Have you found it difficult to maintain friendships in a time of social distancing? Has the pandemic brought you closer to friends and loved ones––or made it hard to cultivate meaningful relationships? For many of us, it feels like a quiet season for friendship and love. A recent headline from The Hill noted that the potential for COVID-19 to cause long-term isolation and loneliness is real and worrisome, given the importance of social connection for mental health and well-being in all ages. It’s not a surprise that many of us are feeling less than ourselves despite continuing to give our all to work, family, and community.
As a result, it struck me as important to celebrate and cultivate love this Valentine’s Day, even if we’re still in lockdown this winter. We can do this in fun and creative ways and reignite friendships and loving relationships! Now, more than ever, we need real connections to keep our friendships alive and rekindle a spark in any marriage or committed relationship.
After a little research, it was fun to discover that we have many tools at our fingertips to move relationships forward. Yes, some of these ideas may take us out of our comfort zone and not seem so natural. But the good news is, by trying something new, we have the potential to create closer, more meaningful relationships, united by the hardships that we’re all facing together. It just takes a little extra effort.
So, what are some lessons from history that might help us reignite love right now, as we head into the season of love, cupids, and hearts?
Dress for success
Yes, this is an easy one. Head to your closet and pick out something you LOVE to wear, no matter if it’s dressier than dressy or just wonderfully casual and really defines you. As Justin Lehmiller, a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute tells the Wall Street Journal, “Feeling more attractive opens you up to feel more desire and to seek out loved ones and friends. Because you are showing that you are putting in the effort to get dressed like you, your loved ones and friends will take note.”
Texting someone you love an emoji or picking up the phone to hear someone’s voice creates a real connection and helps to nurture and show you care for that person. Or write a handwritten note, which will certainly go a long way to making you be memorable. “Voicing your deep appreciation for someone will strengthen your bond,” writes Jeremy Engle in the New York Times.
Interact with the world
Whatever it takes, try, and reconnect. Schedule time to talk to friends at least once a week. Chat with a grocery store cashier who is going through the same thing as you. Give compliments. Have an open heart. Try and make someone laugh or smile, even though you may not be able to see it under that mask. You will see it in their eyes. As Kristen Mark, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky says, “When you spread joy, you glow a little.”
Set the scene
A Kinsey Institute study noted that because of COVID-19, our romantic lives have changed––and not for the better. “Most people are craving intimacy, both physical and emotional and are dreaming of romance which is in short supply,” the researchers write. To set the scene for some romance, plan a fun dinner, set the table with candlelight, dance under the moonlight with our outdoor firepit, and turn on your favorite music. Above all, turn off your phone and make eye contact.
Treat someone––even yourself!
To celebrate ourselves and the ones we love, our team curated a list of some favorite finds with love and friendship in mind!
Clothes to spark fun and romance
Tokens of appreciation for your best friends
Essentials for a cozy night in (with a significant other, friend cohort, or family)