Relationship Advice and How to Date During COVID-19
By Lauren Vizcarra
Would you drive an eight hour round trip every weekend in the name of love?
Katherine Alvarez, junior elementary education major, and Douglas Graham, senior automotive mechanics major, celebrated their one year dating anniversary on February 18, 2021. Alvarez and Graham were friends before they hit it off last year. Their past year has been wonderful together, but not without its challenges due to COVID-19 and Graham’s return to his home in Portland, Oregon during winter quarter. He plans to attend Walla Walla Community College in the spring. 
Alvarez and Graham ran in different friend groups in the beginning. They knew of each other when their groups occasionally met, but ultimately were acquaintances. Then Alvarez left to be a student missionary her sophomore year. When she returned to WWU, she found herself in research writing class. The first day of class, she heard a voice behind her, drawling, “The prodigal child returns!” It was Graham. Alvarez was surprised to find that he remembered her. Both of them were dating other people at the time, but from then on, they became friends. 
Both of them suffered hard break-ups soon after. Alvarez and Graham then started spending more time together as friends, and Alvarez started developing feelings for Graham, who seemed interested. Both were hesitant to jump into another relationship after their past ones had ended so badly. So, they decided that the best thing to do was get an outside perspective. 
Alvarez asked her friends what they thought of Graham and he did likewise with his friends. According to the couple, it is important to get the opinions of people who care about you. They also prayed about it. Neither of them wanted to get into a relationship without asking God what was best for them. 
After both passed the friend inspection and God seemed to give the “OK,” Alvarez and Graham started dating. They attribute the success of their relationship to keeping God central. They are both committed to each other, but most of all to putting God first. They end every day together in prayer. 
Being upfront with your partner is essential, according to Alvarez and Graham. Knowing what you want and making sure your significant other understands is vital. For example, both of them started dating with the intent to marry one day. They both went in with the same mindset and they were upfront with their goals. Boundaries were also set to make sure they were on the same page. The couple says that these are keys to a healthy relationship. 
Specifically making time to hang out is something that they both found to strengthen their relationship. While at WWU, the couple would go to a park every Saturday as well as church. They also found time to get together outside of class. Now that Graham is back in Portland, it has been harder, of course, for them to be together. Graham makes the four hour drive to College Place every weekend in order to spend time with Alvarez. When not physically together, they make sure to chat every day on the phone. 
COVID-19 has made it difficult for WWU students to go on dates or even find someone to date. With groups being restricted to five people and school events only open to a limited number, it’s no wonder searching students haven’t found that special someone. Alvarez has a solution: blind dates. Her friends have had to become creative during the pandemic and have been setting each other up on blind dates. While Alvarez and Graham did not meet on a blind date, they think it’s a great innovative way to date during these unprecedented times. 
Things have worked out well between Alvarez and Graham. They attribute this to God’s timing, the work they put into their relationship, and starting out their journey together on the right foot. Being cautious about dating and asking for outside perspectives before jumping in is always a good idea, says the couple. 
All this being said, Alvarez wants to remind people that “singleness is a gift.” She says that it is equally important to take time to find out what it is that you want from life and a partner, which is best to do while you are single. So much inner growth happens while a person is single, she says. Until you are happy with who you are alone, you won’t be happy with who you are with someone else. Alvarez and Graham advise everyone looking to date to take advantage of being single and to trust God to send them someone in His timing. 
1-10. Interview with Katherine Alvarez and Douglas Graham, 2/19/21.