When the people we care about aren’t with us, we often feel like we love them even more. That’s where the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” comes from. So what happens when loved ones are with us 24/7 during a pandemic? Does the heart grow LESS fond?
As one of the registered counsellors providing private video appointments at TELUS Health MyCare™, I often hear about guys’ struggles to connect with their partners. Many of these guys can be in the same room with someone they love yet feel very far apart.
Loneliness in a relationship is more common than you think. That’s why I recommend trying one of these easy ways to reconnect with your partner and feel the love again.
What can men do to feel more connected to their partners?
Pick a time
If you’re feeling nervous about connecting with someone, it’s very easy to let the days pass by, sitting side-by-side with somebody on the couch, both of you in your own worlds on your own digital devices. That’s why it’s so important to take time to connect over dinner, during an after-dinner walk, after the kids go to bed, whatever works.
Walk and talk
Men often feel more comfortable having an intimate conversation when it’s shoulder-to-shoulder with somebody or while doing an activity. Connecting on a deeper level while looking someone directly in the eye can feel uncomfortable for some people.
That’s why walking together is a great way to connect with your partner. A lot of men tell me they’ve developed morning or evening rituals with their partner of going out, walking, and holding hands. I love hearing that these little things can make a big difference.
Nothing shows you care like full, undivided attention. Paying attention is easier when you ask questions about things outside of the daily grind: Where would you imagine taking your dream vacation? What’s your favourite movie? What’s the first thing you’ll do when this $%#@ing pandemic is over?
If you’re coming up short on good questions to ask, check out this app. Having some pre-planned questions in your back pocket will score bonus points with your partner and ease the pressure of coming up with something in the moment.
Choose your words
Kind, loving words can get lost in the daily grind. So make an effort! Before you lumber out of the house to get groceries (or whatever), look your lover in the eye and tell them they look hot. That way, when you get home, the heart of your significant other will be EXTRA fond!
Learn your partner’s love language
This is an area where I receive a lot of feedback in follow-up sessions about how life-changing it was to sit down with a partner and take the “5 Love Languages Quiz for Couples” together.
Some men might need physical touch, whereas their partners may need to hear “I love you” more often. If you’re giving her flowers, but all she wants to do is hang out with you, then you’re doing it all wrong! Doh! If you want to know what your wife really wants, set aside 10 minutes to sit down together and take the love languages quiz.
Is it normal to feel lonely in a relationship?
The pandemic isn’t making it any easier for guys to reconnect with their significant others. According to a recent Angus Reid poll, the number of Canadians who suffer from loneliness and social isolation has increased from 23 percent pre-pandemic to 33 percent as of late 2020. Meanwhile, the number of Canadians who don’t suffer from either dropped by nearly half, from 22 to 12 percent.
What causes men to feel lonely in a relationship?
The discussions I have with guys often focus on how they’re different from women emotionally and the ways our society expects each gender to behave. Women tend to be raised to be nurturing and share their emotions, whereas many guys are still taught to hide their feelings. We’re told to “suck it up buttercup,” “man up,” and that “boys don’t cry.”
It drives me nuts when I hear people say, “happy wife, happy life.” Sure they’re joking, but the underlying message is that men’s emotional well-being and happiness don’t matter all that much.
Because of all this, men often have a harder time making emotional connections, even when they want or need to make them. It’s not that they cannot share their feelings; it’s just that it’s often not being taught or practiced. There can even be a sense of shame around vulnerability, although guys want and need to connect as much as women do.
How connecting benefits your mental and physical health
As Canadians have become more isolated, many are voicing concerns about their mental health. According to the Angus Reid poll, just 14 percent of Canadians said their mental health was good or very good, with one in five sharing that their mental health is either poor or very poor. If you want to learn more about mental health, check out A Guy’s Guide to Mental Health.
Loneliness has long been recognized as bad for mental health, but research shows it can be physically harmful. Beyond fuelling depression, anxiety and irritability, loneliness is associated with life-shortening health issues such as higher blood pressure, heart disease and obesity.
On a more positive note, it’s so encouraging when guys tell me about what happens when they start to open up to their significant others. They sleep better, feel better physically, and even feel less pain.
Is there anything you like about being stuck at home during a pandemic? If so, share that silver lining in the comment below!
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