For many couples quarantined together right now, no matter the strength of the relationship, being confined to one house without outside interactions is difficult and unfamiliar. You’re likely to feel trapped and frustrated at times, on top of all the other emotions that this situation has heightened. In an effort to help those relationships that are being tested by 24/7 close quarters isolation, we spoke to three dating professionals to get their best tips and tricks.
Prioritize Alone Time and Self-Care as Individuals
“Spend at least 50% of the day alone, whether that’s working or relaxing in separate rooms, or popping in your headphones in the same space if you don’t have separate spaces.” — Haley Neidich, LCSW, psychotherapist and relationship expert
“Conflict will erupt in a relationship if both partners are not managing their self-care and mental health. Talk to your friends and family mostly alone without your partner in the room.” –Neidich
“It’s important, for the relationship, for each partner to take good care of their own emotional wellbeing. Whether it’s working out, taking a warm bath, dancing to a favorite song, journaling, or any other enjoyable way to reconnect with oneself, it will be of great benefit to the relationship.” — Alexandra Stockwell, MD, relationship and intimacy expert, bestselling author
Use Time Together Wisely
“This is a great time for sensual explorations. I encourage couples to honor wherever they are, and expand a little bit from there. For one couple it could mean reading erotic poetry aloud. For another it could be looking up online some information about sensual massage. For another couple it could mean putting on blindfolds and touching one another with various materials around the house with varying texture, pressure, and pace. This is the time to lean in and explore arenas that are intriguing. Start with just a bit of a stretch, and see what happens.” –Stockwell
“Spend an evening reminiscing about the past. Make a point of focusing on positive memories. This isn’t a time to dig up old wounds. It’s a time to look back and see the shared history and feel closeness and pride for the special times together. Spend another evening talking about the future and sharing possibilities to look forward to together.” –Stockwell
“Pick two nights to share affirmations. Switch off being giver and receiver. An affirmation describes a person’s qualities as opposed to raising a specific thing that they have done. For instance, say ‘you are kind’ rather than ‘you helped me out with that project yesterday’. Do 10 per night.” — Chuck Rockey, dating and relationship coach
Plan Ahead to Avoid Issues
“Agree on a “relationship truce” during this quarantine period. Meaning, identify together the triggering topics or conversations that tend to bring out conflict within the partnership and agree to pause those topics if you’re able to. If you’re not able to put these issues on pause and you are struggling in the partnership, I highly suggest that you work with a couples counselor remotely.” –Neidich
“The best way to handle this new experience is to set aside time dedicated to connecting and taking turns sharing. While one person shares how they feel the other person’s job is to listen and afterwards say “thank you for sharing that with me.” Then switch and the person who spoke now listens. It’s key that the listening partner realizes that they don’t need to do anything other than listen. It’s not a time to fix or problem solve.” –Stockwell
“Have a house meeting once a week. Go over things that are bugging you. Don’t be accusatory. Letting your partner know what is up with you and how you’d like to be treated can be a kind thing and a win-win situation.” –Rockey
Annie Burdick is a writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon, but transplanted from the Midwest. She also works as a community inclusion specialist for adults with disabilities. Previously she's edited and written for magazines, websites, books, and small businesses, on an absurdly wide range of topics. She spends the rest of her time reading, eating good food, and finding new adventures in the Pacific Northwest.