In these times of the Corona Virus, or Covid-19 as it has finally ben officially termed, the one single phrase that stands out in all the social media chatter is "Social distancing." It is the single most important thing to flatten the curve on the spread of the virus and curtail the impact of it on the stretched medical response infrastructure. In practical terms, what it means is more time at home, less time in public spaces, especially around possibly ill strangers.
It is an absolutely necessary step to flatten out the spread across the community, and yet, within the home, for people used to seeing each other for a few hours a day and perhaps the weekends and the occasional longer break, this stay at home period can be something else altogether.
We tend to romanticise the idea of being together forever with movies and books playing up the image of the lovelorn person yearning to spend every moment clinging to the beloved, pained at the thought of being away even for a day, and calling out "I miss you already!" and "I miss you more!" at the door only to quickly start messaging each other on their smart phones. In reality though, most relationships have long periods of time away from each other each day, if not through the week.
There is a lot more intimacy and connection to be shared when there is time spent away from each other. To be able to go away and come back allows us at the very least ask, "How was your day?" and have stories to share of the outside world, and seek support from each other in terms of how we each relate to the world outside. For people who live and work together constantly, not having those gaps and always knowing what's up with each other, often reduces opportunity for intimate connections. What do you talk about with a partner about them when you see them all day, every day? There is no "What's new?" conversations possible, and with the over-familiarity, contempt could set as the old adage promises - "Familiarity breeds contempt."
So, how does one maintain the little bit of distance necessary for healthy relationships even if you are mandatorily stuck with each other 24*7 for weeks on end?
The key is to recognize that we all have inner worlds that are distinct and unique. We need to give ourselves time and space to live in those worlds, even if we are within the same walls, be it by reading, journaling, the content we consume, the activities we do. For us then to actively be interested in each other's world with questions of, "What have you been up to?" can still bring up interesting aspects of this person we are trying to love.
This period of Corona inflicted home alone time may just be the Universe trying to get us away from being in Doing mode to more time in the Being mode, and learn to love each other in the spaces between us.
As written for The New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.