My guy and I have been seeing each other since August, and our relationship is going great. For the past two months, we’ve been sheltering in place together at his home (which is 90 minutes away from mine). We’ve been having lots of fun: great conversations, making art, listening to music and still getting our work done. My question: How do we address the transition when the pandemic ends, and we inevitably go back to our normal lives (and homes)? Essentially, we’ve gone on 62 dates in 62 days!

JENNIFER

You and your boyfriend seem to have created a silver lining during an extremely stressful period. (I’m happy for you!) If your household is like mine, though, the good times required staying in the present moment rather than trying to predict our uncertain future: Will someone I love get sick? Will I lose my job? Am I stuck here forever?

There are so many unknowns about what “normal” life will look like after the pandemic that I suggest postponing big decisions for now. Depending on where you live, for instance, you two may be sheltering in place for much of the summer. If one of you can keep working from home, that may eliminate a 90-minute barrier to living together. (Or when the time comes, you may not want that.)

Stick with the here and now. Tomorrow is hazy. And I suspect you know that. Otherwise, after 60 days in lockdown, at least one of your “great conversations” would have touched on: “So, where is this relationship heading?”

Keep deepening your knowledge of each other and sharing your feelings. That way, when you have a clearer glimpse of the future, you and your boyfriend can make wiser decisions that are rooted in reality. Or, as no one in “Casablanca” said: You’ll always have lockdown.

Credit…Christoph Niemann

The parents and stepparent of our 11-year-old son have a disagreement. He is not currently attending school, of course, and spends most of his time indoors. His parents are content for him to spend entire days (when he doesn’t leave the house) in pajamas. His stepparent believes in maintaining a normal routine during the pandemic and asserts that pajamas reflect a lack of structure that will hamper his ability to grow into a responsible adult. Your thoughts?

O.

It is 2:26 p.m. as I write this, dressed in the same nightshirt I put on at 8 last night. Clearly I’m Team PJs. Insisting on “structure” for its own sake — here, for yet another day in isolation — is a pretty thin style-over-substance argument. There is no magic in pants. No, the value of structure comes when it’s tethered to otherwise productive activity.

The bigger issue here is respecting a stepparent’s reasonable opinions about child rearing. Perhaps your son would enjoy a supervised daily walk (or bike ride) in the neighborhood? If so, changing into day wear would constitute structure that’s tied to a valuable change of pace: exercise and fresh air.

My elderly mother lives in a small town in another state. She has severe mobility and health issues, and her regular helpers are scarce since the outbreak of Covid-19. The supermarket doesn’t deliver, but my mother called the store and explained her problem. A young woman there told her not to worry; she would deliver the groceries herself. And she did. The problem: My mother asked her to leave the bags at her door. But the woman insisted on bringing them inside, then hugged my mother (who was too polite to tell her to back off) and took a selfie of them, which she posted on Facebook. I’m torn. Can I be both grateful and angry?

PATRICIA

You seem to be living proof that the combo is possible. But rather than parsing the kindness and cluelessness of strangers (who may not read this), let’s tackle your mother’s so-called politeness. You can do something about that.

“Polite” is not a synonym for “passive.” Suggest a boundary-building response to her for the next time a delivery person seeks entry: “Thanks for your kindness! But for my safety and yours, please leave the bags outside.” Very polite!

Since our stay-at-home order, I’ve had to change my running patterns. I now run past a residential garage at 7 a.m. Inside, an elderly couple smokes and runs a fan that blows cigarette smoke onto the sidewalk. I try to remember to run on the other side of the street, but I often forget. I think it’s outrageous that I’m forced to breathe in secondhand smoke! Should I write the couple a letter asking them to stop?

KAREN

Wouldn’t it be easier to cross the street? Absent a law (or homeowner rule) that forbids smoking on the property, the couple is probably free to do so, and the inconvenience to you seems minor. Of course, I wish (for their sake and yours) that these people would abstain from smoking. But this is a stressful time and probably not the easiest one to kick a nicotine habit. I’d skip the letter for now.


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