Relationships

Love in the Time of Corona

Love in the Time of Corona

In the last few weeks, the screens have taken over…

They have become our family gatherings, happy hours, playdates, birthday parties, and conference rooms. Even more than before, they are our windows to what is going on, both in the world at large and right outside our doors. If you feel like you’re trapped in an ad for a tech company — saccharine yet strangely poignant — you are not alone.

On such screens, I have been the recipient of messages ranging from friends reporting how their illness is progressing to texts like, “You would NOT believe the volume of the chewing coming from the next room. Why does my husband ONLY eat crunchy foods??”

If one thing is for certain, it is that during this curious and trying time, love is being both challenged and affirmed.

While some relationships have taken a step forward as newer couples choose to isolate together, others have taken a different route. If you find yourself in an inflammatory situation, it’s not just you. Since the lockdown was initiated, divorce rates in China have soared. In the city of Xi’an alone, the number of requests was so high, they maxed out the number of appointments at government offices. Interestingly, since both marriages and divorces there are relatively easy transactions (requiring a minimal amount of paperwork), soon after the quarantine was lifted, a number of the couples who sought divorces chose to immediately re-marry.

Over the past few weeks, I have often reflected on how not that long ago, I was concerned about things like wagon wheel coffee tables. This seems both hilariously naïve and also quite prescient considering the amount of time I now spend in proximity of the coffee table.

If you had told me that in a matter of months, my boyfriend and I would spend all 24 hours together in our doorless one-bedroom apartment, I would have questioned what planet you were from. Yet, here we are, one of us always on video conference and the other not always managing to write. We have joked that as two introverts who enjoy being home, we are oddly suited to this, and it really isn’t so bad. Plus, the dog is thrilled.

As John Lennon famously said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” We had plans! We had so many plans. Then life happened. And continues to happen, albeit in a virtually unrecognizable way.

One friend, who is holed up alone, has been relishing both the quiet time and the phone calls she is having with friends and family. “All this isolation has made for very deep and interesting conversations,” she says. “It’s like we’ve moved past small talk and right into real talk.”

“Somehow, this has forced me to connect with people more than I did previously,” said another, typically introverted friend. “Before, people would say ‘let’s catch up’ but be too busy to do it. Now, I’ve found myself having Zoom happy hours and Houseparty game nights with people I haven’t spoken to in ages.”

Of course, connection is happening off screens, as well. One friend’s very sweet partner set up a “restaurant” complete with menus and candles, so they could have an at-home date night. Another’s husband takes her temperature every morning. We are learning, with tenderness and trepidation, to cut each other’s hair.

For me, perhaps the biggest show of love has been the sound of rousing cheers and applause that echoes through the air every evening at 7 PM. As many healthcare workers change shifts, the city throws open its windows and bands together to show its support.

There is nothing quite like a crisis to make you feel connected — and nothing like invisible cells, transferred from person to person, to prove just how interconnected we truly are. As the world changes rapidly inside and out, this much has become clear: in many ways, large and small, love is all around.

And for those moments when you are stuck cleaning up dishes from your millionth at-home meal, or listening to your roommate crack open pistachio after pistachio on the other side of the wall, or wondering when you will be able to hug your loved ones again, there is always a shift in perspective. As the memes say, we aren’t stuck inside, we are safe inside. And that isn’t so bad, after all.


How have you been staying connected these last few weeks? What have you found to be helpful?

P.S. 12 relationship tips from a wedding reporter and what drives you crazy about your partner?

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow.)

  1. Shannon says...

    Ditto re: lining up time for video calls – it’s funny because I’m already starting to wonder what will happen once I go back to working in the office and can’t call my boyfriend during lunch breaks. But for now, I’ll enjoy the time we’re getting “together” :)

  2. Annabeth says...

    I’m amazed and impressed that this is the writer’s experience. I hope not to minimize her story by pointing out what has been the opposite for me. Being unexpectedly and mercilessly dumped is hard. It’s harder when it happens shortly before–or, I’d assume, during–this pandemic. I was dumped completely out of the blue by my best friend and boyfriend of 4 years immediately before this happened. It’s difficult to accept this current period as it is; it’s even harder when you’re forced to accept your world being shaken in ways you couldn’t imagine or prepare for not just once, but twice. It’s hard not to view this as a series of “sliding doors” – hard not to imagine what quarantine would have been like if you still had that person in your life, how this would have changed your relationship, what the future might have been. Hard, too, to determine what you want that relationship to look like now.

    I’m glad the writer feels free. I’m glad that in reading others’ comments, that’s been a shared experience. It’s not universal.

    • Kate says...

      Annabeth, this hit home for me– particularly your mention of the sliding doors. I also faced the end of a relationship right before this, and it has been so incredibly hard as the quarantine has caused me to sit with my sadness/loneliness in a lot of ways that I don’t want to. I’m clinging to the hope that in some way this is accelerating the healing by not letting me distract myself, and forcing me to actually feel everything and begin to process through it .

      But, just wanted you to know you are not alone in feeling this way! Sending lots of love and hugs right now.

  3. Kathy Kaye says...

    I have realized that I am no longer in love with my husband. It was a fear of mine that he might leave me, but it looks like I will be the one asking for divorce.

  4. Megan says...

    I just read the reader comment posted in the Friday round up about this post and it made me want to read ALL the comments!

    I also broke up with my boyfriend this past week and it also made me feel so free!! I think maybe something about having all of this uncertainty in the world makes it easier to see some things as black and white. Feel insecure around boyfriend, don’t want to be trapped with him when you have nowhere to escape to and so you pull the plug! Heartbreak always sucks but power to all the badass babes being empowered by this terrible time!

    • No I disagree. I don’t think it’s fair to say that anyone who is “excelling” at quarantine should be a “model” for anyone else. We’re all doing our best. It’s very bizarre to me that someone would feel the need to “excel” at quarantine. I think the people who think they’re “excelling” are not, in fact, doing well emotionally.

  5. L says...

    Heartbreak in the time of Covid: I found out my husband had an affair about a month before lock down. Now we are home with our children and our grief and everything is so hard. I keep thinking this could have been a really fun experience. We could have made it an adventure. But instead I try to avoid the rooms he’s in while faking happiness around my kids. Nobody but my best friend knows. It’s awful in all the ways you would imagine. I’m exhausted.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, L, i’m so so sorry. that sounds impossibly hard. sending so much love. xoxo

    • Ancy says...

      Lots of love, hugs and kisses to you, dearest L. That must be absolute hell. Sorry that you are going through this.

    • Megan says...

      That is truly terrible! I’m so sorry for you! It sounds like you are being so strong for yourself and your kids! It’s very admirable! I can’t wait for you to get through this mess and just have space to feel everything you are feeling right now <3

    • Hannah says...

      that sounds so tough! I can’t imagine how it would feel. Praying for peace over you. Hugs xx

    • Erin says...

      Oh that is AWFUL. Hugs to you.

    • michelle says...

      in this stressful time of quarantine, just think of all the fun ways and means by which you can take control of his finances and his possessions in a nice juicy divorce. just pretend like everything is going great, say all is forgiven, and once there is a green light for returning to normal life, drop it on him like a ton of steaming hot bricks!

  6. Elise says...

    I reconnected with an old friend a while back, and we’ve been in a long distance relationship for almost a year now. I’m in Salt Lake City, and he’s in Washington, DC. For the most part, things haven’t changed – we still FaceTime every night, send each other memes, and call each other when we get a break from work, or take walks around our respective cities. What pains me now though is that I had planned a trip to visit him back at the end of February, and I put it off due to a work obligation (one that I could have easily gotten out of). I figured I’d wait a month, and visit him at the end of March instead, and we could spend his birthday together. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and I’m regretting not taking the opportunity to see him while I still had it!

