Socially-Distant Love: Relationships in a Year of COVID

Photo provided by Julia Gomez

Julia Gomez/ Staff Writer

This article is a part of PantherNow’s opinion section “Pandemic and Me” series

Quarantine has completely changed the dynamic of my relationship with my boyfriend. We’ve been together for almost two years, but most of our relationship has taken place during the quarantine. Despite living less than 30 minutes away from each other, we had to stop seeing each other in person. We went from seeing each other every other day to only talking on the phone and on facetime for three months.

Last year, I wrote an op-ed about why we couldn’t see each other. Chacid (Cha-Sid) is immunocompromised. He has chronic bronchitis. If he were to catch COVID-19, he could have serious complications.

We had talked about it, and both decided that having a socially distant relationship was the right move. I don’t remember much about what we did on the last day I saw him. I know I went to his house to do laundry since my laundry machine broke. When I said bye to him, I hugged him and just started crying. He kissed my lips, kissed my forehead, and I left.

You know those kisses in movies, where the protagonists don’t know if they’ll ever see each other again and they have this epically romantic goodbye kiss? Yeah, it was nothing like that. It felt so ordinary it was morbid. Despite talking about it and mentally preparing, I still felt like I would be there the next day when I got out of class. Saying goodbye to him felt surreal. Like it wasn’t happening. But then a few weeks passed, and it finally sunk in that I wasn’t going to be able to see my boyfriend for a very long time.

When we first started our socially-distant relationship, we were constantly fighting. The stress from suddenly not seeing each other and the pandemic caused us to fight all the time. There were moments that I thought we were just going to say “screw it” and break up. Thankfully, that never happened.

Flash forward three months later, we got tested and saw each other for the first time since lockdown began.

One day, Chacid was struggling with his mental health. He was depressed and couldn’t get out of bed. Being trapped in our houses and only seeing the people who lived with us caused too much mental anguish. We both got tested and finally were able to see each other a few days before our one-year-anniversary.

It’s been a year since the lockdown began. The strain from doing a socially distant relationship is still affecting us today. We both get anxious when we don’t see each other for a couple of weeks.

“It put a lot of strain on us at first and made us more likely to complain if we haven’t seen each other in a while,” said Chacid, “Now we just get really sad if we haven’t seen each other.”

The added stress made maintaining a healthy relationship challenging. Instead of talking to each other, we would just blow up and get into huge arguments.  

It did help us learn how to communicate better, though. We fight less now and we’re better at sharing how we feel. But the side effects haven’t all been positive. I think going through this made me clingier. I still get scared when I leave Chacid’s house. When we say bye to each other, there’s always a foreboding feeling in the pit of my stomach. Chacid finds himself feeling distant and dissociating more. He says he’s on autopilot 97% of the day now.

The negatives of a socially distant relationship outweigh the positives. But there were still some significant positives. We began talking to our friends more using Discord, an app that creates a virtual hangout spot. We made new friends, too. Even though they didn’t live in Florida, we became close friends by playing video games online together. We would constantly talk about what we’re going to do once the pandemic is over.

Having a socially distant relationship sucks. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. But I know we’re lucky. We came out of this stronger than before. We still have a lot of growing to do and we’re constantly working on our relationship.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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