Social distancing won’t kill your love life.
Picture it: it’s 2004 — before social media, WhatsApp and our hyper-connectivity. In two weeks I will be in Cuba for two months to write the great historical fiction novel. I quit my banking job. I pack every cute outfit and all the Allende novels I can.
There was only one issue.
I fell in love.
There was no cellphone service and calls to the US were about $4 per minute. There was email, but WiFi was non existent and internet cafes were few and far between.
We agreed to write letters, but not mail them. I wrote about being in my mom’s homeland for the first time. In writing I created my vision of him and built anticipation of what it would be like when we were finally together.
Absent was the instant gratification of texts and swiping on dating apps; gratification had to be earned.
Of course, this time of massive uncertainty that has disrupted every facet of our lives is no tropical sabbatical.
I don’t anticipate going back to the way it was before. The world has changed forever and there is not much we can do about it, other than create our own experience. Now more than ever, I am learning there is little I am in full control of other than my reaction to my circumstances.
In the words of the world’s most respected Brooklynite and top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci: “This is going to be imprinted on the personality of our nation for a very long time.”
The irony of the current times is what you really want and haven’t surrendered to, is what you now can’t readily have: intimacy and connection.
How do we get what we want and be socially responsible?
Choose what matters to you — being busy or being in love.
As a New Yorker with a diverse group of friends, I get invited to a lot of events, mostly because I love a good time, but I also like to support my creative friends. It can make for a packed schedule, and over the years I noticed it was a way to be emotionally unavailable. I get asked out and my first response would be “I can’t. I have a thing.” After a few pings like this, one of us would lose interest and move on to the next. Before I knew it, I would be at those same events, wondering why I was there alone.
Now that your busy calendar is not filling the void, what will?
Take this moment to assess what really matters. Let yourself get comfortable with the unease of nothing to do and nowhere to be.
Resist the urge to do Number 98 on your bucket list.
Don’t nobody care about you learning to knit.
Sit. Yo. Ass. Down.
Get to the root of what you want.
Take a moment to reflect on what makes you happy and what hasn’t worked in the past. Make a list of your two or three most meaningful relationships. Write what worked and what didn’t. You will start to see a pattern you can build what you want from.
Claim what you want by being intentional.
With social distancing, there is a lesser chance you will get distracted with the superficial stuff.
Tell the truth — how many times have you gone out because someone asked? I can make conversation with most people and every menu has Sauvignon Blanc so I can make it work.
I once dated someone for a few months because he was a London boy. I hadn’t paid attention to the lack of chemistry. I just drank enough wine to imagine he was Idris Elba.
Being intentional means being clear with yourself and the other person about what you desire. If you want to get married, say that and don’t make it a big deal. It doesn’t matter what you want; what matters is that you honor it by creating a shared intention.
On first dates, I find out two things: (1) What your concept of family is and (2) Whether you enjoy eating pussy. I don’t move forward if we don’t want the same things.
Give up trying not to make this awkward.
Yeah, this is awkward. Everything about this present moment is weird. I feel like I am in the Truman Show when I buy groceries. Acknowledge it so your discomfort doesn’t hijack your possible connection.
Sorry, but you will have to make an effort.
The percentages vary, but various studies show more than 50% of communication is nonverbal and is more impactful than what is said. Sure, there is video, but there is much less body language to interact with.
Get some damn nerve and ask what you really want to know versus your standard repertoire. If there is a vibe, use the 36 questions that lead to love as the result of the study by Dr. Arthur Aron and others.
You can build more intimacy with listening than you could ever with Netflix and chill. Intimacy can’t be rushed; it’s the result of laid groundwork of two people going in the same direction. Intimacy is about allowing yourself to be witnessed by another. Give yourself permission to be seen, warts and all.
Why not just wait until this all blows over? Meh, you can. But how long have you waited already? In the meantime, you’re in your apartment wondering how to make your cat go viral on TikTok.
As cheesy as it sounds, the most important thing in the world is love.
When you think of those who are gone, what remains is love — how you loved them, how they loved others, how they loved you.
In this new found stillness, maybe it’s time you admit to yourself you want the same.