Without face-to-face interaction, students cope with long-distance relationships


Photos by Dana Kendrick

Abby Malzewski, News Reporter

Students from the Whitman community have adapted to maintaining social relationships while apart.

The COVID-19 outbreak caused an abrupt end to face-to-face interaction during Whitman’s spring semester, forcing students to adjust to a world where classes and all social interactions are online. In addition, many states have implemented stay-at-home orders, isolating members of the Whitman community from others.

First-year Grace Kim discussed how she’s been able to keep in touch with people in her life. She talked about the importance of making an effort to stay in contact.

“I would say that being understanding and trying to keep those important to you in the loop by giving updates or checking in is the most important part of maintaining relationships right now,” Kim said. 

Mia Carswell, a sophomore sociology major, emphasized that her use of technology has been vital in maintaining relationships during the quarantine.

“With my friends, it’s often late-night group Zoom calls where we play some kind of interactive online game. With my boyfriend, it is good old Facetime,” Carswell said. “Things like playing a game or watching the same movie at the same time make it feel like you are having the experience together and help you cope with not being able to see each other face-to-face.” 

Connie Moore, a sophomore English major, emphasized the importance of utilizing different ways of interacting digitally. She and her friends use lots of different websites to have fun while socially distanced.

“I’ve been using Zoom with friends most nights and playing games like Pictionary, Codenames and Watchtogether online, which has been surprisingly fun and gives us an activity to do,” Moore said. “I like the face-to-face connection coupled with that ability to still do activities. I think it helps maintain some sense of normalcy and feel like you’re connected in more ways than just with a person’s voice.” 

Carswell is not new to the long-distance relationship. Carswell shared what she has learned being in a long-distance relationship, including the positives that come with it. 

“Maintaining relationships during quarantine is nothing new to me because I was gone last semester, as well as having an intensive brain surgery, so my boyfriend and I did long-distance for eight months,” Carswell said. “What I have learned about maintaining a long-distance relationship with a significant other is that you will really learn a lot about each other in the process.”

Moore claimed that staying in constant contact and reaching out can be the most important part of getting through long-distance relationships.

“It’s definitely been hard not seeing my boyfriend or friends in person,” Moore said. “I think it’s easy to get into a slump of isolation when you’re not at school and seeing each other face-to-face, but taking the time to actually reach out and just hear someone’s voice or see them over Facetime makes the physical distance tolerable.”

Kim delved into her role not only with her friends and her partner, but also as an athlete on the swim team at Whitman. She talked about how important it is for the team dynamic to make an effort to interact with each other. Kim described how her coaches have had a large influence on keeping the team in contact.

“My swim team coaches are doing a great job at trying to keep our team in touch,” Kim said.  “They set up Zoom meetings, use Slack or keep us communicating through email.”

Carswell shared some advice for others to keep in mind when maintaining relationships during this time of uncertainty and isolation.

“Long-distance relationships will always be hard, but sometimes they strengthen a relationship as an outcome,” Carswell said. “Long-distance relationships and friendships have the potential to teach you who is really there for you.”

Moore had additional thoughts on maintaining relationships and positivity during this time of isolation.

“We need to talk, we’re social creatures, so giving oneself time to talk to friends every day makes us have something to look forward to and keeps relationships strong and spirits high,” Moore said.