  7. Kate says...

    “And nothing like invisible cells, transferred from person to person, to prove just how interconnected we truly are.” Chills.

  8. Trisha says...

    Simply lovely. Thank you.
    ♥️

  9. Rachael Aubrey says...

    I love cup of jo but these new pop-up ads are a bit frustrating and in the way. I don’t mind when you’re advertising high quality products, clothes you love, etc. through intentional posts but these pop-ups don’t feel authentic to your site and are distracting.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you so much for your note! We are experimenting with ads because so many of our revenue streams have been cut off because of the coronavirus. I totally understand there are a lot and we will probably cut them down. Thank you so much for understanding! We’re trying to keep Cup of Jo running and our employees paid (and with health insurance). Xoxo

    • Laura says...

      Totally agree that the ads are distracting and annoying, BUT seeing your response, Joanna, and knowing the reason for them makes me happy. I’m glad you are able to supplement your income source during this tumultuous season in order to keep paying your staff! xoxo

    • Anon says...

      I hope you don’t worry about this Joanna and team. As soon as I saw the adds, I thought to myself, “Good for them. They need the revenue right now, and it’s such a small ‘inconvenience’ for what we (the readers) get. I wondered if someone would complain, and I am glad that you explained your reasons. Nuff said! Thanks for all you do!

    • T says...

      If they were static I could handle it but they’re flashing all over the place. So distracting and not very peaceful.

    • T says...

      Also, have you considered a temporary patreon model? Bonus bits for those who pay? Maybe you could release the Patreon articles on the mainstream in six months or so and some of us could sponsor low income subscribers if we were able. I’d subscribe. Just a thought.

    • Agnes says...

      Honestly I’m kind of loving the low rent and annoying ads. Slightly hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time, given how careful this site has always seemed to be to get all things ‘right’. The lack of perfection seems poignant to me. I’m glad to see you’re making money in these times Joanna and if it means pop up ads, then pop on.

  10. S says...

    Another wonderful essay -your writing seems to have deepened and elevated with the quarantine. Thank you for your beautiful reflections.

  11. Ali B says...

    I love your essays, as always!! Please keep them coming during this challenging time :) Thank you, Caroline!

  12. Emily says...

    Quick note that Xi’an (written with the apostrophe because xi and an are distinct from xian) isn’t a province in China—it’s actually a city and the capital of Shaanxi Province.

  13. Britt says...

    Does anyone have non-kid birthday ideas for those whose birthdays are happening during quarantine? Two of my guy friends, one of whom lives alone, both have birthdays this month. It’s been a lonely time for both of them, and I’d like to show them that they are cared for and valued even though I can’t be there in person to celebrate.

    • My husband’s birthday was Monday and we didn’t do much. I’m going to surprise him with a birthday-day once we’re free to go outside!

    • Denise says...

      My partner’s birthday is on Easter Sunday. I am making homemade mac and cheese and cupcakes, and dropping them off on his door step with a six pack of his favorite beer. Even though we both live alone, we are social distancing because his ex-wife has an autoimmune disorder. In order for him to see his daughter, he needs to quarantine himself. Tough but worth it.

    • Erin says...

      Fancy or funny socks are a good present, especially now that we’re stuck inside so much. The Smartwool brand are cozy and last forever. :)

    • Allison says...

      We’re doing a zoom happy hour celebration for my guy friend’s 40th tomorrow. I sent him some whiskey via Drizly for the occasion.

    • grace says...

      A friend had cocktails delivered for my birthday last month. It was a simple gesture but made me feel celebrated! I’m planning to do the same (or gift cards to spots I know my friends love, esp restaurants that are doing delivery or grocery service) for my close buds.

    • Molly says...

      My birthday was last week and my friends surprised me with a Zoom call. I thought I would only be “zooming” with two of them, so imagine my surprise when I logged on to so many faces singing “Happy Birthday!”

      Was very fun if you can pull it off!

    • Emma Lewis says...

      -Get people that they know to send you videos of birthday wishes so you can make a montage, or have people send them with messages of favourite memories
      -Not sure about where you are, but where I live in Quebec private wine importers are delivering amazing wines for free
      -I’m also trying to support local businesses when possible so when my dad and sister recently had their birthday I found local shops in their city I could support

  14. Emma says...

    For my family screens have had the hideous addition of being a means of saying good bye. My husband lost his father last week (not to the virus) and while he was able to get to Australia and be let out of government enforced quarantine to say his farewells, I wasn’t able to join him. It feels like we have been denied many of the rituals of death and grief. My husband is currently still isolated and we will be separated for several months due to travel restrictions, so I am hugely grateful for screens – we can see each other every day and he will be wishing our daughter a happy first birthday over FaceTime this weekend. Life & death in the time of corona virus.

    • Em says...

      This sounds so hard, Emma. Thinking of you and holding you and your family in the light.

    • Lily says...

      This is so tough, not being able to be with your husband and say farewell to your father I law and now missing him. I hope this ends as soon as possible and you are reunited

  15. Jackie S. says...

    A very beautiful reflection, thank you for sharing!

  16. Calla says...

    I’m happy other people are finding deeper connection and silver linings but that hasn’t been the case for me. Everything I read these days seems to be about couples and families and how they are handling things (I know that’s probably not actually true). It can feel like everyone who is partnered is now taking things to the next level and shooting past me as I hang here in suspended animation. And even the articles or news stories that do touch on the single experience can feel a little like comic relief for everyone else (look at these crazy kids and their facetime dates, what a world).

    I think the idea that this experience is an accelerator is true. And that’s true for single people as well. All the insecurities about losing out on the game of musical chairs that is being in your late twenties, about not being in this exclusive club of partnership, about being perceived seen as in-progress or less settled, those feelings are amplified. And my relationship with myself and with singledom which tends to oscillate gradually between OK and despondant is heading in one direction and much faster than usual.

    • Helen says...

      This resonated with me so distinctly. As a woman in her early 30’s, I was ok with being single and share housing but I am now unemployed, living with my mother and her new boyfriend and so very upset, not belonging anywhere. The changes for everyone are unique and come with their own special challenges but for us single people it highlights that we don’t really ‘fit in’; that our concerns and troubles are considered trivial. Perhaps even worse that there is an invisible finger pointing at us sneering ‘I told you so’.

      I cannot wait until this is over, I can see relationships absolutely booming and hearts being so light. But also that life is so much better shared, and with a place to call ones own.

      Sending some lightness to you now, wherever it finds you.

    • ash says...

      Oh girl do I get this. As an already freaked out late 30-something who still wants a family, I cry almost daily that once this is over (whatever that means), I’ll be close to 38 and …. more alone than I’ve ever been.

      I’m super supportive and want the best for those struggling to handle home schooling and annoying partners. But the grass is not always greener.

    • Anna says...

      Ladies – I hear you. I too and a mid-thirties single gal who generally longs for a partner but tries to be content while I wait impatiently for them to show up – I have always had faith that they would eventually. And now, I go to zoom parties and notice I am the only one alone in my frame and there is a sadness I have never felt before that truly overwhelms me. I think because I often see my friends without their partners that somehow it hadn’t truly sunk in that I was the only one alone. Even worse the only other people in my friends lives (as the lone singleton of the group) they can compare my situation to is their widowed mothers. My friends supportively listen to how lonely I am (as a true extrovert I am fighting misery) and are lovely and understanding but at the end of the day the only suggestion they have is “have I considered moving in with my parents temporarily” and that my parents (wonderful as they are) are the only companionship available to me at 35 is not an uplifting thought. This crisis has more than anything underscored for me in a way that I’d never truly understood before just how very alone I am – no silver lining. All that sad sack rambling to say, I see you and I hear you single ladies.

