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Thirst Trap

Suddenly and indefinitely separated: How your relationship can survive a pandemic

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Thirst Trap

The last time senior Sahian Cruz saw her boyfriend of two years was at the end of February. He came over and they watched “To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You," which she admits was not as good as the first one. 

The next day, Cruz woke up earlier than her boyfriend and went to work, not knowing it would be the last time she would see him before a sudden and indefinite separation. 

“I didn’t really get closure for anything,” Cruz said. “Not for graduation, not for my last time in a lecture hall, not for my last time seeing him.”

It is frankly a difficult time to be a person right now. As fun as Zoom can be, maintaining a relationship over webcam, unexpectedly, during a global pandemic-turned-economic-crisis is a tall order; tall takeout order, of course. 

It doesn’t matter if your partner lives across the country or across the street, it's basically illegal for you to see them. Out of the context of a deadly virus, maybe this sounds hot, but please don’t break quarantine to bone. This is not a young adult dystopian romance novel. Breaking quarantine does not make you a rebel, it makes you a public health hazard. 

If you don’t want your love life to put other people at risk, there are probably going to be some issues in your relationship. Not the life-and-death issues that you may present to others should you choose to ignore the call to shelter in place, but issues nonetheless.

“My top two love languages are quality time and physical touch and those are two things I’m not really getting right now,” Cruz said. 

Unfortunately, a Bitmoji with both our avatars is as close as we can get to physical contact. Needs like these are not being met right now. As much as I could advise you to grab your phone for some quality (face)time or simply hold your own hand, we all know some things can’t be replicated via the internet or by yourself.

You’ll never get the same satisfaction out of having your partner on a computer screen as you would having them next to you. That’s why it’s important to not rely too heavily on lesser digital equivalents and to seek ways to supplement the shortcomings of those equivalents. 

Go on a Zoom date and get that much-needed quality time, but consider fulfilling other love languages in addition. Be especially complimentary, or customize them a nice hat on Animal Crossing. Take it back to the days of the OG plague and write them a handwritten letter, just don’t lick the envelope.

For the most part, navigating an existing relationship at this time adheres pretty closely to standard long-distance relationship protocol just with a fun, apocalyptic twist. 

“With things being so uncertain, it feels scary to be in a relationship and not know when we’ll see each other again or when this will end, if this will end,” Cruz said. 

Anyone who has done long-distance one, deserves a medal, and two, knows that it's the idea of your eventual reunion, the date you count down to everyday, the light at the end of the tunnel, that keeps you going. There does not appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel right now. 

The hope is that the "stay home" order will be lifted May 4 in Washington state, but then again, that was also the hope for Easter Sunday. The uncertainty is certainly discouraging. 

While we don’t know an exact date for when things will return to normal, if such a date exists at all, we can still hold that same hope for an admittedly ambiguous future. We don’t know the “when,” but you can plan for the “what.” Plan the best post-quarantine date of all time. Plan a million dates for post-quarantine. And if clinging to that “what” doesn’t get you and your partner through, remember the “who.” 

“Things in our relationship seem rough right now, but I know it's not my fault, nor is it his fault,” Cruz said. “The frame of things is just really negative right now.” 

One day, when Cruz returns to Seattle, she’ll see her boyfriend and maybe they’ll watch the original (and superior) “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” And maybe she’ll turn off her alarm and skip work. And the “when” won’t matter. It’ll be worth it because of the “who.”

Reach columnist Hannah Krieg at Twitter: @Hannah_krieg

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