When Quarantine Breaks Relationships

There is no immunity to break-ups.

While it is likely that Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green broke up simply because things were cracking apart before the pandemic — Fox had met her new paramour Machine Gun Kelly during filming of “Midnight in the Switchgrass” prior — the same case is less clear regarding fantasy author Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Apparently, their relationship hit a rough patch in New Zealand as quarantine hit full force, leaving Neil Gaiman to flee the lockdown in New Zealand for a town in Scotland. On his blog, Gaiman and Palmer deny a divorce is imminent, rather, they’ve hurt each other’s feelings and needed some space.

All of which may be true, but for many couples all over the world, the efforts to social distance and shelter in place have hit hard in unexpected ways. ABC News in their report on the issue put one of the reasons that coronavirus is taking a toll on married couples quite elegantly: “Tension bred by forced proximity”.

So what happened before the quarantine? What were these couples doing differently?

It raises questions about how long it takes to truly know another person. Our modern day life has made it easy to fill our every waking moment with distraction, so we are only compelled to meet our significant others for a limited number of hours.

What happens when the tables turn, though, and we are consigned to be in front of each other for days at a time? There is no way now to hide our ugly parts. We are painfully exposed for all our less pleasing habits, forced to jostle up against the uncomfortable nature of our vulnerable, naked selves.

We can pretend to be perfect for a long time before we are caught off guard on the wrong day. But being held captive in one location changes everything, and we are not able to keep up the pretense.

There’s a lot to be said for the art of romance. One of the concepts most of us intrinsically know is that to attract and have a partner, you too must be attractive, and sometimes that requires extra work on our part, work that takes effort to maintain. We wear a personae, to some extent, the personae of that ideal lover that can be all, perform all, and love through all.

Some may scoff at that sentiment, but this serves as the dividing line for lovers who aspire to work hard in their romances and those who want to do a minimal amount of work and call it “honesty.”

Of course, you want some measure of authenticity in your relationship, to be able to have open communication. But making no effort to couch your terms in consideration of someone else, or making no effort to be pleasing to another person isn’t “honesty” — it’s doing what comes easy, and most of the time, what comes easily is also low value. We recognize low value when we see it. And often, that low value is someone who is not trying.

This is why quarantine partners are falling apart. Being forced into close proximity isn’t necessarily the problem — it’s proof that these were people who loved each other greatly, but the work required to demonstrate that value is too great, and exhausted them in the long run. The mask of the personae slipped away, or people simply couldn’t recharge to take on the job of romance. Underneath all the effort, we need love and care, and sometimes that love and care must be administered alone.

Couples need time apart to continue this level of romance. Too many marriages and relationships grow stale over time, but are considered successful because they stayed together. 

That’s just not so. Being in a relationship without satisfaction is a failed relationship, even if you’re still together. A lesson that the pandemic is forcing us to know, whether we like it or not.

6 Rules For Online Dating

Rules are not always the most exciting part of life, but they make contact sports and fine dining infinitely less messy. This is also true when applied to online dating. If you’ve been out in the wilds of the single safari, you may have your doubts that rules exist, but they do, and we really, really need them.

Here are some basic rules you should take under consideration as you venture into the wide world of singles, and best of all, you can carry them with you beyond the virtual world of swipe apps.

Keep Your Photos Up To Date

Ten years out of college but you’re still displaying the picture that gives you hope and enthusiasm about your future? That spare tire you’ve been honing as a result of too many dinners at the sandwich shop doesn’t need to be front and center, but the fact that you’re molecularly a different person does. Honesty needs to be a part of your first impressions. Enlist your friends, a stranger on the street, make the duck face you’ve been dreading, but whatever you do, make the effort.

However, if Photoshop is required for the end result, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Have A Fetish? Start Off On The Right Foot.

Some people like feet. A lot more than other people. And some people like to visit Furry Conventions. Some people read an E.L. James novel, and others live an E.L. James novel.

In our day to day lives, we generally tend to keep that stuff in the background, because it’s not really appropriate in a workplace or while we’re giving our little brother a purple nurple. The internet has changed how we negotiate our preferences, fetishes, our just the fact that we knock three times on the door before we leave the building because deep down inside, we know calamity will befall us.

You asked, and the internet has provided. This is what profiles were made for. Now, you don’t have to wait until five dates or a pregnancy in to discover that your diaper fetish is a deal breaker.

