Teen romantic relationships difficult, but not impossible, to manage during pandemic

High school relationships are a difficult dynamic to manage even in a normal year. Sports seasons, extracurricular activities, school work and family are among the things that high school students have to balance all at the same time.

Adding a romantic relationship into the list of things to manage can be extremely hard to allot time for and adding a global pandemic to that dynamic does not help.

Juniors Grace Cole and Jack Distenfield started dating in the fall of 2019 and explained that the beginning of the pandemic brought on some new challenges for them to work through.
“I would compare it to a long-distance relationship,” Cole said. “While I know it’s not [exactly] the same, that’s [honestly] what it felt like at the time.”

The couple explained that some gestures, such as Distenfield dropping off flowers or candy at Cole’s house, brought a sense of normalcy and lightheartedness into a time of loneliness.

Distenfield feels that the pandemic allowed for the opportunity for their “relationship to grow stronger.”

Seniors Lily Bruns and Ty Holzwarth echoed this feeling. The two started dating in June.

“I think [we] were a unique case in the fact that our relationship is as strong as it is because [it] started in a pandemic,” Bruns explained.

Holzwarth and Bruns became close over the summer when Covid restrictions eased and they were able to do outdoor activities such as frisbee golf and hiking.

“Our relationship revolves around the outdoors because that’s the only way we could hang out for a long time,” Holzworth added.

Seniors Jack Regan and Cece Babat have a similar relationship dynamic.

With their relationship starting in January, lots of dates and time spent together have had to be creative.

“Before the weekly Covid tests, we had to be more careful,” Regan mentioned. “A lot of dates we did in the beginning would be grabbing food and having a picnic outside.”

“We were friends for a while before,” Babat added, “[so] we didn’t go through an awkward talking phase, which made communication a lot easier.”

Lots of people in relationships — whether high school students or not — have had to adapt the way they spend time with their partner for it to be Covid-safe. These extra obstacles can put strains on any relationship.

According to a study done by dating website Dating.com in September, 67% of the website’s users experienced a breakup in 2020, a significant increase from the 34% who experienced a breakup in 2019.

Of the 67% who went through a breakup, about 75% claimed that they used the site as a way to “effectively move on during the limited social-distancing era.”

Dating apps and websites have had to adapt the way they advertise to those looking for relationships. Tinder, for example, implemented a video chat option into their app in July. According to a Tinder survey, over half of users utilized the video chat feature, and more than a third say they plan to continue using the feature after the pandemic is over.

High school relationships are often reliant on social media, but with limitations on being able to see each other, couples use of apps such as Snapchat or Instagram increased.

“For [like] the first two months, the only way we communicated was through Snapchat,” Bruns said. “It was really hard, but we had to make it work.”

Other apps, like FaceTime, helped close the gap during the beginning of the pandemic.

“If I could do it over again, I would have tried to FaceTime more. Talking face-to-face is very different from texting,” Cole explained. “I think we could have avoided [a lot of] miscommunication if we had talked over the phone more often.”

The pandemic has brought numerous changes to relationship dynamics of all kinds. But through social media and creative strategies, Covid has not meant the end of relationships. It’s just a new challenge to face, together.