Gabriella is a high school senior in Pennsylvania and serves on the Cultures of Dignity Advisory Board. Below are her thoughts on the challenge of navigating a relationship during a COVID-19.
Surviving My Relationship During A Global Pandemic
By Gabriella Spina
I hadn’t seen my boyfriend for a whole week. I know, big whoop. It was Saturday, a few days before our governor demanded the close of all non-essential businesses, and we had made some loose plans to get together. I was excited, I always am to see him, but I was specifically looking forward to that night because I had a great day, and selfishly, I wanted to see him to make my great day a perfect one. As six became seven, then eight, and then finally nine, and I raced to check my phone at every ping and ding, and I still had not heard from him. I decided that I had to get on with my night. He texted me a little bit later saying that he had fallen asleep with a headache. He wanted to see me tomorrow, but I was furious. We are high school seniors and with the Coronavirus already reducing our contact, our tomorrows are limited, and he knew that.
I saw him on Sunday. He sat on one concrete stair and I sat a few below, different from our usual shoulder to shoulder conversations but necessary to protect his grandparents that were staying with his family. We both understood that I was upset, but in that moment, I refused to address my feelings because I didn’t want to be upset when I only had a few moments to spend with him.
While texting over the past few days, we shared a few moments that we deemed “tabled,” or anecdotes that we wanted to share in person, but sitting below him, I could not recall one. Our conversation was choppy and unnatural, and I was slightly passive aggressive. It wasn’t the interaction I wanted for us, nor what I imagined. As excited as I was to see him and as limited as our time was, I left early because I wanted our moment to be sweet and exciting, not painfully forced. In retrospect, I acted unfairly. I hadn’t explained why I was angry; instead choosing to keep my tension and frustration in myself.
So to all my fellow socially-distanced ones love birds out there, your significant other may be experiencing isolation differently, and they may have other tribulations going on in their lives. Your relationship was never supposed to endure a global pandemic, but the beautiful part is that it can.
The shift from seeing my partner every morning at 7:40 in history class to once-a-week if I am lucky, is uncomfortable to say the least. We had essentially built a routine, and I always knew when the next time I would see him was. In an attempt to normalize our relationship and seek comfort in an unusual time, we decided we needed to see each others’ faces at least a few times a day. I’m not an avid facetimer, so I try to make an effort to pause and capture something that I had done throughout the day.
Maybe your situation is different, but we’re all in the same boat. As your relationship takes a potentially unprecedented turn, understand that your partner may be concerned or even anxious about their situation. However, don’t fail to remember that through proper communication, social-distancing has the possibility to strengthen your relationship and remind you of the qualities that you value in other people; whether it be things to look forward to that distancing limits or what you and your partner have accomplished without physical touch.
I did end up having a mature conversation with my boyfriend. In fact, by Monday, we shared many mature conversations. Our senior year is going to be incredibly unconventional, with events such as our prom and graduation in question. And while we may not be able to steal traditional moments together by remaining physically apart, we have strengthened our connection in ways that we would not have otherwise.