Dr. Brittany Woolford from Center for Shared Insight joined Dave Glaser on the “Believe Be Real Be Bold” podcast. This podcast helps modern singles and couples build authentic relationships, and in this episode, Dr. Woolford dives into how the quarantine can impact your attachment style and your relationship during the coronavirus pandemic.
Your attachment style will affect how you respond to the quarantine and stay-at-home orders, as well as how you respond to your partner during this time. Interpreting your partner’s cues and non-verbals will be critical as everyone will be more dependent on their attachment strategies to cope during this time.
In this post, we help you identify your attachment style and how it impacts your responses and tendencies in relationships. Throughout this podcast, Dr. Woolford reminds us that anytime stress is high, like it is during the Coronavirus crisis, your attachment style is “reved up” or activated more than usual. Even if you tend to be secure under normal conditions, your default or previous attachment style might override a normally secure disposition as a coping mechanism during this time of high stress, uncertainty, and anxiety. Likewise, you may be more acutely aware of your love languages during this time and tuned into whether they are being met or can be met during this time of social isolation.
First off, Dr. Woolford points out that someone with an anxious attachment style is going to want a lot of connection during social isolation and is therefore going to potentially accept risky behaviors, like visiting friends or partners during the stay-at-home orders. On the other hand, avoidantly attached individuals will feel overwhelmed if they are sheltered with their partner, and will crave space and independence. They will need time to get used to the constant contact of their partner because they don’t need as much “together time”. This can cause conflict in a partnership because the avoidantly attached individuals will feel like they have spent all their time with their partner, while the anxious partner won’t feel like that time has been high-quality and may request more “focused” time together. Couples can cope with this attachment polarity by setting aside a specific time to spend together daily, which might be after work and before dinner, or even after dinner, creating better shared expectations and improving the relationship during this time.
Dave also shares that if you are an extrovert, you might feel more challenged during this time than introverts because your social needs aren’t being met. Even exercising at the gym is a social outlet for many, and isn’t possible now. If you are single and have worked hard to build a healthy social network and community, you may feel isolated and alone. In addition, your primary love language might also impact how well you cope with the coronavirus crisis. If physical touch or quality time are ways you feel love, those aren’t going to be easy needs to fulfill at this time, if you are quarantined alone. Or, you may overly rely on your partner to meet all of your needs without any other outlets available to fulfill those (which can create conflict). Still, it’s possible to proactively find ways to connect with others and there are endless live fitness options online that can help fulfill your social and exercise needs at once! Instead of zoning out to Netflix, consider ways you can make healthy choices that help you feel connected during this time.
Beyond connecting with others online, Dr. Woolford reminds us that this is a perfect time for quality “me” time, journaling, creating healthy rituals, and exploring creative outlets. Dave suggests imagining how you can help others during this time while still honoring social distancing, which is a positive coping strategy. Consider what new patterns and habits you’d like to take with you after the stay-at-home order is fully complete, such as evening walks or regular zoom calls with family members.
If you are dating virtually during this time, it can be a rare opportunity to get to know someone well before physical intimacy. Dr. Woolford comments that dating could be a good thing if it’s not being used as simply a way to fill time and avoid feelings of isolation. Be careful about dating a bunch of people to get your social needs met during this time and consider whether you are diluting your energy that could be better channeled to self-care or a smaller, high-quality dating pool. Shared trauma is bonding, and this pandemic has been traumatic for many. Such experiences can drive people to make decisions from a scarcity mindset. Be honest with yourself about whether you’d truly date any person you are talking to outside of the unique circumstances in the world right now and ask yourself whether you have Corona Goggles impacting your judgement at this time.
Dr. Woolford concludes with her big takeaways, which are:
Be intentional with dating during this time
Have empathy for others knowing your attachment is amped up
Beware of Corona Goggles or lowering your standards because you are craving connection
Recognize that your partner shouldn’t have to meet all your needs during this time and use your resources wisely
Create weekly plans to get your needs met, including exercise, social interactions, and romantic connections
If you are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, our team is here to help. We are offering online therapy to support any emotions that might be surfacing during this time. Now, more than ever, it’s important to commit to self-care and our team can help guide you through understanding how you might be reacting to this crisis.