Not comfortable with putting your vulnerable bits in a profile? It could be a better time to discuss or message your special requests/fantasies/restraining orders in the lead up to the date. Judge each situation accordingly.

Oh, The Honesty, It Burns

Peacocks are gorgeous creatures. Those beautiful feathers when the tail is completely unfurled make the bird itself seem six feet bigger than it is. The peacock is gorgeous, and once the tail feathers deflate you’re left with a slightly more colorful turkey.

And that’s the point. We know on some level, that we could always appear to be more attractive than we actually are. To some extent, embellishment is expected.

However, outright bald-faced lies is venturing into the world of fraud, especially when you consider how deep a lie can affect those involved. No one’s saying that your DUI from ten years ago is necessarily relevant now, but pretending you are the chief financial executive of Secretly Living With My Parents, Inc., is eventually going to end in tears.

Show people who you are by having the conviction to be honest but the charm to know when not to spill your guts about that incident in high school when your tongue got frozen to the street pole in subzero temperatures.

To Ghost, Or Not To Ghost?

Everyone decries ghosting, but here is where definitions are helpful. If you know within the first several messages that the person isn’t right for you, and you get busy talking to someone else, ghosting happens. It makes people angry, it makes people upset. 

The problem is, even if you bluntly tell someone, “this isn’t working for me,” they usually want reasons and some people even get frighteningly aggressive. Ghosting suddenly seems like a much better alternative, and if you’re at a point where you know this isn’t going anywhere, it’s the best way to move on quickly and with less injury to either person.

Ghosting that occurs after a relationship is established is usually universally regarded as cruel and irresponsible, even though we hear more and more anecdotes about the event taking place. If you’re at a physical stage early in, or late term, the other party should at least take the time to text or message and admit it’s not working out. Leaving without a trace certainly sends a different message, and not a good one.

Shut Your Pie Hole

The art of conversation is something some people never discover, and you’ll find this out for yourself when you finally meet them and date them in person. Some people dominate conversations with endless topics about their favorite, but least riveting subject (themselves) and never take a moment to ask the other person a question or inquire about their own lives.

Don’t be that person.

If you struggle with being able to listen to another person, practice with your friends and even make a list of questions you should ask the other person to show that you are engaged and interested. A person who only talks about themselves and can’t have a dialogue is showcasing that there is no room in their lives for another person — they’ve already filled that space up with themselves.

Who Pays?

No one ever wants to have the conversation, and in some cases this is where you’ll see the clear demarcation between one generation and another. Many still hold that the man should pay. Nowadays it is more common to see couples split the bill, or if one pays, the other sends money via app to make up their half.

Set your expectation early. If you expect it to be a shared proposition, bring it up. If you always pay, or never pay, mentioning this is worthwhile. This establishes an important relationship dynamic early on in terms of how capable you are when it comes to negotiating uncomfortable topics. The ability of both parties to communicate what they want will be a key component to actually getting what you want. Start now! Not when you tell the waiter you’re going to the bathroom just so you can crawl out the window to avoid the check on the table.

Featured photo credit: Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels

Don’t Go For The Thirsty Lover

Julian Assange’s Undercover Romance is Exposed, Teaching Us About The Hazards of Love In Captivity

Source: By Cancillería del Ecuador — https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgcomsoc/14953880621/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34813739

We primarily know Australian Julian Assange as the rogue journalist founder of Wikileaks who enjoys upsetting nations everywhere when it comes to airing out their dirty governmental laundry. But this post isn’t a political post. Instead, it’s about love in literal captivity, and reasons you might want to avoid it. Hear me out.

The South African lawyer Stella Morris revealed via the New York Post on April 11 that she had become Assange’s lawyer, then friend, then ultimately, lover, and mother to two of his children (yes, conceived during his isolation in the Ecuadorian Embassy!)

My principal fascination with any person of interest in news or entertainment is the odd twists and turns of their personal lives, and I immediately honed in on this one. Forget Wikileaks and it’s paradigm changing presence in the world of government conspiracy in the age of the internet. Can we talk about the screwed up decisions we make in romance when we have no access to a wide variety of choices?

Stella Morris by all accounts appears to be a wonderful, hard working woman, but you can’t help but wonder why she chose a wanted man with a dubious future as the father of her children. What I didn’t wonder was why a man imprisoned in an embassy would have chosen to begin a romance with her: because no one else was available.

I know it sounds harsh. But we can’t possibly ignore that Assange’s dating choices are bit bleak, considering who he is and his inability to freely move about. This is not a man who will be buying you drinks or opening the car door for you anytime soon.

