The Increasing Importance of Relationships a Year Into The Pandemic

The Increasing Importance of Relationships a Year Into The Pandemic

We were in a Zoom meeting yesterday with a writing group talking about how we are feeling at this point in the pandemic and what we have been dealing with personally. It was a very open, warm sharing and everyone seems to have been comfortable with a much greater degree of intimacy than used to happen in this group when we met in person.

It feels like we are at an inflection point, both in the pandemic and politics, though we cannot be sure what is to come. The shift in the government administration is quite profound, and many have described breathing again and having hope for true forward motion, but with people holding different beliefs about what is real, the direction is uncertain. More and more people are getting their vaccinations and research is showing they are very effective, so restrictions will be relaxed, but changes in the virus may require adjustments in how we live for some time.

It’s been a year of terrible tragedy and loss. It’s a good time to reflect on what has changed in that year. Health, work and finances have been struggles for many people, but beyond the material challenges has been how we connect with one another. We have found many ways of doing this within the restraints and limitations of the pandemic. Let’s look at how we have all reframed relationships, their importance to us and how we conduct them.

We have been deprived of the normal pleasures of face-to-face relationship; touch, in particular, is a loss for people living alone. But the fact that our usual means of relating was disrupted meant that other ways arose instead.

Given our need to be with others, we have become more aware of the great importance of relationships in our lives. We have joined weekly groups that bring together people we barely knew, but who have become friends and supporters through these times.

One of the paradoxes we have noticed is that although we are not traveling, we seem to be reaching out more as a result of staying in. Many of the groups we participate in are now filled with people from much further away. Meeting by Zoom has removed geography, introduced us to new people, and reconnected us to old friends. Many of those meetings are now international, with people showing up from all over the globe who are experiencing the same needs for contact and peaceful, reassuring interactions.

Out of the pandemic, we are discovering just how central relationships are for all of us #relationships Share on XUnexpectedly, these groups offer a very intimate and direct way of being together. There seems to be much less small talk and an easier format for speaking honestly than many previous forms of encounter. They have somewhat of the sense of a confessional; it is easier to reveal how we feel to a computer screen, or perhaps we’re so full of feelings that they have to leak out. And backgrounds! We’re invited into peoples’ homes like never before. Books, sewing tables, artwork, pets and spouses show up as the backdrop.

In the meeting we were in yesterday, several people shared their need for calm and solace in dealing with all the current challenges and how they have found that in meditation groups they attend online. Many are sharing the need for exercise and movement and getting that in online classes in lieu of what they used to do locally.

As we come out of the depths of the pandemic, it is a good time to reflect on these changed ways of connecting and what we can learn from them. Out of this world wide event, we have created new ways to be together and to share. We can see the coming together of a global community and what it may be like. We are a very resilient species, and if we take away what we have discovered about how central relationships are to us and carry this knowledge into our future, something truly good will have come out of this for all of us.

Photo Credit: Maude Mayes, Phil Mayes

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9 Comments on “The Increasing Importance of Relationships a Year Into The Pandemic

  1. As I’ve reflected on this article I came to realize that perhaps I have never been much of a “group” person.
    I can now look back and see my relationships have often been on a one to one basis or with a smaller group often of 3. I have not taken easily to “Zoom” meetings although I am delighted that they are available. I feel excited by the new realms of communication and have reached out to experience the meetings but have not felt the magnetism others seems to feel. However; this year has offered really deep exchanges with old friends. We have used the phone, often facetime and have had the longest deepest conversations immaginable and these visits have been a great part of this year. Now vaccinated , I honestly look forward to the year of re-awakening of in person times together…We have made huge leaps of being closer together and I am so grateful for arriving here today!

    • I’m introverted, too, but this year has made me look at connections with other people and how important they are.

  2. Yes, I agree that reaching out, especially beyond geographical divides, has been the most important and pleasant aspect of the pandemic push for me! Living on Maui, taking a car ride across country to visit friends and relatives is not an option and either is flying right now. My cousins on the east coast decided to have a Cousins Zoom every week, then it became every other week. 15-20 of us, some I haven’t seen in many years, pop in and out of the call. We discuss our old childhood stories, books, movies, school situations, educational difficulties due to at home learning from kindergarten to college and dabble in some of the pandemic issues. We even played Bingo on the call, which was the most fun I’ve had in years. Anything is possible, when I allow myself to go beyond what I’m used to, the “Norm” box in my life. So I journey on with the spirit of joy in endless possibilities. Mahalo for your wonderful reflections.

    • I’m hoping that this year of connecting widely has helped at least some of us take a step toward the idea of one world.

  3. We have friendship, animal friendship, an everlasting love, and the rock monster which shows how we are in relationship with other hikers who get that this is a collaborative art piece with people we may never see! ? We have a trail here where an artist has left painted rocks hidden here and there. On another trail there are hundreds of little plastic dinosaurs in the branches, on stumps, on rocks, and cleverly placed around. We counted all we could see on one hike, and it was well over a hundred. Makes you think about all the relationships we don’t even consider most of the time. Just think about the journey your food takes to get to your plate, and there are several relationships involved right there! Not to mention the people who bring us power, water, heat, TV, internet, etc…all the makers of all the products we use every day, – just another way to feel the abundance we’ve been blessed with!

    • Yes, I think that the huge and intricate network that keeps us fed, housed, clothed and entertained is so ubiquitous that we no longer see it. It is like the sea we swim in, yet the way we all work together is part of our human nature, and necessary for our survival. Love the dinosaur trail, too! What do you call a dinosaur who writes romance novels? A Bronte Saurus.

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