Coronavirus Is Impacting Relationship Milestones — By Stalling Them

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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 recommends avoiding close contact by practicing social distancing, which means avoiding large groups, and staying at least six feet away from others. For couples, that might mean canceling your hotel reservation, FaceTiming your partner for a little mutual masturbation, or even postponing your wedding until further notice.

Dr. Josh Klapow, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, stresses that putting your relationship 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.

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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 the CDC recommends avoiding any unnecessary travel for the time being, you won't want to risk hopping on a flight.

Since flying or taking other forms of public transit will put yourself and others at risk, 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.

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 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 as businesses temporary or even permanently close, which 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, trains are delayed, and cruise ships are being quarantined. "It's time to modify plans, travel more locally, or postpone," Klapow says.

That said, now is the perfect time to book yourself a stay-cation. Consider hiking in a nearby park, staying in all weekend to watch movies, 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 may downsize the proposal.

For starters, you won't be able to do it in a small, intimate setting, Klapow says, like a crowded stadium or restaurant. "But the virus should not stop you from popping the question and celebrating your love for one another," he says.

Just ask the photographer popping out of the bushes to take a pic to stay at least six feet away, as per CDC recommendations, and you'll be golden.

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, and even accepting that certain family members won't be able to attend, 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, to 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.

Experts:

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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