The C Word: Relationships in Lockdown

by Maddie
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[Disclaimer: one section of this post is something that was #gifted to me, therefore I need to use #ad for y’all to see]

Hallo! I’m writing this just a few days after my very first podcast episode came out – and the second one’s up now, too! Once I started The C Word series over on this blog, I knew I wanted to do something more to help reach people and share personal stories over this challenging time. So, I set out to start The C Word podcast, of which Episode 1 and now 2 have just gone out on Spotify, Google Podcasts and Anchor, and I am so happy about this. This series, both on the blog and on the podcast, is aiming to allow ordinary people to share their personal stories and journeys over this crazy time, to offer support, comfort and advice for all us other ordinary people trying to muddle through this massive change to our societal psyche and lifestyles. I hope this series brings comfort, support, advice and positivity and I am so pleased to hear the feedback so far. You can read more about the podcast here!

Today’s post is chattin’ all things relationships. I’m talking romantic relationships, keeping up with pals, staying in touch with family and more over this crazy time. I reached out to you guys (again) on Instagram, and lots of you offered your thoughts in staying connected over this isolated period – and offered lots of tips on how you can keep your relationships fulfilling and positive. Although we may not physically be with each other at the moment, becoming mentally and socially closer has never quite mattered so much. The physical distance may be large, but I think it’s safe to say we’re all feeling closer to our loved ones than ever before.

Sendin u physically distant luv

That doesn’t mean that staying in touch doesn’t come with its problems, however, and so this post sets out to explore the complexities to staying in touch in a physically distanced age and how we can make this time as fulfilling for our relationships as possible. So, let’s get cracking, shall we?

The Rant

Let’s begin with how nurturing my relationships at this physically distanced time is making me feel. Imma breakin’ this up into three sections: my relationship with my boyfriend; my relationship with my pals; and my relationship with my family. Here’s how I’m finding relationships in lockdown:

My relationship with my boyfriend, Sam

After three years of physical distance with us both studying at university, to be finally living with Sam, who’s been in my life for a *terrifying* five years, has been wonderful. We’re not used to having so much time with each other, and I find I’m cherishing these quiet moments together.

To be completely honest, I believe he needs a medal for dealing with me in quarantine, because my emotions have been here, there and everywhere – and he’s dealt calmly with my panics and always finds a way to chill me out. We’re absolute opposites (I’m a worrier and stress-head, he’s calm and collected – I have a tendency to over-work and he reminds me how to relax) and I think that, luckily, these opposite personality traits have really helped us both out in lockdown. When I get overwhelmed by something I see on the news, Sam always knows how to distract me, rationalise my panicked thoughts and make me feel more positive again. When Sam might have the tendency to stay in bed for a big portion of the day and slip out of routine now we’re both furloughed (he’s the king of sleeping lol), I ensure that we both get up at a reasonable time each day and spend some time during the week working on separate projects and hobbies we’re passionate about. We balance each other out well and that has helped a lot within this challenging period.

However, one thing to note is it’s been difficult to ‘make an effort’ with each other recently and take some proper time to have a ‘date night’ or whatever vomit-inducing phrase you want to use, because there isn’t all that much to do! We find ourselves too often in the evenings just slipping into watching Netflix and doing nothing else – but recently, we’ve been trying to mix it up by cooking each other bougier meals, getting dressed up for Zoom calls with pals and throwing on some tunes and having a boogie and a bev. My recent personal fave evenings have been doing an inside ‘barbecue’ by cooking some bougie jerk chicken burgers that Sam nearly cried over because he loved them so much lol – and our nachos date night where we cuddled up on the floor to eat dins off the coffee table to binge Netflix. I think trying to get a balance of your partner being a safe harbour when things get overwhelming, and someone you can have a good time with and make happy memories with, is important right now. We value the simple things so much more, now – and taking an evening a week to do something a little different at home has been really beneficial.

My relationship with pals

One thing that I’ve been finding gratitude in in this crazy period is having more time on my hands to keep in touch properly with my pals. Life is busy, most of us are working now after university, and it’s hard to keep in touch other than the odd message during the week and the good old proper phone call, once in a while. However, lockdown has ensured I keep in proper touch with all my pals.

