Image Credit: (Top) picture from Allegra Rivas, pictured here with her girlfriend Greta Salvo. (Bottom) picture from Devorah Sklute, pictured here with her boyfriend Alex Smelson.
Some people say that love is found in the strangest of places, others say that love is found at the most unexpected times; what place and time is any more unexpected or strange than the world as we know it today?
It's been six months since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic - it’s also been that long since people have lost their sixth sense of normalcy. Yet even in this time of social distancing and isolation, there are people who still maintain their romantic relationships using innovative ways to adapt to the environment. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, after all, and some fellow Terps seem to have put this into practice.
University of Maryland junior Allegra Rivas has been dating her girlfriend, senior Greta Salvo, for 15 months. Right at the beginning of the pandemic, Rivas and Salvo decided to live together.
“I feel like [the pandemic] has brought us closer because we officially started living together. We definitely have been spending more time together - I’ve even gone to some of her family vacations,” Rivas said. “It’s been a little different, but we’ve gotten used to the pandemic and it doesn’t bother us that much.”
Since they moved in together, they have completed a diverse list of fun and cute activities: making friendship bracelets and stuffed animals for each other, scrapbooking, playing board games, hiking and so on.
It goes without saying that COVID-19 has effectively changed the ways in which people generally interact with each other, and this definitely extends to couples. Paula Elitov, a professional child and adolescent psychologist based in Rockville, touched on what obstacles the pandemic presents to relationships, and what factor of healthy relationships is critical during this time of physical separation.
“I think the challenge is to keep connected even though you can’t do the full range of what you would do otherwise,” Elitov said. “You generally have to be compatible with somebody in a relationship, but also compatible with your own personal rules for what to do, what’s risky and what’s not.”
For a nearly apocalyptic-like time such as now, it’s critical that there be common ground and mutual agreement between two people in a relationship - like UMD freshmen Devorah Sklute and Alex Smelson.
Sklute and Smelson have been together for three years. When the pandemic struck, the couple had reached an agreement to not spend time with each other for a while, in fear of infecting each other’s families. As things later progressed, they finally scheduled to meet while socially distancing.
“After quarantining for a few weeks, once we saw each other it honestly felt like our first date - we were so giddy and excited, it was like a breath of fresh air after being cooped up at home,” Sklute said. “We were so used to seeing each other everyday in high school that we forgot what it felt like to not even have that chance.”
The two have comfortably adjusted to the college life and have continued integrating fun date ideas into their schedules. Sklute has found that the pandemic has made her relationship with Smelson stronger, as both have found that communication and balance play an extremely critical role in healthy long-lasting relationships.
“I’ve seen a lot of couples break up under the pressure of the pandemic. It’s hard, but it's all about balance,” Sklute said. “Find a balance between your friends, school, and romantic partner to the point where you’re happy. Because at the end of the day, you really just want the both of you to be smiling.”
As for the people whose love lives have yet to take off: there’s still hope. Even though there are less in-person opportunities to find romance, online opportunities are still alive and well; Elitov even sees a potential benefit to online pursuits.
“It can be a plus because you get to really know somebody better before you move on to actually being with them,” Elitov said. “In that sense, maybe you get a relationship that starts with a friendship, which is always a really nice way to start, anyway.”
Virtual chances are still valid ways of finding a significant other; after all, they do say love can be found in the strangest and most unexpected of places.