At the beginning of the pandemic, the internet was full of memes that basically said relationships were either going to thrive or suffer — there was no in-between — and it was a bit nerve-wracking. But the ways in which this pandemic has altered people’s relationships are far more complex than that. Woman’s Day spoke to some real couples from across the country, to gain a better understanding of how romantic partners are navigating this pandemic together… and, in some instances, apart. And while some couples did indeed struggle, others found a silver lining to hold onto amidst the chaos and uncertainty. Below are their responses… “We got engaged!” The pandemic has been terrifying, and for some, has served as a reminder to go after what you want while you can. This was the case for Ashley Leonard, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She tells Woman’s Day: “My boyfriend (now fiancé) and I got engaged during the pandemic. It made us realize life is way too short to wait for that grandiose proposal, and we very much enjoyed our quarantine together. We are very lucky that it brought us closer together! I cherished that time.” “The pandemic broke us up” “The pandemic broke us up. I was long-distance with my now-ex for four years. Right before COVID, we finally picked out a place to rent together,” North Carolina native Madison tells Woman’s Day. “Then he lost his job. The stress, uncertainty, and distance were just too much.” It’s a story that a lot of other long-distance couples are likely familiar with. “It has made our relationship stronger.” “It has provided an opportunity for my boyfriend and me to delve deeper into our relationship, and because of that, I think it has made our relationship stronger,” Kuryn, from Florida, tells Woman’s Day. “When we both switched to working using a digital platform, we were together 24/7. As a business owner, he got to see the really vulnerable parts of me.” Kuryn and her boyfriend also both ended up contracting COVID-19, which “really worked numbers on our relationship,” she says. “It’s hard when you’re dating because you haven’t made that ‘in sickness and in health’ vow, so battling the sickness together can really determine a lot in a relationship!” Although it was challenging for the couple, they got through it and came out stronger. “This has just solidified our feelings for each other.” Relocating and moving in with your partner for the first time can be a big deal under “normal” circumstances, and the era of COVID-19 is anything but normal. For Melissa Jennings of New York, things ended up working out, though. “My boyfriend and I made a huge move to New York City in January this year (great timing), and moved into our lovely 400 square foot apartment… only to be on lockdown a month later,” she tells Woman’s Day. “You would think our relationship would take a toll, but this has all just solidified our feelings for each other. I couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Moral of the story: this has brought us so much closer. I got to put together super cute tiny apartment date nights!” “The pandemic allowed me to end my relationship.” While some couples got closer together during lockdowns, others realized maybe they weren’t the right fit after all. Emily* of New Jersey tells Woman’s Day that she and her partner broke up because of the pandemic. “The time apart allowed me to really evaluate the relationship, my feelings, and how I was being treated, and I saw more clearly through what I had been blinded by,” she says. While ending things was no doubt really difficult, it ended up being a good thing. “The breakup was definitely sad and it took a toll on me,” she explains. “But looking back now, I’m very grateful I stood up for myself, found my strength during an extremely difficult time, and that things panned out the way they did.” SEE ALSO: COVID-19: Experts Highlight How The Lockdown Order Can Heal Ailing Marriages “It’s been pleasant to spend time together.” Joanna Emmett and her husband, from London, England, got married only a few months before the pandemic hit and they were both working from home together during the lockdown. This has certainly been a wild way to test a newlywed’s dedication to each other, but for these two, it worked out. “Amidst all the horrible sadness in the news, it has been genuinely pleased to get to spend so much time together,” Emmett tells Woman’s Day. “Our relationship is the strongest it has been.” Sarah Cullen, from New York, was pregnant with her third child and working from home as she parented her two other children when the pandemic hit. While her pregnancy presented an entirely new set of challenges, she tells Woman’s Day “our relationship is the strongest it has been.” “Being stuck inside forced us to communicate.” For some, the stress of the pandemic has made it easier for old relationship issues to resurface. This was the case for Harper’s* family, from New York. Harper tells Woman’s Day that after their husband was laid off because of COVID-19, he relapsed into alcoholism. “Quarantine was super hard,” Harper explains. “But both of us being stuck inside forced us to communicate about something that we both may have run away from if the situation was different. We are still working on it, but I think we are stronger because of it.” “We were apart for 94 days.” Chelsea and Vinny, from New York, were forced to spend 94 days apart after just dating for five months, due to Chelsea’s predisposed condition that made her high-risk. “We got even closer than we were before,” Chelsea tells Woman’s Day. “We made it a point to talk on the phone or FaceTime, watch a movie or series, and have a snack every single night we were apart. During this time, we decided we’re ready to buy a home together, get engaged by the end of the year, and get married by the end of next year. Being apart was difficult, but knowing I had someone who loved me enough to wait for me during that time made it so much easier to get through.” SEE ALSO: Nigerian Couples Who Got Married During The Lockdown Share Unforgettable Memories Of Their Digital Weddings “We had to plan a Zoom wedding… and we got COVID.” For Lisa Marie Dausilio, from Florida, the pandemic has been a true whirlwind. Dausilio tells Woman’s Day that she and her boyfriend decided to plan a Zoom wedding while he was still deployed. The two had talked about getting married before but pushed up the wedding due to their circumstances. After he returned from his deployment, the two quarantined together… only to both contract COVID. “We recovered literally days before our wedding, got married, and now we’ve been adjusting to changing work schedules and weekly routines,” Dausilio says. “We loved the time in the beginning, but other days it’s a challenge with balancing work and home.” The two plan on having a bigger wedding ceremony when the crisis eventually passes.