From socially distancing and working from home to living in a post-pandemic world with masks, constant testing, and a new world order. I think I can speak for the majority when I say that am not the only one feeling a sense of not being in control. With the state of our affairs feeling so uncertain and unbalanced during a nationwide pandemic, how do we regain our sense of self when in a relationship?
As if being in a relationship isn’t hard enough, the pandemic has brought onto it another layer of complexity. Human beings all have their own ideas on what they believe is the true essence of a good and healthy relationship. We all come with a set of values, beliefs, and systems that shape the ways in which we perceive the world and relate to others. The pandemic has affected many couples, old and new, in that it has caused for their individual lives to blend in with their personal. The living room has become the office, and we are using our professional voices at home in the same spaces that we talk intimately with our partners. What happens when our selves start to blend?
Psychotherapist Esther Perel writes about how love and desire rest on two pillars, surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness. With too much distance, there can be no connection. But too much merging eradicates the separateness of two distinct individuals—and desire needs a bridge to cross.
In order to keep the love, passion, erotic, and novelty of a relationship alive, there needs to be some kind of separateness’ that is yours and theirs. Knowing everything defeats the purpose of the relationship and loses the spark that attracted the two individuals in the first place. So, what can we do to keep our sense of self during times of uncertainty?
- Recreate your individual routine: One reason why many of us have felt so lost is because we have been on standstill, waiting for the pandemic to be solved so that we can go “back to normal” Instead of waiting for normal, I challenge you to evolve with the times and create a new routine that will allow you to be seen, understood, and secure in who you are—regardless of the pandemic’s uncertain nature.
- Claim your individual space. Because the pandemic has forced many of us to work from home with our partners, find a space that is solely yours. If you’re both working in the same room, then you are blending your individual self with the relationship. At first, this may seem fine-but you both lose your selves over time. Be creative! I have had couples who live in a 1-bedroom apartment, and alternate between the living room and the bedroom every other day so that they can feel some sense of excitement.
- Do things alone. Because the pandemic has allowed for so much flexibility, couples have found themselves doing almost everything together. Grocery shopping, hanging out with each other’s friends and family, watching TV…the list goes on. Whereas pre-pandemic, someone may still be working, or schedules conflict; post-pandemic has morphed both individuals into one being. As the old saying goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Over here, distance will allow for autonomy and growth.