Valentine’s Day: Love in the Time of COVID-19

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February 15, 2021
Writers: Marga Miñon, Alvin Joseph Mapoy
Researchers: Azie Marie Libanan, Angelica Jane Evangelista
Graphics: Bee Fukumoto
Moderators: Eula Mei Labordo, Ian Stephen Velez

“Random thoughts for Valentine’s Day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap.”

– Joel from the movie “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

 

But the question is, “Is Joel, really right or is he just cynical?”         

February is the month of love. It is the time when people can freely express their love for essential people in their lives. People who are in a relationship are looking forward to this month. Extravagant gifts, public affection, and meaningful words are prevalent during these times to express one’s love to its significant other. But Valentine’s day is not limited to romantic love. Friends and family can also have dates to make people feel less like crap. 

Valentine’s day will be different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Physical interactions and gatherings are limited due to compliance with safety protocols. How did we celebrate Valentine’s day this year? What is love in the time of COVID-19? 

Relationships: Is it becoming more vital or vulnerable? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about who we are: how we communicate, how we perceive things, even how we experience love. Some may say distance is what makes the heart grow fonder. The desire to meet and see someone again may become too overwhelming for one person. However, that saying may seem outdated. 

A research study on the early weeks of the government’s lockdown restrictions suggest that relationship satisfaction did not change over time (Williamson, 2020). As the Philippines reaches its first lockdown anniversary, what has changed? Since then, it is a struggle to survive and cope with this kind of situation. Some would choose to isolate themselves from everyone else, and some would cling to people just to feel something. 

This quarantine lockdown also has an evident effect on relationships with other people. Each couple has their own love style (Hendrick & Hendrick, 2020). Some prefer to spend all day with each other, while others prefer to have more time apart. Moreover, the lockdown affected most of the couples since they are not allowed to spend time together. The only manner of communication is through the use of technology and social media. The COVID-19 situation alone caused tremendous stress in individuals. More stress may cause more fights. 

This situation also applies to our group of friends. Although friends offer support, do we make enough effort to remain connected? 

Making Stronger Friendships in the Pandemic

When we don’t have a romantic partner, we turn to our friends. Friendships are often built with the following factors in mind: availability, chemistry, trust, and instrumentality (Jagoo, 2020). Friendships that we establish are important to our health and well-being. 

As we experience the pandemic, we tend to reconnect with old friends. In a 2011 study, reconnecting with old friends helps us feel emotions of novelty and solidarity. It also favors our comprehension and efficiency (Levin et al., 2011). 

Establishing relationships with a significant other, family, and friends are essential to our mental health. But due to the lockdown, concerns about relationship quality and mental health arose. In a recent study, relationship quality and mental health are related to one another during this pandemic (Pieh et al., 2020). This further suggests how vital relationships are in maintaining our mental health. But with the lack of quality relationships from a significant other and friends, where do we find love?

Dating Apps: Can true love be found in the middle of a pandemic? 

Prior to the pandemic, the trend of dating apps became widely known to different types of demographic groups. One of the main goals of dating apps is to meet a new friend or even a potential partner. Apps such as Bumble, Tinder, and Match.com are the most common apps used in different areas such as Europe, America, and even Southeast Asia (The ASEAN Post Team, 2020). 

However, as the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, dating app usage experienced a surge. Online dating provides people who have difficulty connecting with other people an opportunity  to prove their social skills, and form a connection with someone virtually (MarketLine, 2020). Just like social media, dating apps pave a way to associate with people while self-isolating. 

In the meantime, dating apps are considered safe since they can reduce the risk of  infection by limiting physical meetings. However, it also has its downfall. Since it is online, there is a tendency for  people to pretend to be someone else and lie about their true identity, or catfish other users.

The anxiety caused by the uncertainty of the future

Even with vaccines distributed and used, it is still uncertain whether the situation will go back to normal. Thinking about it can cause a person to worry and become anxious about the future. Uncertainty affects individuals’ physical and mental well-being and their relationships with other people or even oneself (HelpGuide, 2020). Here goes the times wherein doubts and worries come across our heads as we lie in our bed, staring at the ceiling. 

Questions regarding the status of your current relationships with other people come surging in. We begin to wonder if, at the end of this pandemic, things will stay the same? Will your friends still talk to you? Will your relationship be better after this pandemic? Is the person you are talking with treating you this way because of boredom? With the uncertainty present in our thoughts, the intimacy begins to fade away as we tend to build walls and push them away (Huerta, n.d.). It affects our relationship with others, and unusual and toxic behavior arises. 

As human beings, it is a normal reaction to want assurance and security. People want to feel calm and peace over their future and control their lives and well-being (Savage, 2020). When dealing with such uncertainties, a person should control things that are under their control. A person has the power to cease worrying,  reposition, and refocus their perspective on the aspects that they can manage.

Preserving and protecting intimacy and love may be difficult in these trying times. As much as possible, we must try to communicate and reach out to other people. Who knows, you might just be the sparkle of hope that one person is waiting for. Strengthen  faith and trust by staying honest and transparent. But never forget to prioritize yourself first before taking care of other people.

As we celebrate post-valentines’ fever, join us on #UsapTayo this Saturday, February 20, as we talk about love in the time of COVID-19. Let’s continue to promote love, mental health champions!

 

Questions:

  1. How did you celebrate Valentine’s day? In this year’s Valentine’s day celebration, what significant changes did you notice? 
  2. How is your relationship with other people? How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed how you express your love?
  3. What can you advise to people who feel isolated and unloved during this COVID-19 pandemic?

Works Cited

Dealing with Uncertainty During the Coronavirus Pandemic. (2020, April). HelpGuide. Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/dealing-with-uncertainty.htm

Hendrick, S. & Hendrick, C. (2020). Romantic Love in the Age of COVID-19, Journal of Loss and Trauma, 25(6-7), 540-543, DOI: 10.1080/15325024.2020.1763557

Huerta, H. (n.d.) How Coronavirus Is Impacting Relationships And Breakups. Mend.  Retrieved from https://www.letsmend.com/posts/will-coronavirus-impact-relationships-breakups/

Jagoo, K. (2020). How to Make Friends During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Verywellmind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-make-friends-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-5093689 

MarketLine. (2020, December 2). Love in times of pandemic – Covid-19 makes dating apps thrive. Verdict. Retrieved from https://www.verdict.co.uk/dating-apps-covid/

Pieh, C., O’Rouke, T., Budimir, S., & Prosbt, T. (2020). Relationship quality and mental health during COVID-19 lockdown. Plos One. 15(9): e0238906. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0238906

Savage, M. (2020, December 7). Why the pandemic is causing spikes in break-ups and divorces. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201203-why-the-pandemic-is-causing-spikes-in-break-ups-and-divorces

The ASEAN Post Team. (2020, November 28). Dating Apps Thriving In A Pandemic? The ASEAN Post. Retrieved from https://theaseanpost.com/article/dating-apps-thriving-pandemic

Williamson, H. (2020). Early effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on relationship satisfaction

and attributions. Association for Psychological Science, 31(2), 1479-1488. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797620972688   

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