There’s nothing like a hilarious viral video or meme that really hits home. Particularly when you’re on lockdown and desperately in need of reminders that you’re not alone in these struggles of fluctuating between calm introspection and earth-shattering anxiety multiple times throughout the day. Every day. Pining, with face pressed against the window, for something as simple as being able to sip your latte at the coffee shop across the street. Popping in and greeting grandma on your way home from work. As being able to casually toss toilet paper into your cart from, I don’t know, any store. Adjusting to a new normal is more bizarre than any of us could have anticipated and equilibrium will likely not be rearing its head any time soon.
One of the greatest sources of both serenity and stress right now is navigating social distancing either with or without a significant other. There are obvious pros and cons to each and weirdness playing out across the spectrum. I’ve suddenly found myself living with my boyfriend when I otherwise wouldn’t be. It’s weird and happening to folks everywhere deciding how best to be safe and responsible during these turbulent times. Just this morning, a girl friend told me about a gal on lockdown with her Hinge date. Another friend, about how she might murder her husband in his sleep if he leaves another half-filled cup of cold tea lying around the house. We each have our challenges…
Quarantine can—unfortunately—bring out our worst. Those festering wounds buried way deep down in the depths are erupting, unapologetically; manifesting in every which way from nervous breakdowns to quiet resentment to full-blown shouting matches. It’s tragic and painful and frustrating, but it’s the product of years of unconscious c0upling; something we now have the opportunity to change, as we come into this new age of compassion.
If your eyes are on the game, you’re likely realizing that coronavirus is doing so much more than threatening the lives of the elderly and immunocompromised. It’s testing the way we operate and serving as a catalyst for a new way of doing things. The economy doesn’t benefit anyone other than the 1%, air pollution is destroying our health, and climate change threatens our very survival. Habitat destruction, animal agriculture, overfishing, unhealthy work habits, fast fashion, consumerism, and Big Pharma. These are symptoms of a sick society and they’re being called in for questioning. Frankly, it’s about bloody time.
We’re entering an important time of change and we have the opportunity to reassess the pillars holding up our very foundations. Those pillars being the way that we treat ourselves and one another. The way that we process and handle obstacles and hardships. The way that we don’t always prioritize what’s best for our lives and the world at large when we probably should.
Whether you’re married, at home with your partner and children, cohabiting with a relatively new boyfriend you otherwise wouldn’t be sharing space with so soon, isolated many miles away from your SO and missing them terribly, drowning in loneliness following a recent separation or single and ready to mingle but with nowhere to go, there are now opportunities for each of us to be brave and level up.
Conversations need to be had. And not only about how you’re sick of her hair clogging the drain. Rather, conscious discussion from a place of vulnerability and understanding. We must learn to communicate our needs without feeling like they’re too much to ask. Or worse, assuming that our partners are mind readers (don’t worry—I’m totally guilty of it too). It’s never too soon to practice this. Whether you’re texting that guy you met at a bar a few weeks ago but have been unable to meet up with since, or you’ve been married for 5 years and are exhausted with constantly butting heads, there’s no time like the present to practice asking for what you want.
There’s this idea that “needing” something makes us a “needy” person—a word with a strong, negative connotation. But that simply isn’t the case. PSA: we all have needs. Just as you need to put food in your mouth each day, you need certain things from those you are in a relationship with. When those needs go unmet, we can feel hurt, sad, resentful and angry. So I ask you this: with things already so tricky right now, why perpetuate any further feelings of dis-ease? We always have pleasure available to us, it just sometimes takes a bit more work to get there. But surely, it’s the better option to at least strive for harmony in confinement than strike it from your list of options?
If you’re sick to death of your partner and wondering how to turn things around, start with some quiet time journaling or meditating, grounding yourself as best you can. Then, begin writing a list of the behaviors or actions that you’re struggling with right now. Go one step further though—question what it is about each of those that is upsetting you. Is it that you feel taken for granted? Or perhaps suffocated? Maybe neglected? Think about the underlying emotion. Now, write a list of the positive things that he, she or they are doing. It can be really easy to disregard most or all of these when you’re totally consumed with the bad, but make a conscious effort to identify at least one. Now, write a list of what you need, based on what you’ve just identified. Is it a more clearly defined window for solitary time? Is it more intentional time together? Is it more affection?
Few of us do well with harsh criticism, so there are a few ways you can go about having this conversation with each other. Maybe try something like, “Hey, I know things are really difficult right now, but I believe we’re totally capable of making the best of things. I would really like us to understand how we can better be there for each other, so I’ve identified a few areas I’d really like discuss with you and I’d love for you to do the same…”. Start with the praise, then work towards those areas of improvement.
If you’re being forced to quarantine apart under less than ideal circumstances, it’s understandable if you’re feeling sad, lonely and anxious about when you’ll be reunited. Make a conscious effort to communicate as often as possible and not exclusively via text. Tone of voice and body language are crucial in conveying our feelings, so be sure to check in via video chat when you can. In the meantime, remember that this too shall pass and have a think about what you can focus on in the here and now.
Finally, if you’re single and feeling frantic about the potential length of time before your next date, remember that there’s a whole world inside of yourself that you’ll never be done exploring. From delving deeper into your likes and dislikes to making efforts to understand why you are the way you are, to educating yourself, growing and cultivating your other connections; remember that romantic relationships—beautiful as they can be—are only one aspect of a person’s life. How else can you enrich yours right now, instead?
What is your best advice for love in the time of distancing? We’d love to know!
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