When the whole nation was placed under strict lockdown protocols, nobody could have ever predicted the toll that prolonged isolation would take on our social relationships. Now, as we slowly revert to a more relaxed quarantine classification, people are starting to meet up again, either with partners they’ve had since before the pandemic, or the ones they made virtually and whom they deflected their lockdown depression with.
Let’s be clear about one thing: moving towards lighter lockdown protocols doesn’t mean that we should start mingling with each other again like old times. However, for those who can afford to and have followed the minimum health standards, coming together seem to be a craving they can’t wait to satisfy.
But will it feel the same? Experts say it wouldn’t be quite what it used to be, and here’s why.
They might have taken a 180-degree turn
As we all try our best to hold our own amidst this pandemic, it is inevitable that our core priorities will change to adapt. Our routines will shift, our interests will vary — heck, even our perception of time may have mutated — and so will our outlook towards our relationships.
How our priorities change will be anchored on certainty, which, at the time, are based on what’s immediately around us, things that are hard enough to deal with on a daily basis, let alone in isolation.
Thus, it’s equally inevitable for partners to renegotiate the “culture” of the relationship once the pandemic is no more. More than spending time together to “relearn” new things about each other, relationships are expected to weigh in again on where it stands on each other’s lives.
They may have coped too well
Relationships fail the minute one person realizes they’re better off without it. Those who have experienced long-distance relationships already know this, and the rest of us eventually might, seeing how this pandemic turned every relationship into involuntary LDRs.
They may be seeing another person, or they may be realizing profound things about themselves that compel them to be with themselves from then on. Regardless, isolation reveals many mysterious things about ourselves, things that are difficult to get across to your partner when they’re hundreds of miles away.
Thus, when you’re allowed to see each other again, try not to push the relationship unto itself. Accept that they have made decisions solely for themselves, and if the relationship is still willing, understand that these will now be part of them moving forward.
They have resorted to “funneling” their relationships
Speaking of priorities, being sheltered in place may have also pushed us to “funnel” our relationships. While some social interactions are rendered impossible, a few others have strengthened as well, resulting in a funneling of social contacts. And according to experts, this may not be a short-term solution, but one that will affect how we build our social circles for years to come.
Sure, we can Zoom with anyone and everyone we like, but that’s not sustainable for our social energy storage, is it? But at the very least, if you’re someone’s partner, it’s safe to say that you’re first into the funnel among their wide social network, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t guaranteed. What’s certain, however, is that according to the study, people prioritized and kept contact with relationships that bear relatively low stakes. That’s why high-pressure relationships have been proven to have fizzled out during this turbulent period.
If you have a strong and secure relationship with your partner, then congrats! You’ll probably weather the pandemic better than ever.
If not, then as the title imposes, don’t be afraid to start over. Looking at your partner after the pandemic and seeing a different person doesn’t mean the relationship has failed and you’ve drifted apart. It takes a great amount of guts to admit you have to reintroduce yourselves, but the trust that blooms after might just be greater.