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College students make relationship adjustments as result of pandemic

College students have unfortunately found themselves questioning whether or not the old adage “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is actually true. 

From class cancellations to travel notices, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt on everyday life. Ohio University students have had to move out of dorms, video chat with professors and file for unemployment. But one aspect that may not immediately come to mind are significant others whose goodbyes came earlier than expected.

Claire Geary, a sophomore studying broadcast journalism, met her boyfriend, Cade, last semester in her Spanish class. As soon as they met, they clicked and were inseparable, Geary said. 

But then spring break came, in-class instruction was suspended until March 30, then they moved to online for the rest of the semester. Geary and her partner’s relationship had to go long-distance. 

“(Our) communication mostly relied on being in person,” Geary said. “We’ve grown as a unit but I’m afraid our progress is going to be lost over the months (spent) apart because of it.”

Geary added that though her boyfriend is only 40 minutes away, seeing each other is risky. Geary’s boyfriend lives with his grandparents and they both live near Cuyahoga County, which has 149 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“I can’t see him until further notice,” Geary said. “It’s too much of a risk, for not only him but his family.”

Nevertheless, Geary has faith in her relationship. She and her boyfriend FaceTime every night and communicate daily.

“We’re just catching on our lives at the end of the night and sitting and doing homework,” Geary said. “We still do Spanish homework together.”

For Geary, the circumstances caused by the viral pandemic just means adjusting to a change.

“(It’s) a matter of adapting what kind of dating (we’re doing),” she said. “We’re just trying to make do with what we have...We’re hoping for the best.”

Trevor Farris, a freshman studying computer science, was enjoying his freshman year with friends and his girlfriend, Skyler. Farris and Skyler met through mutual friends and have been dating for about two months. They hung out daily for weeks, he said.

“It's been really hard to be away now after seeing each other every single day,” Farris said. “It's been hard. But (now) we started to get better at being away from each other.”

Unlike Geary, Farris and his partner are a considerable distance apart, their hometowns being several hours away from one another. They communicate through text, FaceTime and mobile games together. But he misses doing everyday activities with her, such as homework. 

“Whenever we were together, we could do homework every day,” Farris said. “It’s hard to be as motivated to do homework without being able to be with her.”

One of Farris and his girlfriend’s favorite activities is watching movies and television shows together. They watch the same film on their laptops and FaceTime on their phones, he said. He thinks this is a good way for couples to pass time remotely. 

“We used to watch shows together,” Farris said. “We started FaceTiming while we watch shows together on our laptops. (People can) find stuff like that to do together.”

Farris said he got the chance to see Skyler when moving out of campus dorms but not for very long. He said they had made plans to meet up before the state mandated ‘stay-at-home’ order, but now have to wait until April 6 to try and meet again. 

Kara Lee, a sophomore studying exercise physiology and psychology, had only been dating her boyfriend for two weeks before the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to normalcy. 

“(Our relationship) is a little more interesting,” Lee said. “Things are moving slowly. It’s harder to get together, we can't go out to eat on a regular date.”

Despite the unexpected circumstances, the virus hasn’t put a damper on Lee’s relationship. She thinks of it more of a learning experience — an adjustment. 

“(You) just (have to) stick it out,” Lee said. “Everyone’s in the same type of situation — it’s happening to everybody. It’s gonna be difficult. You just got to work through it the best you can and hope everything works.”


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