Why we will miss lockdown – Surprising lessons learnt from social distancing
The Coronavirus social distancing hasn’t been all bad. We have learnt a few lessons, and we have a few resolutions to keep after it is over.
Like the rest of the Benelux, Aliki and I have been under lockdown for over seven weeks. We haven’t met any of our vanilla friends and sexual adventures involving travelling or other people have come to a halt. Social distancing has isolated us from the world.
At first we thought we could keep it intimate and limit ourselves to 2+2 encounters. But we only managed one of those before it became apparent that the situation warranted a stricter approach.
So for the past two months, it has been me and Aliki & Aliki and I. And, frankly, it turned out to be amazing in so many ways!
As strange as it may sound, we will miss the lockdown.
Here are 5 surprising lessons I have learnt during the social distancing due to COVID lockdown:
1. Take things easy
To say that the COVID lockdown has been stress-free would be a lie. The kids needed attention all the time, and we had to help them with the school.
In the beginning we were also worried about how to manage with work, how to obtain necessities and, of course, about our health.
As the weeks rolled by, though, we settled in. The children started their classes online and working from home became smoother. To our immense relief, we never ran out of toilet paper and the internet held out.
Slowly but surely we found our daily rhythm. One fine day we realized that we had, in fact, calmed down.
“You know something, baby? I feel almost anxious that they’re lifting the lockdown” I confided in my partner the moment we heard the government announced the gradual easing of social distancing.
“Me too! I am afraid that our crazy lives will come back. We’ll lose this bubble of calm and our loving mood.”
“Shall we try and keep it so, then?”
My lover snuggled up in my arms and mumbled her agreement.
During the lockdown Aliki and I have come closer. Living in our bubble has enabled us to focus on our family and each other.
Much of the energy that before we spent rushing to appointments, keeping deadlines and meeting people was available for other purposes. Our relationship has benefited.
The realization is stark. We have been tearing ourselves into a thousand pieces to cover everything. Without noticing, we were burning vital energy and precious time for things we could do without and people we could, frankly, see less of.
Post-COVID Resolution #1:
Make choices. Just because we have the time and we can do it, doesn’t mean that we have to do it!
2. Be more inventive
Necessity is the mother of invention. It is a cliché, I know, but it isn’t often that we apply it to relationships.
Under lockdown our social interactions have been vastly reduced. Staring at the frozen pixilated faces of relatives and repeating everything twice pretty much sums it up.
Hell, I am not even sure I won’t start asking people if they can’t hear me or see me the moment we are allowed to have physical contact!
Some of our naughtier friends resorted to hooking up online with Lifestyle friends. But remote sex doesn’t quite work for us, so we didn’t even try it. Instead, we came up with a list of ideas to keep our sex life running under lockdown.
The truth is that, for us, the Lifestyle has never been a replacement for our intimacy. Each time we visited a swingers club, the people around us were merely props to spice up our own sex life.
It may sound cheap, but I don’t mind being a prop to other couples either. So, I guess we are quits.
My point here is that the lockdown helped us focus our sexual attention on each other. Our sex life also became calmer, though not duller.
Perhaps this is not as surprising as it sounds at first. We had more time for each other and, therefore, less pressure to make use of every available moment.
Post-COVID Resolution #2:
Maintain a healthy sex life without always relying on stimuli coming from outside the relationship
3. Do more things together.
When you are stuck with your partner 24/7 you have a choice: either you find a way to synchronize your lives harmoniously or you keep out of each others’ way. Unless you want to fight all the time, that is!
With Aliki, we managed to do a bit of both. We had our alone time to recover, but we also found ourselves doing more stuff together. We liked it.
For starters, we exercised more together. Our kids are just old enough to be left home alone for an hour or so without wrecking the place. So we started taking off for long walks as often as we could.
This was quality time which we never had before. We talked, we held hands, and we discussed stuff that we usually never have the time for.
