Opinion | You’ll survive your COVID breakup

By Genna Edwards, Senior Staff Columist

A long-term relationship of mine ended right before Christmas. It seemed like yet again the powers that be were out to end me — first a pandemic, exacerbated by a presidency that’s laid bare the bigotry and violence of this country, and now this: a lost lover, a best friend I’m now not supposed to text for at least a month given the “no contact” period.

For the first week post-breakup I sobbed for a minimum of an hour a day and annoyed the heck out of the FBI agent in charge of watching my search history. Typing “how to survive a Covid breakup” into Google yielded few results that were actually helpful. While it’s comforting to know that so many people are going through the same interpersonal changes right now, the internet doesn’t have much to offer besides the usual “make sure you’re getting your vitamins and going on your sad daily stroll down the driveway.”

If you’re in a similar position as I now find myself in, or if you think you may be soon — you’re going to be fine. Breakups right now are hitting harder for many super obvious reasons — you may have had to have the breakup over the phone, you can’t go sob into the arms of each individual human you’ve been friends with over your lifetime and then there’s the fact that given you’re now broken up during a pandemic, you have to keep quite literal distance from your ex. And — unfortunately — everyone else, too.

Usually after a breakup you’d find me keg-standing and then falling asleep in Schenley Park, waking up with deer poop in my hair. But now, guess what? You can’t party. You can’t rebound with that artsy girl who definitely would destroy your life. You can’t throw yourself around with abandon, because we’re still in a pandemic.

The loneliness, especially those first few weeks, is going to feel terrible. Lean into those feelings. It’s difficult to overcome any form of grieving a lost relationship, especially during a time when it can seem we have fewer and fewer relationships than ever before. Unless you allow yourself to cry and molt you’ll never be reborn as a big beautiful butterfly and uh, stuff. Crying is super super important in general, but especially during a grieving process. It releases hormones that relieve stress and just plainly feels really good.

It won’t feel as comforting as receiving real hugs from the real physical bodies of your friends, but reaching out to anyone you can will at least remind you that you’re not alone. Everyone’s feeling the weight of multiple quarantines and isolation. Everyone’s looking for connection.

According to a study conducted by SocialProNow, after stay-at-home orders were instated, about a third of American adults reported feeling lonelier than usual. I can say from experience — if you haven’t reached out to a friend in a while due to, well, life, remember you can reach out to them anytime. Like now. Right now! You’re not going to annoy them.

I think paradoxically, if anything, breaking up with someone during a pandemic really puts your entire being into question. Think about the ridiculousness of the world around us, the chaos in the headlines we wake up to every day while trying to get through a pandemic with poor government help. There’s more to this human existence than placing your value on the romantic relationships you keep, or don’t keep — we’re here to keep each other alive and we’re here to love. We’re here to make living easier for those around us.

Ultimately, if any of you lovely humans reading this would care to know, my breakup went super well. It was the most mature, adult conversation I’ve ever had with someone that I loved, and who was my best friend, for years. The fact that that love existed and could end in such a peaceful way for the both of us given the chaos around us felt like testimony to something greater about the human condition. Or what little I know of it at 22. 

People are good. They have to be. The way that I’ve seen Pittsburgh and the country beyond come together during this has to mean something. Amidst the Capitol insurrection, increasingly emboldened neo-Nazis, continued violence against Black people, rising Covid death toll, people are still trying to help each other more than ever.

I unequivocally think that we can all be better to each other and ourselves. We are a social species and this virus proves how much we’ve always all needed each other. Please be kind. To others and to yourself. You will get through this, this pandemic will end and then we can all continue to work at fixing this country we live in. Love will happen again for you. The world may not seem so big and full of kind people right now but it is. It is. I promise.

Genna Edwards writes about media, culture and gender for The Pitt News. Drop her a line at [email protected].