Readjusting a relationship around the obstacles of the COVID-19 outbreak


Zach Gilbert

UNO senior Grace Wagner details the dilemmas of dating during a pandemic. Photo courtesy of Grace Wagner.

When Americans were forced to remain inside their homes for weeks on end due to the coronavirus pandemic, many couples were able to quarantine together and keep each other safe – sadly, this was not the case for UNO senior Grace Wagner.

“[Trying to date in a pandemic] has definitely affected me emotionally,” Wagner said. “I am a person who really thrives in making memories and spending time with people I care about.”

Wagner and her boyfriend, Reeve Johnson, had formulated a bucket list months prior comprised of date ideas, upcoming concerts and other assorted adventures they wanted to experience together in 2020. Unfortunately, most of those events didn’t happen due to the pandemic.

“We even planned a trip to Arizona for spring break back in March, which would’ve been our first multi-day out-of-state vacation for just the two of us,” Wagner said.

While the early days were difficult, Wagner notes that both she and Johnson were able to evolve personally in spite of the struggles outside.

“I do think we were able to grow so much both as a couple and individually [during this pandemic],” Wagner said. “We built a lot of resilience.”

Through adjustments and active communication, Wagner and Johnson were able to construct creative ways to see one another while still remaining safe. Most often, the two would hang out at Johnson’s lake house in Valley, away from crowds and civilization, where they could order take-out, have movie nights or take time to catch up.

Nevertheless, there would occasionally be a brief bump in the road.

“I did go through times where I was exposed [to COVID-19] through work and had to quarantine,” Wagner said. “That was definitely difficult, especially since quality time is a valued love language for us.”

Regardless, as a team, Wagner and Johnson were able to take almost anything that the pandemic could throw at them. These months of astute accommodations and scheduling shifts eventually led to a happy ending seemingly from a fairytale.

On the night of Oct. 19, Johnson had planned a fall photoshoot at his lake house for himself and Wagner. Although Wagner knew of the photography that would take place, she was unaware that Johnson had planned a proposal as well.

“We had been on the same page about getting engaged this year, I just had no idea exactly when or how the proposal would take place,” Wagner said. “He proposed to me near a cute cement bench [by the lake] with the best view of the lake and fall foliage in the background. It was perfect.”

Later, the two returned to the lake house, where Wagner was surprised with an engagement party with some of her closest friends and family.

Though there have been ups and downs throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, Wagner is blessed to be where she is today with Johnson.

“I think both of us are more excited and hopeful than ever since getting engaged,” Wagner said. “We’ve started looking ahead into the future with wedding planning, and we are optimistic a vaccine will be made public by then, and life will transition back to ‘making memories’ without the health threats or physical limitations. No matter what, we are ready to spend the rest of our lives together and celebrate that day when it comes.”