It seems that in this period of rapid and fundamental change, adaptation will be the way we get through to the other side. Much like Darwin’s finches, we have to change our beaks in order to survive (I know, we don’t have beaks. They’re metaphorical beaks. Work with me, here).
Businesses will have to adapt their work practices in order to function when a workforce is spotted throughout their homes. Artists are already adapting, offering up free online concerts and comedy via the burgeoning medium of video performances. Education is adapting to move the classroom into the digital world, and students are adapting by figuring out new ways to avoid this digital classroom.
Amongst this avalanche of adaptation, romance too must move with the times and redefine itself for a world where one is locked up with their spouse for twenty-four hours a day. And who better to walk you through some of these adaptations than someone renowned for his smooth and loving ways, a man who charmed his way into a happy and caring marriage, Mr Monogamy himself…me (no, not Hugh Jackman, me. I know, he’s lovable, but just…alright).
The obvious, and let’s be honest, cliche acts of romance, such as going to the cinemas, dining at a restaurant, and sussing out where your tinder date sits on the normal curve over a drink, have all also been put into quarantine, so romance in the time of COVID requires new ways of thinking. For those of us lucky enough to be in lock down with our partners (or unlucky, depending on your perspective and your partner of choice), there are still things that can be done to keep the spark alive.
When your partner staggers out from the bedroom and seats themselves for another shift at the home office, take the time to compliment them on their choice of tracksuit pants for that day, even if it is the same choice they have made for the last five days.
Pay attention to your partner’s moods and be ready to provide them with a shoulder rub when they’re in the middle of a frustrating conference call with a particularly dense colleague.
Given you’re in constant close quarters, be sure to maintain a high level of personal hygiene (ideally, this should really be done regardless of your current romantic status, or regardless of a worldwide pandemic for that matter, but if the motivation you need to give yourself a good scrub is a romantic gesture, then so be it).
Initiate a little inter-office flirting by playing footsies under the dining room table. But be sure to pay attention to the additional cabling the work computers add, as personal experience has taught me that if the foot-play becomes too intense, you may end up with a laptop crashing onto the exact foot you were attempting to titillate. This has been proven to completely ruin the romantic mood.
Keep things playful and come up with new, situationally appropriate, nicknames for each other. Some examples may include: “my little quarantine camper”, “COVID cutie”, and “fellow inmate”.
Knowing when to pull back on the romance and give your partner their space is equally important during enforced cohabitation. Look for the signs; they may be subtle, but they will be there. Perhaps they have curled up with a book, or moved to an adjacent room to enjoy their coffee alone, or have said the words “I am so sick of your face” directly into your face. By watching out for these minute forms of communication, you can ensure the flame of romance always burns bright.
And above all, I cannot stress this enough, eat where your wife can’t hear you.
Some of you out there may be unlucky enough to be isolating away from your partner (or lucky, depending on your partner of choice and love of personal space), but don’t worry, there are still innovations that ensure the sexual tension stays taut even across the vast distance.
Having had a long distance relationship for four years, my wife and I are experts when it comes to initiating intimacy via technology. Text each other a sweet message each morning from your messaging app of choice. Instagram fun photos of your day so they can see what you’re up to. Snapchat each other the selected portions of your anatomy that you deem the sexiest and can bear being seen for ten seconds at a time. Call or video chat to let them know what you were up to that day.
On special occasions, dress up, set the table, maybe throw in some candles, make a nice dinner, and have yourself a proper eDate. You will feel ridiculous, but entirely validated when you see the smile on your partner’s face and they tell you you’re an idiot. I know, I speak from experience.
Hopefully, by being sensitive to our partner’s needs and by willing to adapt our amorous activities, we can all come through this experience more romantic and loving than ever.
And when all else fails, whether together or over video chat, drink schnapps and get drunk together.
(Fun trivia: The glasses pictured were a wedding gift to my grandparents who then gifted them to Alex and I as an engagement present. Given the beautiful marriage my grandparents share, I think Alex and I are in good hands with those glasses as our talisman. Also, my Grandma reads this blog: Hi Grandma! We’re putting the glasses to good use!)