What are the rules of modern-day relationships?
Q: What’s important in a relationship in 2020?
With texting and communicating online, is it normal to be on the phone together all day?
Or does a good-morning text suffice, followed by a text and zero communication through the day?
I have no idea anymore.
A: We’re all living in confusing times because what was once “normal” in our lives has been turned upside down.
Yes, technology has surged into every aspect of our relationships, changing how and when we communicate with others. Moreover, we’re trying to maintain and or develop healthy relationships during a pandemic for which we need to adjust many of our activities.
The result is that many people spend a great deal of time on their smart phones — checking for and sending messages and expecting instant responses, relying on texts to resolve disagreements and feeling hurt and ignored if there’s no calls or messages back.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has entered our relationships. If you weren’t already committed within the same protective bubble, the lockdown has either made you take risks (if not affecting you, then maybe your grandparents). Or you rushed to move in together despite not being sure you were compatible. Or, one of you got laid off, while the other’s in an essential service, and you hardly get to see each other in person.
What to do? Accept that these are unusual times, but that this, too, shall pass. Most science and health experts predict with backup from research, that with a safe vaccine and hopefully with general compliance, we’ll be back to “normal” by next spring or summer.
How to manage relationships until then? Try not to make major decisions that involve change and upheaval if not necessary. Living with abuse, for example, demands seeking change and protection of everyone at risk.
Use this time the best you can — there are many professional counsellors offering their services online and many communities offer mental-health and wellness services.
Take advantage of virtual offerings presenting music, dance, plays, art, and join webinars on interesting topics.
Keep informed and occupied beyond scanning Facebook and other social media that overwhelm with unverified information and others’ personal dissatisfactions.
What’s most important in a relationship in 2020 is getting through challenges with all the determination and positivity you can muster. It will pass.
FEEDBACK Regarding whether the letter-writer should alert the wife of a co-worker about her husband’s ongoing affair (Nov. 18):
Reader: I disagree with your advice that the co-worker speak to the cheater about the pitfalls of his actions. I don’t condone the actions of the person who may be having an affair, but they don’t need a lecture from someone who’s neither a close friend nor a family member.
Anyone cheating on their spouse knows the possible implications or results.
An alternative approach might be to have the co-worker say confidentially to their colleague, “I know it’s not my business what you do with your personal life, and I certainly don’t condone what you’re doing, but you might want to be more subtle with your relationship around the office. If it’s apparent to me, I’m sure it’s so to many others.”
It might possibly scare them into rethinking their actions.
Ellie: Good approach! My experience with this column has shown, repeatedly, that cheaters as obvious as this man do believe they’ll get away with it.
A reality-check conversation with him is fair warning from someone who is a daily witness to the lies about “working late.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
A healthy relationship mantra for 2020: Adapt and accept what’s essential to safe survival without risking others.