You Need Help: How Do I Stop Getting Emotionally Attached to My Pandemic Crush?

Q:

Hello! I got out of a long-term, live-in relationship early this year and resolved not to date for a good long while. However, the pandemic started making its way to my part of the world and I felt the need to get laid while I still could. I ended up meeting someone through Lex, who I thought would strictly be a friends-with-benefits. Except we started chatting a lot, way more than I usually do with a friends-with-benefits.

We finally met weeks before our country went on lockdown and found that we had amazing sexual chemistry. The last time I saw her, we didn’t even have sex – we had dinner and hung out at my flat for a bit before she went home.

We now chat with each other daily and throughout the day, telling each other almost every little thing: how work is going, what we’re having for lunch, how we’re feeling. She actually checks in on how I feel, which is so unexpected and sweet, and last night we had the best sexting I’ve ever had.

I now find myself getting emotionally attached to her, and it’s making me feel anxious. I’m not ready for a relationship, and I’m not even ready to define what this is. I also don’t know if this has a future. She mentioned having plans to move out of the country before the pandemic happened, and that she may still want to do that when this blows over. When she mentioned this to me again today, my heart dropped and I started feeling very sad at the thought of her leaving. This is when I realized that I need help.

Am I overthinking this? How do I stop myself from getting emotionally attached to her without diminishing my enjoyment of whatever this is?

A:

I feel uniquely qualified to answer your question, because I don’t relate to it all.

I’ve had two serious relationships in my life. When the first one ended, I desperately wanted to jump into a new better relationship — I failed. When the second ended, I decided I needed to be on my own before I could even consider a new relationship — I succeeded.

This moment in time has underlined all of our relationship statuses. People who are single feel really single. People who live with their partner(s) have never felt more in a relationship. People who are long distance feel that distance with an acute pain. Every person we talk to via text or on the phone or on FaceTime or — when it’s safe to do so — in person can feel like the first and last person we’ll ever communicate with in our lives. Everything is heightened. Everything is intense.

And as I’ve felt my singleness in this new way I’ve been doing a fun thing in my brain where I think a lot about why it is that I’m single. Why am I someone who is independent? Why am I someone who takes years between serious relationships? What’s wrong with me that I have such a hard time forming these kinds of bonds? As people I viewed as even more independent than me found themselves quarantine loves, these questions have only grown in my mind. What’s wrong with me?

Now, I don’t want to be presumptuous, but given where your head is at I feel like your answer to that question might be something along the lines of: Nothing! Nothing is wrong with you! You’re doing what I wanted to do! What’s wrong with ME that I couldn’t be alone for five minutes and am already having feelings for someone new?? Isn’t that why we’re here!

And to that I say, okay fine nothing is wrong with me. But only if you’ll say the same.

Part of decentering romantic relationships from our lives, part of being independent, part of seeking a kind of individuality that cisheteropatriarchy denies, has to include removing a value judgement from these very things. There is nothing inherently better or inherently worse about different ways of connecting. And sometimes it has nothing to do with who we are — we just happen to meet someone and click.

My opinion — which is what you and anyone is here for — is that you aren’t asking the right questions.

It’s clear you’re talking a lot. Do you feel like you’re talking to her at the detriment of other relationships or other things that you’d like to be doing? Or do you simply enjoy the connection you’re forming? That’s a question to ask yourself.

You say that you’re not ready for a new relationship or to define what this is. Those are great things to know! Does she feel the same way? Is there any reason why you’d have to define this right now? And what is it about a relationship you’re not ready for? How can you make sure you’re respectful towards those desires even as you have feelings? Ask yourself those questions too.

When she mentioned moving out of the country, you felt very sad. Of course you did! Why wouldn’t you feel sad? But you can keep building this connection even with the knowledge that it might be impermanent. Even if that makes you sad. Independence isn’t being all alone. It’s accepting impermanence with the knowledge that you’ll be okay.

Two months after my ex and I broke up she started dating someone new. We’d been together for three and a half years and people in my life were quick to pass judgement. She’s already dating someone? It’s just a rebound. Why can’t she be alone for more than two months? She’s still dating that person??

Now that it’s been a year and a half since we broke up, I have people saying the opposite to me. Are you dating anyone? How long has it been? When do you think you’ll date someone again? And I’m left wondering, what’s the correct amount of weeks, months, years, before finding a new romantic connection? What’s the perfect time between pathetically needy and pathetically alone? What if we just let go of all this judgement towards ourselves and towards others?

The fact is there are no rules to this as long as you keep checking in with your deeper desires. Make sure you’re doing what feels right and not simply acting out of loneliness — especially in this moment when emotions feel heightened. But based on what you’ve written it doesn’t seem like you’re acting out of loneliness. It seems like you’re forming a connection with someone special. And that’s amazing?? Remove judgement from that connection and take it one day at a time. Congrats on the best sexting you’ve ever had.

Drew is an LA-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. Her writing can be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Thrillist, I Heart Female Directors, and, of course, Autostraddle. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about trans lesbians. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @draw_gregory.

Drew has written 105 articles for us.

15 Comments

  1. I can relate so much to this. My situation was slightly different in that we started dating right as lock down started, so we never had a physical element to our relationship. We had been only on one date in real life. But because of everything going on in our lives, and the fact that we really liked each other, it got really intense really fast. We were texting all day everyday. In my case, the person I was dating ended it because she decided that she couldn’t get into a relationship (for mental health reasons), and what we had going was heading in that direction. Meanwhile, its three months later and I still think about her. I think it’s because our shared trauma from the beginning of quarantine bonded us and I formed an emotional attachment that has been really hard to shake.

  2. Having seen a lot of conflation of independence and never-dependence on the Big Gay Interwebs, I was prepared for this letter to be more of the same. I was wrong. Drew, I love this nuanced response and appreciate the reminder that there is no “correct timeline” or “correct feeling” that we should all be chasing. To paraphrase Glennon Doyle, none of us are broken – the “ideal” many of us have been taught to aspire to, the person who is simultaneously perfectly aloof and perfectly attached, simply doesn’t exist.

  3. “Independence isn’t being all alone. It’s accepting impermanence with the knowledge that you’ll be okay.” Wow. As someone who thinks of themself as very independent, buth in relationships and otherwise, this hit hard

  4. Thank you Letter Writer for submitting your question, and Drew thanks a million for your answer ! It’s of benefit to so many of us.

    I particularly liked this bit : “Independence isn’t being all alone. It’s accepting impermanence with the knowledge that you’ll be okay.”

    This summarizes a lot of my realizations of late.

  5. “Independence isn’t being all alone. It’s accepting impermanence with the knowledge that you’ll be okay.”

    Can we start a weekly Favorite Sentence Award or Favorite Snippet Award or something? Like the Comment Awards but for us to suggest best bits from the writers’ contributions that week? I nominate this for the inaugural one.

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