We now face a time when the option to see and connect with the people we love is limited. This poses challenges when we are trying to develop and maintain a range of relationships.
When we’re facing a stressful and challenging time, the support and care we receive from each other is essential. For those of us who are single or looking to make new friends, being forced into self-isolation brings limitations in opportunities for meeting new people. In relationships, some of us might find the distance challenging while others will encounter problems associated with being in constant and close proximity.
Reconfiguring our lives to one where the notion of space is no longer negotiable, is hard. Our lives and therefore our relationships are going to look very different over the coming months. This is a time where creativity, imagination and flexibility can help us to remain connected and find the joyful moments amidst the chaos. Read on below for some commonly suggested strategies you can try.
Strategies often suggested
- Adjust your expectations of yourself
- Extend understanding to those with you
- Practice kindness and patience
- Tolerate the individual ways in which we respond to intense stress
- Take some deep breaths when you’re feeling frustrated with your loved ones
- Send your loved ones something to put a smile on their face
- Focus on the quality of your conversations vs the quantity
- Re-frame distance as something that strengthens your relationships in the long run
- Talk about what works within your relationship to keep feeling connected
- Explore alternative and fun ways to remain intimate
- Consider starting an online sporting team such as fantasy football
- Keep in mind it is OK just to take a step back, but let those around you know
Download our tip sheet for a little more detail about these tips.
Below you will find three common blocks (barriers and misconceptions) that can prevent us from feeling connected during this time of physical distancing.
I’m really missing my friends/partner/family/being part of a community
For most of us, it is a new experience to be so physically separated from our families, friends, partners and community. This temporary but important removal of relational choice, highlights just how interdependent we are on one another and the value that our relationships bring to our lives. If you’re finding it difficult to be away from your loved ones, you’re definitely not alone. While the limitations on face to face interactions poses a risk to our mental health and wellbeing, there are things we can do to protect ourselves against the negative effects. For additional information refer to our Relationships section.
I want to keep dating but how?
For some people, they are going to relish this time to take a break and step away from the dating scene. But for others, they might still feel the desire to meet and connect with potential partners. Being in self-isolation might actually be an ideal time to make some deep connections with others who are living through the same situation as you. It can also be a chance to meet new people in a safe environment with less pressure. While your face to face options are limited, there are still a range of ways you can meet other singles and keep dating!
I don’t know how to bridge the physical gap in my relationship
We all vary in how important sex is to us. For many people, sex is a fun, pleasurable and important part of connecting. It is a chance to show our desire, affection, and love for our partner. When this opportunity to express ourselves is removed in a relationship, it can cause strain and tension. See our booster section below for tips on how to bridge the gap or visit our sex and more sex page on safe sex practices.
Below are three things you can do to boost success.
Understand what makes you feel connected
Reflect on what leads you to feel closer to the people you have relationships with. You might appreciate small gestures, messages throughout the day, lots of conversation, or minimal conversation. Really think about what promotes a sense of intimacy in your relationships for you. Tell your loved ones what helps you and then ask them to share with you what works for them. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Leave the camera on for an hour (or as long as you wish) and go about your usual day. This creates a sense that you’re spending your time or day with someone despite not being in the same room.
- Take the time to celebrate any birthdays, achievements or good news! If you’re apart from your loved ones, schedule a date to get dressed up and have a drink together online. If you’re living together, organise a party or special dinner in your own home.
- Take the time to express your appreciation. If a loved one does something nice for you, give your thanks and make sure to highlight the quality in them demonstrated by their behaviour e.g. “Thank you for sending me that text, it was so thoughtful of you.”
- Plan a night where you use a streaming service to watch a movie or a TV show together.
- While there are so many perks to the technology around us, some of you may feel that your technology use is more harmful than helpful. If you are concerned about your use, head to our digital addiction page.
Dating with a difference
Dating during a pandemic is going to look different to what you’re used to. This doesn’t mean it can’t be fun or develop into a long-term relationship. You might find that you become closer at a faster rate with your dates, as you’re both removed from the usual distractions and busyness of life.
- Have a think about how you want to date. You have the option of messaging through social apps, texts, phone chats or video calls.
- There are a number of dating apps out there that can match you with people in your area. Try starting with Bumble or Hinge.
- If chatting with a date, why not pair it with some exercise? Pop in your earphones and go for a walk, you can share with them what you’re seeing along the way.
- So you’ve decided to go on an online date with someone, that’s great! Wondering what to do? Try playing a game or sharing a meal. You could order dinner from the same restaurant or cook the same meal together in your own homes.
Technology now enables us to connect romantically with others in a way we never have before. There are a variety of options available but you may not necessarily feel comfortable with all of them. It is a good idea to speak with your partner about what you are and are not willing to do while you’re physical distancing.
- Use an app like In the Mood, to organise a date night and build the excitement.
- Start with texting. This can be a good way to introduce yourself to online intimacy. Just make sure you’re sending those texts or pics to the right person! Head further down this page to see information on staying safe online.
- Continue to build your emotional connection. This can really enhance your physical intimacy.
- Remember that your imagination is your greatest sexual organ. So think of the physical distance as a way to get creative, be playful, respectful and have fun!
Stay Safe Online
Virtual dating and online intimacy options are designed for fun, but there are risks associated with their use. If you participate in intimate online communication, it is important to be respectful of others and put measures in place to ensure your own safety.
Need more info?
Sex, love and dating at a distance
- Sex and love in the time of coronavirus
- Do's and dont's of dating during the coronavirus pandemic
- Coronavirus is an icebreaker for online dates but meeting has to wait
- 6 tips for dating while social distancing
- How to maintain relationships during the coronavirus outbreak
- The best board games for socially distanced fun
- How to host a virtual happy hour
- How to virtually stay in touch
Coping with being in close contact
- In close quarters - tips for living closely with others during periods of social restrictions.