    • Brenna says...

      I totally agree. You guys should join the FB group “The Single Supplement” and subscribe to Nicola’s newsletter. We are having really great conversation and connection there about living alone or being single during this time!

    • B says...

      Thank you for putting into words how I felt as I read through some of these comments. In my late twenties and single, without much in the way of dating prospects. As a single person who is also extroverted, this has been incredibly isolating, and when well-meaning strangers or friends comment on the free time that I have to binge Netflix or virtually date, I feel that my experience is minimized. Sending love and light to anyone with this experience ♥️

    • Anonymous says...

      Just want to say I relate to all this so much. 38 and single here. I feel more hopelessly alone now than ever.

    • Elien says...

      I feel and echo all of you. I’m so relieved to read your reaction, Calla, and the comments on this. I have seen some representation of singles in the media, but it is either jokingly or – in my opinion – too positive. I’m feeling more alone than ever. Also thinking a lot about how life will be affected after this, in so many ways: social conventions will be different, meeting new people will be difficult (as friends and potential partners, I mean) and finding a partner will be so much more difficult than it already was.

      Trying to take it day by day. And it that doesn’t work, hour by hour. You are not alone!

    • Anon says...

      Just a hopeful thought for y’all: Maybe the possible eligible single Men (or women) are out there feeling the same way you are right now, and when this is all over, there may be a period of time when everyone looks for deeper connections and relationships (since shallow hookups had become such a thing before the pandemic, and that must have made it harder to meet people looking to find a more “serious” relationship, and kept people single longer). So, it might very well be a time when people’s perspectives have shifted and more people have become open to partnering up in meaningful ways.

    • Francesca says...

      Commenting a bit late, but thanks for this. I am in my late twenties and single, and always looking for the perspective of people like me who are single when they don’t want to be. I have been on an intentional dating hiatus for about six months, but seeing couples walking their dogs or shopping together, coupled with the fact that I CAN’T date right now even if I wanted to, is reviving some raw feelings. (Also sexual frustration, for similar reasons…)

      I feel like a late bloomer in other ways (e.g. my final driving test is now postponed indefinitely) and I am feeling so frustrated that this situation is putting my dreams on hold just as I got to a point in my life when I finally felt confident shooting for them.

    • Sarah says...

      I am sending so much love to you and the other commenters. I think about how this would feel if I was single a lot and it makes me very achy for people alone. I spent a few weeks snowed in when I was single and it was brutal. I hear what all of you are saying and I wish I had a solve. Much love

  17. Bek says...

    I’m in Melbourne, and I live with my girlfriend who is a pharmacist and research assistant. I have OCD and we have a little system in place for when she finishes work, which involves a basket of ‘COVID-19 clothes’ which go into the wash right away and then she showers. The past two weeks have been hard, as it made my OCD flare-up in ways it hasn’t in a long time. This week, I’m calmer, no panic attacks and I’m reminding myself I can deal with things that come, that I’m resilient and can cope with tough things. As for love, my girlfriend and I aren’t able to spend loads of time together at the moment because she’s working really long hours but last night we had a lovely evening hanging out and watching the newest season of Kim’s Convenience. I’ve been cooking a lot, and she is doing the food shopping. Usually, we do these things together, but we’re adapting and trying to find our new normal – I’m trying to cook loads of yummy/healthy foods like soup and I made a veggie risotto the other night. I’ve also had to remind myself she still needs time alone too, which is tough because every second she’s home I want to spend with her. Something I’m grateful for is some professional development I’m doing this year, studying my Graduate Certificate in Web Design! I work as a freelance digital content producer, so it’s exciting to think about what my work might look like this time next year – and all the new skills I’m learning. My family all live in Queensland, so I’ve been chatting with my Mum on the phone pretty regularly – every second day or so. She’s a chef so unsure about what happens next, but it’s good we’re staying in touch. The borders are closed to Queensland, which quietly terrifies me. I worry about when I will see them next, but in the words of a text message my Grandma sent me (who was alive during the second world war as a young girl, living a little outside of London) ‘thank god for phones’. Hope everyone is doing okay xo

  18. Vea says...

    “We aren’t stuck inside, we are safe inside”. Nothing rings more true for us at the moment! A week into home isolation, my surgeon called to tell me (and my partner) that my endometriosis surgery had been canceled as it was considered elective. We had been counting the days to relief, to finally being able to live our life with less pain, for a while at least. Many women who suffer from this condition battle subfertility, so for us the surgery also marked a new chance to start a family, maybe. At first, I felt stuck in my home and stuck in my body; there was so little I could do. For years, my body had dictated my days, my activities. I felt completely locked up. But slowly an amazing sense of calm and gratitude replaced the anxiety: we were home, we were together, we were safe. After a week, I realized I had not had a single flare up in two weeks (very, very rare). A few days later, I missed my period. Two days ago we were holding a positive pregnancy test in utter disbelief. In the midst of so much pain in the world, my body kept me safe, stopped the hurting, and did what I thought would be a long, long journey. Now I keep someone else safe in me.

    • R says...

      This brought me to tears… wishing you all the best ♥️

    • Beth says...

      This is so beautiful and remarkable!!!! Good luck!

    • Joanna says...

      This is amazing! So beautiful!

    • CM says...

      Oh congratulations! That is just the absolute best. You’ve made me quite weepy for you

    • RT says...

      Lovely! Really amazing to hear :)

    • Mary says...

      Beautiful.

  19. Christy says...

    Carolyn, thank you for sharing about the daily open windows and applause in NYC. Hearing how people are pulling together, like this, warmed my heart so much.

    • Christy says...

      Also: I am so embarrassed that I goofed and got your name wrong. I totally know it, but you totally wouldn’t know that. I’m sorry, Caroline!

  20. Lynn says...

    I’ll be honest, my husband and I hit a really rough patch right before all this began and this has been very trying. I feel trapped in my house, as does he, with no reprieve. And with all the stress of tragic news (everyday we hear something that’s terrible or sad about a friend or the world), it adds to the stress that’s already on our relationship. Can anyone else relate?

    • Lindsey says...

      Oh yes!! I’m sorry to hear you are feeling this way, it sucks. You are not alone. If I may throw something out there: I started reading the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work; husband is listening on audio. That’s really helped get me/us back to a better place and speaking the same language again. The book was on my to do list for awhile and – with everything going on — I have an extra reminder to feel grateful for the health/time/social-distance-capacity to read it and then that gratitude extends to hubs. Perhaps it could help you? Big hug to you!

    • Sara says...

      Yes, Lynn. This is 100% me. I honestly don’t know if my marriage is going to survive this. Everything that is troubling in our relationship seems amplified. I feel very lonely. Sending lots of virtual hugs your way!

    • Cait says...

      I totally relate. My partner and I are at a very rough patch and this has made it worse. We are choosing how to handle this in completely different ways also. There’s no connecting over games, funny movies to be watched together or fun friend zoom chats. It feels lonely. I understand completely.

    • Liz says...

      Oh yeah. We had just moved from separate couples counseling to working together when all of this began. This isn’t helping.

    • Lindsay says...

      I can relate – my husband and I ebb and flow but this has been hard on our whole family. I’m currently sleeping in our guest room/my office and it’s a little reprieve but honestly, I’m not sure how things will turn out. Sending strength and courage to all of us.

    • Lauren says...

