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October's Ask an Expert

Can I even start a healthy relationship right now in the midst of Covid-19? What would that even look like?

Probably everyone, not including mad scientists, can agree that pandemics suck. Even though Covid-19 has made things a little weird, life and dating, goes on. Fortunately, these challenging times can provide a great opportunity to see how a new partner will behave under fire.

When considering a new relationship with someone, especially now, let's point out a couple of red flags:

Red Flag #1: Do they make fun of my worries about safety?

It’s one thing to make fun of how silly we look with masks on all the time but if they don’t want to wear one and make fun of you for wanting to, that’s a red flag. The pandemic is real and many people are affected including our loved ones. Safety concerns aside, in a relationship you’ll disagree about what’s what. It’s important that when you have disagreements, they respect that you don’t see everything their way. Mocking and ridicule are signs that they don’t respect your view as much as their own.

Red Flag #2: Are they as interested as I am in making this work?

Sure, it can be pretty hard to find things to do that aren’t sitting at home or going out for walks. However, if you're the one coming up with all the ideas of what to do,  trying to spend time together, or doing all the work trying to get to know the other person, that's not setting up a healthy future. The amount of effort that they put in is probably its highest when you’re bubbling over in love. If they’re not trying to spend time with you now, asking questions to get to know you, or even trying to make things work, chances are they won’t do it later.

This is a hard time for many people and some people are taking it worse than others. Some people may not be at their best. They need support and you may want to provide that (which is great of you!) but this may not be a good time for a relationship. Those red flags are indicators that important elements necessary for a healthy relationship may not be there right now. 

Okay, what if there's no red flags and you really like them. What now?

First and foremost, know what is important to you and stand by your boundaries and communicate them. Boundaries are often about standing by those things that you value in the day to day and they're really important for any healthy relationship.

For example, you think making your own decisions is important. Then, while out for dinner, they order for you saying they know what you’ll like. You may be open to trying it, but this is when you could say, “Oh, I really don’t like you making decisions for me. Please don’t do that again, just ask instead.” Boundaries tell people how we want to be treated moving forward. If people don't respect your boundaries, that doesn't make for a healthy relationship. 

Relationships are often filled with so many things that are unsaid so there may not actually be a clear “Go Go Go!” For most people, we spend time together getting to know one another and before you know it, it’s clear to both people that they really like each other. To get there, get to know them as they get to know you in ways that feel safe for both of you. If you need something more explicit, that sounds like an opportunity to set a boundary (e.g. “This may be a little weird to ask, but are we on a date? I just want to make sure.”). And if it’s not going anywhere, that’s okay too.

A healthy relationship is worth a million unhealthy ones.

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