Ask Sophie

Sophie Boutouis
Mercury Staff

Advice from one student to another

Q: How can I keep a good relationship with my significant other during COVID-19? – Neap Enoch

From people in long-distance relationships to married couples living together, it’s safe to say that almost everyone in a romantic relationship is experiencing some level of emotional distress under the current shelter-in-place orders. Being cooped up at home all day with virtually nowhere to go and nobody to see can be agonizing for anybody, especially for people who have been physically separated from their other half. Whether it’s a significant other, best friend or family member, going weeks without important physical contact from a loved one can lend itself to despair and even feelings of loneliness and fear. This couldn’t be any more of a reality for college students who’ve been forced to move back home due to social distancing measures. Being so close yet so far away from your friends or partner makes this whole situation far more harrowing.

We can’t do anything to change the fact that we have to stay at home right now, but we can control how much of an effort we’re making to stay connected to others. Since you’re probably finding a lot of extra time on your hands, setting a schedule or routine you can stick to that includes your significant other is a must. While I’m sure all the Zoom, Skype or FaceTime sessions have been starting to get old, there are plenty of activities you could try to turn your ordinary video calls into something more meaningful and worthwhile.

While a traditional date may now look like cooking and eating dinner together over FaceTime and watching a movie on Netflix Party, incorporating your personal interests into your activities could help you find a new normal amidst this abnormal crisis. People into fitness could do Zoom workouts together, those into art could draw or paint one another over video, and people who enjoy games could play Overwatch, League of Legends, Super Smash Bros and many other games together. No matter where your interests reside, the power of a simple video call shouldn’t be underestimated here.

The possibilities are endless, so if you ever find yourself growing bored with a certain activity, don’t hesitate to try a new one. However, if the idea of having to plan an activity for every call sounds too overwhelming, you could start by just spending time together in parallel – together but in your own worlds. For college students, a great example of this would be studying together during a video chat.

I could imagine the physical component of your relationship has suffered a lot, especially since touch means a lot with people we’re close to. Though that kind of intimacy is essentially irreplaceable, receiving something physically from your significant other might help. An example could be sending each other food or gifts that remind you of one another, as there’s oftentimes something special about holding something that made your partner think of you. In a time that feels so surreal, it might help you reorient yourself in the moment, or at least make things feel a little more present.

Apart from school or work and making time for your significant other, now’s the chance for you to also focus on your own needs and interests. This especially goes for couples living together who might start to be feeling sick of one another. Whether it be picking up a new hobby or learning a new skill, taking time for yourself can allow you to bring something new to your relationship and positively affect it. Since a lot of things tend to be left unsaid in the rush of daily life, reflecting on yourself and the way you treat your partner could also allow you to reevaluate your dynamic and discuss anything that needs to be discussed. 

While I realize none of these suggestions can compensate for how much your relationship has been affected by COVID-19, it’s important to remember that we’re all in the same boat. If you’re ever in need of additional support, I recommend taking advantage of the free counseling services out there right now, such as Crisis Text Line or Talkspace. Like all things, this too shall pass, so long as we continue doing our best by social distancing.  

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