How Sandy Can Hurt/Help Your Relationship: We Investigate

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New Yorkers weathering the storm: We've had a crazy few days. And, whether or not you are stuck without power, at some makeshift refugee camp uptown, or Brooklyn-bound for the next few days, let's be honest — we all have cabin-fever. While a lot of us holed up solo in the dark or with roommates to stick it out through Sandy, a good portion of those in NYC had to suddenly become very close with their significant other (with differing results).

An enthusiastic piece over at Huffington Post has listed some great reasons why Sandy might actually be good for your love life. The forced intimacy has set some teeth on edge, but the sudden intensity of shared space can also, you know, bring you closer together. With the wind howling at your window, it isn't exactly ridiculous to think this tempest might provide some perspective on exactly what you and your special person mean to one another.

We gathered a host of stories from some NYC gals who had a variety of different experiences, hopefully shining a bit of light (no pun intended) on the best way to survive a forced staycation (especially when you haven't showered, have been stuck in the same clothes for four days, and literally can't stand to hear that weird clicking noise his/her jaw makes one more time). Are Sandy relationships doomed? Or can a little catastrophe camping do your coupledom some good? Read on as we break down stories into category, playing Sandy Sherlock.

Photo: Via Reeve Jolliffe
Screen Shot 2012-11-01 at 5.59.48 PM

Heroism
The winds outside were howling. The house was shaking. Suddenly, the power goes out. Watching your S.O. morph into crisis mode can be a nice refresher as to why you feel in love with them in the first place — or a vivid reminder of strange incompatibilities. One gal writes, "It's reassuring when you and your partner have a chance to go into 'emergency' mode together, and you get to see how responsible and caring the other can be. My guy is the perfect balance of protective and practical during times like these...it makes me love him more." Think, say, the relationship in Shaun Of The Dead, where Simon Pegg's goofy capability in the eye of zombie apocalypse won back his lady. Yet, for others, it can reveal latent differences, and point out where you might feel your relationship is lacking (or affirm your worries that he wouldn't cut it in The Hunger Games). Another lady we spoke to weighs in: "I'm completely thankful that I had another person to weather through it with me, but all it's made me feel is that in the event of another natural disaster, I better have a go-bag prepared, because I know my boyfriend won't." Hey, we all can't be Superman (or She-Ra) while we nurture.

Empathy
HuffPo brings up a great point: After spending a full day(s) watching your beloved living their life, you might begin to appreciate/recognize some of the challenges they face — and how they face them when dealing with you. An editor we chatted with was stranded outside of NYC on vacation with her boyfriend, so, while she had power, she didn't expect her long weekend would turn into a marathon of togetherness. "He has been quite the trooper, along for the ride while I attempt to keep my site running from 1,000 miles away. And, I have to say, it's certainly interesting to get a guy's POV on all of the stories I've been working on!"

Of course, this depends on the situation — a non-cohabitating couple might have a bit of a different experience than one that has been living together for years. For some, the idea of being in your PJs all day or not having access to certain amenities isn't that big of a deal. A previously quoted woman explained, "We live in a pretty tiny space already, so being confined to our apartment didn't seem like that big of a deal." Yet, for those who aren't used to fighting with someone over bathroom space or are forced to share space due to one partner's power-loss, a bit of space might be just what you need.

Make It/Break It
Strangely enough, we've heard this anecdote from a handful of women: "So, I wake up Sunday morning after a Halloween blow-out with a second-date guy in Chelsea. At this point all is well. We laugh nervously, go on a coffee run, etc. And then I get the notice from New York's Finest that I have two hours to evacuate. Being the kind, considerate person this guy is, he offers to let me crash at his 'super-safe apartment' (that I have clearly never seen)." Fast-forward a few days, and our poor Chelsea girl is in the middle of a dude marathon complete with chain-smoking, video-gaming, and action movies. As soon as the bridges open, she high-tails it out of there. She tells us, "Do I feel closer to him? Hard to say. But I do know I think we both need at least two weeks of alone time to reassess whether or not we even want to look at each other again."

Yet, not all forced pseudo-relationships might fail. We spoke to another girl that seemed to have the literally the opposite tale. "I spent the hurricane with my (relatively new) boyfriend and while I had some initial concerns we might drive each other crazy, I was happily surprised! We were so fortunate that our hurricane experience was mostly just tedium. Spending the storm together made me realize that we could spend long periods of time together without having to be doing much of anything. I was working a lot, so we would be sitting in silence for long stretches, taking breaks to get updates on the storm or ask if the other one was hungry. As mundane as it sounds, that's a whole new level of intimacy."

