They got together the following year and in the two years they have been together, the Circuit Breaker—which lasted almost two months—had been the longest they’ve gone without seeing each other in person.
Putting meaning into the little things
The couple coped by texting each other every day. Asking each other “Have you had lunch?” and “How was your sleep” became common exchanges between them. “Even though some would think that it’s rather routine, it was actually helpful in making us feel connected and involved in each other’s lives,” said Derrick.
The couple also tried to do activities together virtually. “We arranged exercise sessions on Zoom to work out together and we sent each other food via Grab to remind each other to eat on time,” said Gwyneth.
An anniversary to remember
Their second anniversary fell during the Circuit Breaker which meant they were unable to celebrate together face to face. To commemorate the day despite the unusual circumstances, Derrick drove over and dropped off a tiramisu cake—Gwyneth’s favourite. The sweet gesture definitely left Gwyneth touched. “And it gave her a reason to post something on Instagram, haha!”
For Gwyneth’s part, she wrote cards and did a series of posts on Instagram specially dedicated to Derrick. While she admitted she wasn’t “showy-sweet” for their anniversary, she has been consistently sweet to him throughout their time apart.
After the Circuit Breaker
The couple shared that they are now more appreciative of the time they spend together physically, “We try to fill it up with more meaningful activities like hiking and doing sports instead of just sitting on the couch playing phone games.”
They also emerged stronger after the Circuit Breaker. Their advice to couples who may have to spend some time apart? “Make it a point to share more about what you’re doing. For the person receiving the questions, try to be specific and share more about what you’re feeling instead of saying “like that lor” which could be a potential conversation ender. Communication is key!”
Cheong Mun Weng & Corrine Soh
Despite their first impressions of each other—he thought she looked stern and strict, while she thought he was someone she wouldn’t date long term—sparks flew between Cheong Mun Weng, 23, and Corrine Soh, 22, when they met through mutual friends.
Like Derrick and Gwyneth, the Circuit Breaker was the longest Mun Weng and Corrine have gone without seeing each other in person.
Bridging the distance
Technology played a big role in helping Mun Weng and Corrine cope during their time apart. “We talked [via Facetime] as often as every hour, and we would text [via Telegram] every few hours,” said Corrine.
Corrine admitted that there were moments where talking and texting just didn’t compare to being able to go on actual dates but she saw the silver lining in having more me-time. “It gave me the opportunity to work on myself and understand myself better in terms of my mental well-being.” They also took this time to understand each other better and work towards a better and stronger relationship.
Through the good days and bad
Like Derrick and Gwyneth, Mun Weng and Corrine turned to food deliveries to show their love and appreciation for each other. For Mun Weng’s birthday—which happened during the Circuit Breaker—Corrine had a bag of gifts delivered to him.
But it was not always smooth sailing for the two. The couple admitted that the Circuit Breaker also tested their relationship. Despite their constant calls and texts, they experienced some rough patches, too. “Initially, we had occasions where we had communication breakdown,” shared Corrine.
She recalled one misunderstanding where she let her insecurities get the better of her which led to an argument. Willing to straighten things out, Mun Weng helped her work through her insecurities by addressing her doubts. “We introduced a new routine where we had set schedules for our virtual ‘couple time’ like our Facetime chats and online gaming sessions – and that worked for us. For Mun Weng, he learned to work around my bad days and good days and listen to my feelings better and validate them.”
Encouraging each other’s growth
The one thing that stood out for them the most during this period was learning to be accepting of each other’s flaws and bad days. “Corrine tends to overthink and can be too sensitive at times,” shared Mun Weng. And Corrine feels he is better at expressing his feelings in person than through text.
They also learned they have different types of love languages and need to be more patient with one another. “My love language is words of affirmation followed by quality time but Mun Weng’s is acts of service and physical touch,” explained Corrine.
Their time apart has taught them how to look past their differences and learn to accommodate and love each other better. If there’s one thing they would have done differently during this time, it’s not to jump into conclusions and be patient with one another. “Try to communicate more and most importantly, try to put yourselves in each other’s shoes!”