How to deal with quarantining away from your partner

By Maya Khamala

There's a lot of musing, info-sharing and advice floating around out there about quarantining and what effect it may have on romantic relationships—but most of those musings are focused on the couple that is quarantined together. While I’ll be the first to acknowledge the challenges of a lack of me-time, struggles with drawing boundaries in the same space, and just generally keeping it fresh, the flip side of all this is arguably even crazier. Those who don’t live with their partner and are therefore forced to self-isolate or quarantine without them are dealing with major uncertainty about when the hell they might see their partner again and anxiety about how to stay sane till that unspecified day comes. This is heavy shit, and these are hard times, and anyone who denies that is out of touch.

If you’re not cohabiting and therefore separated for the time being, chances are your relationship is on the newer, more cautious, or more independent side (or all of the above). And if you resisted the urge to immediately and spontaneously shack up when things first got sketchy ‘round these parts a few weeks ago (or if such an urge never cropped up), there is likely a good reason for that. Maybe you both knew such a move would kill things, and you want things to live. ‘Cause you like each other. Maybe you even love one another. Love is great. And hell, it's the only thing keeping this old world from crumbling entirely. So regardless of the specifics of your situation, it’s important to keep your love alive throughout this perilous time—across the boundaries of space. 

Separation anxiety much?

Whether your relationship is new or longterm, know that any anxiety or loneliness you may be feeling right now is totally justified. So whatever it is you're feeling, don't beat yourself up! Particularly for those of us who tend to feel insecurity, anxiety and fear of abandonment even in the best of times, stress levels can seem insurmountable in this time of isolation. Know that they're not. It’s hard, but you got this. 

Tips on how not to let pandemic-induced separation anxiety ruin your relationship, you ask?

1. Strengthen communication.

For starters, try not to succumb to blaming your partner for anything to do with being apart. You’re in this ish together. Particularly if you're not used to doing so, try talking openly about your feelings and concerns. Even if you’re used to feeling like being too honest might push your partner away, it can actually bring you closer together over time. And really, we all deserve someone we can be real with—for real. Make plans with your SO to text, call, or video chat at scheduled intervals (talk to each other about what sorts of interaction would feel best, and how often). It’s not dorky to plan things. Be clear about your availability and your desire and at least some of the tension and uncertainty will melt away. 

2. Harness this present moment.

Ok, this might very well sound corny, but this may very well be necessary to your (nay, our) morale and therefore our survival at this time. Since you’re not as in control of when and how you might see each other as you once were, you need to be more present when you do interact. This means approaching your relationship with tenderness and curiosity, and savoring every interaction for what it is. If anything, these remarkably difficult circumstances might just strengthen your bond by forcing you to give each other 100% of your attention and energy when you do interact.

3. Make the most of that modern technology, baby

We’ve got communications technology in spades, don’t we? You might choose to have phone or video dates in order to have light conversations, profound talks, steamy cyber sex dates, or meals/movies together in separate homes, etc. You might even choose to video chat without chatting: I’m talking eye contact, synchronized breathing, or just having them in the room with you, even if you’re not talking and both going about different tasks. Hell, even if you’re sleeping on camera—I say why not? There’s a special romance to this challenge, so embrace it. And, of course, if you’re down, do experiment with sexting, phone sex, or video sexing (i.e. show your partner your new sex toy, hint, hint). If you’ve never done this before and can’t say it calls you (but find yourself a tad curious), you may still want to consider giving it a try. Desperate times, after all! Best case: the spice is oh-so-right and your time apart becomes extended foreplay. 

Here's the bottom line

Sex and romance might be the last thing on your mind during this unprecedented period of history, or it might be extra present now, reminding you of all your past failings and missteps. But to beat this thing, we need to keep our spirits up and cultivate togetherness, even in isolation. Even if you feel isolated from your partner (and the world at large), remember that you’ve never been so not alone as you are right now. Whether you’re single, newly dating, or in a serious long-term love, there are ways to make this time work for you. So regardless of your pandemic living arrangements, be sure to make time to be together and make time to be apart (together), and if the person on the other end of this is truly for you, you’re gonna both come out of this stronger than you were before—together. 

One love. 

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