Without A Partner Is the new WAP of Quarantine
Like most other incoming college freshmen right now, you’re probably getting ready to do one of two things this coming year: hunker down in your childhood bedroom for a quarter of virtual classes or move into an apartment or dorm because you tragically signed a lease before schools abruptly switched to remote instruction. In both scenarios, the obvious key to a successful first year of college, coronavirus or not, is to get rid of that love-sucking leech of a significant other.
That’s right, dump your partner.
Relationships look very different right now. With a growing number of states pushing back plans to reopen or reimposing restrictions, couples are having to find new and creative ways to spend socially distanced time together. Going from seeing your significant other every day at lunch to not at all isn’t easy, but it also isn’t an excuse to endanger your life or the lives of others. Whether it’s through Zoom dates or masked picnics six feet apart from each other, the dating scene has drastically changed.
This is not to say that coronavirus has made dating impossible, but is this new level of commitment and effort worth it to preserve an already doomed relationship?
A staple of the freshman year experience for couples across the United States is the big turkey drop. After high school sweethearts give long distance the good college try, someone typically gets dumped when Thanksgiving rolls around and everyone heads home for the holidays. Inevitably, high school lovers break up before either partner takes their first college final.
However, with many college freshmen staying in their hometowns amidst the pandemic, the turkey drop now seems obsolete. But don’t be fooled. The dreaded drop has not been canceled, just postponed.
Sure, right now you may feel invincible, like nothing in the world could possibly extinguish your brightly burning teenage passion, but what happens when you go back to school? Colleges will eventually reopen and, as you finally move into dorms filled with hundreds of your horny peers, breaking up will be unavoidable.
Even if you don’t take my word for it — the cold, hard numbers don’t lie. Data journalist David McCandless observed that there is a spike in breakups conveniently about two weeks before Christmas when examining Facebook relationship status data. So not only is the turkey drop a mainstay of the college rumor mill, but it’s also backed up by some pretty serious data.
While the dreaded dumping may not be a threat this year, it is guaranteed to resurface whenever it is safe enough for couples to go back to college in person. Ultimately, you may as well save yourself the heartbreak, tedious arguments and the overall effort of staying together for another year before the inevitable “it’s not you, it’s me.”
In a time of virtual classes, breaking up with your high school partner can also be an important first step in asserting some desperately hard to come by independence. With Zoom University sorely lacking a majority of the aspects of normal college life, it is vital to mark this time as an important transition in your life.
Put simply, you are going to feel like you’re still in high school if you’re still dating your high school sweetheart. There is no way you’ll feel like a college freshman if you’re dating the person who you hung out with during passing period and who walked you to the gym every day. And if the extent of your college experience this year is going to be logging onto Zoom lectures, being single will at least make sure you can virtually flirt with the cute kids in your classes.
It’s time to determine whether the boy who helped you with a worksheet in AP Biology or the girl who did all of your work for a group project in 10th grade is in it for the long haul, or just deadweight. If it’s the latter, don’t be the asshole who strings them along for another year.
In the spirit of wholeheartedly embracing breaking hearts this quarantine, here are some of my favorite, socially distant ways to dump your high school sweetheart.
If you’re feeling non-confrontational, might I suggest breakup by carrier pigeon or message in a bottle? Perhaps you can get some excellent job application practice and write them a cover letter, or just keep it to what they already know by styling it as a college rejection letter. If you feel like really embracing the spirit of virtual learning, some other options include breaking up over Zoom chat, ambushing a supposed Zoom date with a “Why we should break up” PowerPoint presentation or just leaving them in the Zoom waiting room and hoping they get the message.
If all else fails, one major pandemic perk is that you can always pretend to have the coronavirus and ghost them.
Emily Kocis really hopes you don’t take her breakup methods seriously.
Is This the Death of the Turkey Drop?
It’s a tale as old as time: Two high school sweethearts graduate and move to college across the country from one another. Though they care for and love one another, communication through the phone is hard, and as school begins, feelings of jealousy and isolation start to creep in. Both partners are making new friends, having different experiences — maybe flirting with a new classmate — and ultimately start to grow apart. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, it’s time to see each other one last time in person before ending the relationship.
But, as with all things, 2020 has left its mark on relationships and has left couples wondering whether the pandemic has temporarily brought an end to this Thanksgiving trope.
Now, with many colleges conducting their classes online, many students are choosing to stay at home with their folks. With your S.O. staying in the same city as you, many incoming freshmen might choose to stay with their partners. And to them, I say hurrah! In the words of the love god Al Green, “Let’s Stay Together.”
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, “pandemics can be stressful,” which is the nice way of saying that being confined within the same four walls with nothing to do besides endlessly scrolling through TikTok can absolutely wreck your mental health. Whether you were previously struggling with your mental health or not, months of social isolation and uncertainty have undoubtedly taken their toll on your mental state. In fact, a CDC survey showed that young people are reporting increasing levels of anxiety and depression as a result of COVID-19.
Therefore, having a strong support system has never been more essential to your well-being. Studies have long noted the positive impact that healthy relationships can have on mental health. Your significant other can be a necessary person to vent to, a shoulder to cry on or a crucial distraction from the craziness that is ensuing.
Not to mention that breakups fucking suck and can be extremely detrimental to your mental health. A global pandemic is certainly not the time to be going through it.
Besides these great reasons to stay simping, here’s another one: If you don’t want to break up with your partner, don’t! Just because society dictates that it’s the smart, logical thing to do doesn’t mean that it’s what’s best for you. And while the argument usually goes that you should be out experiencing college and not hung up on some long-distanced high school S.O., trusty coronavirus has swept these excuses away for you (goodie!). If you are happy with your current chosen person there’s no good reason to rush into breaking up.
If all these good reasons haven’t convinced you yet, then I have one final thing to point out: Who else is there to have sex with (following the NYC Health Department guidelines of course) during the many months of quarantine that are yet to come?
Melanie Ziment has had too much time to ponder the question: If you aren’t boinking to Al Green, does it even count?
A version of this article appeared on p.16 of the August 27, 2020 print edition of the Daily Nexus.