The bottom line is, when the lights go out and your home/space is at stake, gone are the vanities and cloaks we wear. Suddenly, who you are is totally exposed, and it seems certain socially accepted relationship steps are "skipped." For some couples, that's great, but for others...you might just find out that your XBox-addicted beau just isn't for you.

Addressing Hot-Button Issues...That Are Usually Work-Related
1. We are New Yorkers. 2. A lot of the ladies we talked to are amazingly successful, completely together, career-focused women... who work in media. And, when a storm hits, many of them feel responsible for keeping their companies afloat, meaning they can't take time off to hang with their boo. Huffington Post wrote that Sandy can really highlight points of tension, and then suggested tackling them after the lights come on. And, for most of these gals, the points of tension were work-related.

One girl succinctly broke down her inescapable closeness with her live-in beau by saying, "It drove me bonkers! I have to work from home and he doesn't! I didn't know how annoying it would be to work with someone playing video games/sleeping all day right next to you."

For those couples where one partner has to be online and the other is free to take a day off, both's guilt comes into play. "Both of us were stuck at home, and I guess the main thing I felt was a weird mix of obligation and guilt. I had all of these feelings: to be solemn and concerned, to take advantage of a sort-of day off, and spend this rare and precious free time with him instead of working ahead to keep us on track. I didn't want to make a choice, so I kept working, because that was what I was supposed to do, and I'm not unhappy about it. But he couldn't work from home, so he was left bored and lonely for the three days. He even once said, after chatting on the phone with friends who live together, 'Sure sounds like a lot of fun over there.' That, above all, made me feel guilty."

If your penchant for working long hours and his/her ability to just turn off the phone and relax drove you crazy before the whole being cooped up 24/7 thing, the discrepancy is certainly highlighted. While it is important for NYC to get back on track, make sure to remember how precious you are to one another. Which leads us to...

Be Thankful
Be it that drunken, pre-Sandy devastation romp in the dark, the spooky wind forcing you to cozy up, or the realization that, hey, this could have been a real tragedy, most of us are so lucky. That sort of gratitude, no matter how long you've been together, should be channeled by your relationship. One newlywed wrote, "We got a little stir-crazy — mostly because we live in a studio apartment and there's not a lot of space as it is — and that did cause some snapping, but as the storm intensified and we started to realize just how scary it was getting, those arguments quickly fizzled out as we tried to comfort each other and keep our dog calm. The next day, as we surveyed the wreckage and heard exactly how bad things had gotten for our less fortunate friends in Manhattan, we both recognized just how lucky we had been and how appreciative we were to have escaped the storm's full wrath. So, I would definitely say it helped us appreciate each other a bit more and appreciate our situation."

The Complexities Of Being Single
So, everyone is snuggling up and taking care of each other. Or, so we think. But, in reality, plenty of platonic pals got together to ride out Sandy — or are opening doors for one another if the need arises. Yet, it is completely normal and fine to feel a bit sad to head into it solo. "I have to say, this entire experience made me not want to be alone. I'm staying with friends (a couple I've known for tears) and it made me really want to find someone, because it was too scary. I would never want to go through something like this alone," said one Manhattanite. Another told us she had just broken up with her BF but missed, in a word, the comfort "sex." Though, if it is any consolation, at least you don't have to sit through your chain-smoking one-night stand's weird video-gaming...

For single, or semi-single individuals, an extreme event serves to sharpen up priorities. Who were you worried about? What would you like in a hurricane companion? While the rest of the world is suffering, does your melodrama stack up? One Brooklyner we spoke to vented some frustration: "I have an on-and-off-again thing which has been driving me insane for the last few months. I thought this would be a great time to really cement whatever 'it' is, but, for a series of circumstances, he had to head up to Zone A to be there for someone else. Which really put a lot of things in perspective. There is so much going on out there and this is such an energy/time-suck, do I really want to waste my precious brain-power on a lame-o? In the midst of storm-rebuilding, I also get a chance at reconfiguration."

While it is easy to call the pursuit of love in a storm somewhat of a "first-world problem," the desire to have someone to share an event like this is fairly universal. Though, as a last thought, so is good, old-fashioned know-how and confidence. A single woman sends us off by saying, "Hurricane Sandy kind of made me want a boyfriend, but then I learned how to make an Old-Fashioned, discovered I had all the necessary ingredients to do so, and everything was A-okay."

Photo: Ryan Rosa/Flickr.