Mostly, when talking about ‘love’, we mean romantic love. But other important forms of love are the kind you feel for your parents, your friends, or for yourself. This blog will focus on romantic love, self love, challenges that go hand in hand with the current situation and suggestions on how to deal with those.
Because whether you like being alone or not, whether you enjoy being single or are in a relationship, the current situation is new, unique and has brought about changes that no one could have foreseen. Maybe you suddenly spend a lot of time with your partner in one room, that functions as a study room, office, and kitchen at the same time. Or perhaps you had just become single when the lockdown started and you have a dire need for social support. You could also be single for quite a while and be done with it at this point. All of these are challenging situations!
The following tips will help those who wish to be a better partner or for those who could use some help to get through this period alone.
Create realistic expectations.
What do you expect from yourself and your partner? And is that realistic, realisable and motivating? Perhaps you could alter your expectations a bit in order to prevent yourself from succumbing to the pressure of high expectations that cannot be realized. Refine your ideas, for example, by focussing on productivity, domestic chores and activities that you can do together or alone.
Your wishes are valid.
Not everyone needs the same amount of attention and intimacy (Heller & Levine, 2010). And that is okay! Do not feel bad about the things you need and be honest and clear (more about communicating below) about it to your partner and to yourself. Bonus: figure out what Love Language you speak:
Give room to emotions.
This was briefly discussed in our last blog: ignoring emotions rarely has positive effects. It is important to realize that there is more going on in the world than just corona. At the same time our lives have changed very much in a short period of time, so it is not weird at all that you experience difficulties with that. Tips to work with emotions:
Expressive writing: this includes that you write down everything that comes to mind in 5 minutes. Thought in the form of sentences, feelings, ideas. Whatever you prefer! And if your thought is ‘I do not know what I should write down’, than you write that down!
Figure out, by means of a body scan, what you are feeling inside your body at a certain moment (this one only takes 4 minutes)
Look for those social contacts that are possible during this time. Messaging or calling someone you can rely on is easily done!
Do not compare yourself to others.
Even though we realize that we see the polished version of everyone online, it can still hurt when seeing happy couples when things are not going well in your own relationship. Remember that not one relationship is perfect, although it may seem like it. Do not compare your negative moments with others’ positive moments. If you feel like this may work, try and set some terms for yourself; for example by only opening Facebook and Instagram a few times a day.
This is essential in every relationship, and can still be very difficult. Heller and Levine (2010) give the following tips for communicating effectively:
Be brave and hold nothing back in terms of feelings. Wear your heart on your sleeve.
Focus your message on what you need and do not accuse someone. Also consider the feelings and wishes of others and use the pronoun I; think of “ I need… from you,” “ If you do not … I feel….”
Be specific. So try and leave out words such as “always” and “never”.
Cultivating self love?
That is possible. Three ways to get you started: write down, draw, color, paint, make a collage, a presentation, build something, or craft something:
Five positive characteristics you possess
Three things you have achieved and you can be proud of
Three situations in which you were a good friend to someone else
Again, we are going through strange times with new challenges and experiences. Despite your specific situation, it is always a good idea to take good care of yourself and keep an eye on your mental health. Namely, this will result in you being your best self, which you can share with others, digitally or in real life. Are you really struggling with certain things and do you wish to get something off your chest or to obtain concrete methods that help you to study effectively during this time? We are also there for you online! At least be careful, keep talking and take care of each other!
Gary Chapman (1992). The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Northfield Publishing. ISBN 978-1881273158.
Heller, R. & Levine, A. (2010) Attached. Are you anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find – and keep – love. London: Bluebird. ISBN 978-1-5290-3217-8