We’re doing weekly Zoom calls amongst my uni house pals, which has been so lovely and something we haven’t done since leaving university nearly a year ago. It’s sad it’s taken us this long to have a proper, fulfilling group call, but I’m so glad we’ve started them now, and I want to continue them after lockdown.

However, I think the main difficulty I’ve personally found is that a lot of my pals are from differing stages in my life, and so I’m trying to juggle keeping in touch with lots of people. In this quarantine time, everyone feels more compelled to have a sustained connection with each other, which is so lovely – but at the same time – very hard to maintain. I feel like most my weeknight evenings consist of one form of quiz or another, or one video call catch-up or another. I feel like, suddenly, I’ve got less time just for me, and it’s hard to go into a planned video chat sometimes if you’re having an off day and don’t feel 100%. It feels harder to say, ‘sorry can we rearrange?’, in a time where we ‘shouldn’t’ have an excuse to do that.

I do usually find that even if I join a quiz or video call when I’m not feeling great, the chat does boost my mood and I’m so thankful I did it, afterwards. But sometimes, it can feel like your weeks consist with staying constantly ‘switched on’ and ‘sociable’.

My relationship with my family

I’m very close to my immediate family, which I’m incredibly grateful for, and I have a habit of calling my mum and sister every single day – even when they probably want an evening off from my chatter. I miss them all so much and it’s been very hard being away from them for so long.

I also call my Grandma a lot. She lives on her own, is isolated because of her age, and must be finding this lockdown period very difficult. I’ve done quizzes with my sister, but the usual catch-up with my Mum and Grandma is just a chat over the phone. My Grandma doesn’t even have internet, so it’s been hard not being able to video call to keep in touch and see her face. I’ve struggled recently with trying to think of ways I can keep my Grandma entertained and in contact with people over this tricky time, but I’ve recently found a brilliant way to keep her occupied over this time – all will be revealed in The Positivity Lens.

There are different tensions to relationships over this weird time. Romantically, it’s utterly different depending on the situation you find yourself in, but I think there’s a tension between being each other’s emotional support over this challenging period, and still finding time to make nice memories and time for each other. For friendships, it’s wonderful having the space and time to devote yourself to them more, but it’s also hard to juggle the pressure to be sociable online. And with family, it’s difficult to know how best to support those you love from afar.

I reached out on Instagram to ask you what your thoughts were of relationships over this crazy period, and it was lovely to hear what you all had to say.

Jus feelin happy bout ya responses

The Other Story

This isolated period has put tensions on relationships, and there are things to grapple with, dependent on your personal situation. For example, 32% of you who are single and took part in the research said you still used dating apps over this period, but 68% of you said you’d given up on them for now. Being single and trying to navigate speaking to people you’d usually organise a date with can be difficult. For those of you in a relationship, but one where you haven’t been able to see your other half, the difficulty comes around the physical contact. Most of you who offered your thoughts said you used some form of video call constantly to keep in touch – when you’re in a romantic relationship, being able to see each other is so integral. For those who live with their partner, most of your concerns were around trying to find something unique, fun and special to do at least once a week – ways to keep ‘date night’ a thing and keep the relationship special.

Moving onto familial relationships, the big difficulty surrounding them for a lot of us is being able to try and find interesting ways to keep in touch with grandparents who don’t have the same access to internet and modern technology as a lot of us do. But an overwhelming majority of us keep in touch with family members every single day, or at least every couple of days – which is lovely to see.

And when it comes to friendships, lots of you are finding super unique and fun ways to keep in touch, from game recommendations (to come in The Positivity Lens) and online quizzes, to video call catchups. However, there is still a pressure that we’re feeling to be sociable all the time with quizzes, zoom catchups and more with pals – 67% of you felt this pressure. And asking if there’d been a time where you wanted to cancel a catch-up because you weren’t feeling 100%, but felt like you ‘didn’t have an excuse’ so took part anyway, 80% of you said you had experienced that exact feeling.

However, there were some incredibly reassuring responses of things you’re all doing to keep yourselves positive when you’re missing loved ones or are feeling overwhelmed, and it’s so good to see we’re able to strike a near-perfect balance between cultivating fulfilling relationships and thinking about taking some time for us, too. We’re all chartering uncertain and unprecedented waters at the moment, so to be honest, I think we’re doing pretty darn well.

