Is your relationship f—ed during social distancing? EW asks Mark Manson
At the same time that it seems likes we're running out of toilet paper, we're also running out of space to avoid arguing with our partners. Divorce rates are expected to go up, but Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, wants you to know you and your boo don't have to be another statistic.
"On the one hand, it can be a very stressful and difficult time. But it's also an opportunity," Manson tells EW. "You have all this time now to focus on your relationships. And because you have all this time, think about the people in your life and how they treat you and how you treat them. It's an opportunity to change."
Manson makes it sound so simple, and that is part of why his self-help books have hit the New York Times bestseller list. He doesn't speak down to his readers, instead opting for a tone of a best friend or a buddy from college. The expletives on his book titles aren't a gimmick. They're a way of life, man.
Manson has a new Audible original Love Is Not Enough that is available to download today. In it, Manson speaks to five people from different walks of life to dig deep about the problems they are having with their romantic relationships. You have someone like Mimi, a teacher from New York who can't stop men from leeching onto her and taking control of her love life. But you also have someone like Vanessa, a successful businesswoman who is torn about leaving an affair behind because it was the first time she fell madly in love.
Manson uses the principles from his self-help books to crack open the struggles we have with love: specifically with boundaries, vulnerability and respect. Hopefully, some of what you hear can be used during our quarantine. Here's EW's conversation with Manson, where we spoke about having hope during the quarantine, dating during social-distancing, and how to have those hard conversations with your significant other.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How can someone prepare themselves when they're in a relationship during this time of social distancing?
Mark Manson: Stress, in general, either makes the relationship stronger or it breaks it. That is what will happen now, because people are home and they're forced to spend all this time around each other. What's going to happen is that you're no longer going to be able to avoid or ignore the state of your relationship. If you have a marriage that is falling apart, you used to be able to avoid that by working overtime and taking more business trips. Now you can't do that. it is scary on the one hand, but I think it can be a really good thing.
How so? How do people even begin to have those conversations?
Honesty is the best policy. It's very emotionally difficult to have these conversations. Our natural human inclination is to imagine that there is some sort of perfect setting or perfect moments to do them. But there's not. Really, it's just a matter of sitting down with somebody and be like, "Hey, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. I think we need to talk about a few things."
You see a lot of families with thier cell phones at the dinner table, distancing themselves from the family dynamic. I wonder if possibly, this is going to be the first time in a long time families are going to have to be face to face with each other and actually discuss things.
In Everything is F*cked I wrote that there's a silent epidemic of loneliness going on in the United States. People are working longer hours than they have in like, multiple generations. Then we have our cellphone, so even when we are in the same room with each other, we're not really present. There's a little bit of forgotten intimacy. What's interesting is that now, I'm having phone calls with family members I haven't talked to in forever. I'm texting with friends every day that I haven't texted in a year or two. Strangely, it's actually a great time to kind of reconnect with people.
I recently went and read Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope. I think a lot of people are saying that to themselves right now. What are some principles from that book you would prescribe for people during this uncertain time?
It's easy to let our minds imagine all sorts of catastrophic scenarios. This is a very serious thing, but ultimately, it's our simple choices in our day to day lives that add up and make a difference. I've been writing about this pretty much non-stop for the last three weeks. I keep getting emails from people who say, "I thought you were the 'not give a f—' guy.'" Actually, the book is about figuring out what you care about. A virus that can potentially kill millions of people is pretty much top of that list.
In Everything is F*cked, you talk about how in a time when there isn't a war happening or a nuclear holocaust in our midst, we tend to go to the most severe ends of what could be very small events. Is it possible that people are misconstruing that and thinking that this is one of those cases?
I think so, unfortunately. We've got a little bit of a boy who cried wolf problem. You know a lot of, Everything is F***ed is about how we were blowing small problems out of proportion into big problems. And the problem is, now that an actual crisis is showing up, a lot of people don't believe it's an actual crisis. They're like "Oh it's just the media overreacting again." And unfortunately, that just makes it worse.
For somebody like me who is still out in the market looking for a significant other right now. Do we just chalk up these next few months? What do we do at this point? Is this now time to really step up my Facebook messaging game? What's the rule here for dating under the quarantine?
One of the beneficial side effects of this is that people tend to meet their partners through social relationships, through friends of friends, and friends of family members. The fact that you can't really go on Tinder anymore and shotgun message 12 people and see what happens, maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it forces people to have a little bit more of an organic approach through talking to friends. But I don't know, I think that's just me like desperately trying to be an optimist.
Love Is Not Enough is available now on Audible.