I’m a “pandemic girlfriend.” Like my fellow unlucky-in-love 2020 daters, I didn’t ask to fall for someone as our world devolved into absolute chaos. But as quickly as COVID-19 ravished the world, I fell—and soon discovered that the media has done daters dirty with its reports of couples who spread the virus because they just can’t stay away.
But we’re not all “quarantine baes” looking to “hit it and quit it” without any regard for public safety. Dating during a global pandemic fosters lasting intimacy that transcends the physical. As ordinary people finding love amid extraordinary circumstances, we all forge connections in any way we safely can—loving late-night messages, video chats that linger until we reluctantly say goodbye, date night plans that keep us six feet away from each other. And as we discover creative ways to keep the spark alive without endangering anyone, we draw ourselves closer to our partners in an enduring way we never imagined possible.
We’re not all serial daters craving someone to assuage our quarantine loneliness. Many of our relationships far preceded the coronavirus, forcing us to adapt to an apocalyptic new normal as the world changed without warning. And some of us simply happened to meet a special someone weeks or even days before life as we knew it crumbled. No sooner did we delete our Tinder accounts and declare ourselves “cuffed” did our relationships face the ultimate threat, a pervasive virus that threatened to separate us from our new flames. But throughout the drastic changes around us, we’ve remained faithful but independent, loving our partners fiercely without relying on them to fulfill our every emotional need.
We’re not all senseless and impulsive in our timing. We trust that we met our partners now for unknown, powerful reasons and take our love day by day in tandem with the world’s fickle climate. Although we dream of futures with our partners and mourn pre-COVID-19 plans that can’t yet come to fruition, we remain hopeful that someday, the stars will align for the romantic dates, couples’ vacations, and family introductions that aren’t yet safe. But for now, we respect the timing of our love, holding off on the dreams that the virus has rendered impractical and loving each other in simpler, more beautiful ways.
As the media rapidly spreads “pandemic panic” and targets “reckless millennial daters,” it fails to unveil the relentless strength of 2020’s couples—our ability to (safely) love our partners through anything. We’re the couples whose devotion to each other will inspire future generations to find fierce, lasting love. We’re the couples whose resilience will deepen our connections, forging powerful, lifelong love.