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Relationship Building During Social Distancing: A Chance to Strengthen your CLOTH

This is something that I wrote back in March 2020, during the beginning of the pandemic in which no one knew how we were going to navigate. Unfortunately, in December, we are still here and things are seemingly getting worse than it was in the beginning. So as a dutiful reminder to anyone who is paying attention to what I write, here is a resource on how to keep your relationship covered with CLOTH!

Well, who saw this coming? The world is changing around us by the hour due to the surging worldwide COVID-19 crisis. Schools, places of business, and just about every place where people can congregate are being shut down to slow down infections. If we are following the CDC recommendations, we are hunkering down in our homes and only leaving when necessary. We’re working and schooling from home, and in a lot of cases spending a lot more time with the people in our homes that we are accustomed to. For those of us who are navigating the dating or courtship processes, the mandates of social distancing have created a large inconvenience in our routines to either meet the partner of our dreams or continuously building a bond with the person that we feel is “the one.”

Interestingly enough, we have come to a perfect opportunity to build the bonds in our relationships. Think about it! In our normally fast-paced lives, when can you anticipate that you will have the time to just sit, talk and explore with a person? When do you have the prime time to dig in and explore the Who, What, When, Where, and How’s that will peel back the skin of a person’s outer shell?

Sidenote: Notice I didn’t say “Why.” “Why” tends to signal judgment, something that you do not want to do in this situation is cause contempt. “How” is a much more open sounding question, as it suggests more of a thought or action process than “why” and its potential implication of a demand for reasoning…The more you know!!!

Depending on how these questions work out, you will be given a lot of vital information that can propel your bond with a person to new heights and intimate connections.

Asking these questions can also lead to spark more questions to keep the conversation going, too!

Here is an example of some of each type of question you can ask your partner or dating prospect:

  • Who:

  • Who modeled what a relationship should look like?

  • Who would you like to learn more about life?

  • Who is your role model?

  • What:

  • What is your idea of a perfect marriage/relationship?

  • What would you do differently in your life?

  • What is the one thing that you have experienced in your life that has defined who you are?

  • What can we do to improve our relationship?

  • When?

  • When did you start having feelings for me?

  • When did you realize that you were an adult?

  • When did you know that you wanted to date/marry me?

  • When are we at our best and worst in our relationship/marriage?

  • Where?

  • Where is your ideal place to vacation?

  • Where do you look to for inspiration and hope?

  • Where do you think is the most romantic place in the world?

  • How?

  • How would you describe your feelings for me?

  • How is our relationship important to you?

  • How can we make our relationship/marriage a greater one?

For this to work to the maximum benefit, both parties must commit to the prudent and best-effort attempt to strengthen the CLOTH. What is CLOTH you may ask??? Allow me to break it down for you…

  • Communication: If a purposeful and sustainable relationship is to be made and maintained, communication is of the utmost importance. Having the space to relay information constructively will open the doors for knowledge, emotional intelligence, and even more communication.

  • Love (or like, depending on the stage of dating or relationship you are in) is a motivator to care for your partner. Love or like creates a reason and willingness to want to work towards something wonderful in a relationship. Love or like, however, cannot work alone, which is why it’s not on the top of the list. To experience the truest experiences of love or like, communication must be strong and fruitful.

  • Openness: It’s not enough to just communicate out of love or like. There must be a willingness to be able to go into areas that you would not normally go to. These areas are likely very vulnerable, so the willingness for your partner to be open, nor your partner’s acceptance of your openness should not be taken for granted. The vulnerability that openness offers in collaboration with communication and love or like opens the doors for vast levels of growth.

  • Trust: What good is communication, love or like, and openness if you do not have trust in the situation you have with your partner. This would be at the top of the list if not for two reasons. The first being that trust is built over time and likely couple has gone through some small form of communication, love or like, and openness before true trust is established. The second reason is that TCLOH isn’t the best acronym to get people to remember and its hard to say (go ahead and give it a shot!) Trust is a huge part of the ability to grow and strengthen a relationship on any level. The more you can trust, the stronger the relationship. The least you can trust??? Well, we all know that trust is easy to lose but hard to gain. And, the lack of trust can lead to catastrophe for any relationship.

  • Honesty: Honesty and trust go hand in hand. They work with each other. Truthfully, honestly in some cases leads to trust, but there has to be a level of trust to accept and believe someone’s honesty as well. Honesty and openness also pair well in that one would hope that if someone goes deep to give you information that they are being honest about it. Outside of all of those things, let’s remember what our parents used to tell us, “honesty is the best policy.” Being honest with your person gives them fair information to go off of in the compilation of data about you. This is important because this can lead to changed things like changed behaviors, compromising, and a different perspective of the situation, all things that help strengthen your relationship.

These conversations will look different depending on the stage of the relationship that you and your partner are in. in earlier stages, these may be getting to know questions as you find out more about the individual. In courtships, these may be the pivotal questions that will solidify your desire to move to the next level, maybe even marriage! In a 20-year marriage, this may be a conversation to catch up on the gaps that everyday life has created, involving new opinions, perspectives, and observations that either you or your spouse have developed since the time you have met each other. In all of these situations, there is an opportunity to strengthen the CLOTH.

The important thing to all of this is to not just use this as an activity out of boredom. Use this as the start of a routine conversation with your partner. Every conversation to strengthen your relationship CLOTH will further enhance your relationship in ways that you could not imagine. So go! Talk! Build your relationship! Build a deeper bond with your partner that will harvest benefits for years to come!

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