      Just adding to those that can relate. Sending lots of love to all of you.

    • Jennifer says...

      Raising my hand to say that I’m also in this boat. My husband and I had decided to divorce in February, and were coming up with a plan (we have 2 children) to separate when the shelter in place started. It’s been really difficult, and lots of ups and downs. We have very different ways of communicating, and dealing with everything in general, and this all seems to exacerbate the problems in our marriage and parenting. I’m truly struggling.

    • CM says...

      I completely relate. My husband and I had discussed separating at the beginning of this year and he had applied for a job elsewhere, which was a huge relief, because it would at least have given us both space to think. But now we are at home together and we have very different coping and communication styles. This makes me feel lonely and isolated. At the same time, there is a strange comfort in not being alone, it’s just that we lack the deep connection that I wish I had with someone during this time. So lots of confusion and sadness. Hugs to everyone struggling during this time ~

  21. A beautifully written post, once again. Thank you, Caroline.

    The highlight of my quarantine was a virtual prom I hosted on Saturday with friends and followers (fellow blogger here) on my Instagram Live. #promaroundtheworld

    I was hesitant to do it because I’ve never done a Live before, but it ended up being SO good for the soul. We all got dressed up and got to chat about something fun and forget everything that’s going on in the world for a few hours.

    As someone who normally thinks of myself as an introvert, that energy from connecting with others fueled me so much. It made me realize just how much I do need people, and I will keep that in mind going forward — and will never take for granted in-person meet-ups and hugs.

  22. karen says...

    I have been home by myself with two young children for yeeeeears as my husband has always traveled for work 250 days a year. Now that he’s home, he’s been on Zoom with friends at night. Even as an introvert, he keeps saying “you need to do this, its good to talk to people…”

    My constant answer: Nah, I’m good.

    I’m doing exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 7 years. An occasional phone call, plenty of texting and two kids that talk enough for my ears throughout the day! :)

    • Charlotte says...

      Same here ! Feels like being a stay at home / homeschooling mom was the best training I got :) I knew I was going to put it to use someday lol

    • K says...

      Yes, i so agree! I sometimes even feel socially overwhelmed during this time with all the options for online and phone communicarions. My son also talks to me so much that I’m so exhausted at the end of the day. My SAHM experience has prepared me well for this time.

  23. Gill F. says...

    As a human with a chronic illness I’ve grown used to long stretches at home. It seems as if the world is finally getting what it means to be stuck at home when all you want is to be outside (it’s not a vacation, it’s exhausting and frustrating and lonely), and yet this is the most social I and a lot of my chronically ill friends have been in years. Before this I lost relationships because I couldn’t go out and meet friends. I’ve watched romantic relationships die out because I couldn’t keep up. I’ve missed work and classes and social events and trips. Friends of mine have lost jobs or had to leave school because there weren’t accomodations. In the past three weeks, I’ve gotten to do my job even during a flare of symptoms, attend shows, see friends and family. I feel part of the world again. All we ask when this is over, remember this feeling. Remember how it feels to do badly want to connect with others and feel part of a community and feel included. Remember how much it helps to be able to play a game over Skype with a friend or virtually take a class or see your coworkers. And then reach deep into those feelings and don’t forget us. Don’t let us return to the shadows, forgotten and alone. Remember this time and remember us

    • This is beautifully written. Thanks for sharing your insight and giving us a small view on your life. We are always so caught up in the comforts of our own lives that we forget to think about what others are going through. So thank you for sharing this and making us more aware.

    • Remy says...

      Yes yes yes to this ???

    • Agata says...

      I will remember Gill, lots of love!

  24. Caitlin says...

    This is so beautifully written, Caroline! I am also finding myself to be more connected now – a friend I went to college with and haven’t spoken to in over 6 years called me out of the blue last week and we chatted for over an hour. Such a nice surprise!

  25. Emily says...

    I’ve been seeing so much about partners and roommates who are quarantining together, but very little about partners who were already in long distance relationships. My partner and I are separated by the Atlantic Ocean, and an unexpected happy side effect of the pandemic is that it has actually made it easier for our times to line up for video chatting! While I wish that he and I could be stuck together in the same place during this intense time, it has been so wonderful to talk to each other in greater depth than we are normally able to every day. I am filled with joy and gratitude for that!

    • Lily says...

      My partner and I are separated by the Atlantic Ocean too… two Quick trips we had Lined up to see each other And a summer together will probably have to be cancelled or postponed. It broke my heart for some weeks, but it is what it is. We have to stay positive and look for ways to connect remotely and hopefully be reunited with our loved ones soon…

  26. Michaela says...

    Is anyone else feeling a little overwhelmed by all the virtual communication? Both my husband and I have been able to continue working from home (and I’m actually in the middle of a project that’s demanding more overtime than usual), so it feels like our lives and schedules are actually about 70% the same, for which I am so thankful. I’m finding that my friends and family are wanting to video chat and spend time together online far more frequently than we ever used to spend time together in person—we used to only really see them in person 2–3 times a month, but now everyone wants to check in every evening or spend most of the weekend on Zoom. I am trying to be there for everyone and I am feeling grateful for being able to easily connect, but after spending 5–8 hours a week on video calls for work, this sudden increase in socialization feels like a lot for my little introvert self. Especially because video chats where we’re all accidentally talking over each other are not a great substitute for the in-person connection I do wish we could have.

    I’m trying to balance making sure my more extroverted friends and family members feel supported and making sure I get my own space, too. Netflix Party has been fun because you get to watch a show together with a chat feature, which feels like you’re doing an activity together but I also don’t feel like I have to be “on” the way I do with video chat.

    • Amanda says...

      This article from MIT Technology review addresses this issue! Not only introverts, but also the fact that those folks who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home are doing a ton of work on technology. It’s hard to disconnect from work when you’re going from a work zoom to a work skype to a work conference call…to an after work zoom happy hour with friends, sitting in the old place in front of the same old device.

      https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/02/998440/lockdown-was-supposed-to-be-an-introverts-paradise-its-not/

    • Alli says...

      Yes, 100% Michaela. I’ve run my own consulting business from my home for the past six years, and spend most of my time on Zoom and on the phone in my “normal” life. I feel very fortunate to still be able to do most of my work despite the economic downturn, but YES – I’m really feeling overwhelmed by the constant communication from family & friends, and requests to Zoom, Houseparty, Netflix Party, text throughout the entire workday, etc. I’m an introvert (although no one believes me) and I keep telling my husband that I’ve already “reached my social quota” from all the work check-ins and calls that I do during the daily 9-5, so I don’t crave the evening socialization that most other people do. Framing it like that for him really helped him realize that I’m already “getting my fill” and it’s not that I am just a cold b*tch that doesn’t need the love & support from my community ;)

      I’ve simply started opting out to requests. I need to prioritize my own self-care during this time, and so I’ve just realized that it’s totally appropriate for me to say no to invites, no explanation needed. Sending you lots of love!

    • K says...

      Yes I feel the same! I have been teaching online for years and am thankful to continue to do so, and now adding in my usual in-person classes going online, I am maxed out socially and virtually at the end of the day. I feel bad because I know some people crave more social connection, but I have been skipping other online meeting requests as a result. I would rather connect to people in my own home in person or recharge some other way at home (tv, reading, exercising). My husband who is an extrovert enjoys the social online meetingd though…so I guess different needs for different people…

  27. Kelley says...

    I got engaged a week ago. My fiancé couldn’t go to the jewelry store to get a ring, so he proposed with a family ring I already owned, the wedding band my grandfather gave my grandmother when they eloped during WW2. We couldn’t go out to a fancy dinner, so he ordered fancy takeout. We couldn’t see our families, but we were able to just enjoy the moment together. There were so many ‘couldn’ts’ that paved the way for the sweetness of our reality.

