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Lifestyle Featured

Relationship Expert Explains the Longterm Effects of Quarantining With Your Significant Other

July 7, 2020

Quarantine and social distancing has done a number on every relationship (romantic or otherwise)—but more than ever, couples who just started dating, or who didn’t necessarily plan on living together just yet have been put to the test.

When lockdown demands first came into play, not only were people quick to cohabitate unexpectedly, but even longtime couples were given their own set of hurdles. Adapting to being with someone literally 24/7 is challenging for anyone, especially depending on the demands of work, allotted living space and individual lifestyle.

More than three months into social distancing and people are reflecting on where their relationship stands. For better or worse, is how you dealt with your partner amid quarantine an indicator of where you stand longterm? We reached out to Dr. Terri Orbuch (aka The Love Doctor®), a professor at Oakland University in Michigan, who explains what the outcome of your quarantine means for your relationship. Keep reading for what she had to say.

(via Unsplash)


skyelyfe: What kind of relationships thrive in quarantine conditions with their partner?
 

Terri Orbuch: There are relationships that were already distressed or not doing well before quarantine. When these distressed relationships are stressed from things outside the relationship—like the coronavirus pandemic, this stress can exacerbate the issues and problems. Also, when distressed relationships are stressed, the stress makes it more difficult to connect with each other, less likely to see the positives in each other and the relationship, and less likely have empathy and understanding for the other partner. However, people who were in relationships that weren’t already distressed—those relationships can survive and even thrive if they do some simple strategies.

SL: What are keys to making these situations work effectively?

TO: A) Share your anxieties, concerns and fears with each other. Whether you’re living together or not, you can share your concerns with each other, because otherwise, the anxieties fester inside of you, and then work on your physical health. Don’t talk about the fears nonstop 24/7, but instead set a specific time to share.

B) Accept that you and your partner may have different reactions to the stress and quarantine. One of you may watch the news all the time, the other partner may not. These differences in how you handle or react to the situation don’t mean that your relationship is in trouble or should end. These differences are common to all romantic relationships.

C) Find fun activities to do together. These are very challenging times, but couples who do fun things together are more likely to thrive. Take a virtual cooking class online together, start a puzzle together, play board games, do an exercise class together online. Or if you’re not living together, make regular virtual dates where you do something you both enjoy together (e.g., take a virtual tour of the local zoo, play Pictionary, watch a movie “together” on Netflix.

D) Give each other space. It’s important in any romantic relationship that each of you have time, space and privacy from one another, particularly now. Don’t say “I need space” because it sends confusing signals. Instead: “I need some time to do X this afternoon”. Enjoy your space and don’t feel guilty.

(via Unsplash)

SL: What does it mean if you and someone you truly love aren’t cohabitating effectively amid quarantine? 


TO: It’s challenging to live with your partner 24/7 amidst quarantine. Most couples have never spent this much time together, just the two of you, with no other distractions or people. This is a very different time. It takes great patience, understanding, empathy and understanding that relationship challenges are inevitable, no matter how much you truly love each other! Remember to share, accept, find fun activities to do together, and give each other space.

SL: What are some ways to take a break from your partner amid quarantine if you’re cohabitating? 

TO: You can walk outside separately. You can read a book in your room or on a couch. You can listen to a podcast, watch a movie, exercise, do an online course, or FaceTime with your friend—separately. It’s okay to take a break from each other, even if you’re living [in a small space].

Lifestyle

I Started Dating My Boyfriend a Month Before Coronavirus—Here’s How We’re Dealing

April 1, 2020

In the wise words of Avril Lavigne, “He was a boy. She was a girl. Can I make it anymore obvious?”

And that about sums up the story of my boyfriend and me.

Prior to being a couple, we’d been friends for years. We met at a concert way back in 2012/2013, which should not come as a shock to those of you that know me. What’s even less shocking is he was in a band at the time.

We kept in touch here and there. But it wasn’t until 2017 we became really good friends. We texted regularly and I’d go to his shows as often as possible.

There was a point in 2019 when I could sense he had deeper feelings for me, though I was very scared of this being anything more than what it was. I have a terrible track record when it comes to dating. In fact, he’s my first “official” boyfriend, so there’s that. Still, I always wondered, “What if?”

