You Need Help: Should We Break Up In Quarantine?

In the past month, my social media feeds have been inundated with breakups, engagement announcements and horny queers quarantining with Tinder dates. Why are we pulled to make big decisions during self-isolation? Is it ok to intiate personal change in a dramatically changing world? Self-isolation is forcing all of us to reflect. Maybe that’s not so bad.


Q:

I am in a pretty turbulent polyamorous situation and have been for quite a while. I am not someone who thrives in drama. I feel burnt out. I feel naive. I feel lost and frustrated.

I think what really helped me push through many of these emotions was that when my partner and I saw each other, there was always so much love and comfort in being together. Now that we haven’t been seeing each other (I am in week two of self-quarantining), a lot of stuff keeps coming up and up and up.

My partner’s approach seems to be deflecting and hoping that things will figure themselves out. So far that hasn’t worked out too well. I have told her on multiple occasions that I need something different and for her to be more proactive and considerate.

Now I am supposed to wait until there are no lockdowns anymore when we can talk in person, but I am so sick of waiting around, especially since that is how it’s always been.

I’m tired and frustrated and also a little confused as to which emotions I can trust right now. Would I feel like this if I hadn’t been stuck at home for 14 days self-isolating? Am I the worst for wanting things to change even though the world is currently complete chaos?

A:

Just before self-isolating became a well-known moral imperative, my girlfriend of over two years suddenly and unexpectedly broke up with me. This would have been devastating under normal circumstances, but in the midst of a global crisis, the decision felt particularly harsh. Despite the pain I felt on the receiving end of a breakup in the time of COVID-19, I still think you should break up with your partner.

I understand why you’d be worried about trusting your feelings right now. The world you’re in right now isn’t the “real world” that you’re used to, but you are probably your most real and authentic self. Self-isolating is forcing you (and the rest of us) to really be with ourselves. If you’re spending all this time reflecting and aren’t feeling good about a relationship that’s been turbulent from the beginning, then it’s probably time to let it go.

It sounds like you’ve been putting a lot of effort into building a healthy relationship, but your partner isn’t willing to do the same. If she’s hoping that things will “figure themselves out,” she might not know herself well enough to be able to communicate her needs. That’s not something you can teach another person (I’ve tried), and if your partner isn’t even self-reflecting when she’s been forced into isolation, then she’s definitely not ready to meet you halfway.

Is it wrong to end a relationship when we’re all contemplating our mortality? I thought so for about a day, until I realized how awful I would feel if my girlfriend had stuck with me through this pandemic only to dip out at the first sign of normalcy. No one wants to feel like an obligation. That said, your partner might not respond well to a breakup in these specific circumstances, and it’s important to maintain some awareness of that. We should approach any breakup with clarity and kindness, especially right now. The good news is that you’re not quarantined together and can take as much space as you need.

Breaking up over the phone or video chat or text is normally appropriately frowned upon, but in this circumstance, all social norms have gone out the window. You can give yourself permission to end things from a physical distance. It’s better to do it now than to wait until things “go back to normal,” because A) we have no idea when that will be, and B) you don’t need the stress of poorly communicated relationship on top of the stress of a pandemic, and neither does your partner.

This is the time to cut away the people and habits that no longer serve you and welcome in the people and practices that get you through this time. If you choose to end this relationship, make sure you have a virtual support system in place and a long list of self-soothing routines in the absence of physical contact. Video chat with friends and family, create a daily schedule for yourself, try online therapy, try an at-home dance workout, journal or bake something extravagant. You can use this time to become more secure within yourself than you’ve ever been, and you’ll be a better person on the other side.


You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.

Malic White is a Chicago-based writer, comedian and actor. Follow Malic on Twitter and find upcoming shows on Malic's website.

Malic has written 35 articles for us.

2 Comments

  1. I absolutely agree! If you have been feeling lost and frustrated in a relationship for a while and your partner isn’t willing to communicate, then it’s probably better to end sooner rather than later.

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