Love Lockdown: You May Survive Coronavirus But Can Your Relationship?

Manik Sharma

AWe keep ourselves busy because we would otherwise overthink each emotional exchange.

Medical historians around the world are claiming the upcoming weeks will be trying for mutually dependent relationships around the world. According to multiple reports, mental counsellors in the UK, for example, are demanding frictional couples to “call some sort of truce during this period”. In India, the risks are tenfold with joint families, arranged marriages, and whatnot. It’s a potpourri of social awkwardness waiting to be kicked in the 21-day lockdown we are looking at.

Beneath the battlefield of global financial catastrophes like the recession of 2009 or what is likely to be a multi-fold tragedy of even bigger proportions, there are always strands of partnership that learn something about their brittleness and their strength. Our routines, our everyday lives are largely sequestered from this learning, because they are lived away from the spirit, and thus fear, of the unknown. We know when to wake up, what largely to expect, what we want, and what we most likely must avoid. Each task, each chore, while boring or repetitive also gives us a sense of order, the idea that things will eventually settle on a surface agreeable to those involved. Each selfish privation we employ, each commitment we undertake is just another addition to this routine which is both our prison and our escape.

We keep ourselves busy because we would otherwise overthink each emotional exchange. Humans can’t help but be that self-centered and calculative, even when it comes to those dear to us. We guard ourselves at each stage of our relationships by identifying our own personal structural exits, via films, hobbies, obsessions, cravings, affairs, or vice. But when all that social inertia is withdrawn, and replaced by a box you must now sit in with the ones you might or might not want for company, in a life and death scenario no less, things will radically unravel.

The strain this epidemic will put, not only on couples, but everyone we share our personal space with, is all too real.

This pandemic will certainly be a trial for relationships that were in some way or the other, secretively or apparently, vulnerable. Add to that the incurred responsibility of accounting for each other’s health and you have a situation where carrying on as usual, or sidestepping certain realities will become impossible.

Simply put, the coronavirus is also a severe personal reckoning, that will clarify the vagaries of emotional rigmarole. We may come out the other side hurt or we may come out feeling stronger. Either way, some amount of truth is about to present itself in a significantly unprecedented way.

For India, the majority of the “social distancing” measures medical experts recommend are actually going to prove impossible to execute beyond a certain point. Naturally, people will run back to families, even risking carrying or catching something on the way, as evidenced by the scenes at India’s railway stations before the railways shut shop. We will be housed in, together, fearful, stressed and paranoid. In this battle between fear and care, individuals will end up trading in both, hoping to find that elusive balance.