One of the most overlooked elements of love life in popular culture is environment. That said, many of us understand the challenge environment poses early on. After all, it was not that long ago that dating in a small town for a woman meant you were limited to the men who showed up at the local dive bar. If you didn’t like what you saw, your options were slim.

Fast forward to online dating, to swipe apps, and the equation changes radically in your favor. You have more options. Your pool widens. You don’t have to hope that Icky Mickey or Angry Angelo will strike your fancy and do something to impress you, despite the long list of deal breakers that are already on display. Now you can click a button or swipe on Ravishing Roberto or Well Educated William who are already ticking off your boxes.

Having more options means you’re less likely to visit that dive bar, and you’re less thirsty if you think the desert plain isn’t so empty after all.

Call me crazy, but engaging in a romantic relationship with a guy who can’t leave a building for fear of extradition to a foreign country is an unequal power dynamic for the same reason. Assange is a thirsty man who doesn’t know when the desert will end. That sounds all right for a fling, but doesn’t the create the conditions for a lasting love if one partner was chosen simply because …. they were there. You know. The same way if I crawl out of the desert with my throat on fire, I’m not terribly picky about the first water cooler I come across.

And while the situation between Assange and Morris is surreal and seemingly the stuff of tawdry spy novels, we often see it played out closer to home. I’ve seen countless office romances unfold beneath this guiding principle: because the other partner was there. People rely on what’s easy and convenient, and what’s easy and convenient is usually a matter of geography. And the other person had no desire to seek any further than the local dive bar I mentioned above.

Makes you feel special, right?

The lesson in all this isn’t that love or romance needs to be a struggle, or necessarily that what’s closest and easiest isn’t a good option for those who find love there. Some people are happy at the local bar. They aren’t interested in finding more beyond that. The problem is when someone isn’t actively electing to be in that relationship. Will it breed resentment? Will the situation change, or stay the same? What happens if all the elements that made the relationship easy, geographically accessible, suddenly go away?

We’ve all seen what happens when an office romance is interrupted — either by a breakup, or one leaving for another job. Some survive the changes in this power dynamic, and some don’t, and that’s a part of life.

More importantly, when we know it, we realize that we ourselves don’t have to go into our relationships thirsty, either.

Photo Source: By Cancillería del Ecuador — https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgcomsoc/14953880621/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34813739

In A Pickle

Photo by Vera Arsic / Pexels

Dear Talula

I have the worst time making firm decisions, and now I’m in a pickle! I became close friends with a generous man at my gym, and we talk every day about our lives and challenges. He’s looking for a roommate to share the rent with him, and after months of waffling, I’m ready to take the plunge and leave my parents house. Except now, my boyfriend is upset because he doesn’t think a man and a woman can roommate together without having a relationship, and if I move out with Gym Man, I have to break-up with him. My boyfriend still lives with his parents and won’t move out with me. Gym Man says that my boyfriend has no plan for the future and no motivation to be independent, but if my boyfriend isn’t okay with the situation, Gym Man won’t move out with me either. I love my boyfriend, and cherish my new friend, but don’t know how I can do better in life without upsetting my relationships. I feel hurt and angry by their reactions.


Dear Pickle,

Both these men are failing you — but they’re treating you like property. It’s 2019. You’re an independent woman. You need to reframe this situation by realizing that you shouldn’t be afraid of losing a relationship with them — they should be afraid of losing a relationship with you. How dare they overstep their bounds and decide for you what your future should be, as though you were cattle and they’re decided whose farm you should be at!? Leave it up to your boyfriend and Gym Man if they want to continue to interact with you, and move out by finding a different roommate. Prove to them that they have to treat you with respect and if they want a say in your decision making, then they have to prove to you they are valuable. If your boyfriend wants a place beside you, he has to cut the cord with his family and choose independence, or accepting that he can’t measure up to the standard you set – and do you really want to be with someone who can’t accomplish the level of responsibility that you have succeeded at?

If Gym Man wants to be your friend and have a say in your life and wants you as a roommate, he’s going to have to step back and realize your relationship with your boyfriend is none of his business. And do you really want to be roommates with someone who is over concerned with your private business? Treating yourself with respect begins with you, and setting the standard for what you won’t tolerate in others. Make it clear their behavior toward you is unacceptable. You can do this by proving you don’t need their say so to exert your independence.