    I don’t know if I would have ever planned it this way, but I’m so deeply grateful that this is how it happened. I keep learning lessons during this uncertain time, but letting go of expectations and letting life reveal itself, in its quiet, thoughtful ways, has been profound.

    • Danielle says...

      Congratulations!!

  28. CS says...

    Thank you for this one. Xo

  29. Josephine says...

    Our daughter is a young adult with autism and her world has turned upside down. Routine was the glue that held her days together and that literally vanished in a day. Her beloved aides are not coming, and rightly so, but it’s the three of us 24/7 and it’s hard.

    We will get through it but my heart hurts for her and other families that are isolated and struggling with special needs family members.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i hear and see you, josephine. sending so much love. xoxo

    • Sarz says...

      Thank you for sharing, Josephine! She’s lucky to have you there, making life feel as normal as possible right now. I’m one town over from my senior, mentally ill mother, and I’ve got serious worries about how her care will continue for the next few months. It’s a really inconvenient to have any special needs that aren’t the virus right now.

      As you say, we’ll get through this. It would be a little boost, though, if CoJ might consider a post about supporting marginalized people at this time!

    • Kiana says...

      My daughter is high functioning autistic but she barely speaks. She’s four years old. After fighting for months to get her speech therapy and ABA therapy, and getting our insurance to cover it, this shut down happened and we can’t continue with her occupational therapy or her special education schooling. While she is thrilled to be home with her family all day, she’s missing out on months of treatment and care. I have no idea how to help her and she is falling farther behind every day. I worry about her so much. I can imagine how you feel Josephine and I’m so sorry.

    • Sarah says...

      This is a response for Kiana- our daughter also is on the spectrum and her OT got our insurance to do telehealth! We had our first session yesterday, and I was so impressed by the way our therapist used what we had in our house to engage with our daughter. Your OT may be able to do that. They want to get paid too- its no good to loose clients.

  30. Thank you for the wonderful posts that keep us all going. Even with coronavirus, signs of love are happening all around us right now- romantic love, love for comrades, love for humanity. Last night at my husband’s hospital at change of shift there was a beautiful show of support from all the local police stations, fire departments and EMS workers. They showed up lights flashing, sirens blaring, horns honking as if to say “We’re all in this together”. In so much of life there can be such a divide between police and community, but now people are coming together for the good of all. That’s love. And it’s just marvelous. Thanks to all of you who are coming together, albeit apart. And thank you first responders. You’ve got this!

  31. Alexandra says...

    You know that Stevie Wonder song, “I Just Called to Say I Love You”? I was reflecting the other day how so many of the phone calls, Zoom calls, etc. these days are really just people calling to say they love each other. Even when there isn’t much to update one another on, we keep checking in just to show how much we care. There is something very beautiful and human about that.

    • Hadar says...

      This is so true and so beautifully put.

  32. For those who commented on nail polish collection, maybe we can do an insta story “facetime”??? Reach out to me on mangotomato instagram and I’ll happily show your kids all my colors!! (Joanna: hope it’s okay to post this!)

  33. AE says...

    Me too Caroline. Had to leave my bf in the UK and return to Canada, no idea when I will be able to see him again. Very hard :(

  34. Kaylie says...

    I’ve been in a long distance relationship for almost two years now, so we quip that we were already well suited to this. Something that has been nice is working together — we’ll FaceTime while we work, so we’re mostly just doing our own separate things, quietly, but with a sense of connection. We try to make time for watching things, reading aloud over the phone, or playing Words with Friends, but just hanging out, no need to talk while we do our own things, has kept me feeling connected and calm. I’ve tried this out with a few friends and it is a nice way to feel connected but not overwhelmed with loops of emotional conversation. One of my best friends and I also decided to email instead of FaceTime or call, because it is something that we can each do on our own time and also feels pretty therapeutic. We start each e-mail usually with all of the bad: anxieties, jealousies, whatever, and then we just move on, because getting it out helps so much.

  35. Brenna says...

    Anyone have any advice on what to do if you’re separated from your significant other during this time? My boyfriend lives a couple hours away but because we are in college (still live with our parents and have been forced to go home due to college being closed) and his parents are high-risk (due to age and heart problems), we will not be seeing one another for the foreseeable future, perhaps for several months. This makes me more upset than I can admit, and although we’ve been communicating and FaceTiming a lot, I’m worried that we won’t get through this (we’re young, haven’t been together a super long time, etc.) Anyone have advice? Going crazy without him.

    • Rebecca says...

      I’m much older than you (in my early 30s) but in the same position. My boyfriend and I didn’t quarantine together initially and now traveling to see one another feels so risky. Video chatting can be pretty depressing because there’s not much to talk about. We’ve been watching movies “together” which has been a good way to chat about something other than THE thing. I just know it will end eventually and I think most relationships will be stronger for it.

    • Elspeth says...

      My husband and I dated long distance for three and a half years. I know it’s really tough, and FaceTime will never replace face to face! So a *hug* for you ?
      As well as the online conversations, we really enjoyed writing letters over that period (we were doing this in two separate countries so mail took quite a while to arrive). Holding something in your hand that your partner wrote thoughtfully for you is amazing, plus taking time to sit down and write a letter may help fill the time at home. Almost therapeutic? Anyway we found it helpful, hope you can be reunited soon! x

    • Daniela says...

      I was in a long distance relationship as well when I was in college and I recommend little surprises you can send each other. Know he’s home and craving pizza? Order him some delivery! Or put together a care package you can send.

      Check out cratejoy as they have lots of subscription boxes – I can imagine they have something fun for couples apart right now that you can do together!

      Lastly, watching a movie at the same time is great too.

    • A says...

      Having been in a long distance relationship in the past, about 1.5 years and being on 2 different continents, I can say that communication and talking to each other 3-4 times a week (or in this case more as you don’t have a time difference issue) is nice. Remember, this is temporary, and distance brings out the best and worst in all of us. My 1 piece of advice is, continue to fight, love, be normal, and if you do fight, don’t go to sleep angry. It’s so not worth it!! Also, if you do go through a long distance relationship and come out smiling and in love, and happy at the end of it (reunions are sweeter!), then you have survived what nature throws at you. It’s not easy and it takes work but it can be done. Happy to say I’m now married to that man after our 6 years long distance relationship (different continents, different states).

      And call him and tell him that you are going crazy without him :) Not a bad thing :)

    • Ma says...

      Hi Brenna
      I’m so sorry you’re going through this and hope my story can help: my husband and I met when I was still in school and he had just graduated. After graduation he got a job halfway across the world and so we dated long distance for a few years. It’s not easy, but gets better over time. At first I really struggled and shut myself out of pretty much everything around me, until this became our new normal and I resumed life as it was before. We spoke on the phone everyday (that was before smart phones), texted a lot and sent each care packages (flowers, food, books, CDs, etc) alongside love notes. Still, I had school and he had work (as well as friends and family to tend to), so we tried to schedule things so we could always find a proper break to speak (at least 30min or so every day). We we lucky enough to see each other 3 or 4 times a year, and during these trips we tried to spend as much time together as we could (but still had non-negotiable responsibilities). After the first time we met since he had moved away, I relaxed a lot knowing that things would be ok. We then went straight into living together, which also took some adjusting (which taught me that all changes in relationship dynamics will take some adjusting, not just the undesidered ones). I hope you and your boyfriend are ok during these challenging times, good luck!

