Khalid and Zoë Advise Everything: Pandemic Relationship Pandemonium

“Since we can’t be unmasked in each other’s houses outside of private rooms, or go many places together, my partner and I feel like we always just end up debriefing at the end of the day, going to sleep, and leaving early in the morning. We’re also both students with jobs and lots of stressors that need our attention. How can we change up this routine and still come up with fun, different things to do together, while respecting agreed-upon COVID rules?” -Tired

Thanks for the great question, Tired. The world may be opening back up, but it’s still important to be diligent and adhere to distancing guidelines, so we really appreciate you coming to us with this mentality. However, there are still some really fun things you and your partner can do to keep the relationship thriving and everyone healthy. Here’s what we came up with:

Outdoor Activities

This seems like the place to start. Since the beginning of the pandemic we have all been told to see people outside when possible, and that is still the safest course of action. So, what is there to do outside? The short answer is a lot. Try picnicking, going for a walk, or working out. Picnicking is a great way to rekindle some of the romance that has been unfairly stolen by the pandemic. Most people enjoy going on dates and everyone loves to feel loved: Planning a picnic will show your partner that you care and will make the extra effort to keep things saucy.

Going on a walk and working out serve two purposes. One, they’re both another way you can spend quality time with your partner. Two, they’ll help get you out of your house and get moving. The stagnation that you’re feeling can be scary, and that’s a byproduct of spending so much time in one place. If you go out and get active, in whatever way you prefer, it could definitely help with those emotions.

Book Club (Or a Book Club-Adjacent Activity)

Reading is oftentimes a solitary activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Book clubs are a great way to foster community and maintain relationships. When you picture a book club, you might visualize a group of friends, colleagues, or strangers sitting in a circle and talking about a book — but it can also be a really fun thing to do with your partner. For one, you will have greater freedom when it comes to picking which book to read. You two can find something you’re both genuinely interested in. Secondly, it never hurts to have something to talk about. During the pandemic, it feels like there is almost never anything new to say, as days and events run together. Reading the same book ensures that you will have something to talk about besides the standard “debriefs.”

And, if reading isn’t your thing, you can switch the subject to something that is. Instead of reading a book, you could watch a movie neither of you have seen and discuss it afterwards. Or you could pretend to be food critics and eat at the same restaurants and give each other your most high-class critiques. The goal is to find things that interest both of you and then talk about them. If you’re competitive, consider making it a game. See who can get the highest score on 2048 or Water Sort Puzzle in a given amount of time. Whatever works for you is worth trying.

Arts and Crafts

Everyone takes pride in making something and being creative. Make something with your partner. It could be a painting, a knitting project, anything. If the two of you are working on it together, it’ll be a good time. Plus, whenever you finish, you will have something cool that will remind you of the time you spent making it together.

If you or your partner aren’t people who are comfortable relinquishing control, it could be equally helpful to make separate things, together. For example, you could draw while they write. The time is still being spent together, but you can avoid any potential conflict.

Obviously, this is by no means a comprehensive list. You and your partner could take up an infinite number of hobbies that might work better for you than what we are suggesting. The important thing is to have an open mind, be willing to try new things, and get creative. Do that, and we’re sure you and your partner will come out the other side of this pandemic stronger than ever before.