Love in the Time of Covid: Ben Morss and Caraline McDonnell


Seniors Ben Morss and Caraline McDonnell met during the fall semester of their first year in Curtis Hall. After building a friendship in their first months of college, they began dating the following January. Now seniors, the couple’s nearly three-year relationship has seen summers spent on opposite corners of the country, a semester abroad and, now, restrictions on campus brought on by the pandemic.   

“We do long distance a lot,” McDonnell said, explaining how the time difference has been one of the hardest parts for her when she and Morss are not living together at Colgate.

With Morss from California and McDonnell from New York, the couple seems to have established a strong strategy for dealing with distance.

Though daunting, the quarantine restrictions on campus proved to be better than expected for McDonnell.

“[It was] easier than I initially thought, because we had outdoor time and could see each other in person,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell said they also found creative ways to connect virtually during quarantine.

“We used Netflix Party to watch movies together, played online games like Pictionary and Catan and FaceTimed a couple times a week,” she said.    

Seeing each other in person during outdoor time was a highlight for both McDonnell and Morss, who went for walks, kicked around a soccer ball or sat on the field and talked often. But as much as he enjoyed this time in person, Morss said dating during Covid-19 is not without difficulties.

“Having to wear a mask around [McDonnell] was hard to get used to at first,” Morss said.    

Now that Colgate has entered Gate 1 and students are permitted to be downtown, Morss said his favorite thing to do with McDonnell is to have socially-distant breakfast dates outside. The couple enjoyed a date at Fojo Bean the first weekend it was permitted and plan to have more in the future. 

The pair seems to be faring quite well despite challenges imposed on their relationship by the pandemic, and both Morss and McDonnell stress the importance of strong communication and FaceTime as integral pieces to their success. 

Morss and McDonnell’s contagious positivity shows in their satisfaction to simply be together, in whatever way they can. The two even snapped photos of each other on an afternoon quarantine date at the athletic fields as a way to commemorate this strange, yet special phase of their relationship. For other couples in similar situations, Morss and McDonnell shared some advice.

“Communicate and have things to look forward to,” McDonnell said. “Even if it’s just a FaceTime or a show you both watch.”

“Be comfortable with silence,” Morss added. “[When] not much new is happening, it’s ok to not be talking all the time.”