    • Brenna says...

      Thanks everyone for all the thoughtful comments <3 <3 Sending love to you all!

    • Kait says...

      Hey lady love,

      I am in a similarly “separated” situation except my partner and I live in the same city but he and his housemates have decided to fully quarantine themselves out of lots of fear and anxiety. I am trying so so hard to support their decision and respect their desire to stay safe. However it saddens me to see all of these couples choosing to quarantine together and I still have to navigate this distance with my partner who will only see people outside and maintaining some distance. I’ve also been keeping an eye out for guidance on couples who DON’T quarantine together and what to do…

      We have made sure to talk every day and FaceTime often. As the Seattle weather is giving us a break, we’re trying to spend time together outside. Something really small that he does but honestly means so much is just sending photos of his breakfast in the morning as a “good morning” gesture.

      Let your SO know what gives you joy in your correspondence (small as it may be)!

      I’m in that going-crazy-boat with you, girl.

    • Milla says...

      I’m in your same boat. I feel guilty too, because my boyfriend had just decided to stay in our college town for the foreseeable future to be closer to me, and now I’m at home, can’t see each other, and he’s dealing with some mental health issues. Hurts especially because the week before we had to be separated, we essentially lived together for the first time and it felt so nice and stable and domestic! And facetime is nice but definitely doesn’t feel the same! Let’s get through this together!!

  36. Savannah says...

    For the people who are not safe and home but are truly stuck at home there are resources. I am lucky to have an annoying (the chewing!) but loving (washes my scrubs every night!) husband but not everyone is in that situation.
    National Domestic Abuse Hotline
    1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

    • K says...

      Thank you for posting this Savannah! I have had those in abusive homes, and especially the children, so heavy on my heart lately. <3

  37. Paige says...

    This was really good. One thing my friends and I have been talking a lot about is that we’re really having to lean into our state in life – single people have to embrace the single life even more, married people embracing their spouses more, etc. For me, that means no running away from mothering and marriage and all the hard parts of life that I’d usually try to distract myself from with activities and other people and plans. There’s no busyness to pull me away from all the important, hard, messy parts of loving my family (which is really what leaning in feels like to me – loving more). The only way forward is through!

    • Meghan says...

      i love this. <3

    • Jessica says...

      This! This is exactly what I’ve been feeling but hadn’t put into words yet. Thank you. And as I face the parts I used to avoid (almost resign myself to them?) I’m realizing how much more I love the messy/annoying/yet important parts; they weren’t so bad as I thought. In fact, since I’m finally committing to and embracing them, I’m coming to cherish them.

    • Anna says...

      This is so beautiful Paige <3

    • Agnès says...

      I’m with my husband and child, but also with my 90 year old father, and truly, it’s been so hard to be with my father. I can’t leave him alone, but he’s just not a nice person. It’s so hard. It is such a serious time in our lives.

  38. My friend Sandy sent a tinyletter yesterday and said it best: “I am so exhausted from having the same yet slightly different conversation with so many of my people. It is tiring and taxing signed emails ‘more soon when the dust settles’ and ‘be well’ when I really want to say ‘does any of this matter?'” Sometimes the eagerness to “stay connected” results in an emotional taxation that I have never really experienced before.

    As for my own home, I am currently 16 weeks pregnant and am just trying to focus on staying calm and healthy for my little one while staying connected to the 7th graders I teach. My husband and I get along very well and after six and a half years together are pretty good at communicating and giving each other the right balance of attention and space.

  39. jrg says...

    yes, i’m with you! i am having a really tough time putting a positive spin on it. and sometimes personal zoom calls leave me sadder than when i started. like its great to catch up with everyone but after i sign off it’s a reminder that we can’t be together and probably won’t be for a long time.

    • jrg says...

      oops that was meant to be a reply to GB!

  40. Claire says...

    Its funny – it has been the very opposite for me! We don’t have internet or TV at our house, and never have. And I am even happier now that we don’t more than ever. I am enjoying the slow life, and sitting quietly while watching things, or listening to music, hanging out in the yard with my dog, etc. What if everyone decided not to go on their screens while at home? (Aside from work of course).

    • Sarah says...

      And aside from reading COJ ☺️

  41. Joyce says...

    I appreciate the positive spin. Would also LOVE to see a similar essay from someone quarantined with kids (Joanna maybe?). I feel like it’s a great divide. My friends without kids are binging shows and doing constant zoom happy hours, my friends with kids are trying to survive, day by day. Just wanted to send love to other moms and dads out there, taking it one day, and sometimes one hour, at a time. Xoxo.

    • JS says...

      I hear you, Joyce! I have a 1 1/2 year old. When texting a friend group, I asked who else was on the brink…the childless one answered “Ummmmm I’m kinda liking this!”. And I GET THAT. One with young kids commiserated with me. The pressure to “work on yourself”, take time for hobbies, etc., during this shut in time does not accommodate for those who have to be there for kiddos while working. I don’t have more time – I feel like I have just as little time as I did before. How?? Poor time management?

    • savannah says...

      Yes please. We have a group of friends from our college years and it’s like we are having two completely different isolation experiences! We’re working more than ever (nurse and grocery manager) with young kids and they are child free and crafting and sleeping and watching sitcoms while off work. There is so much anxiety for all of us but the day to day could not be more opposite!

    • Tara says...

      Hi Joyce. Your comment absolutely nailed everything I’m feeling! I have a 3 year old in the midst of wanting independence and being confused about why her best friends (Bampi and Gram) aren’t coming over as well as a 10 month old who is still up all hours of the night. My husband and I would kill to read a book or binge a show but we are literally surviving minute to minute. Absolutely not comparing my experience to others in a rude way, just agreeing with you Joyce about how crazy the divide in experiences can be!

    • Yes, yes, yes, Joyce! I think there’s also a divide between people with one child and more than one child. AND a divide between those who live in houses and those who live in apartments (what I would give for a yard right now…).
      We’re just trying our best to get through each day. We are very fortunate to have a home and our health, and it’s still a sh*t show.
      Sending strength to all!

    • Julie says...

      That would be cool and, if I can add another experience I’m going through, I’d love a reflection from parents/caretakers who are essential workers. Candidly, I am sometimes grateful to have the routine and normalcy of going to work still, but then…all the worry and guilt of being a vector to the community and my family.

    • Tracy says...

      I totally agree. I loved this essay but it doesn’t really align with what parents’ roles look like rn. While homeschool hours are mostly just for the kids (roughly 9-1ish), my husband and I have made an effort to FaceTime with family at 6, go on “walkie-talkies” alone while chatting with a friend on the phone, and read the last couple of books we have from the library (something we can do apart, together). He also gifted me a subscription to the NYT so we have something tangible to read every morning rather than immediately scrolling through the news on our phones. It’s a welcome change!

    • LIndsey says...

      This resonates with me so deeply on every level. Thanks for putting into words what I’ve been struggling with. There has always been a divide and now it is showing how hard it is. I’m findings this so true at work, with friends, at home and the social media representation of this experience.

    • Rebecca says...

      For those of us who are childless but wish we weren’t, this is exceptionally difficult and we are also trying to survive but without the distractions of our routine. It’s particularly hard hearing friends with children complaining and wishing that they could have the ‘ease’ of my lockdown experience. I wish with my whole heart that my husband and I could share this time with the little ones we are so desperate to have as we are still recovering from my miscarriage earlier this year. The jokes about the expected baby boom hit hard too. I think whatever your struggles are, they’ve been magnified by this loss of the everyday. Everyone has different worries; hopefully everyone has different joys too.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m really sorry, rebecca. that sounds really hard.

