Quarantine either broke couples up, or made them stronger.
My boyfriend and I had been dating for a little less than a year when we were separated by the pandemic. Living halfway across the country from each other was more difficult than I ever anticipated. With technology, you would think maintaining a long distance relationship would be somewhat easy.
At least, that’s what I believed.
Going into quarantine, we were at a weird spot in our relationship. During the entire spring semester, I was at a low point mentally. I had dropped out of a couple of my clubs and felt lost at college. The only constant in my life was my boyfriend; needless to say I grew super dependent on him.
Any sort of positive emotion I felt during the early months of 2020 stemmed from my boyfriend. It reached the extent that I dreaded being by myself. Or even just going out with friends. I only wanted to be with him. Which, looking back now, it was entirely unfair to place my dependency on a person with their own life.
I ended up creating unrealistic expectations for him in my mind, which he usually failed to meet, and that ultimately led to disappointment.
So when he didn’t reciprocate the same energy and effort I felt I was giving him, I would feel crushed. And then fights would occur–and they occurred often.
Then came quarantine, and I was forced to be by myself. He was no longer two minutes away, rather hundreds and hundreds of miles from me. With the most thrilling part of our days being daily walks around the block, we eventually ran out of things to talk about.
When you have nothing but time to talk, but nothing to talk about, what do you do?
Our Facetime calls were filled with complete silence with us scrolling through social media aimlessly. Somehow, these calls were still the highlight of my day. Then I got replaced by video games. The amount of times we Facetimed dwindled, and I was lucky if I got at least one night out of the week to talk with him.
Communication from there went downhill. Despite having nothing to talk about, we found things to argue about. Every. Single. Day. It became the norm. And if that isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is.
Any time we were seemingly back on track, we soon fell off. It was either miscommunication or a misunderstanding.
Regardless, I had never experienced such high levels of anxiety. Getting a notification from him no longer gave me butterflies. Instead, agony flowed throughout my body as I tried to recall if anything we were talking about could’ve been turned into an argument. We were spiraling. I felt as helpless as a skydiver with no parachute, bracing for impact. I was more than ready to end it.
So, why the fuck did we not break up?
We had a full-on blowout over text (which is never a good thing to do, btw).
I was sick of the games, the unspoken tension. This whole time we were picking fights over little things when there was an underlying issue that needed to be addressed.
Finally, I put everything out on the table, and pointed out the obvious:
“What were we even doing anymore? This was not the relationship it had once been.
If we don’t start to fix things now, I don't want to continue.” And so on.
It took a lot of prying to finally get him to express his true feelings, which ended up being things I had no idea were problems in the first place.
How can I fix something if I wasn’t aware it needed fixing at all?
On top of that, I wasn’t going to let an unprecedented pandemic be the way we ended. I watched couples who I once looked at as unbreakable completely fall apart during quarantine. The stress of leaving college and our normal lives abruptly weighed heavily on the both of us. But giving up would be too easy, and relationships that are worth it deserve the work, and this relationship is worth all the work.
After going back and forth trying to decide how the hell to handle this situation, we agreed to push forward and continue the relationship.
From that conversation on, we’ve only grown stronger. At this moment, as I am writing this, our relationship has never been better. It’s helpful that our lives are slowly returning to normal, and neither of us are stuck in the hours for weeks on end because of quarantine.
For me, one positive of quarantine was relearning the importance of self love, which I credit as another contribution to the improvement of our relationship.
The forced separation helped build up my independence as I started to realize that I couldn’t depend on someone else to provide me with happiness. During quarantine, I grew to feel comfort with myself. As my personal growth improved, so did my relationship.
I learned that I needed to love myself first before I loved others.