How to survive a forced separation from a loved one: advice from a psychologist
Being at home on self-isolation is difficult. But it is even more difficult for lovers who, for various reasons, were separated: they live in different cities or even countries and do not have the opportunity to meet. How can they cope with this situation and still maintain a relationship? Wedding turned to a professional for recommendations. Online consultation conducted Marina Ponomareva, clinical psychologist, consultant psychologist, teacher of psychology, active member of the PPL.
Question: Now some lovers are in a difficult situation: due to external circumstances, they cannot physically be together. Does this affect the relationship?
Answer: The situation in which we all find ourselves now is a huge stress for everyone. This stress is associated with many deep, vital fears. Here is the fear of a pandemic, and a financial crisis, and loneliness, and destruction, and uncertainty. We are all now trying to somehow cope with this, to adapt. And it takes a huge amount of time and consumes a lot of resources. What is happening is a great test for a person, society and, of course, relations between loved ones. Everyone had to change their usual order and way of life. And this greatly affects not only well-being, but also the relationship between people. You have to look for solutions: how to save yourself, how to maintain relationships, how partners do not lose intimacy and warmth.
Question: How to adapt to stress?
Answer: In stress, we all experience and behave in different ways. Someone experiences stress in such a way that he needs constant support, communication, tactile contact. Others – they need solitude, they want to close and be alone for some time. Therefore, advice: it is important to listen to yourself, observe yourself, “how I experience stress and what helps me to cope with it,” and talk to your partner, look for solutions, how you can help each other.
Question: But one thing is to work on a relationship when partners are together. And how to maintain closeness if there is a distance between them?
Answer: Self-isolation, strict quarantine, border closure is a difficult test. The inability to meet and the uncertainty cause anxiety. And when the distance between partners – both physical and emotional – is experienced as insecurity. And here, in order to pay attention to relationships and preserve them, you need to shift the focus of attention from the individual (“I” and “you”) to the joint – “we”. Relationships are shared territory. “We exist. Yes, it is difficult for us, but for us, as a couple, it is important to overcome this and survive. ” And then the question of finding a solution will arise: what do we need to do to maintain the relationship, to maintain intimacy, how often to communicate, in what format.
Question: A person gets used to any circumstances. But when partners are not together, fear arises that they will break the habit of each other.
Answer: This fear is quite natural: if you stay at a distance for a long time, alienation can arise. But alienation arises not only when partners are at a distance, but also when there is an emotional distance between them. Although physical distance certainly contributes to estrangement, especially when one of the partners perceives proximity through tactile contact, frequent communication. Not together, partners wean from each other, weaned to live with each other. And in the future, in order to overcome this, they will need time and other decisions – this will be a new stage in the relationship. But now another task is much more important. Maintain closeness, warmth, a sense of “we” and everything connected with it. Therefore, now – not even at a distance – partners should have common affairs, common decisions, common emotions. Regular communication, daily communication.
Question: Should partners in separation adhere to the schedule and rules in daily communication?
Answer: It is very important to have stability in communication. Let’s say you agree that you meet on Skype or Zoom every evening with a glass of wine or a cup of tea. And it will be good if this is just video communication, in order to see and / or hear each other. Again, it is important that communication is regular. And then, inside these regular stories, there may be something else: photographs, love letters, erotic messages, exchange of interesting links, etc. Still, it is important to leave a place for lightness, spontaneity, so that there is air, and not turn communication into “it should be so.” Each pair has its own rhythm, its own philosophy and its own rules. The main thing is that they feel good. And if there is any tension, it is important to pay attention to it and articulate it carefully. Any relationship has three pillars: common interests, emotional intimacy, and sexual intimacy. It is important to support these three areas. And in what ratio – the partners themselves decide how it is more comfortable and convenient for them.
Question: What about long-distance sexual intimacy?
Answer: This area of life cannot be completely replaced. But you can compensate. And in this matter, the imagination and invention of the partners themselves will help. Now there are a lot of different gadgets and technical capabilities. Partners can arrange Skype dates, exchange photos of erotic content. Again, this will not replace real contact and sexual intimacy, but it will keep the relationship close. In psychology, anything that works for support and compensation is good.
Question: What is the correct way to react to changes in plans? Nowadays, many couples have postponed weddings, travel disrupted. Emotions, experiences …
Answer: It is important to allow yourself to experience these emotions. Get over it and talk about it. Don’t try to run away. Don’t mask the negative. You can be hurt, sad, offensive. You may even get angry, it is only important not to blame your partner for this, not to look for the guilty and not to get personal. Allow yourself to experience. But when you feel that you are being pulled into a strong melancholy – switch your attention. And here everyone has their own way: someone needs to read, someone needs to disassemble cabinets, someone needs to work or watch a TV series.
Question: The main advice that will help partners cope with separation and this difficult period?
Answer: Now is a difficult time. Don’t try to embellish it. Each of us has our own way of dealing with stress. If something helps you, makes your life easier – do it. And more often shift the focus of attention to “we”. This is what will help maintain and improve relationships. Support each other. Have a conversation. Don’t hide your feelings. Trust each other. And call your imagination, invention and personality as allies.
Text: Tatiana Yezhova.
Photo: Fedor Borodin, valenaphoto.ru, Martina Skrobot, Melli & Shayne.