Is it just me, or is it terrible how everyone on the internet is joking about they’re going to kill their partner while working from home and being stuck inside together all day every day right now? Maybe it’s supposed to be funny and I have no sense of humor, but if you don’t like being around your partner, then why TF are you dating them? I will concede that all of the stress that comes along with this pandemic can lead to frustration and petty arguments. But try to remember this sh*t is temporary, so don’t let your relationship take a fatal hit while it lasts. Here’s how to not go crazy on or break up with your live-in partner during this quarantine period.
1. Give Each Other Space
“Couples who live together can prevent arguments during quarantine by being mindful of each other’s space and remaining communicative,” says certified dating coach Elsa Moreck. This means that if you’re the type of person who wants to cuddle your S.O. 24/7 right now because it’s comforting for you (like me), they might be down… orrrr they may actually need more space than you. Talk to them and find out how much alone time and affection they want before you cling to them for dear life because you want to. Do your needs for space misalign? NBD—just respect that difference and don’t take it personally, suggests clinical psychologist Angele Close, PhD.
If you’re struggling to find your own space, “having indicators of availability can clarify needs and boundaries, [like] closed door vs. open door times when one is able or willing to be interrupted by the other partner,” she adds. No matter how you do it, go take some time for yourself and let yourselves breathe, whether that’s scrolling through Instagram, going for a drive, working from a different room, or stepping out for a solitary walk. You’ll probably both be happy you did.
2. Keep Open Communication
“We commonly understand that stressors can either bring us closer together or tear us apart,” says Close, but “there are opportunities for people in relationships to nurture deeper closeness and connection if they learn to respond to each other with openness, validation, mindfulness, and compassion, for themselves and their partner.” Did you hear that? Things are crazy right now, yes, but it’s actually the perfect time for us to strengthen our bond with our partners through solid communication. So take this as your prescription to get real about how you feel, regularly check in with your partner, and actually listen to each other when you speak. “There’s nothing like a global pandemic to add strain on a relationship, so be ready to have the hard conversations and to hold space for each other throughout it,” says Moreck. Don’t be afraid to lean on them when you’re feeling anxious or need to vent about how hard work has been for you. She recommends keeping open channels of communication about everything—how they like the toilet seat, how their mom is doing, and whether they remembered to wash their hands after taking the trash out. I’ve been annoying AF yelling “WASH YOUR HANDS” to my BF every time we walk in the door after being out, and I’m not sorry.
3. Have More Sex
As if we really need a reason to have more sex, it could actually help you stay on better terms with your partner throughout this whole sh*t show. Moreck confirms there’s no better time to get busy than when you’re quarantined together because you 1) aren’t actually too busy, 2) aren’t too tired, and 3) why TF not? It’s a no-brainer. Spice up your mundane routine by spending your spare time banging, playing with or buying new toys, or taking turns giving each other massages—happy endings optional. I’m pretty sure orgasms can boost your immune system, too, so win-win-win! “Give each other orgasms, not the virus,” she adds. CHEERS. New motto.
4. Find Humor Wherever You Can
Sense the tension rising? Diffuse that bomb by trying to make each other laugh or crack a smile. “Yes, the world is kinda ending and soon we’ll all have to wipe our ass with coffee filters, but make it your task to laugh together at least once every day,” says Moreck. “Whether it’s a quarantine meme or a cringy joke, find opportunities to humor each other.” My expert opinion (from personal experience) is that memes really do make everything easier to deal with, even your deepest fears and anxieties surfacing from this pandemic. Try it out.
5. Stop To Reflect Before Reacting
“When you’re feeling frustrated or angry with your partner, or perhaps rejected or anxious, it’s a good idea to take an inner pause to calm down and prevent unnecessary conflict,” says Close. So basically when you feel like you’re about to flip out of rage or pure emotion, take like, five seconds to check yourself before you—wait for it—wreck yourself. Need some ideas on what to do in the meantime? She recommends taking a second shower of the day, going outside for a breath or a walk, or going in a separate space to practice meditation.
Jordana Abraham, cohost of the Betches dating podcast, U Up? echoes, “it’s easy to get annoyed with anyone you live with, but it can be especially tough with someone who you are now not only around 24/7, but also share a bed with, often in spaces as small as a one bedroom or even a studio apartment.” She actually recommends waiting an hour before expressing irritation over small stuff, and instead watching TV, listening to a podcast, or whatever you can do by yourself for an hour. After the hour is up, she advises, “if you’re still upset, you can vocalize why you’re frustrated. You’re less likely to be seen as overreacting the more distance you have from the situation.”
Close also recommends, after taking a breather from a potentially contentious situation, to “reconnect with your partner only when you feel you have more awareness, your nervous system has calmed down enough, and you feel clear in your perception of what the problem is.” I personally suck at meditating and have zero filter when emotional, but this tip definitely sounds helpful.
What’s better than solo meditation?
Eating a ton of snacks and laying in bed for hours Meditating with your partner! Moreck suggests you block out at least 30 minutes every day for you to meditate together. “Not only will this give you something to do as a couple that doesn’t require talking, but it’ll calm you both down and strengthen your immunity.” I’d much rather spend 30 minutes having sex or playing Nintendo Switch, but to each their own.
6. Practice Gratitude
You’re stuck hanging with the person who you love, enjoy hanging with, and will bang you on the reg. You poor thing. Cut it out, and look on the bright side! “Now is [when] we need each other most, and despite how annoying it may be to be stuck with the same person all day, at least it’s YOUR person. Be grateful you’re not alone like so many other people right now,” says Moreck, who took the words right out of my mouth. Being quarantined with your partner is a gift, so start being thankful. It’s not enough to just be thankful, though. Close recommends speaking up and sharing that appreciation and gratitude with your partner. “Often we focus on the negative and take for granted the good,” she says. “It goes a long way when we express to each other what is working or the good things we noticed from each other’s efforts.”
COVID-19 might be super anxiety-inducing and straining on everyone right now, but that doesn’t mean you should let it pull you away from your #1 support system: your partner. If you’re living with them right now, consider yourself lucky. I know I do. Even though this situation might seem like a nightmare, “this is a test of perseverance and a testimony to your love,” reminds Moreck. “So cherish your connection and breathe through the challenges. The future of your relationship will thank you for it.” Cheers to our future selves thanking us sooner than later. I’m going stir crazy.
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