Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
March 5, 2021

A viral Valentine's Day: How COVID-19 is impacting college dating

By CLARA TRUONG | February 14, 2021

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ROSIE JANG/CARTOONS EDITOR

Whether single, isolating together or long-distance, students’ romantic priorities have shifted in response to COVID-19.

Has the pandemic halted romance, or has it merely shifted the dating-scape? For couples fortunate enough to be in close proximity, like senior Becky Shade and her boyfriend of two years, leaning on one another for support has never been more critical.

“The pandemic brings obviously unprecedented personal challenges to everyone, and we’ve certainly both had our fair share,” she said. “I wouldn’t romanticize any of that and say life is fantastic as long as my partner is by my side, but we’re always asking each other how we can help and understanding that we can’t fix everything.”

Those with existing relationships have had to adapt to seeing less of each other while figuring out ways to enjoy each other’s company safely. For example, junior James Warner Duquette and sophomore Nikko Musuraca have been approaching time together with caution. Though quarantining in the same city, they consciously limit in-person interactions and keep their social circles small.

“We’ve been dating longer in quarantine than not,” Musuraca said. “I do have two other roommates, so... we’ve been apart. Just to stay safe.”

Duquette maintains that they make it work, despite the difficulty of not being able to meet up freely. 

“We FaceTime a lot, and we also go and get coffee obviously with masks on, which is really the only thing that I do,” he said. 

Sophomore Brianna Groch entered a new relationship shortly before students were sent home last March. According to her, the relationship has stood the test of time and distance.

“My love life has dramatically changed because I somehow managed to maintain a long-distance relationship for five months over quarantine,” she said. “We were in different time zones and everything, but now we’re both back in Baltimore, so it was all worth it.”

Some students had been dealing with distance-based obstacles long before the pandemic.

Sophomore Jihyeuk Choi, whose relationship spans two continents, is used to seeing his South Korean partner less often than he would like.

“My day is her night, and her day is my night,” he said. “We talk as much as we can, even if it’s not a lot. The rest of the time, I do my individual things like practice and assignments, so I don’t find it that difficult. I just can’t see her... That’s the only downside.”

Several students also remarked that they are grateful for their partners, acknowledging that the pandemic has made it harder to enter new relationships safely.

Junior Brody Silva, who is currently single, addressed that reality.

“There’s much less of an opportunity to even start new relationships or to branch out to different groups that you might find people through,” he said.

COURTESY OF RUDY MALCOM

Single students have reported that COVID-19 makes it harder to enter new relationships safely.

Both the city’s and the University's current restrictions on socialization have made it tough to find new friends, let alone a romantic partner. 

Groch agreed, stating that her role as a Residential Advisor gives her direct insight into how socially isolated students are.

“Everyone’s just stuck in the cliques that they already have,” she said. “It’s so much harder to date when you can’t meet new people.”

Sophomore Sebastian Alatorre, who was in a long-distance relationship last year, weighed in on how the dating scene at Hopkins has changed.

“I feel like hook-up culture is a lot less prominent, simply because there are obviously no parties or big social gatherings,” he said.

According to Alatorre, individuals now seek long-term partners they deem trustworthy enough to quarantine with to help take the edge off of isolation.

Many students have turned to dating apps as a way to maintain some form of social or romantic connection.

Shade noted individual experiences with dating apps can be a hit or miss during the best of times, but even more so amid a pandemic.

“One of my friends was asked to hang out inside right away, and she saw that as a red flag,” she said. “The person didn’t seem careful about COVID.”

Most interviewed students reported that safety is currently their top priority, and that Valentine’s Day will be no exception.

“He told me to be free at 6 p.m. on the 13th, and I’ve got some surprises too, so we’ll see,” Shade said. “Whatever we do, it’ll be at home.”

Groch predicted that this year’s festivities will consist of more virtual movie nights and remote celebrations.

“[There will] probably be a lot fewer Scorpios nine months from now,” she said.

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