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‘Is it OK to break up with somebody by text during the quarantine?’

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Want to take it to the next level? Love coach Damona Hoffman has answers.
(Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

L.A. love coach Damona Hoffman tackles dating and relationship questions on her weekly podcast, “Dates & Mates.” Here, she shares answers to the questions she’s getting about love in the time of coronavirus:

I’ve been chatting with someone on a dating app for a few weeks. What is the best way to move things to the next level since we can’t meet in person?

This month, scoring a dating app match is as hot as scoring a grocery delivery slot. The good news: Tons of new dating options are available to you now. The bad news: It’s the perfect time for cheaters, recluses and time wasters to fill up your inbox. You have to see if this one is the real deal, and the best way to do that today is via video chat. But if you hit them up with a “Hey, U Up?” last-minute FaceTime request, even the “Touch up my appearance” feature on Zoom might not be able to save you. Video chat dates are far more successful when you prepare as if it were a real date. Plan a time to meet online and give yourself an activity, like 20 questions or a trivia game, so you’re not just making awkward eye contact with your webcam and obsessing about the pros and cons of Botox at your age. Most important, keep it short and sweet. All great first dates should feel like they are ending in the middle when the energy is at a high point and you can exit leaving them wondering why you’re still single.

I miss my ex and I’ve been tempted to reach out and check on him. Good idea?

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How will you be affected by his response or potential lack of response? Depending on how long you were in the relationship and how much emotional attachment you’re still carrying, reconnecting could have different outcomes for you both. While it’s a kind and thoughtful gesture to check on him, if you dig deep and discover that your secret wish is that this will end in a romantic reunion that rivals “The Notebook,” save your energy for swiping Tinder instead.

I love my wife, but her quirks are driving me up the wall right now. Like why does she load the dishwasher like that? Should I say something or bite my tongue?

Quarantining in close quarters can create an echo chamber of annoyance for any couple. Biting your tongue will only create animosity that will fester and frustrate you further. This gives you two options: one, find another place to be when she does quirky things; or two, approach her intolerable behavior with curiosity. An inquiry like, “I’ve been wondering why you put the bowls in that way” can yield deeper understanding while an accusation like, “Didn’t anyone ever teach you how to load a dishwasher correctly?” will most likely lead to a fight.

Is it OK to break up with somebody during the quarantine? And do I do it on the phone, FaceTime, text or do we have to wait until this is all over?!

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Staying in a relationship for the wrong reasons, whether it’s quarantine or kids, doesn’t do anyone any favors. There is an ideal match out there for both of you. Holding them hostage in a zombie relationship blocks you both from true love, so the most humane thing to do is to set this person free. For breakups, always use the most direct method of communication possible. Though breakup texts are easy, keep it classy with a call, video chat or even an in-person conversation, as long as you maintain your distancing.

My girlfriend is in the medical field, and she’s been working long hours lately. How can I support her right now when we barely see each other?

By letting her sleep in and ordering Postmates. That aside, so-called love languages are an excellent tool for understanding and supporting your partner. How does she usually express her love to you? People naturally tend to show love in the way they feel it. Also, just ask her what she needs. When someone is fatigued, it’s easiest to make a decision between two or three options, so suggest a couple of things you could do for her and see which idea makes her eyes sparkle. Then lotion her mask-chafed face, give her a massage and let her go back to sleep.

I met someone on a dating app right before quarantine but we never got the chance to meet up. We FaceTimed twice and we text or Instagram [message] each other daily. I’m starting to feel attached even though we’ve never met. Is this normal?

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No matter how virtually connected you feel, if you haven’t met in person, you’re living in fantasyland. Daily texts give you bursts of dopamine, the brain chemical connected to arousal. That’s why you’re catching feelings even though you don’t actually know this person. Everyone loves a sweet fairy tale, but eventually we’re all going to emerge from the quarantine haze into the real world. Until that time, try more phone calls or video chat dates. Communicating without vocal inflection or body language is like skipping pages in a book. Real-time conversation will give you the whole story and can help you figure out if he’s actually your prince.

What advice do you have for married couples who want to create space but also remain close during this pandemic?

You agreed to richer, poor, sickness and health ... but quarantine? In this new paradigm, it’s imperative for each partner to have their own physical space and self-soothing tools. Even if you are in tight quarters, you can create your own spaces: like your personal meditation corner or an outdoor walk route. Try blocking your calendar, as you likely did before the pandemic, to include work time, family time, solo time and couple time. Blurred lines tend to make us feel overwhelmed, but when you know you can focus fully on the task or person in front of you, you’ll find appreciation for your special moments together again.


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