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Intimacy in Times of Social Isolation

Couple Cuddling

Most of us have restricted our social movement outside our homes to curtail the widespread increase in incidences of covid-19. As a mother, spending a month away from my kid in Dharamshala, I could very feel the rising anxiety inside me. As human beings, we are hard-wired for connection. Interacting, connecting with other social beings and a free flow exchange of thoughts, words, ideas, and touch is essential to our mental, physical, and psychological health.

Now with this measure to limit human contact outside our home, most of us end up spending more time with our partners. If the relationship is not cordial and has teething cracks of resentment, this proximity can strain the relationship further and the constant presence of the “significant other” can feel like a burden. People who are in a long-distance relationship, and meet each other once a month find themselves staring at this new imposition and struggle to connect with each other intimately.

How do you ensure that you do not compromise on intimacy, sex, or rather strengthen it in the face of this adverse social situation? Should you have sex and other forms of physical intimacy like cuddling, snuggling, spooning, kissing, deep mouth kissing with your partner? Let’s understand this more.

Alternative forms of sexual expression – Long distance relationships and dating

Thanks to technology, you can stay connected to your lover, date sitting thousands of miles away. I have used technology at a time when I could not be with my man due to distance constraints. It so happened that we are talking on the phone late in the night and he became aroused. He asked me to send some intimate, revealing pictures. I did and it was a breather in those trying times. The current situation of #corona pandemic that has forced all of us to stay indoors also resembles the same helplessness. Couples can do sexting, phone sex, cyber sex through video chats to help them tide over the lack of intimacy and sex since both are essential to our mental and physical wellbeing.

Cyber Sex
Cyber Sex

Video chat is the next form of enriching connection after face to face. They allow us to see the other person’s nonverbal behaviors, which alerts us to their mood and allows for clearer, more effective communication. In times where people are socially isolated, rich nonverbal cues are important because they provide a feeling of “presence” that audio-only phone calls lack.

Couples who stay in the same house

If couples do not know how to cultivate the relationship in trying times, the relationship can be strained if two people start living together 24×7, to the extent that one person might see the other as a burden. This comes from a state of non-awareness when you are driven by impulse and not foresight. You can use this unfavorable situation as an opportunity to developer a deeper bond and understanding with your partner. All it takes is an awareness of who you are, why are you in this relationship, and how you can build a “connection” in the relationship. There are four maintenance strategies that you can imbibe to make this homestay a blessing for your relationships:

Positivity is about having cheerful and uplifting interactions with your partner. This can be especially hard amidst uncertainty and anxiety associated with corona scare, which makes it even more important to do so. Find ways to be positive with those we love and care also brings joy into these stressful days. I recently had a positive conversation with the man when I was worried about my son who is staying away from me in his grandparent’s home. I dropped him home because I wanted to take a solo trip but because of the #coronavirus pandemic, my stay in hills is extended. As I spoke last night with my son, the 8 year old comforted me “Mumma do not worry, come home in Apr and if you miss me too much, do a video call.”. I did not understand it but the man pointed out, “Did you see that this situation has matured him and has also started valuing you?” Yes, this is positivity : )

Openness is being open with your partner, discussing the relationship, sharing, and self-disclosing. Staying indoors gives you ample opportunity to bring out piled up issues that needed your attention but could never get because of pressing deadlines and fast-paced city life. You might feel that this will disrupt peace but there is a difference between silence and peace. Former is avoidance, later is harmony. What you need here is “unconditional acceptance”  in love and the right understanding. The understanding that your partner does not truly want your but is unequipped to do so.

Man showing gratitude to his woman

Gratitude Whenever there is a rift, we jump to pointing out the mistakes of the other person. It becomes a contest to find out the maximum mistakes in the other person from both the side. What if instead, we think about the positives of that person, what value that person brings to our life, why have we chosen to stay with this person and how that person has helped us tide through the difficulties of life and made it more livable? Show an attitude of gratitude where you consciously start appreciating your partner for the little deeds they do in the house – if it is washing utensils, making breakfast, stacking clothes. You will be amazed to see how this one little step can transform your relationship for better.

Assurances mean assuring your partner that you care about them and that your relationship is meaningful to you. We often skip this maintenance behavior assuming the other person already knows they mean a lot to us. Especially in these trying times of social isolation, assurances are vital. Take the time to tell them that you love them, care for them, and that they are important to you. Do not take this for granted.

Tasks include sharing home chores. People who share the work of maintaining their relationship report higher satisfaction than those who feel under-benefitted by their relationship (they do more relational work than their partner) or those who feel over-benefited because they receive more than they give in the relationship, which often leaves them feeling guilty.

Networks include maintaining a shared network of people you both know. This is easy for family relationships where you often know many of the same people. Shared contacts give you something to talk about. At a distance, networks can be maintained and strengthened via texting or video group chats. Friends can be introduced to one another to strengthen your shared network.


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