In this, the second instalment of our series of advice features, we cover topics ranging from concerns about the loneliness of the long-term lockdown relationship – to the pitfalls of an out-of-control ego.
Each week, we’re inviting you, our beloved readers, to submit questions to our resident Existential Expert, in exchange for life-changing (or life-affirming) advice! Read on …
Q: My partner and I are living and locking-down together – but I still sometimes feel really lonely. Is there something wrong with my relationship?
Ginny from Lewisham
The Existential Expert: Hi Ginny,
Firstly, this is a pervasive concern. We know a lot of people feeling the same way right now (about their own relationships – not yours, I hasten to add).
That’s not to diminish what you’re feeling – but to apply a broader context to your thinking. While the physical restrictions of lockdown may make you feel like your relationship has been reduced to a microcosm of animalistic dysfunction – remember you are both still subject to forces that encroach on this world. Social media, the weather, sundry jerks, Gladys’ 11am press-conferences and so on.
In doing so, practice forgiveness. Practice sharing space.
Keep in touch with loved ones, sure. But also allow yourself to practice solitude – which isn’t the same as loneliness. Listening, reading, creating by yourself. Most importantly, take walks and exercise outside by yourself. You’ll find others are out walking too. Obviously, you’ll have to keep your distance from them – but you’ll, ironically, realise you’re not alone. You are partaking in the collective. Enjoy your solitariness within this – the freedom to explore your own impulses, concerns and creative drives. Appreciate yourself (within reason and proper standards of taste and decency) with and without an other.
When you return – in time – to your partner, you’ll appreciate the intimacy you enjoy with them more.
Good luck on your journey!
Q: My partner and I have a beautiful, fulfilling relationship. Recently, she found out I cheated on her at the beginning of the relationship. Can we still survive and have the good life we built?
Serge from Vaucluse
The Existential Expert: Hi Serge,
You’ve acknowledged that it’s a relationship of value – which is of obvious importance. The cheating occurred, as you say, in the infancy of the relationship. This also seems significant. It sounds as though this situation has highlighted the positives of your partner, the good life you’ve built together. If it shows the inverse – or, worse, ambivalence – the infidelity is more problematic.
The path to enlightenment is knowing yourself – and your partner. The next step is to (continue to) be honest with them – in the end, you can only take your responsibility for yourself. The good news is that emotional honesty has the ability to strengthen your connection. If they are prepared to accept you for what is a human indiscretion at a time when your bond was in its earliest stages, then you have the basis of an adult relationship, with all its flaws, forgiveness and generosity.
All the best, Serge.
Q: I have a sneaking suspicion I’m the most interesting person I know. I feel so superior all the time and it disturbs me. What should I do?
Troy, via Twitter
The Existential Expert: Troy, I’m tempted to say “get over yourself” – but this may only exacerbate your obvious narcissism.
It would seem like a good time to broaden your horizons. Granted, this is hard under the circumstances. But there are still opportunities to volunteer, for example. You may well meet people you feel “superior” to – but you will be introduced to the wider gamut of peoples’ experiences that will bring your own into perspective. And, in providing charity to others, you’ll be encouraged to put your energy outwards, in meaningful ways that might inspire you to connect with the universe. True, you may also give you a sense of self-satisfaction you are already familiar with – ya big numnut – but at least you’ll be doing some good.
Thanks to those who submitted questions. We shall return next week – so get your questions prepared! In the meantime, if you are experiencing doubts or confusion, remember that ultimately wisdom is no substitute for love.
A panacea for uncertain times, the Existential Expert is a forum where the Sentinel will address the essential questions, you – our readers – have posed. If you have a conundrum, whether it’s spiritual, philosophical or just something that makes you break out in a rash, tweet or DM us @sydney_sentinel. New columns published each Sunday.
Disclaimer: The advice provided in this column is no substitute for professional advice, and should not be treated as such.
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