Love in the Age of COVID-19

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has tossed out the normal of yesteryear, significantly altering our everyday lives and interactions. Between working from home and eliminating non-essential errands, we’re navigating a new ‘normal’ separated but together.

But what does it mean for our love lives?

The hopeless romantics among us have had to temporarily shelve our textbook romance fantasies as the probability of bumping into the love of your life during the morning commute.

In fair Corona where we lay our scene, single people and coupled-up darlings alike are facing a new dynamic when it comes to connecting with potential love interests and longstanding partners.

It’s borderline taboo to venture out of your social distancing cave for a coffee with someone new in fear of spreading germs. The humble dinner is a relic of dates’ past as our your go-to dine-in experiences are no more, replaced by the takeaway pickup dash.

So, how are the youth navigating their love lives during an unprecedented global pandemic? We went straight to the source(s) to find out.

Isabela, 23, Single Person

Are you searching for a partner?

I’m not going out of my way/actively seeking a partner, I feel like [I’m] in a place where I’m happy and content on my own. But if I happen to meet someone, and it flows and it works- then I would just go with it.

Why would a person continue to ‘date’ during a pandemic in your opinion?

I think mainly for attention and validation. Especially in a time when a lot of people are also unemployed, it gives you something to do.

Do online connections suffice for the interim?

I think in the short-term, it works temporarily. There’s only so many times you can have the same repetitive, surface-level conversation over and over again before it gets tiring and meaningless.

But, I also think that I often find myself not holding the conversation past the ‘small talk’, just because I really can’t be bothered.

Elizabeth, 21 and Luke, 22, Couple Living Separately

Do you find it straining being apart during this time?

L: I feel as though there’s a little bit of strain due to the inability to see each other as frequently as I would like.

We used to catch up roughly 2-4 times a week but now we have reduced this to once a week. I would say there’s no added strain on the relationship as a whole as we both understand the circumstances.

I can imagine couples on the opposite side who were quarantined or living together may experience completely different strains and or pressures.

E: Yes, I’ve found it straining. It’s not terribly straining but I notice little things, like how the only thing I really look forward to during the week now is seeing my boyfriend.

But, I think corona is partly to blame for that anyway since I can’t do any of the little things I love like going to the Art Gallery or getting brunch at a café. Not to say I don’t look forward to seeing him anyway, he is very special himself.

Do you find each other more/less/the same amount of connected to each other?

L: I personally feel more connected, especially when you’re physically present with them – you embrace those times and really cherish them as they’re so precious.

That’s not to say we didn’t before but there seems to be all these pent-up emotions and feelings that we get swept up in when we’re together.

We’ve also been getting into activities such as puzzles, Wii and yoga/barre which have brought outsides of my girlfriend I didn’t know existed and we’ve bonded over these newly found co-interests.

Who knew she was so competitive, you would have thought she drove in a Formula 1 by the absurd spells of road rage she lashes out while playing Mario Kart.

E: The same. I still feel very connected to Luke.

We talk a lot during the day via text which has always been the case, but I do miss physical things like kisses and hugs –  a text can’t replace this despite the many emojis that exist!

Having that only on weekends now is a bit of a struggle but it makes the affection even more precious.

Are vintage means of connection being brought back?

L: They’ve been brought back in our relationship. Elizabeth surprised me with a beautiful letter (I’m in the process of writing one back, currently five drafts deep) and we’re finding that we are calling and Facetiming more often.

I feel as though these traditional channels rather than texts/instant messenger give off a more personal vibe and they make you feel thought of and really cared for.

I have a feeling once this is over they will still be used heavily in our relationship which wouldn’t have necessarily been the case if the pandemic didn’t occur.

E: We have started to talk on the phone a bit more but recently that has changed to Facetime which I personally prefer.

I’ve also been writing letters to my friends and Luke too because I’ve always enjoyed sending and receiving post – I’m a bit of an archaic soul.

Phone sex hasn’t been reached yet but never say never, although, I do think I’m far too awkward for phone sex and would be a bit more Mark from Peep Show rather than Erica the phone sex girl from Seinfeld.

What would be your advice to other couples in the same situation?

L: My advice for people in the same situation would be to embrace and make the most of the limited time you do have.

This may be a blessing where you learn a lot more about each other as because you’re confined in the house, you can indulge each other in stories, photo albums and trinkets which show your other half the stories of your past.

E: I think just really value the time you have together. You don’t have to be doing anything grand. We spent the last weekend watching Tiger King and playing Mario Kart, but it was nice because it was together.

What is the first thing you want to do with your partner once the pandemic is over?

L: Once this is all done and dusted I would love to be able to celebrate Elizabeth’s birthday. The plan of going to for intimate dinner and drinks where quashed, so to take those up would be ideal.

We’re not shy when it comes to eating out and so to hit up or regular spots for a dine-in meal would be a welcomed sight.

Anna, 21, Single

Are you searching for a partner?

No, not really. I’m focusing on other things like doing puzzles and lots of at-home yoga. I have been on Hinge and Tinder for a bit of a laugh but my time isn’t consumed with finding someone to love me.

Why would a person continue to ‘date’ during a pandemic in your opinion?

Probably loneliness or being bored. I think everyone is going a bit stir-crazy at the moment with nothing really open and it would be easy to become lonely, especially if you’re social distancing alone too.

Do online connections suffice for the interim?

Well, there’s no other choice at the moment really. Unless you live together with your partner it would be hard to connect with someone.

You can chance going on a date with someone you don’t know but I don’t think that would be smart given the literal germ-fest that is the world right now.

Do you intend on actually seeing any of the fellow single souls you have met online once we are allowed to?

No. Sorry, I sound like a scrooge of love right now but I wasn’t actively looking for someone before corona and I don’t think I will be during/once it’s over. If you meet someone, you meet someone. Don’t complicate or overthink these things.

Faith, 21 and Cooper, 22 – Couple Living Together

How has this changed your dynamic as a couple? (If it has)

F: It really hasn’t changed at all. The only thing is [that] I’m working from home, so during the day he brings me snacks where it’s usually the other way around.

Usually, he studies at night when I’m home from work so I used to cook dinner and bring him snacks. It’s been nice to have a PA during the day.

Have you discovered anything new about each other as individuals that you hadn’t before?

F: We’ve been living together for a while so there’s really nothing new that I’ve found. But, being in the house so much with him reiterates how annoying it is that he gets all the cats toys out and leaves them everywhere. I pack them away and 2 seconds later they’re out again.

C: It’s interesting to see how much she snacks while working. I knew it happened but seeing it in person is…interesting.

Do you feel closer now, or more strained due to the almost constant presence of one another?

F: We’ve just moved house, so the stress of that during this time has definitely taken a toll on us.

We’re more irritable and sometimes take it out on each other but we’re pretty good at recognising that and making a conscious effort to support each other instead.

C: I think it’s actually been better because we’ve moved house. We have a bigger space so if I want to just be alone, I can go do that.

What are you most looking forward to as a couple once the pandemic restrictions are lifted?

F: Going on a date night. We’ve been in pyjamas and haven’t brushed our hair properly in weeks. I’m looking forward to getting all dressed up, feeling nice and going for dinner at a restaurant.

C: Going to the pub… with my lovely girlfriend of course. But seriously, going to see live music.

Image by Emily Savage