I received this email from a reader. Hope it helps…
I was wondering if you have had anyone write to you about how to handle a relationship when you are not living together. I am having a hard time with it as I am in a fairly new relationship with someone who lives in NJ.
I am curious as to what people are doing.
Dear Chappaqua Single Mom,
You’re not alone! Many are facing exactly the same predicament as you. Coronavirus has taken your newish relationship to a whole other level of distance, as in you could put each other at health risk if you meet up. So currently your best bet at nurturing a romantic connection is over the phone, and you now have a perfect excuse (not that you ever needed one) for calling your guy to simply talk—and encouraging him to call you a lot as well. Sure, telephone calls are in many ways a throwback, but a really valuable one. Besides learning so much about a new partner by what they choose to talk about and say, our voices powerfully bond us to one another and help cultivate emotional intimacy. An added plus: linguistic research shows that people lie much more over text and email compared to over the phone.
That said, texts are great for flirting (cue the heart-eyes emoji) and innuendo. (Interestingly, men say they find bitmojis, in particular, sexy, so now would be a good time to create yours and let her do some of your flirting for you!) Also, don’t forget to digitally “tuck” one another in at night or otherwise say good night and good morning—when exchanged consistently, those are quickie messages that are surprisingly effective at moving relationships forward.
Also, please don’t overlook the power of anticipation: neuroscience shows that anticipation of a desired goal (in this case, physical intimacy) drives our brain’s reward system to release more and more dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure. So the silver lining to your separation-by-corona is that you and New Jersey-Guy may very well trigger mini-rushes of euphoria in each other’s brains during some of those phone convos. Not only will you newly find yourselves highly motivated to get together in-the-flesh (yes, double entendre), but the psychology of delayed gratification predicts your reunion will be even sweeter when it does occur in the (hopefully) near future!
Dr. Nancy Lee
Bio: Dr. Nancy Lee, PhD, is a leading practitioner of cognitive behavior therapy who specializes in a wide range of behavioral health issues ranging from depression and anxiety to psychosexual desire and functioning. She is the author of Don’t Sleep with Him Yet: A Badass Guide to Dating in 10 Empowering Steps.