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Carolyn Hax: Not wanting to be quarantined forever doesn’t mean not wanting you



But I cannot get past the implication that if he were stuck with me nonstop for longer than a few weeks, he would no longer enjoy his life. We have been making the best of it, watching movies and shows we ordinarily wouldn’t have time for, being romantic, having long-overdue conversations. Yes, we are both feeling shut-in and scared, but I have been enjoying this relationship reset.

Would it be silly to let myself be hurt by his comment, or does it in fact indicate that I value his companionship more than he values mine?

Am I Not Enough?: You wouldn’t do so well, either, if you had to remain “this way” with only your partner’s company without a foreseeable end.

You’re getting a lot out of the romance and long-overdue conversations, it’s clear — and that’s great. For both of you. But you’re also getting stuck in your own head, thinking and rethinking and overthinking your own worth as viewed through your partner’s eyes.

That’s fun-house-mirror stuff. It’s also no more sustainable emotionally for you than being out of circulation is for your partner.

Let’s look at your partner’s identity instead: He clearly built his life around people, around a high level of social circulation, on being the boss. Based on that alone, what makes you think he’d be any happier sheltering in place with someone other than you?

I won’t call your hurt feelings “silly,” because they’re yours and they matter, and it doesn’t take a crazy logical jump to get from “You don’t love this” to “You don’t love me.” However, I hope you’ll look past that to see your feelings as the byproduct of being a lot tougher on yourself than you need to be. Especially for someone with an outgoing, extroverted, alpha personality, which your description of your partner suggests, no one person is ever enough.

So you do “shut-in and scared” better than he does, which is best taken in stride, not personally.

Dear Carolyn: Quarantine has been easy for me. I live alone, I’m an introvert and there are a lot of years between me and my sibling so I learned long ago how to entertain myself. I don’t want to do Zoom happy hours or meetups or whatever, so decline those, but I will every now and again call or FaceTime someone I might otherwise text — more for their benefit than mine.

But I have some friends who seem irritated that I’m not bored or distressed or stressed or stir crazy or whatever like they are, and I don’t know how to respond to that. Any suggestions?

Easy Sailing: If what they want is for you to suffer exactly as they are suffering, then there won’t be much you can do to satisfy them. Or would want to.

But if what they want is for you to understand they’re not as wired for this as you are, and to have sympathy for them accordingly, then you can change your response to them to give them more of what they need.

They can want this from you, by the way, even without knowing they do — and even while appearing as if they resent you.

You’re partway to showing sympathy for these friends with your occasional calls and FaceTimes, but this effort comes across more as your throwing them a bone than providing real emotional nourishment. Instead of calling them “more for their benefit than mine,” try sharpening your purpose: “My friends are in distress, and using their mode of staying in touch is something I can do for them, since I’m coming from a position of strength.”

Joining the occasional happy hour is something else you can do. Not to the point of misery and self-negation, of course, but with awareness that some discomfort is worth it if meets a need — just as you’d spend extra on groceries to help stock a food bank.

Its asymmetry might be the aspect of this crisis that has the most to teach us about how to live our lives better from here. When some people are getting utterly wiped out while others catch up on sitcoms, it’s a sharp reminder of what to do any time we’re feeling flush or comfortable: to make a point of looking up from our own (metaphorical) knitting, on a regular basis, to see what others might need us to do.

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