Stay-at-home orders are being lifted and social distancing protocol is being loosened. Stores are opening. Parks are opening. Restaurants are opening. But we are in this weird gray zone in which no official party has said, “It is perfectly safe to resume your usual activities and the risk of infection is zero – the virus has been eliminated.” There’s no vaccine. There’s no cure. We’re reopening because the effects of staying closed much longer might have been worse for our country than the effects of opening will be. But it’s very much an every man for himself scenario. The risk is still very much there, we’ve just been given the freedom to take that risk, and choose how and when we take precautions to minimize it. Some individuals see the country opening up as a sign that it’s all good. If you aren’t one of those people, but you live with one, you could find yourself in a very tense situation. Everything your partner does affects you right now. If he goes out, it’s as if you’ve gone out, too. He can bring the virus back into the home. And your efforts to stay home feel pointless if your partner is making no such effort. But these divisions of opinions are happening. Here is what it’s like when you and your partner disagree on social distancing.
He’ll push to have people over
He will want to have people over in a “safe size” group. He’ll be itching to socialize now. But you do not want people touching the surfaces in your home, and potentially bringing the virus inside. He insists that it’s safer to see people this way than to meet in a public space where there could be more germs. But you think this is the worst idea – potentially bringing the virus right into your home.
You try to keep the interaction outdoors
So you might agree to have people over, but to have an outdoor soiree. You can have a backyard barbecue or garden cocktail party or pool party. You’re comfortable with this, since you won’t be breathing the same air as others in an enclosed space, and they won’t be touching the surfaces in your home.
Then someone needs to use the bathroom…
But what happens when you have people over, even if just outside? Somebody needs to use the toilet. Or rinse a spill of their shirt. Or wants more ice and the only ice left is in your freezer. And then your partner pressures you, looking at you like you’re ruining everything by enforcing the stay-outside-my-house rule.
You worry each time he leaves the house
Every time your partner leaves the home, you fear that he’s doing something of which you wouldn’t approve. Is he hugging friends? Is he going inside a friend’s home when he said he’d just hang in their yard? Is he sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at lunch with friends, when he said he’d sit at a separate table?
You feel he doesn’t care for your health
You can feel that, by not social distancing, your partner is directing neglecting your health and safety. It feels like a direct affront to your wellbeing. You feel like he just doesn’t care what happens to you. It’s hard for him to see why you feel that way, because he doesn’t think that disobeying social distancing actually poses any threat.
He feels you don’t trust him
Your partner feels like you don’t trust him, and that you aren’t treating him as an adult. He hates that you give him strict instructions each time he leaves the house on how to be safe. He hates that you interrogate him when he gets back. He feels like you don’t trust him to take care of himself, and you. And the truth is…you don’t. Because he doesn’t see things the way you do.
It feels politically heated
The arguments around whether or not to stay at home or whether or not to keep six feet of distance from others feel politically charged. People fall so far on either extreme end of this argument that it’s almost like they are of different political parties. There are times when you feel that, if your partner sees differently from you on this, that you may just not be compatible.
You hide it from friends
And just the way you would if your partner were of a different political party than you and your friends, you hide this from your friends. Your friends are all about wearing masks and keeping distance and only socializing outdoors. You don’t dare to tell them that your partner doesn’t believe in that – you know they’d reject him.
He resents you if he’s bored
Any time your partner feels he’s missing out on something, you can feel him resenting you. He sees friends going back to bars and parties on social media, and instantly, he’s upset with you – he feels like you’re keeping him from that. Yup – you. Not the virus.
You resent the resentment
You resent the resentment. You’re just trying to keep both of you safe. How could he think that you don’t want him to have fun? Of course you do. And excuse him but, it’s not exactly like you’re over here having the time of your life. You’re bored, too. You miss your friends, too. He’s not the only one suffering. He’s just the only one who doesn’t understand why it’s necessary.
You hate when he even asks…
People will invite you both to things. An indoor party. A dinner party. A bar. And every time the invitation comes through, he confronts you with it. “Our friends are having a birthday party. Can we go?” You feel like he only does this to make you feel guilty, because he knows the answer before he even asks the question.
“This person did it and he’s fine!”
Your partner always has stories of a friend who attended this event or broke social distancing protocol in this way and is perfectly fine. Okay…that doesn’t mean he wasn’t at risk. If he’s fine, it’s because he got lucky, and certainly not because he did the right thing. If we know someone who never uses condoms and never got an STD, do we see that as proof that condoms are unnecessary?
You’re the “nag” to his friends
His friends see you as a nag. You know they do. When they invite him to do something, he says he can’t because you won’t let him. You really resent him putting that on you. You’re just trying to keep him from getting a potentially deadly virus, and he’s over there smearing your reputation with his friends.
You try to find ways to entertain him
You do feel bad because you can see how restless and bored your partner is. It’s not your fault, but you know he sees it as your fault. You try to compromise and empathize, and find ways for him to have fun. You keep buying new games and gadgets online to try to keep him entertained. You come up with things you two can do at home. You feel like you’re trying to keep a child entertained.
You feel he doesn’t try to enjoy himself
You feel like he intentionally has a bad time when you try to find ways to entertain him, just to further prove his point that you should let him go socialize. He doesn’t even give the activities you plan for you two a chance. He is dead set on having a terrible time until he gets to break social distancing protocol.