Love and Loss in the Age of Corona

There’s a lot of shit going on right now.

 

Not just the usual shit that’s always happening. Like, if you’re married and you hate your spouse, there’s always going to be some shit. But now you’re stuck in the same house with that person 24/7. Murder becomes a real possibility.

Not that I’m advocating murder here. The opposite, actually. I think less murder in the world would be a good thing. A bold stance, I know.

But… There’s a lot to learn about relationships in this crisis.

We have to look inward and really examine ourselves. We have to learn what it means for us to be alone, to be isolated. We have to learn how far we can push our relationships before they break. We have to see just how much distance love can endure before it dissolves into a vague, shallow nothing.

Now, the idealists would like you to think that love conquers all, regardless of distance or external circumstance. Which is bullshit, obviously. Love is like a fire. Yes, it’s hot. It never stops burning. It’s a bonfire in your heart that’s always there, shining light on your fucking soul. But, fires require fuel. Love is the same way. A big part of fueling that love is physical contact. Being near someone is a huge part of the formula that makes love work.

This is not to say that long-social-distance-relationships are impossible. They’re not. They’re just really fucking hard. And this is also not to say that your girlfriend/boyfriend will stop loving you, just because you’re not physically together. It’s a concern, though. That’s just the way human relationships work.

So what can we do about it?

That was a hypothetical question. I’m not actually gonna go into detail here. I’m not a fucking self-help blog that’ll tell you the 5 Secrets to Successful Long-Distance Relationships (#4 Will Blow Your Mind!). Because fuck that sellout bullshit.

I mean, obviously do video calls with the people you love. At the minimum, try to have a phone call with someone you love once or twice a week. Like, call your parents or your grandparents or your aunties and uncles. Call anyone in the world who gives a shit whether you live or die. That’s an important part of it.

Human contact is the thing. Without contact, love burns out and fades away like a burnt-out ember on a cold rainy night. Yes, the fire was there. Yes, you can still feel the heat. But it’s fucking gone.

Sometimes, we lose the people we love. Even without a crisis in the background, relationships are hard. Sometimes we lose people. Sometimes we lose the person we thought we were gonna spend the rest of our lives with. And it sucks, but you just have to roll with the punches and figure out what the fuck you’re gonna do with your life now.

Love and loss. ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Old Billy Shakespeare hit the nail on the head with that one. But it really fucking sucks when you move into the “lost” portion of “loved and lost”. Which is why I recommend not doing that. Hence, this rambling blog post about maintaining loving relationships during this crisis.

Not that I’m exactly the best person to ask about that kind of thing. All the romantic relationships in my life have ended up crashing and burning around me. Sometimes I’ll stay with a person long past the time when I know I should just cut them off and end things, just because staying with them is the easier path. Sometimes I’ll just stop giving a shit about someone, and I’ll take advantage of them more and more until they finally end things. Sometimes I’ll get so fucking depressed that I just withdraw from the world and they start to think I don’t care about them anymore.

In any case, love dies in the end. That’s the inevitable truth of it. Love dies. After fifty years, your wife dies of cancer and you’re alone. Or, after a year, your girlfriend cheats on you and you’re alone. Or, you love someone, and they never really loved you back to begin with.

Either way, love dies. This pandemic is a wonderful blessing, in some ways. It’s forcing us to come to grips with the facts of our own relationships. Do you really love the person you’re stuck in quarantine with? Do you even love yourself right now?

Isolation has a way of forcing us to face the ugly truths in our lives, and the distance has a way of forcing the problems in our relationships to the surface. These two facts combine to form the perfect storm of self-examination and conjugal stress.

Some of us will come out of this better, healthier, stronger human beings. And some of us will be miserable wrecks, because we’ve failed to face the realities of our situation. I still haven’t decided which one I’m gonna be, but for those of you out there, I recommend the former.

-J

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