Love in the Time of COVID
By Katelyn Lilley, Peer Educator
December 22, 2020
I think it's safe to say the pandemic has taken a toll on everybody. Many face the grief of losing a loved one, the stress of unemployment, or the loneliness of isolation. While at RISE, we cannot lessen the first two's impact, we think we can offer some help with the third!
COVID-19 has definitely increased loneliness. In fact, many dating sites are seeing an increase in numbers as people try to find light in what has been a pretty gloomy year (1). Whether you are searching for love or trying to maintain your relationship, RISE hopes we can help you feel a little less alone by helping you find ways to seek or maintain healthy relationships during this time of COVID-19. But first, let's discuss signs of an unhealthy relationship.
What a Healthy Relationship Doesn't Look Like:
Pandemic or not, unhealthy relationships exist, and it's essential to understand some basic red flags. The pandemic, however, can intensify these harmful relationship qualities. Maybe you have been stuck in the same house with your partner since the pandemic's start and they are driving you crazy, or maybe your communication has been minimal (which can also drive you crazy!). It's possible that one of these two situations has brought out some negative aspects in your relationship. Guess what - it's okay to notice that things aren't okay. Thanks to our friends at onelove (2), we can begin to identify these red flags and talk about how this might look with the pandemic in mind:
Intensity: When you or your partner are overwhelming the other with extreme feelings and actions.
During the pandemic, feelings of loneliness have definitely been heightened, but it is not okay for a partner to project those feelings onto you. Getting angry for not responding quickly enough is an excellent example of this behavior. If your relationship seems to be progressing faster than makes you comfortable, it's ok to take a step back.
Manipulation: When you or your partner attempts to control your emotions and actions.
Covid is not an excuse for one partner to tell the other what they are or aren't allowed to do, who they are or aren't allowed to see, and what they are and aren't allowed to feel.
Sabotage: When you or your partner attempts to limit the success, things that make him/her happy, or friendships of the other.
You deserve to be in a relationship where your partner supports your goals. Any action taken to physically or verbally to inhibit your success is a clear sign of sabotage.
Guilting: When you or your partner makes the other feel bad for personal decisions or makes personal happiness the others' responsibility.
Everybody deserves to feel happiness, but happiness is a personal journey and is not the responsibility of a friend, partner, or family member. Placing personal happiness on another person is a burden and can potentially place unwarranted stress on another.
Deflecting Responsibility: When you or a partner refuses to take responsibility for behavior, pushing the blame on something or someone else.
While Covid is taking a toll on mental health, it is not appropriate for a partner to blame the pandemic for treating you poorly. There is no justification for a partner to treat you poorly.
Possessiveness: When you or a partner exhibits extreme jealousy, usually controlling who the other can and can't be around.
Covid is the only thing, at the moment, which should be limiting who and how many you spend time with. It is NEVER ok for a partner to do this.
Isolation: When you or a partner keeps the other away from the people in their lives.
Again, Covid is the only thing that should currently be allowed to do this (come on, vaccines, don't let us down).
Belittling: When you or a partner makes the other feel negative about themselves.
The entire point of a relationship is to be with someone who makes you feel like the best possible version of yourself and vice versa.
Volatility: When you or a partner make the other feel scared, intimidated, or confused, often through verbal and/or physical abuse.
This may seem like one of the more obvious red flags in a relationship, but sometimes it's difficult to see what is happening when you are inside the relationship. Talk to a friend or family member about it – having a support system can make getting out of bad situations seem a little less daunting.
Betrayal: When you or a partner is dishonest or disloyal to the other.
As cliché as it is to say, trust truly is the foundation of any relationship. Trust isn't only broken through cheating; it can be broken in a million small ways when partners decide (intentionally or unintentionally) they will hurt the other.
How to Have a Healthy Relationship (Even During Covid):
The best advice we can give for maintaining relationships during Covid is to make sure there is shared respect of boundaries. Communicating what you are comfortable with and not comfortable with is one of the most important things you can do. If you don't feel comfortable going to a restaurant, that's okay. If your partner doesn't feel comfortable going on a traditional 'date night,' that's okay too. This rule can be applied to your platonic relationships as well.
Here are some things that I have found helpful in keeping me connected with the relationships I have during Covid:
Group FaceTime: Although it's not the same as being with people in person (and believe me, I understand how frustrating that is), it provides a feeling of connection.
Zoom Movie Night: Since Zoom allows screen sharing, watching a movie with friends or your partner is easier than ever!
Takeout in the Park: Food, fresh air, and good company... what could be better!?
Holiday Lights: Take your partner to look at the (free) light shows, and if you live in a city, you definitely have an advantage in this department.
If you're looking for more ideas, here's a list of even more date ideas for you and your partner/friends!
Covid has made this year difficult and it has made relationships even more complicated than they already can be. If you have noticed the unhealthy behaviors we have mentioned above in your relationship, know you deserve better, and we are always here for you! If you ever need an ear to listen, we would love to be that for you at RISE! Just as a reminder, our offices are closed from 12/23 until 1/4- though that might seem like a long time, we'll be back to help you sooner than you can say "thank goodness it's 2021"!
Be sure to contact the TTU Crisis Helpline if you need immediate assistance during that period with an unhealthy relationship. Sending lots of (healthy) love your way this holiday season!
Crisis Helpline: (806) 742-5555 (Available 24/7/365)
Title IX: (806) 834.1949
Student Health Center: (806) 743-2848
Student Counseling Center: (806) 742-3674 (They offer brief couples counseling!)
3. 50 Cheap First Date Ideas for Winter 2020 (oprahmag.com)