Given the trajectory of this year, I feel it’s safe to say we have adapted as well as we can. Zoom calls and shared streaming experiences are the norm of 2020. And, in tune with our society’s shift and integration of new social standards, as an intimacy expert, I must believe our love lives can bounce back in the same way. Luckily for us, dating apps and electronic communication were already active on the relationship front pre-quarantine. The real change here is increased stamina: how long can we survive on FaceTime dates and DMs? Or, on the flip side, how long can we survive a new love connection virtually?
Some will tell you that if it’s true love, it will last and you’ll work it out. As an intimacy educator, I’ll be the first to tell you that it won’t “just work itself out,” and careful crafting of a relationship within these limits is critical to success.
However, when I step outside of the shoes of an expert and I am a human in society who also chose to explore a budding relationship at the beginning of one of the most notable years in human history … I can tell you dating during quarantine is survivable if you follow these three steps.
Meeting someone attractive is typically an exciting experience. But, having what it takes to make a few moments magical for a stranger is completely different from having what it takes to build a magical life. Whether you are quarantined with your partner or quarantined without them, it is important to get an accurate reading on your fundamental compatibility with your aspiring s/o.
1. Do we have shared activities or interests?
2. Do we have aligned values and expectations?
3. Do both participants in the relationship bring something valuable to the table?
4. What is our greatest incompatibility?
Ideally, you’re paired with someone who has aligned values, likes some of the same things as you, but has diverse enough interests to teach you something as well. If this is the case, you have the best possible mate to voyage through the rest of 2020 (and beyond) with.
If not, it’s not the end of the world. Shared and diverse interests can be built over time if all partners are committed to success. It’s not ideal, but it’s doable and worth it for some people.
Misaligned values, however, is something to be wary of and stay away from if at all possible. Being misaligned on one’s outlook on life or expectations within one’s relationship is not a great entry point for any nature of a relationship.
Understanding your greatest incompatibility, however, helps us move into step number two.
Understanding incompatibilities in a relationship can help us get ahead of them and maintain balance. For example: TV. (Yes, my partner’s and my incompatibility is TV.) My partner and I both find peace in losing ourselves in a good, stimulating show. Our taste in said show, on the other hand, isn’t quite as aligned. While I’m comfortable rewatching Euphoria until season two drops, he loves thrillers, scary movies, and stand-up comedy. So, what are we to do when TV is one of the most grounding and “stable” things about this year? The key to incompatibilities is allowing space for both truths.
The obvious fix to our incompatibility is a TV schedule or an additional streaming device in the house. While all incompatibilities don’t have obvious answers, the underlying theme is always the same: balance.
Stuck apart from your partner? How can you combat the lack of togetherness to create a balanced experience in your relationship?
Stuck breathing each other’s air all day? How can you combat the tight living quarters to create a balanced experience in your relationship?
In short: even with a compatible partner, you have to be flexible and understand that what you’re building is unlike anything you’ve ever built before. And ideally, you’re building to last, which brings us to our last step. Now that you’ve got things going, how do you keep your plates spinning?
We’ve adapted well, but nothing about this year has been truly linear or precise, even this three-step system. The last step is the willingness and desire to continuously evaluate compatibility and be flexible, aka stamina.
The greatest lesson this relationship and year has taught me is: in order to thrive, you have to prepare for this to be the new normal. Set up a love that succeeds within or without the confines of quarantine. Set up a love that can endure zombie apocalypses and racial revolutions. To do this you need to stay in touch with how you feel, what you enjoy, and what moves are in your best interest.
1. Do I enjoy journeying this path with this person?
2. Am I happy? Or just happy for now?
3. (Or) Am I unhappy? Or just unhappy for now?
4. What benefit do I get from traveling this path right now with this person, and is it worth it?
I cannot decide for you if quarantine is actually killing your relationship. But I can assure you that quarantine has not only not killed my relationship, but it may also have been the best thing for it.
Being stuck with my prospective future has taught me far more about communication and flexibility than any other relationship has. I know that because I have a compatible match, the societal climate just gives my partner and me new avenues to explore together, which is pretty cute if you ask me.
But now it’s time to put your new understanding to the test. Do you and your partner have the three pillars of relationship success in quarantine?
Poosh Edit: Best of Bedroom Essentials