Love in the Time of Covid-19

Love in the time of Covid-19

(Note, we haven’t read Love in the Time of Cholera, but it is really good apparently).

This time on the podcast we went through the different kinds of love – as suggested by the Ancient Greeks – to consider how each of those might be done in the time of Covid-19. We suggested you might like to go through these for yourselves asking questions like:

  • Which of these do I have more/less of? Which would I like more/less of? How might I go about addressing that given the current situation? 
  • What are the challenges for each type of love posed by Covid-19 and the restrictions we’re living under? What opportunities might there be for each kind of love? How does that play out particularly for me?
  • What are the ways I could engage with this kind of love given my living/working situation? e.g. whether I’m living alone or with others for the duration; whether I’m a keyworker, working from home, or not working now.

If now feels like a useful time to think about how you want to do relationships more broadly – or how you might want to change how you do relationships – check out our Relationship User Guide zine. A snip at £2.50.

Meanwhile here’s a few notes of what we came up with on the podcast about how you might engage with each kind of love at this time.

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Spiritual love (agape)

This kind of love encompasses love of nature, humanity, and any spiritual or religious faith we may have. Some things you might try include:

  • If the guidance is to go outside once a day making that count, going slow, really appreciating the sounds, sights, smells, etc., connecting with land, plants, animals, and people you share a smile or a few words with.
  • Use the feelings that come up during all the change and uncertainty to connect with others globally who are feelings similarly. Tonglen can be a useful practice which you can adapt to suit you.
  • Whether you have a faith or not use this time to consider your spiritual/therapeutic practices, getting creative about adapting them in ways that work for you. You might think about which teachings or ideas engage you on this kind of level and what daily practices worth for you. Engaging with literature on silence and solitude can be helpful if you’re finding yourself alone a lot more.

Community love (philia)

This is the love we feel when part of teams or communities. Some suggestions here include:

  • Consider how forms of activism or community engagement you were previously engaged with might adapt to the current situation. What do those communities or groups need now and how might you contribute?
  • Explore specific Covid-19 mutual aid groups and other community engagements that are being set up.
  • Consider how you can best support yourself – and access support from others – in order to offer this kind of community engagement outwards, instead of offering too much and burning out. What kinds of community engagement are also personally fulfilling to you? What kinds apply your skillset best? adrienne maree brown’s work on pleasure activism is useful here.

Logical family / family-of-origin love (storge)

This is the love we have with families of all kinds. We particularly focused on people we cohabit with – or have cohabited with in the past – and who feel like family on the podcast. We suggested:

  • Instead of letting this be a time when we drop our boundaries with family or housemates, make this a time where we bring consent and boundaries to the forefront of our conversations, explicitly navigating what kinds of contact and space meet everyone’s needs rather than defaulting to ‘the way we’ve always done things’ or ‘what has to happen now’.
  • Recognise the vital need for everyone to have space and contact. How might the landscape of the home – and how it is used – shift to give everyone time alone and privacy when they need it, recognising that those who are neurodiverse in particular ways or more introverted or who carry more trauma may have greater needs.
  • Explore how parenting and other forms of caring relationships might be done at this time.
  • Consider contingency plans upfront for when a dynamic in the home becomes stuck, damaging, or even abusive; for when carers need respite; and for when someone living alone needs care, support and/or company. Are there ways within the guidance that we can have plans in place for such situations if and when they arise? Sometimes we may have to go against guidance in such situations but ideally in ways that ensure vulnerable people are protected.

Romantic and/or erotic love (eros)

We already have a bunch of podcasts available for how people can do sex and love differently, many of which might be useful at this time. Ace and aro communities remind us that not everyone experiences these kind of love together, or at all. Check out Audre Lorde’s The Uses of The Erotic for ideas which might expand your ideas around what counts under this category of love. 

Pragmatic love (pragma) and playful love (ludus)

We considered these two kinds of love together on the podcast because we reckon it’s about a balance between the two.

  • Reflect on how much serious/practical love you share with others, and how much silly/playful love. How much of each kind do you give? How much do you receive?
  • If you are scheduling in contact with your people what amount of contact would you like and when? Can you go for a balance of pragma and ludus (either with the same person or across people)? What about giving and receiving?
  • How might you balance pragma and ludus with yourself? Do you tend more towards one or the other? Can you bring in more of the one you lack? How can you go about treating yourself seriously and attending to your practical needs on the daily? What about giving yourself playful time (e.g. with games, comedy, chats, dancing, music, etc.)

Self love (philantia)

This is something we’ve podcasted about here. It’s a great thing to prioritise if you’re stuck alone, but also a great thing to make space for if you’re stuck cohabiting with others. Here’s a few ideas for self-love during Covid-19.

  • Check out Meg-John’s work on Plural Selves and explore your own plural selves during this time. At least you might find it helpful to practise speaking to yourself in a kind voice – even if it doesn’t come naturally – so that you can access that when you’re feeling rough. 
  • Work with past, present, and future selves. For example if you’re feeling scared or overwhelmed you can make bullet points of your concerns for future you to deal with after a good nights sleep or when feeling calmer.
  • Get serious about nurturing yourself and practising gentleness when you have time. Restorative yoga is great as is making yourself super comfortable for TV/reading/podcasting time and/or making yourself really good comfort food.

Feel free to share your own suggestions for love in the time of Covid-19 with us on twitter.

© Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock, 2020