How to break-up during a lockdown

Photograph: Jurien Huggins/Unsplash

The thing about a pandemic is that it takes over pretty much every aspect of our lives. But give it a few days or weeks and you’ll realise that it doesn’t mean that the rest of our problems have gone away. The broken lightbulb continues to be broken, the leaking tap continues to leak, the issues we have in our relationships continue to exist. There’s no getting out of these things. And like the bulb and the tap, the relationship issues also need to be addressed. If you’ve found yourself in an unhappy relationship, chances are that the pandemic has made the issue even more confounding. Apocalyptic events do tend to make us question everything about ourselves. Is it the pandemic speaking? And, if you’ve made up your mind, there is the matter of social etiquette too. Is it heartless to break up over text or call? Will your partner be ok? Needless to say this is tricky territory. So perhaps you could start by asking yourself:

1. Is this the pandemic speaking?

Make no mistake, it is easy to let the pandemic overwhelm every aspect of your life – including your relationship. It’s easy to get weary in a relationship during the pandemic. Your romantic dates are reduced to WhatsApp messages. The physical intimacy has made way for Zoom sex and little things turn into big arguments. So before you call off your relationship, it may be a good idea to evaluate whether it’s you or the pandemic. Unfortunately, there’s no one else who can answer that question other than you. What you can, however, do is a long hard look at your relationship and how it had been shaping up in the weeks before the lockdown began to get a clearer picture.

2. Can you really bring yourself to doing it?

Assuming that the pandemic has had nothing to do with how you feel about your relationship and you cannot wait for it to get over not for the betterment of the human race but so you can break it up with your partner and move on, know that it’s perfectly ok to break up over a call or a Dear John text. Social etiquette demands that if you have to let them down, you should have the courage to do it in person. But let’s all accept that nothing about the world in which we’re living is normal so we can relax some of the rules for ourselves. The question, however, is can you bring yourself to doing it? There is, of course, the prospect of losing Internet at that precise moment and having to stare at the frozen face of your partner not knowing whether they’ve heard you. And there’s that other thing that you will have to live with for the rest of your life – of being that person who dumped their partner in the middle of a pandemic!

3. Do you have someone to talk to about the break-up?

By you, we mean both of you! You cannot be a douche about this situation and only think about yourself. We get it, you probably have someone you’ve already found and have been zlirting (yes it’s a portmanteau already) with but can you hold off for a bit till you know for sure that they have someone to talk to? We’re probably looking at August as the best-case scenario of things opening up and that seems like a long way off. But is it possible for you to be humane about all of this?

4. Where will you/they go?

Let’s say you’ve crossed a bridge in the relationship and have been living together. Which probably makes the situation even worse. The matter to consider is where will they go? Or if you’re living with them, where will you go? Again, these are questions that only you know the answers to. Think about them seriously before you take any decision.

5. Are you in an abusive relationship?

If the answer to that is yes, then there’s no doubt that you have to cut and run as quickly as possible. If you don’t have a friend who can take you in for a couple of nights, simply look up for helplines in your city and start from there. Know that you aren’t alone. All you need to do is find the courage to make that one call.