How Social Distancing Gives Us Time to Improve Relationships

Most of us are so busy we do not take just a minute or two to slow things down and sift through our feelings, nor do we take just a minute or two to reach out to an old friend or our long-distance friends. During busy times of the year, we will go weeks without having meaningful conversations with our friends. This causes damage to relationships, and after so long, it can eventually feel like one does not truly know their friend anymore. A valuable opportunity to recover such damaged relationships must not be missed. With modern-day technology and newly found free time due to Coronavirus isolation, we are given valuable time to fix or improve relationships with those we may have had a falling out with and friends we may be drifting away from.

Time to Reflect

People often do not spend time calmly reflecting on their relationships, which can lead to prolonged participance in a toxic relationship, a lack of consideration for how friends feel, and pointless hostility. Instead of assessing why we feel a certain way, we tend to act out because we feel a certain way; however, in reality, no issue is truly resolved until it is resolved at its source.

I remember, as a gymnast, being told that my choice not to go for a skill was not an issue of fear, but an issue of the heart. In other words, I simply did not truly want to do a skill and it was up to me to change that attitude because if I really wanted to go fear would not hold me back. Thus, I was forced to spend some time alone to look deeper into the issue and assess what was keeping me from wanting a skill at its source.

Relationships work the same way; however, we do not dig deep into the reasons for what happens or why we feel a certain way often enough. Coronavirus isolation, while it may be inconvenient and frustrating, gives us the perfect opportunity to find relationship issues at their source and resolve them. Furthermore, it gives us time to assess whether our current relationships are really healthy.

Listed below are some questions to help assess relationships:

  • Do they invest the same amount of time into the relationship as you do?
  • Do you trust them?
  • Are you comfortable when you are around them?
  • How often do you communicate with friends?
  • Do they listen to you and do you listen to them?
  • Do you encourage each other?
  • Do you enjoy hanging out with them?
  • Are there any issues you still have not forgiven your friends for?
  • Are there any issues your friends have not forgiven you for?
  • What do your other friends think of your friend?
  • How well do you know your friends? Do you know their favorites, family members, hobbies, morals, etc.?
  • Have you noticed anything off (in a negative sense) about your friends?
  • Are you honest with your friends and are they honest with you?
  • Do you feel like you are drifting away from any of your friends?

It is important to note that this time to reflect is not only about assessing your friends’ actions, it is also about assessing your own. Sometimes we can push away our friends without even realizing it or we may be holding grudges for no significant reason. We also may be blaming our friends for things that are not really their fault or that we have done ourselves. It is important to put ourselves in the shoes of our friends when making these assessments because a situation without context is not always as we initially think it to be. Furthermore, we should be digging deeper into the questions we ask to assess our relationships, and instead of just taking an answer, we should assess why that is the answer. An issue cannot truly be resolved until it is resolved at its source.

Time to Reach Out

Due to the massive amounts of activity cancellations, most are left with more free time than usual. This free time grants us the opportunity to reach out to those we may have lost touch or are beginning to lose touch with. In the day and age of social media and wireless communication, this should not be too hard. Face to face interaction is not necessary to reach out to someone, we only need to send a text message or message someone via social media to interact and talk to someone. Furthermore, there are video chatting apps and software, as well as online games that can keep our interactions with others engaging and entertaining. So, if anyone is afraid of Coronavirus (I am not so sure there should be overwhelming fear based on the survival rate), there are still plenty of ways to keep in touch with others, and there is a great opportunity to revive relationships that may be starting to fade.

Listed below are a few creative ways to engage with friends online:

  • Send each other memes that are relevant to your relationship.
  • If you both have Apple phones, play one of the game pigeon texting games together (as Maria Ecrivain loves to do with her adult daughter).
  • Take online friendship quizzes together and discuss your results.
  • Play an online game together and chat together live using Discord (an app).
  • Send each other the weirdest photos you have on your phone.
  • Try to have a conversation with only pictures.
  • Play on a Minecraft minigames server together.
  • Video chat and have a competition (ex. Origami challenge).
  • Create duet TikToks.

Tips for reaching out to friends that are fading:

  • Be helpful. When you reach out to them, send them something that would be beneficial to them, it shows them that you care.
  • Be genuine. There is no point in reaching out to a friend if you are not really interested in talking to them.
  • Remember it is about them, not you. Ask them about how they are doing and keep the focus on them for a little while before talking too much about yourself. Most people are more interested in talking about themselves, plus focusing on your friend gives you a chance to learn about what has happened in your friend’s life that you do not know about, granting more topics of discussion.
  • Be consistent. Set aside time to talk to them and make it routine. If you express interest in talking to someone and then just disappear it will look like you ghosted them and damage the relationship.

We must remember to keep in touch with close friends as well. Most of us already primarily keep in touch and interact with friends via social media so this should not be too hard. Group chats may provide an easy and fun way to keep in touch with friends, and video games are always an option. Furthermore, if you are not afraid of the Coronavirus, which has a much lesser effect on younger individuals, the park is always an option for friends to hang out.

Time to Resolve

The time we are given to spend alone due to social distancing gives us the chance to let our emotions settle and to face issues in a more rational manner. If through reflection and reaching out to friends during this time you happen to find some issues that need to be resolved, now is the perfect time to resolve them. Once you have uncovered the “why” through reflection, you should reach out to friends and be honest with the issues at hand and how they make you feel. Furthermore, if you believe a friend has an issue with you, reach out to them and talk about it. However, it is important to note that issues should not be confronted in an emotionally charged manner, as that may cause further complications in friendships.

Once all issues in a friendship at the moment have been addressed, it is not the end of all issues. Relationships will constantly face challenges, so it may be a good idea to get in the habit of identifying and addressing issues now. It is also important to constantly assess issues within oneself that may be interfering with relationships. With the free time we have been granted by the Coronavirus, now is a good time to begin developing habits for healthy relationships.

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