Social Distancing 101: How to Avoid Cabin Fever with Your Partner
This article was scientifically fact-checked by Human Sexuality expert Dr. Laurie Mintz.
By now we’re certain you’ve come across a multitude of articles on how to stay busy and stressless during this period of self isolation. DIY, spring cleaning, quarantine sex tips—sound familiar? The truth is, a majority of people don’t live alone! Which is why we’ve asked Dr. Laurie Mintz, a licensed psychologist specialized in treating sexual issues, to share her advice on avoiding cabin fever if you’re shut in with your partner.
Cabin fever is slang for the intense irritability that can be caused by long periods of isolation, and it can certainly be amplified by isolation with the same person or group of people. Before you find yourself running down the rabbithole of annoyedville, Dr. Mintz is here to share her wisdom.
“This is a difficult and stressful time for many people, and the first thing to understand is that when under stress, relationships will inevitably be more strained. So, be gentle and understanding with yourself and your partner, and be willing to let some things go, chalking them up to stress.”
Easier said than done, you’re probably thinking, and we agree! But, you don’t really have a choice in the matter. One good method to employ here, and the popular choice with the LELO team, is to always take a breath’s pause before replying or reacting to something your partner has said or done (or work emails, for that matter!). One breath can save you an afternoon of arguing… and wasting of many subsequent breaths in the attempt to explain why exactly you lost your sh*t at a dirty plate in the sink.
More importantly, touching upon the many popular aforementioned tips and tricks to having a fun time during quarantine, Dr. Mintz added the following:
“It’s also important not to have unrealistic expectations that just because you are home alone together, it will be a wonderful and magical connecting time. Remember that you are at home for a stressful reason and in fact, issues such as balancing work and childcare from home can add to the stress.”
Finding that silver lining is more than welcome in such a trying time, but don’t force it on others. Treat this time together just like any old day, with a balance of your “me time” and respecting your partner’s.
Here’s some of Dr. Mintz’s advice on how to manage expectations and adopt a do no harm mentality in your relationship:
1. Have your alone time.
Realize you will want and need some alone time (be that for work or relaxation or exercise or self-pleasure) and some together time. Try to schedule this in advance (e.g., from 5:00 – 6:00, one partner watches the children while the other takes an hour alone; from 7 – 8 p.m., we put the kids in front of the television and cuddle or talk). Such scheduling will decrease some of the inevitable tension of managing who does what when. Of course, if changes are needed, discuss them openly.
2. Schedule stress talk.
If constant talk about the pandemic is adding to your stress, schedule this as well. Set aside a time each day to discuss the news about the virus, as well as ways and methods to cope with it as a couple or family. Avoid it being the only thing you talk about. When you are tempted to talk about it, write what you want to talk about down and do so during your scheduled time.
3. Try new things.
When you do spend time together, try some new things. Perhaps your private book club, or card or board games, or a TV show you share together.
4. Take a deep breath.
BREATHE! When your partner is getting on your nerves (which they will! It’s normal!), before reacting, take a few deep breaths. Pause before reacting. Ask yourself if this is really something worth addressing or not. If so, do so with caring, love, and respect, with the goal of getting closer and not winning an argument. But, if it is something you can let go of, release it with your breaths.
5. Invest in yourself.
If you’re out of things to do, stop by LELO’s Instagram account where our hard-working social media team is scouring LELO’s erotica archive to bring you the sauciest stories and best book recommendations! We wouldn’t dare forget to remind you about our erotica contest either. It’s a creative way to unleash your sexual frustration for a chance to win one of our product bundles.
Stay tuned, stay home, stay safe and make sure that in this time, while living by the #staythefuckhome hashtag, both you and your partner also #cometogether – in all ways possible!
Facts checked by:
Dr. Laurie Mintz
Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Florida, teaching Human Sexuality to hundreds of students a year. She has published over 50 research articles and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Mintz also has maintained a private practice for over 30 years, working with individuals and couples on general and sexual issues. She is also an author and speaker, spreading scientifically-accurate, sex-positive information to enhance sexual pleasure.
Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelancer who lives in San Francisco with her understanding husband and not-so-understanding teenage sons. Her work has been published in The Journal of Sexology and she is currently writing a book on love languages.