Valentine’s Day 2021
Love in the time of Covid-19
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Key Stage 4/5
To encourage us to consider creative ways to enhance romantic relationships in strange times.
Preparation and materials
- Optional: you may wish to familiarize yourself with the newspaper article ‘Happy ending for “Romeo and Juliet of lockdown”’, which is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y67qf27p
- The Nobel-Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez wrote a novel called Love in the Time of Cholera. Some of you may have read it or seen the film.
If any of the students have read the novel or seen the film, encourage them to give a brief summary. The key fact is that one of the main characters is involved in eradicating cholera from the population.
- This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Valentine’s Day is likely to be rather different for some of us. Maybe someone should consider writing a book called Love in the Time of Covid-19!
- For some of us, maintaining or starting a relationship has been difficult in the past few months. For much of the time, we’ve not been allowed to visit other households indoors. We have been allowed to meet outdoors, but only if we remain physically distanced, which is less than ideal if we’re meeting up with our boyfriend or girlfriend.
We could choose to completely ignore the guidance - even break the rules - but, of course, there’s a risk involved in this, particularly to those whom we care about the most. Close contact puts us at a higher risk of contracting and therefore passing on the virus. Just because we don’t display symptoms doesn’t mean we don’t carry the virus, and none of us wants to pass the virus onto someone more vulnerable.
- So, what can we do to maintain existing relationships or explore new ones in these strange and difficult times?
- The existing depth of our relationship is a good starting point. Strong relationships are built on good communication, mutual respect, trust and honesty. It’s important to talk honestly with one another about these qualities.
- Communication usually starts with words. Spoken words are easy to say, but are also easily forgotten. Written words, however, require more thought, time and effort. They also mean a lot to those who are on the receiving end. Somehow, handwritten words are more personal. Maybe we could start writing cards, or even letters. The more effort it takes, the more valuable and sincere it can appear.
- Video chat is the most likely means of communication for most of us. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other platforms have been used a lot in recent months. These may not appear to be the most romantic venues, but we can be creative by dressing thoughtfully or providing an attractive or meaningful background for the conversation. If we can’t meet in person, we can create a virtual date night, eating at the same time as we watch a movie together, for example.
- Of course, we must remember the importance of being careful online and abide by the rules of safe dating. We should never reveal our last name, email address, home address or phone number to someone we don’t know. Let’s be creative, but also careful.
- For those of us who want to explore new relationships, we can take heart from a story that hit the headlines about the ‘Romeo and Juliet of lockdown’. Did you hear about it? An Italian couple fell in love after spotting each other from their respective balconies during a community balcony concert in Verona. They finally met in person when the lockdown restrictions lifted, and are now planning their wedding. So, it seems that relationships can still begin and work out even in these strange times!
- Of course, we might not be in a romantic relationship at all. If that’s the case, this year could be a great time just to enjoy hanging out together with our group of friends.
Time for reflection
The past year has been very different from what we all expected. Valentine’s Day is a good time to stop and think about the people we care for, and what we can do to show our love and care for them.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Have a happy Valentine’s Day!
‘Love is all around’ by Wet Wet Wet, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3gEkwhdXUE (4.14 minutes long)