By Krista Rits
Intimate relationships aren’t quite the same this year as a result of COVID-19. While many students continue to go out on dates, some choose not to due to health concerns.
Karen Giorgetti, an associate professor of psychology, believes the more time some people spend alone, the more their mental health suffers as a result.
“People have been lonelier and that has actually made their depression levels rise,” Giorgetti said. “People feel more depressed because they are alone. They are isolated. They don’t have the same social contacts that they used to have so if they don’t get to see their friends in class. They don’t get to hang out.”
Many people feel like they lack a connection with others as a result of the pandemic. She said coming back to school is a positive experience for many who felt isolated during the summer.
“People are really lonely and craving that social interaction,” Giorgetti said. “As college students, you’re seeking intimate relationships and you don’t have the same level of interaction with your friends, let alone with a romantic partner.”
Face-to-face dates were not an option for many, and online or virtual dating saw a larger increase for those who want to stay socially distanced.
“I understand why people are choosing to date during the pandemic, but even dating has changed where, now, people have Zoom meetings or Zoom dates. That really changes the dynamics because you don’t have that same level of physical intimacy,” Giorgetti said.
Although eating dinner or watching movies is not the same when done virtually, Giorgetti said they are still safe options.
Nicolette Powe, an assistant professor in the department of public health professions, serves as a program director for the undergraduate public health program. Powe said she’s noticed the many groups of people, including couples, walking on campus have taken the necessary precautions to interact.
“There are, obviously, more students on campus now than there were over the summer and some were closer to each other than others,” she said. “For the most part, most people have their mask on and they’re attempting to keep that six feet away from each other. They’re attempting to do that so that’s promising.”
Senior Rashawna Douglas-Watson said she feels she is more concerned with her health than the people she dates. She brings with her protective equipment and sanitizer when she goes out.
“[I] definitely bring extra masks, a bottle of hand sanitizer and gloves,” Douglas-Watson said.
In a pre-pandemic time, Douglas-Watson enjoyed on-campus dating. Now, she is looking at alternative locations for dates, such as movie theaters and the outdoors.
She said phone conversations, bike rides and walks are also safe ways to interact with a significant other.