But it’s not only about chatting. It is effectively about closeness. We spent a lot more time doing things we love next to each other. Be it cooking, reading, writing for Couple of Secrets and even painting miniatures.
And we have some ideas for when the social distancing is over. Tennis is next on the list, then perhaps some tantra massage classes.
I am a happy man. Not so stupefying considering that a Harvard Study has found a strong link between happiness and maintaining close relationships.
Post-COVID Resolution #3:
Doing things together, even merely next to each other, is a marvellous booster to our relationship. Keep finding time for it!
4. Less can be better
Surrounded as I am by gadgets and my daily comforts, I cannot say that I would make Marie Kondo proud. Yet, the lockdown proved to be a unique opportunity to experience minimalism of sorts.
Before COVID-19 struck, Aliki and I would spend a good chunk of our time and resources planning escapades: trips, weekend breaks, outings. Our instinct was to break our daily routine by leaving home or by seeking exceptional experiences.
We strove to visit exotic places, sleep in extraordinary hotels, try out exclusive clubs and dine in gourmet restaurants. And it didn’t stop with us. We also wanted our kids to experience as many things as possible.
The thing is, excitement is like a drug.
The more you get of it, the more you need it. Coming to think of it, it sounds very much like sex too!
Our escapades are often exhilarating. We have no intention of giving up on them completely. Come freedom, we have some fantasies to knock off our bucket-list.
However, throughout social distancing and lockdown, we realized that what we considered as our usual lifestyle had become a bit of a rat-race. On some level, we needed each experience to be more spectacular than the other. An occasion was not unique if it didn’t involve a trip, dining out, clubbing. Same with sex.
COVID-19, despite all its horrors, forced us to snap out of this vicious circle. We have come to realize two essential things: 1st) chasing the ultimate experience costs us energy which we can deploy more effectively and 2nd) we can achieve the same effect by doing simpler stuff.
The first time restaurants were allowed to sell take-outs, Aliki and I dressed up, went for a walk hand in hand, bought a burger and munched it on the street (we weren’t even allowed to sit on a bench at the time). It was a treat.
By the time we got home, we were in high spirits as if we had had the best date ever. And the truth is that I had. The only thing I need to make a date unforgettable is Aliki (and possibly a burger).
Post-COVID Resolution #4:
Take it easy and do simpler stuff. The extraordinary should be just that: exceptional.
5. Routine can be good
I am a Scorpio – I see your admiration of Aliki going up a few notches – and routine is my sworn enemy. Repetition sucks out my will to live like a Dementor.
The only way I survive tedium is by rummaging inside my head for crazy ideas and drive Aliki nuts. This blog is one of them!
So, by far, the greatest surprise of the lockdown has been my appreciation of our daily routine. To my bewilderment, I have started to enjoy the mindlessness of knowing what comes next!
Breakfast is always oats; lunch happens at the same time. So does sleep, waking up, working, writing, sports. Things have fallen into place. And I am thriving!
It is not that I have suddenly turned into an automaton. I simply realized how much time and energy routine freed up for me to dedicate elsewhere: including my relationship.
I calmed down. I now dread the morning when I’ll have to jump out of bed, check my emails while brushing my teeth, dress up the kids for school while eating toast, and drive while keying-in numbers and cursing at SIRI.
Post-COVID Resolution #5:
Life is too short to multitask. Do one thing at a time: properly, thoroughly and, ideally, joyfully.
Learning the lesson
The beauty of being in a long term relationship is the camaraderie that you build between the two of you. Yet, often, even when we pay attention to the relationship, we can become oblivious to the patterns and habits that we settle in.
The lockdown was the perfect disrupter to look at our relationship from a new angle and to appreciate the little – and not so little – things that matter. As we come out of the lockdown, the challenge will be to hold on to our new-found wisdom. Will we manage?
Tell us about your experience with social distancing
What about you? How was your lockdown and social distancing experience? Will you miss it or will you simply be glad that it is over?
Photo credit: Couple of Secrets