The coronavirus has brought about a world of new normals and relationships are no different.
Love in the time of corona is difficult no matter who you are or what your relationship status. Whether you’re in a long-term relationship, single, trying to date, or just navigating life with roommates you’re around all the time, the strictures of quarantine can put pressures on even the healthiest of relationships in unexpected ways.
So on April 30, we sat down with Love and Tony McPherson, the partnership behind the nationally-renowned relationship guidance platform, Love Infinity, Inc., to explore strategies for making relationships flourish under any conditions—even quarantine. From open communication to finding intrapersonal peace, here are the top four takeaways from the conversation.
1. “The pandemic doesn’t create new problems—it exposes problems. But it also exposes your strengths.”
Contrary to popular belief, being quarantined with your partner isn’t going to create new fissures in the foundation of your relationship. But it will greatly stress existing ones.
This is the time to take a look at your relationship and talk openly about what works well and what can be changed. The simple advice is: communicate more than you normally would.
In opening up avenues for communication about what can be improved between you and your partner (or roommate or friends), you’ll also reveal what works well in your relationship. This gives you a common point of success from which you can continue your improvements.
2. “We never stopped dating. We never stopped learning about each other.”
It’s easy, especially as you become more and more familiar with someone (even more so if you’ve been together for years—or decades), to believe that you know all that there is to know about them.
But, as Love McPherson pointed out about her relationship, life is too big to ever be fully known—and that includes even your most intimate partner. Her advice: take every opportunity to learn new things about your partner. Ask questions. Use this quarantine as chance to explore areas of your life and your partner’s life that haven’t come up before.
3. “In a pandemic, your biggest problem is not going to be spontaneity—it’s going to be resentment. It will disconnect you.”
Under normal circumstances, it is easy to forgo fixating on the things that bother us about our partners. We have time apart from each other which provides some distance from the behaviors that aggrieve us. But that’s not true when we have to shelter-in-place together.
Addressing irritating and frustrating behavior head-on—instead of letting it fester—will keep you from becoming emotionally distant from your partner.
Perhaps even more importantly is addressing the resentments you bring to the table that are not your partner’s fault. Maybe you lost some work; maybe a big trip you were looking forward to had to be canceled. Being open and upfront about the stressors that bring you into a place of resentment not only helps to alleviate the tension they otherwise bring you, but it also consecrates a bond that keeps you and your partner more intimately connected.
4. “We always focus on interpersonal relationships, but now is a perfect time to focus on INTRApersonal relationships.”
All-in-all, when you’re quarantined with your partner or your roommates, it is easy to become preoccupied with those relationships, with what isn’t working about them and with what you want to change about that dynamic.
But, for both Love and Tony, what has made their relationship flourish over the past 37 years is not merely due to an investment in each other. They attribute their success to a concomitant investment in themselves.
Quarantine provides an excellent opportunity to turn the lens inwards, to focus on points of growth for you. Find time for yourself, make space for alone time, and use this moment to improve your intrapersonal relationship.
In the end, it forms the foundation of what you bring to the table with every other relationship in your life—romantic or otherwise.