Student relationships deal with the distance

Students+in+relationships+have+had+to+adapt+to+not+being+able+to+see+each+other+in+person.+

Graphic by Christina Tang

Students in relationships have had to adapt to not being able to see each other in person.

By Elfreda Raven, Richard Montgomery High School - MD

Quarantine, social distancing and all things COVID-19 have created uncharted territory for everyone. No one signed up for it, and there is no magic “stop” button to make it all go away when things get rough. Navigating through this uncharted territory is difficult for any teenager, but for some, there is the added pressure of navigating through a relationship during these unforeseen times. 

To a lot of people, teen romance is not something to be taken seriously. But for those experiencing it, it is serious—just as serious as this pandemic. Being in a relationship and learning how to effectively align your life with another person’s is not a small feat. It is a commitment that takes a lot of time to get right, and it is hard to deal with the fact that once couples thought they had it figured out, a pandemic gets thrown in the mix. 

In many cases, school is the place where teenagers in relationships get to see each other the most. However, now that school is online, that is no longer an option, creating yet another roadblock for the people involved.

For junior Henry Sonti and his girlfriend, that is their new reality. After being together for nearly two years, the couple has not been able to see each other in person since school ended. “It’s harder to be together when you are not together,” Sonti said, going on to talk about the stress that not seeing each other has added to their otherwise healthy relationship. 

Although not in an identical situation, senior Alejandro Gutierrez agrees that being apart from his boyfriend Trevor has added stress as well. “I sometimes get a little bit sad or nervous that he … doesn’t like me anymore,” Gutierrez said, though acknowledging that he has no reason to feel that way. The couple attends different schools to begin with, so not seeing each other every day is not a problem, but the lack of physical touch is still tough for them. “He can give me the words of affirmation through social media and Facetime and stuff, but it’s just different, like I want a hug,” Gutierrez said. 

I think that us being able to just chill at home is way better because we’re both happy and comfortable.”

— Luciana Briceno

That being said, not all couples seem to be facing difficulties during this time. Senior Luciana Briceno’s boyfriend Jordan, a freshman in college, is also doing online school, and they have been able to see each other pretty often. Briceno believes that quarantine has brought out the good in both herself and her relationship.

“[Quarantine] has improved me in so many ways, like my mental health and stuff has improved so much. Since I’m in a better mental state, I think that us being able to just chill at home is way better because we’re both happy and comfortable,” she said. The couple has been able to pass the time in their houses by attending online school at the same time and “[doing] our daily routines, but together now,” as Briceno put it, which is different from their usual outings.

Many couples have had to rethink the way they go about their dates with each other, now that there are specific CDC guidelines in place. Locations have switched from indoors to outdoors, as their usual spots are not as viable because they are overcrowded, and some couples have also been having their dates at a distance. The pandemic has forced couples to become more creative when planning dates and even change some of their favorite date ideas to fit the guidelines. 

“We used to go see a lot of movies and also just walk around town center or Rio, and we can’t do any of those things anymore,” senior Gabrielle Hester said about the dates she and her boyfriend of three years used to go on. Though they are no longer able to do two of their favorite activities together, they have found ways to adapt to the current situation. “We meet in my garage and set up chairs six feet apart, and we get a laptop and watch a movie,” she said. Hester also said that because their usual spots are no longer the safest, the couple has been able to explore new places on their dates. 

Both COVID-19 and being in a relationship can be nerve-wracking, but it brings couples a lot of comfort to know that they always have someone in their corner. Right now it may not be in the physical sense, but they know someone they love is always just one phone call or Facetime away. And as they say, “Distance means so little when someone means so much.”

This story was originally published on The Tide on November 17, 2020.