For the vast majority of Americans, your way of doing things during the coronavirus quarantine has been smashed to pieces. Routines are anything but routine. Much of the autopilot stuff in your life is gone.
For some, that may be a relief.
For others, it’s brought about some terrifying changes. The things you haven’t thought about for years, you now have to think about, in some cases, every day.
There is a reason why alcohol sales are through the roof, and pot dispensaries are doing a bang-up business right now.
Fundamental to all this is how your relationships have changed. Going through changes in your relationships is a normal part of life. But when billions of people are forced to do it with Richter scale magnitude, shit’s gonna break down.
And it has.
So, we cope. And we hope.
And we tell ourselves the lies we need to tell to get by.
Here are some of the relationship lies I’ve noticed since this pandemic started. Some are temporary. Others may force you to fundamentally change the way you think of others (and yourself) when all of this is over.
I love working from home.
Some of you genuinely do.
But the vast majority of people are social creatures. They’re turned on by formal office interactions. It energizes them. Brings structure to their work life. It creates connections that breed a kind of work euphoria.
Many people also need that structure to stay focused and productive. Left to your own devices, that’s precisely what you’re doing, spending time on all your devices. Your smartphone is a lifeline. New Netflix subscriptions are through the roof.
You surround yourself at home with all the shiny objects and fruits of your work labors, so distractions are more than understandable. They should be anticipated. Your home is your castle, and it can be hard to stay on track when you’re the king or queen, instead of just another middle manager at the Dunder-Mifflin Corporation.
Sure, you’ve got a relaxed dress code, and you may finally have an office with a window view. Still, when your most anticipated interaction of the day is with the mailman or your 83-year-old neighbor, you’d be surprised at how much you miss some of your work cohorts.
Not all of them, mind you, because some are truly dicks, but hopefully, you work with a lot of nice people, too.
And if you don’t, then shouldn’t you be using this time to polish your resume?
I love spending more time with my kids.
It’s okay to admit you may be lying part of the time on this one.
That does NOT make you a bad parent.
Want proof? Even if it’s just been a fleeting thought, raise your hand if you think teachers are grossly underpaid right about now.
There’s no denying most parents love spending more time with their kids, but let’s face facts. It really does take a village to raise a child.
Children are amazing, energetic, and curious creatures.
They cheerfully bounce from activity to activity.
Endlessly, it seems…
After a while, though, most parents just go “splat!”
Parenting without help from your social support group is difficult. But doing it on your own, especially if you’re locked inside, have work responsibilities, with worries about food, money and just plain surviving, is downright horror-movie hard.
This isn’t to say moms and dads aren’t wired to cope. But there’s a reason why domestic violence is spiking right now. There’s a reason why drinking is our new national sport, and alcohol sales are up 100 percent year-over-year.
Sure, this new normal is tough on you. But it is also incredibly stressful for your kids. The good part is, most of them don’t know it.
So, don’t beat yourself up if you want a break from parenting.
One of the first rules you’re taught when learning how to become a lifeguard is to make sure you’re safe so that two people don’t drown when you’re attempting a rescue. Parenting is like that, times a million.
Practice tag-team parenting. Rely on an extended family if you can. Get your breaks and quiet times in.
Make sure that “S” on your chest is for Super Parent instead of Stupor Parent. Don’t let your ego and pride tell you, “I’ve got this 24/7,” or it may turn out to be your parenting kryptonite.
I love my spouse…more than ever!
Though chances are, it’s a lie.
It’s probably more accurate to say whatever feelings you have toward your spouse are more intense than ever.
If your marriage was on shaky ground before and little things annoyed you, or if you couch-potatoed most of your time together laughing and cuddling, spending more time together is only going to accentuate those feelings.
For some couples, that’s great!
For other couples, meh, not so much.
Divorce lawyers and psychiatrists are going to be in high demand when this pandemic is over. It’s already starting in some places.
Those glossy little agreements you made to keep your marriage and your family going because you had other things to look forward to in your life are gone. All you’re left with is staring at your partner with no buffers in place.
Some people may rediscover new levels of love. I’m sure there’s going to be a few pandemic-themed Hallmark movies when this is done (are you ready for “Viral Love in Connecticut” or “Emergency Room Romance”?)
Just like the saying that “money makes you more of what you already are,” the same can be said of pandemics making your relationship with your spouse more of what it already is.
And, like parenting, being married is hard. You need breaks so that you can be moody, depressed, quiet, introspective, or whatever you want to feel on your own time. It spares your spouse from seeing the worst of you.
No breaks can’t help but lead to more breakups.
Be nice if you can.
If you can’t, go on a diet, and dig out a decade-old picture you can use for your Tinder profile.
I love being alone…or…I hate being alone.
Perhaps the biggest relationship lies you’re going to tell are the ones about the relationship you have with yourself.
Nobody knows your inner joys, doubts, frustrations, and desires more than you do.
You often avoid being honest with yourself because you don’t have the time for deep introspection. And if you did, you might not like what you see.
So, while you put on a mask for the rest of the world, you also put on a mask to fool yourself much of the time.
I suppose that’s okay. It’s your life. Do what you want with it.
But if you’re smart, you’ll use this time to think about what’s good and what’s bad about you. How you can change. What ideas you can discard. Even more important, what relationships with others you can discard.
You only have a finite number of breaths in this world, and once you start being honest and protective with yourself, you will be a better person for it.
You’ll lose a few people along the way. But you’ll gain others. And they will make you a better person, simply because you’ll have a better sense of who you are and the amount of control you have within yourself.
Sometimes, you’ll discover it’s okay to practice addition by subtraction. That’s it’s better to be alone than with someone who sucks the life out of you.
And if you can’t stand to be alone, maybe you should be asking yourself, “why?”
If you’re not at peace with yourself, how can you possibly be at peace with others?
Last, but not least…I miss my ex.
It may not be your biggest relationship lie, but it is probably the most complicated.
Here’s my best advice for you on this: Get over it.
You may be lonely. But there’s a reason why your ex is your ex.
You may miss companionship during the lockdown.
You may be jealous because you don’t have that special someone in your life anymore.
You may even think you’re still in love with your ex.
Assuming you buy into that, you need to understand that not all love is healthy, equal, or given in the same ways that you give it to others.
Also, understand that relationships right now are not normal. They require more work than ever. On the outside, even those that appear healthy may not be what they appear to be.
Your time is gonna come.
And if being in a relationship is a goal for you, make it happen.
But don’t confuse old feelings in a time of stress as a drug of choice to get you through.
Be patient and wait for the new, right person to come into your life.
You never much liked eating leftovers out of the frig anyway.
So why do it with your happiness now?