Pandemic leaves boyfriends ‘stuck together and sticking it out’

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Q:

We joked through 2020 that we lasted after cuffing season, and that cuddling through dark times would be nice while it lasted. Well, recovery is here the sun shines, and our little inside jokes are starting to gnaw at me a little.

After months and months (and months!) of indoor life, we’re out more, and temptation is everywhere. Not only that, but the monotony of being cooped up is beyond over. We are familiar with each other’s every move and utterance, and both our tempers get short sometimes.

How can I keep it interesting and avoid throwing out the boyfriend with the bathwater?

Dear Cuffed & Cooped:

One of the best things about the pandemic recovery, such as it is for the vaccinated, is the relief to shake the shackles. Spending so much time together, many couples do expose cracks in their relationships. More than a few entertain the urge to start fresh on every part of their lives and bolt.

Little did you expect to be cooped up together through pandemic pandemonium, not to mention a resurgence, but you did. You made it. Sounds like you might have a good thing worth keeping.

Luckily, there is plenty you can do during any “uncuffing” urges to strengthen your bonds even as they are stretched and tested.

Nurture Your Affection. Resist the rabbit hole of who else is out there vs. your partner’s idiosyncrasies. Spend time thinking of what you love about them. Go out of your way to show you care. Flirt. Keep the butterflies in your stomachs with sweet nothings and special surprises.

Don’t Shut Them Out. If you’re angry, go out of your way not to avoid them. It’s really just game-playing, and it doesn’t solve anything. If you don’t talk it out, the problems will persist.

Compromise. Relationships are not about winning. It’s not about seeing who gives in first. Start with small stuff, like where to eat and what to watch, then giving a little on the big stuff will be easier.

Only Argue About Solvable Issues. You can work out who gets which side of the bed or who takes out the trash. You shouldn’t try to change religious or political differences. Stop harping on core beliefs that are part of who they are.

Value Their Opinions. One of the big reasons we seek out relationships is for support during tough times. When you ask for advice, make sure they know it’s because you value their input, even if you choose not to follow it. No need to put each other down or try to sway every opinion.

Q Advice is for entertainment, not counseling. Send your burning Qs to [email protected]

Illustration by Brad Gibson

This column also appeared in Q ATLus Magazine. Read the full issue online here:

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