If you were getting ready to visit your long-distance partner or move in with your long-term SO, your plans might be temporarily thwarted. By your partner's commitment issues? Not this time! By the coronavirus, which is impacting relationships by stalling romantic milestones.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the primary way coronavirus spreads is through respiratory droplets, which are formed when someone coughs or sneezes. The CDC continues to recommend avoiding close contact by practicing social distancing, which means avoiding large groups, and staying at least six feet away from others if you have to go out in public — say, to the grocery store or pharmacy.
The best option, though, is sheltering at home, which health experts recommend as a way of slowing the spread of coronavirus. For couples, that means canceling your hotel reservations, postponing your wedding, and self-isolating instead.
Dr. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, stresses that putting your relationship plans on hold is a preventative measure that can pay off in the long-run. "While you may have no illness, and may not be at direct risk, you may have to modify your plans for the sake of the public — not you personally," he tells Bustle.
If your relationship progression is paused, here's how you can stay connected in the meantime.
Maintaining A LDR Relationship Amidst Coronavirus Concerns
Being in a long-distance relationship typically means talking on the phone, FaceTiming, texting, sexting, and traveling to see each other on occasion. But since we're all currently avoiding any unnecessary travel, you won't be able to hop a flight, or get on a train, to see your beloved.
Instead, Klapow suggests keeping each other updated by sending video messages or voice notes. That way, you can hear the inflection in your partner's voice and witness each other's body language, which are two helpful ways to feel closer as you chat.
FaceTiming your partner for a little mutual masturbation is another great way to feel close, even when you can't physically be together.
Moving In With Your Partner While Planning For Coronavirus
If you were preparing to move in with a partner, there are many factors to consider beyond social distancing and self-quarantine periods. And the uncertainty surrounding the economy is a big one, Cathy Sullivan-Windt, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and owner of New Connections Counseling Center, tells Bustle.
People have been losing their jobs left and right as businesses temporary or even permanently close, and that can make buying a house or renting a new apartment seem impossible. "Also," Sullivan-Windt says, "uncertainty increases anxiety and can make it hard to make big decisions."
For the time being, you may want to hold onto your lease, and if that's no longer an option, reach out to friends and family about your predicament. Additionally, Klapow says, it may be comforting to remind each other that this is just a temporary delay, and not a cancellation of your plans.
Taking Your First Trip Together During Coronavirus Cancellations
Nothing says, "we're serious!" quite like going on your first trip together. While traveling is an incredibly telling relationship milestone, now is not — you guessed it! — the best time to be confined in a small space for an extended period.
Additionally, as you know, many flights are getting cancelled and cruise ships are being quarantined, which is why it's obviously best to postpone, Klapow says. Instead, shelter inside and think about what you'd like to do and see once the shelter-at-home orders are lifted.
Now may also be the perfect time to book yourself a stay-cation. Consider going for a socially distant walk, watching movies together while FaceTiming, or having breakfast in bed three days in a row. It'll mean having fun together and easing stress, while also avoiding potential infection.
Considering The Coronavirus Before Getting Engaged
Has your partner been subtly (or not so subtly) inquiring about your ring size? Have you had an open and honest dialogue about getting engaged in the near future? If so, there's good news: The coronavirus won't impact your impending engagement, but it will downsize the proposal.
For starters, if you daydreamed about a proposal in a restaurant or stadium, Klapow says, that's currently out of the question. "But the virus should not stop you from popping the question and celebrating your love for one another," he says.
Delaying Your Wedding Due To Coronavirus Risks
Again, since the CDC recommends avoiding close contact and large groups, couples are now postponing their weddings, downsizing big events, Sullivan-Windt explains, due to health concerns or travel restrictions.
If a couple is moving forward with their vows, family members and friends can watch from afar via FaceTime or Skype. And if a small gathering is going to occur, instituting wedding "house rules," such as limiting direct contact by banning touching, will facilitate a safer event without anxieties running high.
Although coronavirus concerns may be stunting your relationship's growth, there are still plenty of ways for you and your partner to feel connected. And remember: This has everything to do with your health, not the health of your relationship. You're only taking a beat to protect yourselves, as well as the public, from getting infected.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here.
Dr. Andres Romero, M.D., infectious disease specialist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California
Dr. Josh Klapow, clinical psychologist and associate professor of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham
Cathy Sullivan-Windt, PhD, licensed psychologist and owner of New Connections Counseling Center
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