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Connection in Quarantine: Adolescent Romance Rolls On

February 12, 2021

Filed in: Health & Wellbeing | Peers

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is in the air. It comes in many shapes and sizes, with the ability to find it within our friendships, family, our favorite on-screen couples, and most importantly, within ourselves. While pursuing a romantic relationship can at times feel like the least of our worries, the thrilling feelings of having your first crush, finding somebody attractive, discovering the bliss of self pleasure, and more are all really critical learning moments that young people need to have as we figure out who we are and how to build successful relationships.

In our recent Love In Adolescence webinar, we discussed the fact that we have to be flexible especially when it comes to sexuality and romantic relationships because it is a journey. Dr. Ahna Suleiman talked about how these things are messy, and they are complex, and how that is an important thing for us to be honest about. As we continuously adjust to life in a pandemic, the dating scene as we once knew it becomes just that—more messy and much more complex. The chances of meeting new people can be complicated when it feels like the safest place you can be is by yourself, relying on your technological devices for connection while simultaneously inviting internet connection issues, awkward interruptions via Zoom, and more.

This landscape of life in a pandemic filled with lockdowns and quarantine protocols raises the question: without touch, how do we connect with one another? Well, with safety as a priority, adolescents are finding new approaches to connection, intimacy, and all things love. For older adolescents, such as college students, what once was a dinner date at your favorite restaurant may now look like a FaceTime date where you order each other some delicious food and stay on the phone all night. For young people of all ages, camaraderie with others may look like a birthday celebration (or any coordinated event) where you drive past someone’s house and wave hello from your car, or a virtual game night where everybody can play from their phone. Because I spend most of my time talking to people on the phone nowadays, I have spent a lot of time using my imagination to come up with fun virtual activities for myself and my friends to partake in, as well as using this opportunity to really enhance my communication skills in order to continuously convey authenticity, honesty, and softness even if it’s just via a screen.

Additionally, many adolescents over 18 are using dating apps as a way to get to know people from the comfort of their home. Popular ones such as Tinder and Bumble have noticed a surge of popularity throughout this pandemic, announcing that the percentage of messages sent on their platforms have both increased significantly. To compete with its increased usage, such apps are working to enhance their in-video capabilities in order to meet the needs of those looking for relationships (of all kinds) while in lockdown.

Towards the end of the webinar, Dr. Suleiman concluded with this point: love can be so many things, and it is something that we are all seeking. With technology at what seems to be the center of the dating scene, many adolescents are ultimately finding new avenues by which to pursue connection, intimacy and romance with those that they care about in ways that keep themselves and those around them as safe as possible.

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