The Positivity Lens

So, we’ve only gone and reached it! We’re here for some positivity, people! Loads of you got in touch to offer your incredibly brilliant ideas for cultivating all kinds of relationships over this period, and I’d love to end the blog post by discussing them. But firstly, I just wanted to introduce you to an incredible app from a company that contacted me a few weeks back, that I’ve been religiously using as a way to connect with my family over this crazy period.

Neveo reached out and asked if I wanted to share their app with you guys – and they’re offering a cracking free offer for you to try it out for two months, too. Neveo is a photo journal app, where you can add a selection of memories straight from your camera roll each month, in order to create a beautiful journal for a loved one. At the end of the month, the ‘journal’ gets closed, and then Neveo sends your beautiful images and captions to print to form a beautiful journal that they send to the address you’ve provided, to bring some joy to your loved ones.

I personally chose my Grandma, because she lives on her own like I’ve mentioned before, and she doesn’t use the internet or social media so doesn’t keep photos virtually. She’s spoken in the past about how she wanted a collection of photos of all our recent memories that our family would usually keep on our phones printed for her to keep, so I couldn’t wait to get started on April’s journal for her. The journal can be used as a month of memories for loved ones, to capture your month, or it can be used like I did, to fill it with beautiful memories of the past and hope for the better days to come.

I’ve just been sent a preview of the physical journal this morning, and it looks beautiful – and I can’t wait for them to deliver it to my Grandma as a surprise. I think that this is such a unique, special and beautiful way to keep in touch with family in a kind of physical way over this isolated and often very virtual period.

So, if you’d like to download Neveo and have 2 months free to trial the photo journal app, just download the app from the Appstore and use the promo code ‘SUPPORT’ to get one journal of 50 pictures per month for two months for absolutely nada! You don’t have to pay a penny and in return, you get a beautiful journal for your loved ones. After two months, you can cancel your subscription, or pursue with Neveo at £9.99 a month. Such a wonderful idea, so I really wanted to share it with you.

#ad #gifted

Now onto all your positive, beautiful tips, advice and responses! Here’s how you’re keeping things positive with loved ones over this period:

If you’re in a relationship, but haven’t been able to see your other half, how have you found ways of connecting over this period?

“Watching Netflix together over FaceTime; having weekly FaceTime date nights” 📱

“FaceTiming him constantly and keeping him updated with everything I’m doing!” 📱

“We’ve been video calling everyday – and watching things together on Netflix party!” 📺

“Sent him beer in the post” 🍺

“FaceTime!” 📱

“Happy Mail” 💌

“Leaving gifts on the doorstep: like homemade cakes and Easter eggs at Easter” 🎁

“Making plans for things we want to do after lockdown!” 🌞

“Coming up with quizzes about ourselves/each other 😂”

“Playing Battleship on FaceTime” 📱

If you live with your partner, how have you made quality time for yourselves when all there really is to do together is binge Netflix? What things have you done for ‘date night’?

“Walks together serve as our ‘date night’, as we would usually go out” 🚶

“Bike rides 🚴🌈🌷”

“Going for cycles together and spending time in the garden just chatting, drinking beer and chilling.” 🚴

“Long walks to new places we haven’t been before!” 🚶

“One night a week we cook a 3-course restaurant-style dinner, and dress like we’re going out!” 👨‍🍳

“Cocktail night, mini golf, walks, movie nights, [making] home improvements” 🍸 🏌️ 🎥 🏠

“We’ve continued to make Friday/Saturday night date night; working out together, also” ❤️ 💪

“We’ve been finding time out in the evenings to do what we love, either in the same or separate rooms 😊”

“Usually nice dinner and a film for date night; also, [we’ve] been working out together” 👨‍🍳 🎥 💪

“Homemade pizzas, card games, dinner dates, long walks, bike rides” 🍕 🃏 👨‍🍳 🚶 🚴

“Mexican nights or themes. [We] have a ‘posh dinner’ on Saturday – pretend we are out!” 👨‍🍳

