Friday, November 27, 2020

Love Lockdown: How college students are dating during the pandemic

October 29, 2020
Love Lockdown: Dating during a pandemic (Illustration by Daena Faustino).
Love Lockdown: Dating during a pandemic (Illustration by Daena Faustino). —

Dating during a pandemic would have been much more complicated just years ago. But, with today’s technology, students were able to choose if and how they continued dating while being on strict lockdown.

Kelsey Robinson, a human biology sophomore, met her boyfriend, Evan Odar, like many college students meet a prospective partner: at a party with friends. Robinson laughed as she recounted how they first met nearly 10 months ago.

“I went with one of my friends to his frat and I ended up meeting Evan because I pointed across the room and was like ‘Oh my god that kid’s so cute,'" Robinson said.

Since Robinson and Odar had established their relationship before lockdown went into effect, the new normal was hard to adjust to for both of them. 

“It was a whole process,” Robinson said. “That Monday we went into the lockdown, and I didn’t see him for two months after that because we weren’t allowed to leave or go anywhere.”

While they were both on campus, they would see each other frequently, but suddenly there were over 100 miles between them as they were in their respective hometowns. 

Similarly, social relations and policy junior Wyatt Humphrey-Phillips was in his hometown and separated from his girlfriend, who he had met just weeks before lockdown went into effect. 

In the beginning, Humphrey-Phillips was not too concerned that he was trying to establish a relationship amid a pandemic.

“I was pretty confident at first because I thought that we were going to be back in three weeks like we were scheduled to be,” Humphrey-Phillips said.

But, this wasn’t  the case, as online classes continued through the remainder of the spring semester. Reflecting back on this, Humphrey-Phillips and his girlfriend were able to go on very few dates before they would be separated for a long period of time during the lockdown.

“We hung out … Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We left on Sunday and didn’t see each other for three months,” Humphrey-Phillips said.

For Carla Simone, a Spanish senior, stepping away from dating was the best option for her once lockdown went into effect. 

“Before COVID, I wasn't really dating much to begin with,” Simone said.“It wasn’t one of my top priorities I guess, so I didn’t put much time and effort into meeting someone. I did have Bumble and I would be on and off with the app.”

Once the country got further into the pandemic, Simone said she decided to delete the dating apps she had and focus on herself instead. 

“I think not having dating apps and not worrying about meeting someone … I put more focus on me in general and kind of doing more stuff for me,” Simone said.

Simone said she took this time to reevaluate why she had previously felt the need to be on dating apps. By deleting them she said she realized there were outside pressures that made her feel like she needed to be on the apps. 

“It was kind of less pressure in a sense,” Simone said. “I feel like when I downloaded those apps it was because I felt like I needed to have a boyfriend or I felt like I needed to be dating someone because everyone around me was in a relationship or I was seeing people in relationships on social media.”

Packaging junior Claire Cassar entered lockdown and also decided to stop dating, as she wanted to make sure she was being as safe as she could be amidst the unknowns of the pandemic. 

But, as the world slowly began reopening, Cassar said she reconnected with someone she had met before. 

Cassar said they were trying to form a relationship in the middle of a pandemic that would keep them away from East Lansing for many months. 

A recurring trend among these relationships is the use of technology as a way to stay connected to their partner.

For Robinson and Odar, they utilized Facetime most days to catch up and talk about their days. They would branch out with other technologies in an attempt to create the closest thing to being on a physical date with each other. 

“We ended up starting to use Zoom, and I would share my screen, and we would watch Netflix together,” Robinson said.

Cassar and her boyfriend also used Zoom as an alternative to going on dates in person.

“We couldn’t always meet in person so we had to rely on Zoom, which was a little disappointing but understandable because we have to stay safe,” Cassar said.

Humphrey-Phillips and his girlfriend felt the effects of trying to advance a relationship solely over technology. 

“It was Facetime, it was texting, it was praying that anything would change,” Humphrey-Phillips said.

Humphrey-Phillips said he and his girlfriend made extra effort to have deeper conversations so they could learn more about each other and their relationship all while not being able to see each other in person. 

“There was a point where it could have plateaued, but we stuck with it,” Humphrey-Phillips said.

Cassar and her boyfriend also faced challenges when it came to maintaining their relationship over technology. 

“Something that’s always hard is making sure that you can maintain a solid conversation with somebody over some sort of technology,” Cassar said. “So it’s always hard if you can’t have that face to face contact but thankfully … my current boyfriend that I started talking to, we had a really nice time bonding over it but one of the challenges was we couldn’t go on dates for a while because we did have a COVID scare.”

However, it was not all negative effects that came from trying to support a relationship throughout a pandemic. For Cassar, she appreciated how well she got to know her boyfriend even before they got to be together in person.

“I got to know him a lot before going on a date with him, so that was nice,” Cassar said.

Humphrey-Phillips felt similarly about how his relationship developed in the pandemic. 

“We had a clear definition of who the other person was before we were able to meet back up,” Humphrey-Phillips said.

Odar felt that the time apart from Robinson made him even more appreciative of the few times they did have together. 

“It’s always really exciting when I would go and get to see Kelsey in person because it didn’t happen too much … because of distance and at the beginning because of the lockdown, so it just made our time together that much more exciting,” Odar said.

There have been triumphs and tribulations for everyone during this time and everyone had unique experiences in regard to their dating lives. Dating during a pandemic put Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" into a new perspective.

Cassar said that staying safe during the pandemic was her top priority, but finding someone willing to put the time and effort into also building a relationship during that time was an added bonus. 

“I was fine with being able to give up my dating life for a while and it ended up working out for me, so I guess I’m thankful that I met someone who was able to work with me during this time to be creative,” Cassar said.

Humphrey-Phillips said he learned a lot about himself and his relationship through all the ups and downs that came with dating during the pandemic, but overall, his idea of what love was supposed to look like was completely transformed. 

“I really learned that there was more to love,” Humphrey-Phillips said.

This article is part of our Housing Guide print edition. View the full issue here.

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