Distanced dating: the transition from in-person to online dating, and how couples are coping

Mengting Chang 

Staff Writer

     As the saying goes, “love is in the air”. However, as we enter our Valentine month, it is COVID-19 that we find broadcasted on air (pardon the pun). Luckily, love didn’t just disappear and high school couples are surviving beneath Zoom/Discord calls and online activities. An AHS Senior, Tyson Tran (12) is dating Kaella Pano from class of 2020, and they describe their experience transitioning from an in-person relationship to a distanced one. 

     “Initially when we thought it would only be two weeks, we thought we’d be okay with just that 2 weeks apart knowing we’d come back to school soon. Obviously that didn’t pan out, so we promised each other that quarantine couldn’t last forever. For the whole lockdown we’ve just been holding onto the hope that the day will come when this is all over,” Tran says.

Tyson Tran (top) watching gameplay of Rainbow Six Siege in his bedroom, while on FaceTime with Kaella Pano (bottom) who is playing Animal Crossing in her bedroom.

     Couples entering the pandemic were faced with an adjustment from almost daily face to face interaction to no in-person interactions. Despite this difficulty, love is not lost, and some have even found partners during this time.

     Jade Wang, a junior at AHS, was one of these people. She explains how she developed a strong connection during a time when it’s more difficult to meet face to face.

     “Since we were already pretty close friends pre-quarantine, we frequently texted— having 5/6 of the same classes definitely helped— and eventually we ended up calling too and I suppose it just progressed naturally from there,” she says.

     Students prepared themselves for a year without in-person interaction with their partners. From watching movies and shows together, to playing video games, couples were able to spend time together and weather this storm. Though Tran and his partner share different interests, they still find creative ways to include each other.

     “We play pretty different games but we like FaceTiming while we play and talking about the things that are happening in them,” he explains.

     His partner Pano, even found a creative way to give him a surprise present.

     “She delivered chicken nuggets to me… it made my day,” Tran says.

     “It was National Boyfriend day so I surprised him!” Pano adds.

     For Wang, dating in quarantine meant becoming a gamer, and she began her gaming journey by playing League of Legends with her boyfriend.

     “Most of the time we just do homework or study together… but we also do recreational stuff together like watching anime, listening to music, or playing League of Legends. I’m not a gamer but I started playing for him.”

     Unfortunately, dating in quarantine can be far from pleasant, not only due to the lack of in-person interaction, but also the underlying stress of balancing time with your partner and academic work. For Hsu, the quarantine was detrimental to the relationship in this aspect especially because she and her partner are both seniors.

     “It was manageable until school started in August of 2020. I hate to say it but when school started, the stress and pressure piled up and eventually became a breaking point to our mental health. We were burnt out from school, and with the piles of homework, we didn’t have much time to just relax and talk to each other,” she explains. “Quarantine played a big aspect in that we couldn’t hang out during lunch or afterschool so there was no way we could relieve the stress throughout the day. Especially in senior year, the added stress of College Applications made it even worse as there was even less time to call and relax.”

     Fortunately for this couple, they were able to come out on the other side. Hsu unravels how they solved their problem.

     “Even though there were huge bumps in the road, we eventually figured out a way so that our schedule could match and we could actually call each other and relax… We are both still working on our mental health and with him transferring schools, he got more free time so we could call more. I was able to figure out a semi-working schedule that would let me get most of my work done while still having time to call him,” she says.

     No doubt, quarantine has made it tough for couples, but luckily many of them have advice to offer to those who are struggling.

     “As far as dating advice, communication is probably the most important thing, especially in a long distance relationship. The last thing you want is to hide your real feelings from each other, cause it’ll eventually snowball into bigger problems later” says Tran.

     Hsu also agrees with this and stresses focusing on your own self rather than devoting all your attention to your partner is crucial to a successful relationship. 

     “Always make sure you are communicating and talking with your partner. No matter how little you think that issue is, talk it out with your partner. And yes sometimes we are burnt out from certain things, and if that happens, take a short break and focus on yourself. It’s important to have a good mindset with everything going on around the world.” says Hsu.

     But this isn’t all. Dating through quarantine can be a learning experience especially for those entering college soon. 

     “I know it might suck not being able to see your significant other for such a long period of time, but just try to make the most of it by calling and doing things together that you can do virtually! You can also think of it as a way of showing that you’re both mature enough individuals to handle a long distance relationship, which is definitely a good thing, considering the fact that we have college in a few years,” says Wang

     Many high school couples may not go to the same college or even stay in the same state so a distanced relationship may be inevitable even after the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what, there is going to be a light at the end of this tunnel. Couples will get to hold hands again and go on romantic dates in a world where restaurants and small businesses are open. Wang expresses an opinion shared by many.

     “We’re just really excited to see each other again.”

Cynthia Hsu (Right) in a Valorant lobby with her boyfriend (Right monitor) while in a Discord call with him (right monitor) in her bedroom. “We struggled with [communication] a lot during most of quarantine but we figured it out recently and it’s been going great.”

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