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Ask Ellie: Pandemic dating allows for slow, positive path to love

Amid limiting social realities of COVID-19, it's possible to develop companionship virtually, then trust and eventually love, in person
Advice columnist Ellie Tesher.

Dear Ellie: On New Year’s Eve, the last night of what’s been a second tough pandemic year for most people, I’m writing a relationship story that’s happy and very hopeful.

I’m a man, age 34, in a relationship that started during a lockdown and seemed impossible to maintain. My girlfriend is 31.

We’d met five years prior and had a brief fling, but we seemed so different back then that we drifted apart.

Fast forward to her calling me during the first lockdown to ask if I was okay. I found it very touching. However, we were both very mindful of COVID dangers and restrictions.

So, we just exchanged texts, recommended new TV-series to each other, even watched them while staying connected only virtually.

Eventually, masked and distanced, we started walking together outdoors. Next, we met outside, even had winter picnics together, on a regular basis. Neither of us was seeing anyone else. Everything’s been up in the air as far as the future is concerned.

Now, waking tomorrow to a New Year, we’re looking at what’s possible. She’s my girlfriend, but hasn’t introduced me to her mother, though she’s told her about me.

I’ve told my best friend about my happiness with her, but, since he has compromised health, I haven’t introduced them in person, only online.

We’re both children of divorce. But we’re already finding that we can rise above those past hurts and issues. We feel bound to each other, not to our families’ judgements. We’ve acknowledged that we love each other and want our relationship to work and to last.

If that means accepting each other’s flaws (not many) and not getting caught up with the attitudes/opinions/judgements of our families, so be it.

Bring On 2022!!!

What a wonderfully positive way to build a relationship — dealing with the unusual and limiting social realities of COVID-19, developing companionship virtually, then trust and eventually love, in person. Happy New Year!

Feedback: More regarding the wife who thought her nurturing, house-cleaning husband might be gay (Dec. 8):

Reader: “Many of the reasons she mentions for her concern — e.g., he spent a lot of time with his mother, he is nurturing, he bakes and cleans — are incredibly stereotypical.

“These stereotypes are offensive to not only gay or queer folks, but also men in general. We need to allow men to be nurturing, to be kind, and to spend time with loved ones without reading into their sexuality or gender.

“I agree with your advice that, if she’s craving more intimacy and sex, she should initiate a conversation and possibly pursue therapy.

“These are healthy actions for any couple, but it should not be motivated by these stereotypes.”

Reader’s commentary regarding the woman who lost the spark in her relationship (Dec. 13):

“Polyamory is legal in Canada. Many of us practice ethical non-monogamy. It isn’t sleeping around, and it isn’t being unsafe.

“She wanted to open up the relationship … maybe she just needs something more. This is all cause for conversations.

“No partner has the right to tell you that you can’t sleep with another man (only women). That’s a sign of insecurity or straight up control, but before breaking up it deserves conversation. What does he fear about you sleeping with other men? Why are women okay, but not men?

“I have friends in which the man felt much the same, and it was because he was scared someone would replace him.”

Feedback regarding the mother struggling with hurt feelings and despair over the rudeness/bullying of her 14-year-old twin boys (Nov. 18):

Reader: “I suggest that the mother praise the boys whenever they demonstrate appropriate behaviour, and clearly explain to them why it’s a desired behaviour.

“As a former teacher I’ve found that, both in the classroom and at home with my own sons, praise often worked well to modify behaviours. Removing privileges instead can be as hard on the parents as it is on the kids.”

Ellie: A positive approach is always a good idea, but there’s a difference with the classroom response — the teacher can praise and then walk away. She can also exhibit a double lesson here.

After finding something for which she can praise her sons, she, too, can “walk away,” physically, and also remove herself emotionally from the children’s ability to hurt her feelings with unacceptable rudeness.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Start 2022 with the wisdom of what you’ve already learned, and the energy of a new beginning.

Send relationship questions to [email protected]