Love in the Time of COVID-19

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Illustration by Echo Dieu

Jessica Gang

Staff Writer

Animal Crossing dates, virtual movie nights, spontaneous food deliveries, and long hours of Facetime. Over the past few months, these are just some of the ways that people across the globe have been able to build connections and spend quality time with each other in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. June marked the beginning of “soft-reopenings” for restaurants, bars, and many other non-essential businesses in various states, but for the better part of the past few months, both long-term couples and those just beginning to dip their toes into the dating pool have been forced to rely on innovative ways to keep their relationships alive. 

In order to understand the wide variety of situations that couples have found themselves in, The Bottom Line solicited submissions in early May from UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) students about how their dating lives have changed since the pandemic began. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and word count.                

“Right before COVID-19 really shut down our country, I went home to the Bay area for a weekend. My best friend told me that she thought her coworker and I would totally like each other . . . and we instantly hit it off. After a while of coy flirting over text and Snapchat we finally Facetimed. She was so sweet, cute, and wonderful, so I asked her out on a quarantine Facetime date. That weekend we got all dressed up, ate dinner, and watched a movie on Facetime . . . Keep in mind folks; we hadn’t even met in person yet, thanks to social distancing. On April 11, she sent me a link to a Spotify playlist. All the titles of the songs wrote out a cheesy sentence about me and ended with her asking me to be her girlfriend. Of course, I said, ‘Yes.’ We each mailed stuffed animals of our respective favorite animals (hers being an elephant, mine being an Australian shepherd). And it’s been wonderful, tragic, great, and difficult since. It’s hard to enter into a relationship without fully knowing someone in real life, but the trust and care we have for each other make us confident. I’m so glad that in a moment of pure serendipity I was introduced to this girl, who so quickly became such an important part of my life. When this is all over, we have so many dates planned out, grand ones and simple ones, because most of all we just want to be together without a screen between us.”

-Brooklyn Willis, Communication, Senior 

“So COVID-19 actually gave my partner and I the chance to quarantine together. We were dating for a couple of months beforehand and now we are reaching six months with nearly half of that being quarantined together! I think it forced us both to reevaluate and reflect on our relationship . . . and made us actually want each other more. It was frustrating at first living with a guy in general, but since we’ve gotten past him leaving food open and the shaving cream on my sink, we’ve become a lot stronger. I think we are both slowly going insane so it’s been a really funny quarantine with him. There have definitely been lots of ups and downs but I’m lucky I don’t have to navigate dating apps or anything right now!”

-Ivy Acosta, Biochemistry, Sophomore

“We met through Kapitarang Pilipino and started dating almost three years ago when we were freshmen at UCSB. We were both in my apartment in Isla Vista when the stay-at-home orders were announced. By that time, we’d already been sleeping over at each others’ places pretty often, so we made the decision for him to move in with me so we could support one another through these weird times. Honestly, I don’t think our relationship has ever been stronger than it is now. Even though everything else going on in our lives is stressful or saddening, especially since we’re both about to graduate, I really feel like we’re taking on this situation as a team. There was even a short time when we thought we’d been exposed to the virus through a friend, which was even more stressful. But we do our best to help each other stay afloat.” 

-Dana Dela Cruz, Asian-American Studies, Senior

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