How to know if you should self-quarantine with your partner during the coronavirus outbreak if it's a new relationship

The Gender Spectrum Collection
  • As the novel coronavirus spreads, which has infected more than 119,000 people and killed over 4,000 people worldwide, more people are opting to or being advised to self-quarantine to avoid the virus.
  • But deciding how to approach a coronavirus quarantine can be a conundrum for those in a new relationship.
  • Jumping into cohabitation without talking about boundaries, cleanliness, and more can put strain on a relationship, especially with high levels of anxiety.
  • Business Insider spoke to two New York City-based relationship experts on the best ways to assess whether or not you should quarantine with your partner, and how to approach it.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Moving in together can be a big step for any relationship – even if it’s for a temporary period of time.

Many couples are having to grapple with the question of whether or not to temporarily move in together as more people consider self-quarantining to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus.

Considering whether or not you want to spend an indefinite amount of time with your partner can be a hard decision, especially if you haven’t spent long periods of time together before.

Jumping into a cohabitation situation without talking about boundaries, cleanliness, and more can put strain on a relationship, especially under such high intensity circumstances.

Business Insider spoke to Dr. Melissa Robinson-Brown and Veronica Chin Hing, New York City-based relationship experts, on the best ways to assess whether or not you should quarantine with your partner.

Communication – ‘as is always true in healthy relationships’ – is key

Couple reviewing paperworkRowan Jordan/Getty Images

Clear communication is extremely important to consider before deciding to quarantine with someone long-term. Quarantines can be high stress situations, so couples who have already experienced communication issues with each other should consider sticking to their own homes, rather than making a base together, Robinson-Brown said.

“As is always true in healthy relationships and making decisions, communication is key,” Robinson-Brown told Business Insider. “It may sound exciting and fun at first, but it’s important to communicate about the fun and the not-so-fun parts of, essentially, living together.”

You will need to have serious conversations on things like budgeting, how much alone time each person will need, and what your daily set-up is if you’re both working from home, or spending most of your days inside.

“Conversations around how to maintain financial stability can help alleviate anxiety around not working,” Chin Hing said. “If working remotely during quarantine is possible, conversations with your partner about how to share the space in your home can be very helpful in maintaining a positive, productive attitude.

Assessing the possible health risks of quarantining together is crucial, especially if one of you has an underlying condition

Lesbian couple at homeMaskot/Getty Images

Another very important factor to consider when making the decision to quarantine together is whether or not you or your partner have underlying conditions that would make you develop worse symptoms if you contracted coronavirus.

People with respiratory illnesses like asthma, cardiovascular weakness, cancer, or HIV all have a higher risk of having worse symptoms of COVID-19 – the disease that can develop from coronavirus. Interacting with someone who catches the virus could be deadly for them, so it might be important to consider spending the quarantine apart instead.

“It’s understandable to want to be physically present during this stressful time, however, couples should rationally assess the risk of remaining together if one person has not been exposed to the virus,” Chin Hing told Business Insider.

It’s not a bad thing if you decide not to quarantine together

Early on in a relationship, you may not yet be equipped to handle the strain of a high-pressure situation like a quarantine. If that’s the case, you can stay in touch virtually.

“This is a crisis in the US and the world that is leading to heightened anxiety along with other strong emotions,” Robinson-Brown said. “If individuals are not equipped to have difficult conversations or hold space for each other’s emotions, it will be quite difficult to quarantine together.”

Chin Hing told Business Insider that couples who choose not to quarantine together could see it as an opportunity to support each other in creative ways they hadn’t thought of or needed to before, like writing letters, reading the same books and discussing them, or just talking more frequently on the phone.

“It can be a tough, but sound decision to not quarantine together,” Chin Hing said. “Increase the ways in which you both show support for one another.”

Robinson-Brown said that, at the end of the day, the quarantine period will be temporary and it doesn’t have to destroy your relationship, so long as you keep communicating.

“Really that this is temporary,” Robinson-Brown told Business Insider. “It doesn’t have to make or break a relationship. Follow your gut and do what works best for you and your relationship.”

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