“We do days spent on our own – evenings together, or vice versa! 💕”

“Houseparty with friends/Zoom quizzes/drinking games – sitting away from [the] tv” 🍸

“Spending the days apart (1 upstairs, 1 downstairs) – then evenings feel normal” 💕

“Trying to play games that are interactive and don’t involve a screen” 🃏

“We’ve been getting a takeaway once a week from our fave Bristol spots 😊”

“We have made sure we have special food and dress up on the weekend” 👨‍🍳 ❤️

One from me, here: Me and Sam go on wonderful walks together exploring new parts of Bristol which we adore, we usually get a takeaway once a fortnight from somewhere we love and we’re even trying our hand at cookin’ up a storm every weekend with a fancypants dinner, drinks and a chance to dress up and have date night! We also spend the days during the week working on separate projects and relaxing, meaning the days feel more normal!

How have you kept in touch with grandparents and vulnerable loved ones who are completely isolated at the moment? Has there been anything original and fun you’ve done to keep them in touch and occupied?

“We just do group family video chats!” 📱

“Just phone calls. I wish my Nan knew how to FaceTime!” 📱

“My gran is 83 and we keep in touch via text. I gave her all the books I’ve read to keep her occupied.” 📚

“Group Zoom calls with the whole family and dropping their shopping off with little notes.” 📱

“Call them every other day and [have] gone over to talk to them through the kitchen window (2m away!)” ❤️

“Just laying on my Gran’s drive on a yoga mat and speaking to her through her door” ❤️

“Lots of phone calls! My Mum sends my Grandma a ‘care package’ filled with goodies, too.” 📱

“Ringing them every week or so” 📱

“Just phone calls every other day because my grandparents don’t have internet in their house” 📱

“I sent my Nan some flowers online and they were delivered to her house. She loved them!” 💐

“We make my Grandparents word searches and colouring pages.” 🗞️

“Doorstep deliveries and waving from the bottom of the drive” ❤️

“WhatsApp calls and WhatsApp group chats” 📱

“Family group chats and family FaceTime/Messenger calls” 📱

“We have a weekly Zoom chat with the whole family, including those overseas as well” 📱

One from me: Neveo might be the perfect app to send home gifts for your grandparents – it’s what I’ve been doing for my Grandma.

Any fun online quizzes/games to keep in touch with pals or family?

“Jackbox Games has kept many of my friendship groups entertained!” 😂

“Lexlulus for online scrabble!” 🙌

“Pscyh!” 😂

“Kahoot can be a laugh; Rento is an app that is so similar to Monopoly” 🙌

“The apps Psych & Photo Roulette” 😂

“Psych”🙌

“The virtual quiz guy on Facebook” 😂

“Geo-guesser is fun! Or Monopoly on the PS4!!” 🙌

“Kahoot” 😂

“PSYCH” 🙌

“Battleship” 😂

“Each preparing a little 3-min spiel about interesting things [that have] happened in your life during LD” 🙌

“Netflix Party” 😂

One from me: I will second Jackbox Games. I love ‘em – I’m also a fan of making your own quiz (I’m a whiz at PowerPoint now lol there ain’t no transition that I can’t do)

And finally, anything you do to keep yourself positive when you’re struggling with missing loved ones?

“I like sharing my little wins with family and friends, like runs that felt good or yummy baking!” 👩‍🍳

“Give them a call! 😊”

“Talk about what you’ll do together when this is all over! I can’t wait for a post-lockdown family barbecue.” (You and me both, pal, you and me both)   🍖

“Thinking of those first hugs when all of this is over ❤️”

“Just remember that it’s going to be amazing when you finally do get to see them” 😃

“Talk to them until they annoy you, then you won’t miss them for a few days” (Love the refreshing honesty with this one haha!) 😂

I hope this post has given you some ideas on how you can keep cultivating your relationships in all their different forms over this otherwise isolated period. It’s a time where we’ve learned to cherish each other a million times more, have learned to keep relationships special and make happy memories even if we can’t be physically with each other right now. Here’s hoping sooner, rather than later, we can raise a glass in the garden together again, barbie lit and conversation flowing. Stay safe, stay positive and I’ll be back with another post soon xxx

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