The Effects of Quarantine On High School Relationships

Kristy Nguyen, Staff Writer

Ever since the Washington state government initiated lockdown back in March, it has been more difficult than ever to connect with others. For many, this period of isolation has had a negative effect on all aspects of life. As someone who was subjected to loneliness for eight months, I wondered if people in relationships had it any better, or if quarantine has made dating more difficult. After all, Dr. Dara Schwartz, a clinical psychologist states that “feeling lonely correlates with mental health distress, including anxiety and depression.” I thought that couples had it better since they at least had someone to spend time with. However, considering how all my friends are single again, it sparked my curiosity. To understand how quarantine has affected relationships and single people, Issaquah high school students gave their insight on socially distanced dating, and if dating in high school in general has any significance.

In general, relationships in high school have been painted in a negative light, though some of the slander they receive has some truth. In reality, most people can say that their high school relationships did not last. In this data, it reports that only “25 percent of people are marrying their high school sweethearts today compared with those in the 1940s”, and that “today, only 2 percent of marriages are from a high school relationship, with only 25 percent of women saying that they married their first love.” Do not let this discourage you, though. There are many factors to this, such as the fact that people have more options to find their love interest online rather than depending on finding other singles in school. With the technology that allows us to communicate without even being next to each other, it has been a life saver for many relationships. Sophomore Siena Kinsley said that phone calls are essential to distanced relationships. In her case, scheduling phone calls has helped her and her boyfriend, Michael Kaiser, who is also in the same grade and goes to Issaquah High School, stay in touch. These hour-long phone calls also deepened their relationship, as they both got to talk and “experience different levels of emotions from each other” as opposed to in person. This method of communication has even been supported by a Hopkins medicine study.  Intimacy is not dependent on just physical touch, but also needs an emotional bond. While having a balance is ideal, the emotional bond is just as important when it comes to creating a strong foundation. However, this is definitely an experience that could only work with a few select couples that happen to have good dynamics. As for trying to start dating in quarantine, junior Carly Woodfield believed that “if someone met somebody they wanted to date right now, quarantine should not impact that decision.” However, she would only apply this for high school relationships since she also believes that people in middle school are “too young for a mature relationship,” so they should wait. In the end, relationships need to be supported by both partners and Woodfield and Kinsley both agree that good communication is more important than ever.

While relationships in high school do not have a good reputation, dating in high school is a great opportunity to get experience, as it is one of the few spaces for teenagers to mingle with others their age. However, for some people, they simply do not care for dating. In fact, that may be the best attitude to have towards relationships during quarantine. Senior Ethan Lou says relationships can be time consuming and pretty hard on the wallet. Hee also finds being single to be fun because he can spend that time “reading manga, playing games, and spending money” on himself rather than on a “hot gamer girlfriend.” This sentiment was also shared by freshman Siddarth Baasri, although he does not really care about the superficial aspects of relationships. While he does not have much experience in the dating scene, he does not wish to be a part of it either. He enjoys the fact that he “does not need to depend on others or care about what others think about” him. Quarantine has not changed their perspective on dating, which is different from Kinsley and Woodfield’s view on couples. 

Currently, there has been an uprising in COVID-19 cases in Washington. Now that there are more restrictions coming back, couples who were planning on hanging out again may have to wait longer. As quoted from the CDC, “For COVID-19, a close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days).” Knowing that this virus is highly contagious and has detrimental effects, the responsible action would be to stay inside and away from others. However, high schoolers often do not make the best decisions. Recently, there have been kids gathering together in groups to mimic the Homecoming experience that they believe was “stolen” from them. Lou believes that the situation with the high school gatherings basically represents teenagers’ attitude toward the pandemic, stating that “teenagers give the least care about social distancing.” Thus, he believes that if teenagers cannot listen to certified health organizations like the CDC and comply with their state’s social distancing regulations, then they probably should not be dating during quarantine. In both Kinsley and Woodfield’s case, they admit that they do hang out with their boyfriends in person. However. Kinsley tries to be as careful as possible with her partner, such as getting frequent tests, wearing masks, and only hanging around each other so they do not risk infecting others or themselves.

Overall, is dating worth it? From what I could gather, it seems that it is when it is for the right person. Does this change with quarantine, however? Well, that is something for you to decide. It definitely depends on the maturity of both you and your partner, as well as what lengths you are willing to go to commit to the relationship. What is most important is keeping your loved ones safe. A Harvard blog about intimacy states that, it is something that should definitely be thought-out and done responsibly. Dating during quarantine is a unique situation, but coming out of it should be valuable lessons about the responsibilities of dating and what it truly means to love someone unconditionally.