    • Erin says...

      I’m a single mom with 50% custody of her kids; they’re still going back and forth between my house and their dad’s since he lives 5 minutes away and we are all socially distancing. So I’m actually having both experiences: Half the time I’m single parenting, and the other half, I’m living alone. Both are hard. The time with the kids is SO INTENSE, both emotionally and in a practical sense. The time without them is really lonely. I miss all the things that usually bring other people and scenery into our lives: Taking the kids to their swimming lessons, going to get brunch with a friend on my no-kids days, trips to the library, just being able to go to a coffee shop (alone or with kids) for a treat and and a change of scene. We’re lucky to be safe and healthy but this whole experience is so wearing.

    • Georgia says...

      As a single girl isolated in my apt, I must say I have never felt more unbelievably alone in my life. Yes I have time to do yoga, read books, watch shows, have virtual dance parties with friends. But at the end of the day, the silence in my home weighs so heavy on me. I also feel like every time I go social media, it seems like everyone is snuggled up with their partner or kids and it fills me with so much envy. The grass isn’t always greener. I know mothers are exhausted and busy but you have a house full of people that you love. I’m ashamed to also admit I feel resentful towards friends that haven’t reached out to see how I’m doing. Many people forget to text back and I find myself waiting for a response as it can be my only social interaction of the day. Whatever your situation may be now, I think we should all be checking up on each other!

    • Kristin says...

      I have to echo Rebecca and say that for those who are involuntarily childless, this time is incredibly hard and made worse by people with children characterizing my experience as easy and carefree. It’s not. I have been through two years of infertility, including multiple surgeries, failed IUIs, and in the beginning of March, a failed IVF embryo transfer. With pretty much all fertility clinics closed as “non-essential,” we have no path forward and nothing to do but wait. Yes, I am able to have zoom happy hours and go for walks whenever I want. But I would give anything for that to not be the case. I so, so badly wish I had a little one to comfort and nurture right now but I do not and cannot. What you are describing—trying to survive day by day—is my experience exactly. I really think that is true of everyone right now.

    • Joyce says...

      Rebecca – I’m so sorry for your loss.

      Kristin – I am sorry for your difficult fertility journey.

      Georgia – Being alone sounds really hard! I have a dear friend who’s alone in a tiny apartment and I try to make her regular Marco Polos even whilst often holding a screaming baby (ha) because I can’t imagine how hard it must be. I hope she doesn’t resent me when I simply can’t find the time too; my days don’t have much space in them.

      After reading all these comments, I’ve come to the conclusion that I think it’s possible to honor many people’s experiences. The intent of my original comment was not to be divisive, but to give some love to parents after reading a post that wasn’t focused on parents’ quarantine experiences. Perhaps it was inappropriate to begin with; I didn’t mean to detract from Caroline’s experience.

      I like to believe it’s possible to empathize with EVERYONE without devaluing someone’s experience. Parenting IS hard—AND there are people who would give anything to be parents, and that IS hard too. Both are true, I think.

      I am finding it hard, though, to not FEEL the divides that Nora points out. House vs. Apartment. Children to care for vs. no children to care for. NYC vs. anywhere else in the U.S. (And there are more that I don’t personally feel: healthcare worker vs. not; sick vs. well.)

      Perhaps this is just one giant lesson in empathy for me. I wanted to send love to parents specifically in my first post, but perhaps I should have sent love to everyone. I’m sorry if that hurt people.

      (I’m also not sleeping because of a baby, Tara, and, I’m sure MANY people out there have bigger problems than me: but I wouldn’t wish sleep deprivation + being quarantined on anyone.)

    • Laura says...

      Echoing Rebecca and Kristen! Sure, I can logically understand that my days right now are easier without having to care for kid(s), but all I actually want is to be overwhelmed with an infant in my home right now. If only it were so simple to achieve that as the “corona baby boom” jokes imply :(

    • Rachel says...

      @Rebecca – I resonate completely with your comment. I too had a miscarriage earlier this year. This time has brought a lot of that pain to the surface all over again, watching families together and hearing others’ complaints…there is deep longing and continued grief. And a lot of uncertainty about not knowing when to try again with all of this going on. I hope you take comfort knowing you are not alone. I certainly did after reading your comment. <3

    • Rebecca says...

      Rachel, Kristin, Laura- thinking of you all. Thank you for commenting and helping me to feel less alone. It definitely brings comfort.

      Joyce- thank you for your reflections on this. I totally agree that this is a time of learning empathy and I think the situation that this separation places us in means we end up focusing on our own situation and feeling the divides even more than we do in our regular lives perhaps. I am definitely guilty of that too. Recent reports of the inequality of the impact of the virus have certainly made me rethink the privilege I have.

      As I said in my previous comment- everyone has different worries; hopefully they have different joys too. Wishing you all as much of the latter as is possible right now.

  42. Sarah Jane says...

    My husband and I have used this time for some routine couple’s therapy. Every Saturday morning we meet with a therapist via video chat from the comfort of our living room, and it is a great way for us to come together to reflect on what we’re grateful for and what we’re struggling with.

  43. I am finding my relationship with technology increasingly contrary. On the one hand I couldn’t live without it. It has made it possible for me to continue working, and meant that my husband and I, although stuck in completely different countries with no idea when we will be reunited, can have pizza nights and celebrate birthdays. Truly a blessing.

    And yet…as an introvert I am finding the constant screen time very tough. The pressure to stay connected, the constant desire to be online with people is increasing my anxiety in a way I never thought would occur. I am in lockdown, isolated, and yet find myself craving time alone. It’s hard to tell people right now that the one thing you desire, more than anything, is a night off, alone, just yourself, a book and a glass of wine. I don’t want to let people down or disappoint them. I just want to enjoy the quiet.

    • CL says...

      Gosh, yes to this. As a fellow introvert, the seemingly-omnipresent push from all sides to connect virtually with everyone all the time has got me feeling overwhelmed, too. Thinking of you.

    • Erin says...

      Rebecca!! Thank you for this.

      I have to be on video calls for a good chunk of each day at work (talking talking talking). I am finding it hard to keep up with the request for so many video calls with friends and family. I also love my family, but need good boundaries to maintain that love and my own mental well being. So finding myself on many many all day everyday family threads text threads is both lovely, and challenging.

      My husband and I are exceedingly close, some would say codependent. But this weekend I wanted to binge watch a show alone in our living room and had to kindly ask him to go sit somewhere else. Thankfully, he knows me and knows I need this time to recharge, so he happily obliged.

      Explaining the need for alone time to people outside of my relationship is challenging, and people don’t understand when I say “I am maxed out on scheduled video calls and need to prioritize my mom.” or why the idea of committing to a standing weekly call is stressful.

      Basically, this situation is hard to navigate even for those of us who are introverted. I cannot imagine how hard this would be if I had children and feel for the introverts out there who are also parents.

    • Sara says...

      Rebecca, I’m with you on this and can totally relate, but based on some of the comments below so can other people. What a weird time we’re living in!

    • K says...

      *Raises Hand *
      Yes, I so relate to this. The video calls are stressing me out. I’ve never been so available to my friends and family, often intentionally had 3-4 nights to myself per week after busy days of working & taking care of my young kids. I miss that!

      Add to that guilt for my friends who are struggling/lonely, my parents who are way too active on facebook but I also feel worried for their wellbeing, plagued with guilt that I’m annoyed by their new expectations of social interaction with me.

  44. Megan says...

    This was beautifully written and made me laugh and tear up at the same time. Just what I needed on this Tuesday morning.

