If hindsight is 20/20, quarantine-sight might be closer to 0/0 (or whatever makes texting your ex during the coronavirus pandemic sound like a good idea). As social-distancing redefines our lives, the prospect of meeting new people can feel farther away than the United States electing a woman president. When you've had your fill of live-streamed yoga classes, and your mom starts ignoring your FaceTime requests, self-isolation may begin to feel more than a little lonely. But is that an excuse to whip out your phone and drudge up the past by texting your ex, "u safe?"
For Lance, 26, a teacher from Northampton, Massachusetts, staying inside has inspired him to forgive and forget past lovers — and thereby draft some sexy texts.
"Coronavirus has me texting exes I thought I never thought I'd want to talk to again," he tells Bustle. "I bought sexy underwear from the internet with roses all over them. What is happening?"
In a global pandemic, everyone's priorities rapidly shift. Worrying about your grandparents' health or losing hours at your restaurant job may lead you to experience extreme bouts of coronavirus-induced anxiety. And when you're feeling overwhelmed, experts say you're more likely to look for comfort in familiar places.
I'm afraid I should say something now because I might not get another chance.
"If you're looking for immediate assurance that everything is going to be OK, you're likely to turn to someone you already know that you're comfortable displaying that much vulnerability with," Pricilla Martinez, dating coach, tells Bustle.
Before the outbreak, Molly, 24, a nurse from Denver, Colorado, had no intention of ever rekindling her relationship with her ex. But she tells Bustle that the magnitude has inspired her to extend a digital olive branch.
"The coronavirus situation makes everything feel irrationally urgent," Molly says. "I'm afraid I should say something now because I might not get another chance to."
According to relationship expert Trina Leckie, past arguments with your ex or reasons for why your relationship might not have worked in the long run may seem petty not. "It’s easier to pick up where you left off at times like this because people often reflect on life and what’s truly important," she says.
Carrie, 30, a grant writer from Ithaca, New York, tells Bustle that going through a global crisis makes her feel sentimental for the time she shared with her ex, even though they're not on great terms. "It does make me want to text my ex a little," she says. "To know that they think about me still. That I'm not alone in thinking about them and what we had."
Don't look for comfort in the same place you lost it.
But before you pick up your phone and type those three little words — I miss u — Martinez reminds you to be realistic about their past behavior. If your ex was never receptive or always made you feel bad about yourself, texting them now may make you feel even more isolated.
"Don't look for comfort in the same place you lost it," Martinez says.
Jaclyn Lopez Witmer, licensed clinical psychologist, suggests being transparent with yourself about what you're looking for before sliding into anyone's DMs.
"Agreement on expectations and needs is critical," Lopez Witmer tells Bustle. "Be intentional about why you’re talking again and what this will look like after the stressful period."
Are you looking for a friend? Someone to sext? To get back together? Are you craving affection and attention? Do you need someone to swap COVID memes with?
"When you are clear on your goals and needs, you will be able to be clear with your ex on what you are seeking," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. "If your ex has needs that are aligned with yours — the outcome can be very positive in the short-term and the long-term."
It's OK to feel lonely, scared, horny, or some spicy combination of all three. But before you shoot your ex a tasteful nude, ask yourself what you're looking for. Do you really want to rekindle a flame that burned out for a reason? You might be better off putting the "distance" in social distancing.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.
Trina Leckie, host of the Breakup BOOST podcast
Pricilla Martinez, founder of Regroop Online Life Coaching