Kiss of Venus

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Cooper Baskins

Models: Jacqueline Hudson and Zane Yinger

All relationships need a little kiss of Venus to get them on the go. This past year, COVID-19 has left people wanting deep connections with others, and as spring and vaccines come around, signifying the potential end of this pandemic, many are willing to establish those relationships as soon as possible. Maintaining relationships that are both romantic and platonic all matter in terms of maintaining a better life both during and after the pandemic.

In terms of romantic relationships, Kaitlyn Saulman, a doctoral intern at the Counseling and Psychological Services at Oregon State University, shared some suggestions for partners connecting during the pandemic and how they can utilize these suggestions to keep their relationships strong.“COVID-19 safety guidelines and recommendations may feel initially limiting to date ideas, but with a little creativity and inspiration from the hobbies you enjoy, partners are still creating meaningful dates. With these guidelines in mind, individuals have come up with creative virtual date ideas such as cooking and eating meals together over video calls, screen sharing movies together, free virtual painting classes and interacting through online gaming.”

Saulman also believes online dating or dating apps can be beneficial when navigating the safety precautions of COVID-19. Virtually, the distance narrows when dates get personal, which seems inevitable as people connect from their homes, and have less to worry about when it comes to dressing up. This goes to show that comfort and communication is key when maintaining a relationship during a pandemic. But when it comes to anything virtual, there is always some sort of technical difficulty. App users who prefer to meet up quickly and go on dates aren’t great at engaging in small talk online. On the other hand, people who do enjoy speaking online are anxious and it’s hard to sustain meaningful conversation. It’s understandable, but frustrating. Although many people will rely on online dating during the pandemic, we all know it’s not the same. Sure, you’re still making conversation with a stranger, but there’s no in-person connection that we are all used to having. Instead, communicating more over the phone and on our screens has given the opportunity for people to sit back and really hear others out.

Dating coach for The League and interviewee of HelloGiggles article “Is it Safe to Date Again? What to Know About ‘FODA,’” Connell Barrett says,”[..] chances are, all those online meetings over the last year made you a better listener, and listening is a dating superpower. That will serve you well on dates because you can give the other person the present of your presence.”

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Writer of “Polyamorous Relationships Under Severe Strain During the Pandemic” from Phys.org, Riki Thompson states that for single people, finding at least one partner has been hard enough during the pandemic. But for those accustomed to juggling multiple relationships, the pandemic has forced them to rethink their expectations for dating altogether. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve heard about families and friends forming “pods” or “bubbles,” limiting maskless interaction to a small, predetermined group to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Psychosexual therapist Lohani Noor explained, “What humans actually crave is connection, be that sexual, loving, emotional, or intellectual. What we are actually seeking in many ways is a reflection of ourselves, a desire to be seen, heard, and held and the desire to do that for another being.”

Models: Jacqueline Hudson and Zane Yinger (Cooper Baskins)

As said by Toronto-based dating expert and matchmaker Shannon Tebb, “Communication is the key in any successful relationship. Although we still recommend virtual dates as a first step to connect with someone new, we know that as we move into summer, people will want to meet in person to see if those sparks are there.”

Regarding platonic relationships, licensed clinical psychologist Holly Ann Schiff states that “the pandemic has surfaced differences in perspectives and created a sense of division in friendships and relationships.” We’re all trying to figure out what works for us and what doesn’t. Having many friends comes second nature, and this pandemic showed the true side of some people, which caused many friendships to end. If there’s one thing that has really come out of this pandemic, it’s this recognition that connection with others is a must-have. It’s not a nice-to-have. It’s a need. It’s very fundamental. That’s something that a lot of people are just recognizing when it goes away on a large scale and recognizing its absence is very critical.

Models: Jacqueline Hudson and Zane Yinger (Cooper Baskins)

In “The Pandemic Has Remade Friendship,” written by Eva Hagberg, she states, friendships involve emotional intimacy, but people have assumed that this intimacy is best mediated in space. The pandemic has released us from the expectation that closeness requires physical proximity. Instead, it offers an opportunity to decouple good relationships from physical intimacy and to open up other ways for friendships to flourish. Those lessons could improve our relationships now, and later. The pandemic has narrowed people’s social circles, but it has also made us more aware of the dynamics of social life and how important these connections are especially when the places people go to are fewer, which has limited the number of people they can see every day.

When dealing with issues during the pandemic, you are not alone. And even though we know everyone is experiencing this pandemic, our emotions often make us feel isolated. Connecting with others is critical to beginning the healing process and reaching out to people can make a difference. Creating meaningful romantic relationships and groups of friends that have a sense of understanding of each other is very crucial to the well-being and outcome of our future. As said by Psychology Today writer Suniya S. Luthar, with the ongoing uncertainties of COVID, now more than ever, we need to be “ahead of the curve” in fostering and maintaining close connections with others. This is the key to maintaining a better life for all when we enter a new world after this pandemic.