Then 2020 rolled around and we started hanging out constantly, so much so that I knew I couldn’t be just friends with him. In late January, we finally kissed and the rest is history.

silhouette of man and woman about to kiss on beach during sunset
via Unsplash

I know that was a lot of lead-up, but it had to be done. I’m trying to paint a full picture here, alright?

Anyway, back to my relationship. Things have been going really well. In February, I was gone for two weeks on a solo trip through New Zealand (yes, it was magical), and we stayed in touch every single day. He even drove me to and from the airport. That might not seem like a big deal, but I have been with many guys who wouldn’t drive over to my house to hook-up, because they were too lazy. So yes, my boyfriend’s a gem.

Those two weeks away were really tough. Even though I was having the time of my life exploring the north island of New Zealand, I missed him so much. I don’t think it helped that we had finally expressed our feelings, only to have me jet set across the world a week after the fact.

Once I returned, we were pretty much inseparable. We hung out as often as possible, texted, and chatted on the phone whenever we could. So when the coronavirus really started to make its way around the states, we had to decide the safest social-distancing measures for our new relationship.

At first, I stayed with him at his place, as to prevent my anxious thoughts surrounding the pandemic from spiraling, and to also be with him. But, some members of his household were still working, as they were deemed essential. This is when we made the difficult decision to physically stay apart until it was safe to see each other once again.

I was the one to initiate the plan, and while he agreed it was for the best, I know he wasn’t happy with it. It’s not that I was either, it’s the safest thing to do right now.

woman on bike reaching for man's hand behind her also on bike
via Unsplash

That was about a week and a half ago, and boy do I miss not seeing him in person regularly. Our time spent apart while I was in New Zealand was nothing compared to this. Obviously, what made those two weeks easier was how far apart we were and a set date on when we would see each other again.

Social-distancing during corona is tough, given we’re not that far from one another and we don’t know when we won’t need to be quarantined anymore. It could be days, weeks, months, years—who knows?

During this time, we’re staying in touch a lot more through technology. I literally just paused writing this for a sec to respond to his text and Instagram DM. We also make it a point to talk on the phone or over FaceTime at least once a day.

Some days are way easier than others. There have been times where either he or I want to ignore this whole quarantine protocol so we can see one other, but we both know that’s not what we need right now. We’re doing our best to fight those urges, so thank goodness technology exists to help with that.

One thing I really find helpful that we do is go on virtual dates. On these virtual dates, we get ready (I’m mainly talking about me, as I’ve been wearing the same sweatpants and sweatshirt combo for over a week now) and enjoy lunch, dinner, or a nice conversation over FaceTime. It honestly is so much fun, though we’ve only done one so far… well, two, if you count… never mind.

Woman on FaceTime with string lights surrounding phone
via Unsplash

I’ve also been making it a point to do cutesy, romantic things here and there. For example, I made him a playlist the other day of songs that reminded me of him or our relationship. Though entirely cheesy, he truly appreciated the gesture.

The rest of my romantic antics have been much simpler, like sending him texts as to why I appreciate him or passing along sweet relationship quotes on Instagram. He’s dong the same, though I still haven’t received my playlist. Babe, if you’re reading this, please send me a collection of songs that remind you of me.

For now, we’re making do with what we have. It helps that I trust him and am very secure in our relationship, which hasn’t been the same with past flings. Still, it’s so tough being separated. I want nothing more than to hold his hand and kiss his cute little face right about now.

What really puts me at ease is knowing where I stand. We’re both pretty open with our feelings and unafraid to share whatever we’re experiencing with one another. Communication is always key in any relationship, but moreso now than ever before.

This has really pushed me out of my comfort zone, especially given all my past relationships have centered around sex, so I never felt entirely comfortable sharing my feelings with the person I was seeing at the time. I do now, which has made a world of difference.

For other new couples out there who are struggling by being separated from the coronavirus, I feel your pain. My advice would be to communicate as openly and honestly. Keep the conversations fun and flirty, but don’t be afraid to have serious talks every now and then, too.

Still plan on having date nights, as long as they’re virtual or you can maintain a six foot distance at all times. Do cute, spontaneous things for one another like sending a spontaneous “I love you” text or Venmoing them some money for groceries. Now’s the time to really get creative with showing your partner how much you care.

man and woman sitting on rock near body of water and mountain during daytime
via Unsplash

Quarantine (hopefully) won’t last forever, but you can start building the foundation now to make sure your relationship does.