Opinion: Relationships in the ‘social distancing’ era have their perks

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As we are mandated to stay inside during the COVID-19 pandemic, many relationships have flipped to long-distance.

I had a million thoughts rushing through my head when school got canceled due to COVID-19 and even more when the shelter-in-place order was enforced in the Bay Area on March 17. My entire world seemed to fall apart right in front of me — I no longer had class in-person, my work closed down, and my last club soccer season was terminated in just a blink of an eye.

My life went from working tirelessly for school throughout the week and going to soccer practice to doing everything virtually at home, and my weekends transformed from a balance of work, soccer, and hanging out with friends to finishing a new show on Netflix every other week.

One big concern for people is how to maintain their relationships, both friendly and romantic, during a time where leaving the house (except for essential errands, such as grocery runs) is forbidden and where social distancing is becoming the new normal. I was so used to going out to dinner with friends or my boyfriend on Friday nights, having picnics, and playing What Do You Meme at a vista point. It’s hard to go from all of that to being stuck in the house.

It’s easier said done to tell people to just “FaceTime as nothing has changed,” but it is possible. Trust me. After doing this with my boyfriend since the last week of school in March, I’ve found that some time apart actually has quite a bit of positives to it.

I’ve found that communicating with your significant other over text, Snapchat, and FaceTime can strengthen your emotional bond with each other. I always look forward to the couple evenings a week where we FaceTime each other, and we’ve discussed things ranging from movies to how you’re actually supposed to eat string cheese. It isn’t the same as spending time together in person, but it’s really something that helps us stay in contact.

Instead of thinking of all the negatives of not being able to spend time together in-person, try to find a way to look at it in a different light. It’s really not an ideal situation, but taking some time to FaceTime each other really helps to brighten the mood and give a little hint of normalcy. It works magic for me; it just makes me look forward to the day that we can spend time together in a normal way again.

There are other ways to stay connected during this time as well. Ever since the shelter-in-place order was enforced, my sister and I have been expanding our baking horizons beyond cookies and brownies and found our calling in making triple chocolate mousse cake.

Knowing how much my boyfriend loves chocolate, I once dropped off a little bit of mousse cake for him and his family, and ever since then, we’ve been doing a “food exchange” of some sort. I drop off a sample every time I experiment with a new recipe, and he does the same. We’ve also utilized the new Netflix Party extension with our friends, and we all have movie nights together at least once a week.

So, for those of you who are struggling to maintain connections during this time, remember that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Although it may be difficult to remain positive with all of the uncertainty of when the shelter-in-place will end, there are ways to stay in contact as long as everyone is willing to put the effort in.

It may take a couple of rounds of trial and error to find the best way to keep the connection going, but once you’ve found it, it truly gets easier.

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