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Love in the Time of COVID

Well, really, relationships, love, and intimacy…

Caricature of Milagros Garrido

By Milagros Garrido, MS, PMP

February 11, 2021

Worldwide, the pandemic has brought unexpected changes in the ways in which we work, learn, play, and love. I feel that in many ways, I am experiencing a pandemic-induced hesitation.

Actions that before seemed to be second nature or daily routines now require much more thought and planning. The simple act of greeting people is now a process that requires thought and calculation.

For me, coming from a country where we customarily kiss and hug anybody that we greet, having to simply bump elbow or say hello while taking a couple of steps back is simply “unnatural.”

Masks, an attire that I only wear while working in the hospital, has now become my number one accessory. These days, most of us will not dare to leave home without it. Some have embraced it to the point of having different types for different outfits and endeavors.

It’s been a year since I took a trip overseas. I was used to taking at least three visits a year to another continent to see family and friends. The only deterrent from me traveling was always money and time off.

Now, measuring the risk of going on a trip is my number one concern. I think about traveling every month and attempt to plan, but the hesitation takes over.

Many things have changed in our lives suddenly. The pandemic has made us think about closeness and separation in new ways. Being cooped up with family or alone for long periods of time has made us think about our boundaries and solitude.

This process might have been a blessing for some, or a traumatizing experience for others. Some of us may be experiencing a greater sense of loss than before, or we may have to think about loss in ways that we didn’t before.

Losing love ones, losing our hobbies, losing our financial stability, losing our routines, all to a point that makes us grieve. Financial insecurity, social isolation, fear of getting sick and making others sick…the list goes on and on.

But not everything is so dismal.

The pandemic has forced us to be creative; many of us have changed some of our habits and behaviors for good. Many of us are spending more time outdoors or experiencing nature more; some of us started exercising more frequently and changing our diet. Maybe we spend less time driving in our cars and more time playing with our kids. We have learned who “our people” are, truly.

We have learned who “our people” are, truly.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I cannot help but wonder, in a time where isolation is inevitable, aren’t relationships more important than ever? Can we still build intimacy in a world of social distancing? Can we make connections to potential lovers only through virtual platforms? Can we feel closer to somebody even if we don’t see them face-to-face? Can we fall in love even if we have never hold hands?

I’m sure these thoughts are on many of our minds…we asked young people to share their thoughts on love, relationships, and intimacy in the time of COVID. 

The result is COVID Love* Stories, our nationwide campaign that gathers and shares young people’s stories of love and intimacy during the global pandemic.

Here are just a sample of the stories we heard: 

We created this campaign to support adolescent development in this unprecedented time by promoting real, tangible ways youth and young adults can begin, build, maintain, and even end intimate relationships while physically distanced.

We believe in keeping youth at the center of our work, so the campaign is built around their real, unfiltered stories. As part of the campaign, so far, approximately ninety 14- to 24-year-olds shared with us their most hilarious, devastating, awkward, frustrating, and fun moments.

The stories are real and unfiltered, straight from the young people.

COVID Love* Stories is available now on our Instagram channel, @HealthyTeenNetwork. Check them out.

Follow along with these stories and more on our Instagram channel, @HealthyTeenNetwork. 

At Healthy Teen Network, we believe that every young person has a right to live their authentic sexuality. And we see you, the professionals and caring adults, helping them do this. We know you do your best when you're connected to great opportunities and resources. That's why we're here...to help make those connections and support you. Read more about us.