Ask Ellie: Pandemic keeps dating couple apart

Dear Ellie: It took me four years after my husband died to consider dating. I was 50. We’d been together since high school.

I had two dates (divorced men) through friends, and thought “never again.” They wanted a “better” wife No. 2.

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I wanted my best friend and lover back.

Then I met someone whose wife had died three years ago. He said there was no pressure to try to find “the one” again. We’d both already had that great luck.

What we needed now, he said, was good company, good conversation, doing things we’d enjoy together.

Soon, we were dating. We even spent three days and nights away together in the countryside.

After that, he sometimes stayed over at my place after we’d been out somewhere.

We both have adult kids in their 20s and 30s (he’s 60), so we didn’t push toward living together. We just understood that we were in a relationship.

Then the pandemic took over our lives. He stayed at his place. Once that first decision was made, we could no longer get together in person.

Oddly, we’re still a couple. We have dinner “together” a few nights a week, and we watch some of the same movies and series so we can discuss them later.

What do you make of this way of dating while mostly isolating (alone) at home?

A Widow’s Story

It’s a coronavirus courtship, a relationship of its time and place, a way of keeping safe both in your state of health and your emotions.

You two weren’t ready for a full-on live-together lifestyle.

Too much history of deep prior attachment is still guiding the pace and course of your postmodern dating style.

While COVID-19 has affected the social behaviour of all ages, for some daters, an enforced break from swiping into a stranger’s bed isn’t a bad thing.

It’s boring and frustrating, no doubt, for many young and millennial singles, but safe for their grandparents and parents.

Importantly, it offers time for building trust and respect into stronger relationships.

Readers’ feedback 

Regarding a mother of three sending her six-year old daughter to her parents (April 28):

“As a midwife, I immediately thought the mother may be suffering from post-partum depression and needs support, not chastisement.

“I’ve too often seen mothers become unable to cope because of the very real mental illness of a perinatal mood disorder.

“Having a new baby, along with a toddler and an older child, might have been too much for this mother, who may not be “lazy” at all (as described by her husband’s aunt), but ill and in need of immediate help.

“Her complaints may be a cry for help, and she may be in danger of harming herself or her remaining children.

“Suicide is a leading cause of maternal mortality, and there are many red flags in this letter.

“There are numerous supports available in most communities, with experience in assessing and referring people with this disorder, who can give this mother the help she needs.

“At the very least, if this is not the case, it sounds like this family could use some extra help.

“The aunt should speak to her nephew, the woman’s husband, and recommend consulting a care provider, crisis line, community health centre, or mental-health service in order to assess the situation more completely and offer help if needed.”

From Teresa Bandrowska, RM, Lead Midwife, Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre.

Here are three links with resources about perinatal mental health:

• heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/postpartum-depression

• facebook.com/groups/maternalmhmatterssupportgroup/

• postpartum.net/get-help/psi-online-support-meetings/

Reader #2: “I was an abandoned child around the same age. My mother suffered from ulcerative colitis and was hospitalized numerous times. Being the youngest, I was constantly shipped off to relatives’ homes while my two older sisters continued in school and with their activities because they could stay home during the day by themselves.

“My dad worked hard and long hours. As a youngster who could only see out of a selfish lens, I was very hurt and traumatized.

“I could never understand why I was the only one who had to be sent away, to live without my things, friends and routine comforts.

“It created serious deficiencies in my psyche and how I relate to others and I am dealing with that in therapy.

“I hope they show her the extra love that she’ll need to get through it and constant contact with her family, so that she’s not feeling rejected or ostracized.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Dating during COVID-19 gives some relationships room to grow.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

Follow @ellieadvice.

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