Document Type



Audrey Zakriski

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This paper is restricted to users on the Connecticut College campus.


The present study aimed to explore the impact of COVID-19 on intimate relationships among undergraduate seniors in the 2023 graduating class. Members of the class of 2023 experienced an abrupt shift in the context of their intimate relationship development when Connecticut College sent the vast majority of students home in March of 2020 (the spring semester of their first year of college) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To assess the impacts of this and later stages of the pandemic on intimate relationship development, in-depth interviews were conducted with all participants. They discussed a timeline of their experiences with intimate relationships during COVID-19, specific memories addressing intimacy, and personal opinions on relationship development during COVID-19. Seven participants were recruited, but data from only six participants were used due to incomplete responses from one participant. Thematic analysis was employed to analyze the data and identify six key themes: (1) A Lockdown on Intimacy; (2) Re-Engaging: Is it Worth It?; (3) Navigating intimacy in the Context of Uncertainty; (4) Relationship Trauma and Despair; (5) Starving for Human Connection; and (6) Personal Growth and Relationship Clarity. The findings suggest that the pandemic has significantly affected the nature and quality of intimate relationships among college students and created numerous developmental challenges to autonomy, agency, and intimacy. These findings further suggest positive outcomes from working through these challenges as the working through led individuals to thoughtfully reflect on their own relationship needs, patterns, and traumas and develop clarity in their intimate relationship goals for the future.

Available for download on Monday, May 22, 2023



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.