We asked Sheffield students in relationships how on earth they survived lockdown

Just get married now tbh

Little by little, restrictions are being lifted, and the isolation caused by – well, self-isolation, may soon be a distant memory. While quarantining with your partner certainly brings its own list of issues (a 40% increase in divorce inquiries to name just one), separation from the person you want closest is very tough indeed.

When my girlfriend, Emma, and I parted ways after a few days together back in March, neither of us knew it would be the last time we would see each other for three months. This will be a familiar story for many other students who moved back home, and away from their partners, when the virus hit.

Like everyone else in the country, we got our money’s worth out of facetime, and met for walks when the weather allowed – but being told by the gov that you can’t hold your partner’s hand – and that doing so risks the lives of thousands – takes a mental toll.

For Emma and I, this meant a hell of a lot of conversations about food – what we were having for lunch and tea, where we’d go and eat when we could see each other again – mainly because each day the meals we ate were by far the most interesting thing to happen to us, as nothing else was going on.

Maybe I’m naive for looking for something good to come out of a deadly pandemic, but it’s certainly made me value the bonds I have with everyone, especially my girlfriend, a lot more.

I spoke to two Sheffield students who were in the same position I was, to see what their experiences of lockdown were.

Emily Thwaites, 20 – Travel and Tourism Student

“We were apart for seven weeks in the end, and we just facetimed absolutely loads – every day we’d talk about what we’d done, even though usually it was nothing.

“A bit later in the lockdown, I made him some cupcakes and took them round to his house, and we managed a teary conversation on his doorstep after he took them off of me.

“It was really tough. The week before the social bubbles were announced, I cried every day because I missed him so much. No one really talks about how hard it is – my parents aren’t the hugging type, so I missed that physical intimacy so much.

“We’ve been together for five years, so this is the longest I’ve ever had to go without a cuddle! With the lockdown, on the one hand it felt like it was the right thing to do, to keep everyone safe, but as time went on and we knew that neither me nor Harry had it, it sort of felt like the government was keeping us apart for no reason.

“I think it will just make us value our time together even more – we’re going to have a jam-packed summer together to make up for all the time we missed!”

Calum Conner Jones, 20 – Sociology and Criminology student

“We were always on facetime with each other – we watched a show called ‘American Gods’ together, and I signed up for this company that sends you five singles from small bands on vinyl each month, so whenever I got those we’d listen through together.

It was really worrying at first – we hadn’t been together all that long when lockdown was announced, so there was this real sense of ‘are we gonna make it through this together?’, but honestly if anything it’s just made us value each other more, and I think we’re stronger as a couple now.

“In fact, we’d only been apart for about two weeks before lockdown – Hannah lives in Stockport and I was at uni in Sheffield at the time, so nothing could have prepared us for this.”

There’s nothing like having something forcibly removed from your life to teach you its true value – if you’ve been in a relationship a long time, it’s easy to take the little things for granted. If anything positive can come from this experience, it’s likely that we will all value our relationships just that little bit more.

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Meet the students who decided to stay put in Sheffield during lockdown

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