What are the “Rules of Engagement” in this crazy time? (asking for a friend)
As I write this, we here in New York are approaching week 8 of our Corona Quarantine. As most, having an abundance of unstructured time at home has given me time to catch up deeply and frequently with family and friends. We exchange stories of how work environments and workflows have changed, how our families at home are coping and for some of my friends and family – how is that new(ish) relationship holding up?
How can we form and foster new bonds while under quarantine, without physical contact and without being able to rely on foundations that take years to build and trust?
I am wondering more and more how relationships that are in their infancies can grow without the benefit of enjoying physical meet ups and the nuances that come with face-to face connection and familiarity. So, really, I have this friend…..
She lives out west, he lives in New York. They’ve known each other since high school but have only just reconnected 9 months ago (thank you Facebook). Being in their ’50’s each comes with some baggage. Well, she has a couple of carry-on items, he has multiple trunks. It began last Summer as a rekindling of a friendship which quickly turned into flirtation, a visit on her turf and a full on current day long distance romance.
Or so she thought.
He said early on (and I quote) “I don’t love like other people” and whispered that he wasn’t a believer in monogamy. Despite these warning signs, they proceeded to spend the holidays together, made plans for future visits + agreed that he would be her Plus 1 for an upcoming wedding of our friend’s daughter late in 2020. He even gave her the key to his apartment. The distance didn’t seem to matter as he proclaimed his love for her, wrote her poetry and gave her jewelry.
My friends and I were overjoyed; it had only been a few weeks earlier that she declared how “done” she was with men. (It seems dating in your 50’s isn’t so easy.)
She is a teacher. They planned for a visit during Spring Break and Covid hit. We are collectively all stopped in our tracks and so his visit got cancelled – just 6 months in to their new relationship.
Some more warning signs: he is in recovery, he has been married twice and also had a long-term relationship with a live-in girlfriend. Oh, and he’s a sex addict.
So, what do you think happened once their visit was put on indefinite hold and his frequent calls slowed down. And when she began to feel awkward asking what his plans for the weekend were and was met with a defensive response? You guessed it – her antenna shot up through the roof and insecurity began to eat away. She had a dream (this was my college roommate – I can attest that she is a little witchy) that he was with another woman. She began to question his awkward manner on the phone and BOOM!
“I told you I don’t want mongamy”
“I told you I don’t love like other people”
A slight pivot while you digest that.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve done my share of binge watching (I reserve this for night time only). One of the shows I’ve seen is “Love Is Blind” on Netflix. I cannot really bring myself to fully get into these reality dating shows. My little secret is this: I watch episode 1 to get an overview of the characters, then I skip right to the final 3. At that point they have narrowed the playing field and they are getting to the nitty gritty and we can avoid all of the drama and commercial breaks.
In short, this show brings together a bunch of woman and men who never meet face to face. They are placed in “pods” and given time to speak and really get to know one another in a very intimate non-physical way. We see them but they never see one another. To sweeten the pot, they are all there to meet a spouse and get married. Some of them actually did and the most unlikely people of all seemed to have the essential building blocks to move forward together. But they were forced to decide without having the benefit of true proximity. Interesting, I thought.
So, what’s the point of examining these two very different dating scenarios?
How much do we actually hear when a new person comes into our life and shares their history, preferences, values? Are we totally blind and deaf when it comes to those early warning signs? Does a physical connection make us read into behaviors and put unrealistic expectations out into the universe?
In my friends’ case, a bit of both I think. I learned a new phrase this week, courtesy of another one of my high school best friends (we all counsel each other very publicly). It seems friend #1 was the victim of Love Bombing. Click the pink link for a detailed explanation to explore more about that and the warning signs.
Friend #1 was bombarded proclamations of early love and despite all that she was told and intellectually knew, she fell hard. The good news – she picked herself up pretty quickly after an appropriate grieving period and reflection with the help of her friends and family and a good, strong sense of self-awareness.
She is not done with men.I told her to look on the bright side. She’s back in the game of life and not out of hope when it comes to ❤️
To answer the question I posed at the beginning, I think the rules are changing for now, but as always, keep your eyes and EARS open…the signs are always there…you just have to see (hear) them!
Regrettably we are on pause right now, but I am a believer that its probably a great opportunity to get online and get to know someone through words and video chat. Nothing wrong with a big buildup a bit of anticipation.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment or an idea for my next blog entry here. Have your own Corona Love Story? Do Share! Follow my shenanigans on Instagram, too!