Futuristic Lover asks:
My partner and I live in the same city, but we almost never see each other face to face. Our relationship is basically all virtual — which works most of the time, because we both like our space. I don’t want to push them into something they’re uncomfortable with, but I’d really love to take our love offline a little bit! I’m also terrified of confronting this because of past relationships where I was punished for voicing my needs. How can I broach the subject while still keeping their needs in mind?
Futuristic Lover, I’m afraid I’m missing the context necessary to answer your question in full. You frame your partner’s aversion to meeting in person as both a want (“we both like our space”) and a need (“I don’t want to push them into something they’re uncomfortable with”), which makes me wonder how forthcoming they’ve been about their level of discomfort.
So I’ll just make a few wild assumptions. Hopefully, one of them hits the mark.
They’re agoraphobic (COVID-type).
COVID cases are spiking across the country, so your partner isn’t keen on leaving the house. To compromise, I suggest discussing ways in which you can mutually mitigate your exposure risk. Holding hands in a park while wearing P100-filtered half-face respirators isn’t everyone’s idea of a perfect date, but it’s a start, isn’t it?
They’re agoraphobic (non-COVID-type).
True agoraphobia is a disability, and like any disability, people require different levels of accommodation. If your partner has a hard time leaving the house and/or making plans, you can always take the reins and come to them — with their permission, of course.
They like the concept of a virtual lover better than the reality of your presence.
I once knew a woman who wasn’t physically attracted to her long-distance partner. Imagining being in the same physical space made her anxious, so she eventually broke things off. It sucks, and it hurts, but it happens. If you need physical attention from your partner, and they seem unexcited to deliver, you may just be incompatible. Not everything needs to be overcome.
Nah, man, it’s something else entirely.
Hey, you understand your own relationship better than Mx. Fox HYPER/TEXT! Hopefully, you’ve noticed a common thread in my flailing postulation: identifying the source of your partner’s reluctance and coming up with a related proposal. If your relationship is meant to last, your partner will work alongside you to find a set of boundaries that works for both of your needs. If they retaliate or try to punish you for simply stating your desires, well. Losing a relationship like that is no great loss.
HYPER/TEXT is a queer advice column for the digital age: a space for subcultural dilemmas that leave offline friends scratching their heads. Should you block your best friend over lesbian discourse? What on Earth is a “kinnie?” Check in biweekly for answers to these questions and more as we explore the lives of the hyper-online!
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Fox Auslander is a nonbinary poet born, raised, and based in Philadelphia. They are one of three co-lead poetry editors at Alien Magazine and one of two co-editors at Delicate Friend. Find them on Twitter @circumgender.