  45. Amy says...

    I have 6-month identical twin boys & a 13-year old (let that sink in for a moment). I’m attempting to work from home and care for these wild ones mostly on my own and it’s been a roller coaster of laughter and sobs and 49-million packets of cheesy rice.

  46. GB says...

    Am I the only person who is over the Zoom calls? And I’m so tired of the memes, it’s like we’re all circulating the same material and jokes and i’m getting tired of it. My boyfriend, who is a teacher, has been staying with me and while it’s been nice to have someone to spoon with at night and to help with the chores around the house while my job is insane (it was never meant to be a work-from-home position), I sometimes miss just having the apartment to myself, for no reason other than not to share the air. Does that make sense? This thing has made me crankier than I’d like to admit and sometimes it feels like I’m alone in that negative space, while everyone is embracing this whole positive outlook.

    • Justine says...

      GB, I am with you on this one. I don’t want to get off a day of video calls for work just to hop on another endless round of video calls with friends and families. I wasn’t a super social person before Corona, so I don’t really want to be super social during Corona. I also want to be grumpy and mad and generally pissed off about the entire situation.

    • Alyssa says...

      You are so not alone. I turn off my phone alerts at least once a day because I hit peak crankiness over people sending me scientific articles and/or the same recycled memes. I am so fortunate to live in a two bedroom apartment that I like with a wonderful thoughtful partner, but I MISS SEEING OTHER PEOPLE and I miss having the space to myself and I am tired of listening to him on his work phone all day.

      So no, oh my gosh, you are not alone, and it is so, so okay to be pissed off right now!

    • Anonymous says...

      You’re not alone! I am struggling with the constant “let’s connect!” mentality, too. I live alone, with a dog and cat, and am navigating a newish relationship that isn’t easy in these times. I keep telling myself this is okay to not be happy about or in. Be gentle on yourself as much as you can with your struggles. xx

    • KT says...

      You’re not alone at all! I feel the same. My boyfriend and I have been together for years and I still relish my time at home alone and am grieving the loss of it. Not everything is positive. Also, after staring at a screen all day for work (my job also doesn’t transfer well to at-home work) the last thing I want to do is sit longer and stare at a screen more. I hear you GB, and I understand.

    • GB says...

      Thank you to you all for making me feel less alone in my crankiness!

    • Micah says...

      I feel you. One Zoom call a day is doable. Seven is not…!!!!

    • Lucy says...

      This! How I can relate… my partner and I moved abroad this summer but returned to Canada when our prime minister called us back and both of our workplaces transitioned to remote work.

      Our return was completely anti-climatic because we can’t see anyone anyway, and I contracted COVID during our repatriation travels. And then everyone wants to hold a HouseParty or Zoom call and it’s just the exact same way that we’ve been communicating for months while living abroad.

      It all feels so tiring to me. I am just tired in general though… while my case seems mild, I have lost my sense of smell and continue to mourn it and hope that it comes back soon. I miss all of the smells and would like to be healthy again. My heart goes out to everyone with this weird and terrible illness.

  47. This time is tough. I’m from Copenhagen, had to abruptly leave NYC, where my boyfriend is from, because of the outbreak. Now, we’re apart and have no idea when we’ll be allowed to see each other again. </3

    • I love your sentence -If one thing is for certain, it is that during this curious and trying time, love is being both challenged and affirmed. So true.

  48. Amy says...

    For all the covid content out there right now that 9 times out of 10 leaves me feeling hopeless, anxious and scared, this post leaves me teary eyed with a hand on my heart.- in a good way! Fresh off of giving family haircuts that were filled with hooting and hollering, the bit about cutting eachother’s hair really made my heart swell. I really hope to carry my newfound level of patience and gratitude forward, once we’re out of our homes and back in the world.

  49. Daniela says...

    I’ve felt deeper connections overall since we are all in this together. I work in healthcare so I do leave the house on a regular basis and I’m usually home anyway on my days off, so my routine hasn’t really changed. My husband and I have had to cancel any travel plans or visitors we had coming though.

    I talk to my dad much more regularly and have had deeper conversations with my closest friend, brother, and mom. My husband and I worry about our loved ones (and us both working outside the home – oh how I’d love to be safe inside with him) and comfort each other. The cats are happy as can be. Even throwing the windows open and hearing people walking outside and talking on the phone with their loved ones makes me feel very connected and part of a bigger picture.

  50. I’ve offered my friends who have children to facetime with them and to show them my plants, nail polish collection, etc.
    The kids tend to be shocked I live in a condo by myself. One of my friend’s kids said she can’t wait to see their “salsa dancing friend.” That’s me :)

    • Jessica says...

      This is really sweet, Olga. My daughter would absolutely LOVE to be shown someone’s nail polish collection. : )

    • Amy says...

      Nail polish collection! So cute.

    • Ramya says...

      Thank you for being such a great human being! This is something that I think any parent would take you up on with great enthusiasm. Virtual “babysitting” with the grandparents is certainly helping me a great deal (I’m a solo mama to a rambunctious 6-yr old).

    • Amy says...

      That is incredibly thoughtful! So many kids would love to just chat and see inside a grown-up’s magical-seeming life, especially one that’s different from their own caregivers’ lives.

  51. Sophie says...

    Thank you, as always, for your beautiful words. You know how to capture the thoughts of so many Cup of Jo readers, myself included. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  52. Erin says...

    At the beginning of this, I was so scared to stay in my tiny 350 sqft studio in Brooklyn. I tried to be kind to myself and think that I was lucky to still have my health, my boyfriend, my job, and Prospect Park across the street. But I grew to not trust my job security, and the divorce rate spike in China reminded me that I didn’t love my boyfriend and that I felt so insecure around him all the time.
    A week later, I was furloughed. My parents in KY offered to come get me, they didn’t want their 24yr old daughter alone, but my boyfriend begged me to stay and keep him company. I really wanted to go but didn’t want to be a bad girlfriend. The next day, my first day of unemployment, he dumped me in the park–the space I viewed as refuge only a week earlier–by telling me he “doesn’t think he likes me as much as he thinks I like him.” The moment he said it I was crushed, then I immediately felt relief. Two days later, I rented a car, packed up my laundry and my cat, and drove the 11 hrs to KY in a day.
    I’ve been home just over a week now, and I feel light. All of the things I was so scared to lose I have now lost. I was overcome with anxiety everyday, an unusual thing for me. Sure, it was only furlough not a complete layoff, and I was going to break up with the selfish boyfriend eventually. But I cannot explain how calm and relieved I feel.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was terrified of change and the lack of control I’d have over those changes. But they happened anyway. I’m now trying a new approach to this: hopefully we will all have our phoenix moment, to walk into the flames and come out stronger.

    • Sigrid says...

      That is strangely good to read!

    • Rusty says...

      I’m so happy for you. You made a wise choice in so many ways. x

    • celeste says...

      That was beautiful!

    • This is such a beautiful sentiment. I am so happy for your calm and lightness now.

    • Emily says...

      I’m so happy for you! And, Kentucky is beautiful in the spring, so no better place to be.

    • Cindy says...

      “but they happened anyway…” Just that.
      control is such an illusion. I’ m relearning this every single day.
      hugs. xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love this, erin. so happy for you. xoxo

    • Leah says...

      Erin, I saw this comment in this week’s recap, and I wanted to say how touched I was.

      Also, I know it is a cliche, but your situation reminded me of the phrase: “when the chips are down, you find out who your real friends are”. It really sounds like your ex boyfriend was not a real friend, and even though it might have been painful and worrisome, and you might have moments where you miss him and your life together, long term, you want to be with someone who has your back.

      Best of luck to you!