When you or a loved one is feeling down, a hug, gift, or hangout may be part of your go-to support strategy. However, it seems that quarantine guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic prevent many of us from comforting our friends, family members, and partners in the ways we normally would. But despite orders to stay inside and socially distance from others, it’s still important for us to figure out how to effectively give and receive support during this trying time. Enter: quarantine love languages.
“Being that we’re currently quarantined, and in many cases stuck in close quarters with one another, tensions may be at an all time high,” says relationship coach Marisa T. Cohen, PhD. “The stress we’re under may make us revert to problematic ways of interacting with or communicating with one another. Therefore, keeping love languages in mind can be extremely beneficial.”
To shift your dynamic to best fit the adapted quarantine love languages, it’s first important to know your own love language and the love language of the ones you’re trying to support, says licensed professional counselor Eliza Kingsford, LPC. (Take the official love language assessment online here.) And while the way we interact is different now amid the coronavirus crisis, for every love language, there are still ways to effectively convey love and support—even while self-quarantining and social distancing. Use the guide to quarantine love languages below to make it happen.
How to use love languages, even in quarantine, to effectively support loved ones.
Words of affirmation
Good news: The new coronavirus code of social conduct doesn’t really impact the way we send and receive words of affirmation. “This certainly isn’t changed by being quarantined,” says Dr. Cohen, who adds that, “I admire your strength given the uncertainty we’re facing” and “I love how you’re helping us get through this difficult time” are two specific messages that you can share with anyone right now.
And if this is your partner’s love language, Kingsford suggests leaving them a handwritten note letting them know that you’re there for them. For friends and loved ones who live far away, a text message expressing the same sentiment will work; a thoughtful message during this time can go a long way for making someone feel considered and valued.
“People may be under the assumption that since many [people] are stuck together at home all day, they’re spending quality time with one another,” says Dr. Cohen. But this may well not be the case. In fact, many may be spending their time at home working, doing chores, or prioritizing their mental health in such a way that might mean spending less quality time than usual with those they live with.
If you can’t be in the same room as someone, get creative with how you spend quality time with them, like by cooking the same dinner “together” at the same time.
And if this is the love language of someone you care about but don’t live with, Kingsford recommends setting time aside to connect using a virtual hangout so you two can see one another. “Quality time should be spent together, with the focus on one another,” says Cohen. If you can’t be in the same room as someone, get creative with how you spend quality time with them, like by cooking the same dinner “together” at the same time, or sit “next to each other” on the couch while watching the same movie.
No need to run out to the store to buy anyone anything, of course. Instead, use what you already have at home, or order something small online. “Many people believe this implies something store-bought or expensive, both of which present their own challenges now,” says Dr. Cohen. “Rather, the important thing is to give something thoughtful.” Whatever you choose to give, it’s the thought that counts.
Acts of service
“Now that we’re spending more time in the house together, it would be great to assist one another in taking care of the chores, such as cooking, cleaning, assisting children with their online schoolwork, or walking the dog,” says Dr. Cohen. “Taking some of the demand off of your partner would go a long way.”
And while this quarantine love language is easier to convey with people you live with, it’s still possible to show support from a distance: Send a friend groceries through a delivery service, or drop off a bag of snacks or a home-cooked meal on their doorstep, so long as you can do so safely, while maintaining social distance.
As you could probably guess, this love language is hit the hardest to convey while social distancing. Depending on your unique situation (who you live with and the state of everyone’s health), this may be even more challenging. For someone you live with and share space, a neck or back massage or a good cuddle sesh may be a nice way to stay physically connected. But for those whom you aren’t living with, following safety and health precautions is the priority.
“If it isn’t safe to focus on your primary love language right now, double down on your secondary language.” —Eliza Kingsford, LPC
“During this time, to maintain health and that sense of connection, it would be better to focus on the virtual presence of loved ones, rather than their physical presence,” says Dr. Cohen, who suggests using FaceTime or Zoom to try to re-create that in-person experience as best as you can while still maintaining the necessary physical distance.
Kingsford adds that if physical touch is your primary love language, it might be smart right now to focus on your secondary language. “We all score on a scale of love languages, and most people have one to three that are more prominent. If it isn’t safe to focus on your primary love language right now, double down on your secondary language.”
Outside of love languages, Kingsford says that one of the most powerful things that we can do right now is to create space for and listen to our loved ones in need. “Through listening and giving your friends, partners, and families a place to feel heard, people can work through their difficult emotions in a safe place.” And remember that this quarantine period is temporary. Sooner than later, we’ll be able to safely care for one another how we’ve always done before, except we’ll have learned and added new tools to our emotional support kits along the way.