Six Feet Apart: Maintaining Relationships During COVID-19

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Jakob Conrad

Jakob Conrad and his girlfriend, Kassidy, went to Poston Gardens to pick tulips before the lockdown started.

By Connor Thompson, Lake Ridge High School

Every aspect of our lives has been strained and tested with the recent outbreak of COVID-19. We can no longer go to the gym, sit down in restaurants, or do almost anything that requires leaving your home. The things we used to take for granted are now abundantly clear. Among these things are the ability to go on dates with your significant other.

Being isolated at home without your partner can mean one of two things: a lot of communication via digital mediums such as Facetime, or a sudden drop off of communication. Either way, according to Dr. Jennifer B. Rhodes, a licensed clinical psychologist and relationship expert, it’s important to maintain some kind of individual routine that doesn’t have anything to do with your partner. Rhodes claims that in this time of isolation that too much communication between partners could actually generate tension.

“I think that this is really an opportunity we’ve been forced into to practice our self-care routines. It is important to keep in mind your own routine and stick with your routine and not let partners’ needs force you to bury it,” said Rhodes in an interview with The Independent.

Couples, however, have been coming up with ways to include each other in their lives, even if they can’t talk physically. Ben Agnew, Senior at Lake Ridge High School, explains how he and his date have been using online apps, like Facetime, to communicate with each other frequently. However, this kind of communication does bring forth problems.

“We’re mostly using FaceTime to talk to each other, and it’s proven to be effective at allowing us to see each other while we can’t physically be with each other. But it proves to be difficult in other ways as it can often by repetitive because of the situation everyone is in at the moment,” said Agnew.

Another issue with online communication is that it’s rather unclear what counts as a “date” or not. According to Jakob Conrad, Senior at Lake Ridge, he and his girlfriend tend to avoid classifying virtual communications as dates, even though programs like Facetime, Zoom, Discord, Microsoft Teams, or Skype allow you to sit face-to-face with your partner, albiet digitally.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to define FaceTime as a date. It just sucks and I’m gonna do my best to make sure I don’t lose my mind before all the restrictions are lifted, from parents and the government alike,” said Conrad.

Many relationships inevitably won’t survive the quarantine, due to either a lack of communication or other brooding problems that have gone unaddressed. Conrad goes further explaining how he and his significant other try to maintain a strong, healthy relationship during this time of uncertainty.

“We’re both on the same page about it and we’re communicating. It’s frustrating, but it’s not the sort of issue that’ll pull us apart. It’s definitely a big adjustment going from seeing her multiple times a week to maybe not seeing her in person for a month or more. I think that the relationships that will be most negatively affected are where one person wants to follow all the guidelines and one doesn’t. There’d be a lot of tension there,” said Conrad.

These difficulties relationships now face are not isolated. Amanda Reid, Junior at Lake Ridge, has been keeping in touch with her boyfriend by text messages and Facetime. Reid claims that she and her significant other have been faced with a few roadblocks in their relationship as the lockdown continues, but they have continued to do the best they can to stay strong.

“It can be hard going without seeing someone that’s special, that you love so much. This frustration can lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding for us. This frustration is just another obstacle we have overcome. Being away from him makes me realize how deeply in love I am with him and how much I value the time when we are together,” said Reid.

Alternatives, however, exist that could possibly replace a real-life face-to-face communication most relationships have a foundation on. Of course, there’s Facetime and other apps that allow long distance communication. For the gamers among us, you could attempt to have a date on some kind of online game. If you’re old-fashioned, you could even send a letter.

Romantic relationships aren’t the only kind of relationships that need special care during this uncertain time. Having a healthy friendship has been linked to better physical and mental health, according to Mindwise, a website dedicated to promoting mental health, and can be just as important to maintain. Linking up with your friends is quite similar to communicating with your significant other. Facetime, Discord, Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams can help you see each other face-to-face, and texting, of course, is a tried and true way to talk to each other.

Regardless of whether you’re single or taken, it’s important to not ignore your relationships with others, romantic or otherwise. This is the time for clever and innovative ideas, and using those ideas will decide whether or not couples emerge from this pandemic happy or disappointed.

This story was originally published on Eagle Nation News on April 21, 2020.