Virtual love: dating in Uganda during times of COVID

Life before COVID-19 feels like a million years ago. The pandemic has impacted every aspect of our day to day lives – even romance. Before the pandemic came into full force, dating involved catching a movie and dinner and maybe going on to a bar or club to dance and drink the night away.

But now with fresh lockdowns and curfews in place, young Ugandans are seeing their romantic dates and relationships moving increasingly online and long distance. Some couples stayed strong under the new conditions, others have struggled. Innovate Uganda reached out to a few of them to find how they were coping.

For University Student, Muwonge Emmanuel, 23, his relationship with Nansubuga Leilah, 22, has been largely unaffected thanks to social media and his smartphone, through which he communicates with his girlfriend daily.

“Maybe I had more time with her, some time off the busy school schedule. I have learnt more about her childhood, and it was important information I did not know. I have bonded with her more,” he says.

However, it can be trickier to express adequate compassion for X when she needs as it is harder to read and feel her mood through the medium of just voice and text.

“I constantly communicate, I make sure I hear from her on a daily so that no issue gets blown through the roof, that is…we talk about every issue as it comes,” he shared.

For Andrew Mugwanya 26, his relationship with Bella Aguti 24, has faced some challenges to be overcome, owing to the difference in his and his girlfriend’s schedules.

“It is about compromising, you bend some of your rules so that it fits within the needs of the two of you. Agree at a certain time to communicate, say evening, early in the morning or deep in the night,” he added.

On other hand, Joan, who spoke to us under a pseudonym, has no kind words about  the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming it has ruined her relationship.

“Before lockdown, we could meet every weekend unlike now due to transport issues and yet the more times you meet, the more you get to know each other in terms of character,” she says.

She adds that she misses what she called good moments she always had when with her boyfriend which have now turned into memories.

“To us with strict parents, it is now too hard for us to lie so that we can leave home unlike before lockdown at least we could lie that we are going to town yet we are going to visit our loved ones. To hell with the lockdown!”

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