Bachelor's Chris Harrison Says Coronavirus Isolation Has 'Tested' His Romance with Lauren Zima
The couple is practicing social-distancing together in Los Angeles
They recently opened up to PEOPLE about how self-isolating in Los Angeles amid the coronavirus has intensified their bond.
“I think it’s helped bring us closer together,” Harrison said. “I think it’s helped us love each other more, respect and I think, appreciate the little things in each other a lot more because there is no getting away or just running away from this. We’re stuck. We’re in.”
Harrison, 48, and Zima, 32, have been dating since 2018, and the couple has used the time at home to launch a joint project, a nightly Instagram series called Group Date.
The pair wanted to provide fans with a reason to stay inside every night.
“[We] haven’t seen any of our friends and we just wanted to give people something fun to do at night, if they were going to stay home, which we wanted them to do,” Zima said. “We all need a sense of community right now. We all need something to look forward to and so, we wanted to give people that and then at the same time raise money.”
Famously private Harrison admitted it was a major change to put his relationship on public display every night on social media.
“That’s a happy medium and another gray area we’ve been trying to find,” he said. “I am intensely private and don’t live out loud despite what I do for a living. Lauren is much more the type of person that lives out loud. So she is trying to teach me, and I’m trying to meet halfway in the middle.”
Harrison revealed all the quality time isn’t always easy on their relationship but has made them learn a lot about each other.
“I said, there’s going to be a lot of corona babies and there’s going to be a lot of corona breakups as soon as this is over because it will test your relationship, and it’s tested ours, but in a good way,” Harrison said. “It’s helped us communicate. It’s helped us sit down and talk, and it’s helped us kind of see each other get frustrated at times.”
“I think we’ve just both tried to have a little bit of extra grace with each other,” Zima added. “Chris is really, really good at keeping me grounded. I’m probably a little more emotional. He has great perspective. He’s very calming. So, all of the things that I loved in him before, I think I’m just seeing more and appreciating even more now.”
They are also excited to use the show as an opportunity to give back, donating to a different charity with each episode. Harrison and Zima are also currently donating proceeds from their respective Cameo accounts.
“We’re trying to tie it into the guests that we have that night,” Harrison said.
“We all need something to look forward to and so, we wanted to give people that and then at the same time raise money,” Zima added. “So every single day, we’ve been making donations to different charities that can help fight everything that’s going on because of coronavirus.”
Harrison said he is eager to get back to production on Season 16 of The Bachelorette — but is getting used to helping Zima with her work, in the meantime.
“Right now, I would be a few weeks into filming The Bachelorette, and we would be on the phone probably, at night, complaining to each other how we’re not getting to spend enough time together and we miss each other,” Harrison said. “And now, be careful what you wish for because we are together 24/7. So, my life has changed dramatically. My kids are homeschooling now and taking online classes in high school. So they’re here nonstop and we’re here and I’m not working. I mean, I’m talking to producers and I’m talking to production. But other than that, I’m not shooting anything other than this little fun live show every night.”
“Entertainment Tonight, we’re still filming,” Zima said. “Each correspondent and host is doing it individually from home, so it’s been new challenges at work where I’m trying to figure out how to set up a shot and film myself. So actually Chris Harrison has been quite busy as a cameraman, a lighting guy. He’s taken on a lot of new roles in all this.”
“I’ve found in this pandemic that my lighting skills are pretty solid,” Harrison joked.
Group Date can be found nightly at 9:30 p.m. ET on Harrison’s Instagram page.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.