Nothing will test the strength of your relationship like a global pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the dynamics of many romantic relationships, including those of Cal Poly students. Social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders have created a new set of challenges for some couples, while bringing others closer together. 

Aerospace engineering senior Lacey Davis currently lives with her boyfriend due to the shelter-in-place order. For many couples, making the decision to quarantine together was their first experience living with one another. 

Davis and her boyfriend had only been dating for a couple months before they decided to quarantine together.

“We started dating just before winter break, we kind of saw everything collapse together,” said Davis.

Although they are used to spending large amounts of time together, this new living situation has been something to get used to, Davis said. 

“I think one of the hardest things is not having a space that is necessarily mine,” Davis said. “But we are respectful of each other’s space and we know what parts of the day we enjoy. For example, I love to cook so when it comes to dinner that’s my time to relax.”

Communication and maintaining independence are some of the key elements helping this couple to explore this new time in their lives according to Davis.

As much as this pandemic has distanced people from one another, it has also brought people closer together.

Third year English major Tatum Moos said in an email that COVID-19 has allowed her and her long distance boyfriend to spend more time together.

“Over the past three years we have become pretty well versed at long distance, but during quarantine we have moved back to our hometown and live less than five miles from one another,” said Moos.

Moos and her boyfriend started dating during their senior year of high school. When they left for college, they only had the opportunity to see each other once a month during the school year. The two struggled to adjust from seeing each other every day in high school to living six hours apart in college.

Although Moos said moving home during quarantine has allowed her and her boyfriend the opportunity to see each other more often, they struggled to find date ideas that comply with the social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Moos, being a high risk individual with severe asthma, said she feels the most comfortable doing things outside. 

“We have gone on countless walks and hikes with one another during this time or will get food to go and set up a picnic,” Moos said. “We have spent a lot of time in each other’s backyards swimming, playing games and enjoying the warm weather.”

Like Moos, sophomore chemistry major Julia Munson and her boyfriend of almost two years, were in a long distance relationship before COVID-19, with her being at college and him at home. When any school break came around, she would rush home and could not wait to see her boyfriend. So when President Jeffrey Armstrong announced that Winter quarter finals would be online, Munson packed her bags and left immediately. 

“It was Saturday, March 14th, when Armstrong sent out the email saying that all finals will be virtual. When I got that message I ran upstairs and packed all my suitcases, then left at 7 a.m. the next morning to come home,” Munson said. “I was already counting down the days until I could see him. I was thinking that this would be four to five less days I would have to wait.”

Maintaining a long distance relationship through texting and talking to someone over the phone can be rocky at times according to Munson, but she emphasized the importance in communication and setting expectations in any relationship.

Being transparent with your wants and needs is also something ethic studies junior Athena Cole said she and her boyfriend have prioritized during this time. 

“Staying safe and realizing that our actions can affect one another has been something that has been helpful in navigating quarantine,” said Cole.

Cole and her boyfriend live two states away from each other when they are not at school. They made the decision to move back to San Luis Obispo for a number of reasons, but one of them was the ability to be closer to one another. This way they can maintain their own bubbles of safety while still being able to at least see each other.

Being in a long distance relationship was a challenge according to Cole, but she said that experience allowed them to get to know one another better. Cole feels that the dynamic of her relationship has not changed much because of COVID-19, but she is working to maintain a balance between too much and not enough communication with her boyfriend.

“Be transparent with your wants and needs. If you do that, then there will be no room for your partner to think that they need to read your mind,” Cole said. “I think it is important to let them know what you need especially since we are going through such a big transition.” 

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