Urgent need to repair the damage caused to love by the pandemic

Every day, human beings see each other "in a grid". People work too much and sometimes lack time for an affectionate life. From 2000 to 2020 the percentage of the married population decreased from 49 to 38 percent, according to INEGI.

Urgent need to repair the damage caused to love by the pandemic
The pandemic's damage to love must be repaired as soon as possible. Photo by Shawnee D / Unsplash

COVID-19 affected the social relationship and physical bonds of human beings. Today, hugging, visiting someone, even shaking their hand, we reflect on it; we stop doing it for fear of getting sick, refers Verónica Montes de Oca Zavala, from UNAM's Institute of Social Research (IIS).

"We have lost that empathy and sensitivity for others because we concentrate all our energy on not getting sick, not even on health, we are in the perspective of survival," she stresses about the commemoration of the Day of Love and Friendship, which is celebrated on February 14.

Even though this date is projected as a boost for the economy, it is necessary to look beyond the commercial aspect: let's think about emotional bonds because there is violence inside homes. People are tired, our mental health is exhausted and, obviously, "we see each other 'gridded' every day".

We must appeal to freedom, to break with the reproduction of submissive and subordinating romantic love, which is propitiated by mercantile logic. "I would like to activate ideas, reflections and think that this day can be a day of peace culture, of love with nature and with other human beings". It is urgent to repair the damage that violence and the pandemic have done to love.

We are currently experiencing destructive situations that are not related to love, such as our interaction with nature and natural capital. Nor should we lose sight of the emergence of social movements that even with the pandemic are making themselves felt, appealing for loving relationships, egalitarian in terms of rights, with a range of diversity and formats.

The old-fashioned way

In the vicinity of the Central Library of Ciudad Universitaria, Adolfo Obregón stands in front of Carolina Garrido, who looks anxious, something will happen: with his right knee on the floor, he opens a case and shows her a ring as radiant as her eyes.

Applause, cheers from onlookers and some family members who gathered at the place. The graduates of Industrial Engineering and Medicine, respectively, met three decades ago in Villahermosa, Tabasco, where they are originally from. They have been a couple for 16 months and that day Adolfo asked her if she wanted to marry him; she said "yes".

"We have known each other for many years in high school, we have been in contact, but it was only now that I dared to ask her to be my wife. We separated for a while, we stopped seeing each other, due to academic complications, because we have different careers, but this is wonderful, I never imagined it," smiles the young man as he tells of his relationship with his now-fiancée.

"Today we are one year four months old, here was the first time we had a date. This is beautiful, it's incredible, plus here, at CU, everything is so beautiful, it gives peace, joy, the University lends itself well to romance," Carolina says excitedly.

The reality of the situation

In Mexico, according to data from the 2020 Population and Housing Census, 38 percent of people aged 15 and over are married, 30 percent are single and 20 percent live in a common-law marriage.

INEGI information indicates that in 2019 there were 504 thousand 923 legal marriages; of these 501 thousand 327 were of different-sex couples, and three thousand 596 were of the same sex. However, from 2000 to 2019 the divorce-marriage ratio almost quintupled, going from seven to 32 divorces for every one hundred marriages.

From 2000 to 2020, the percentage of the married population declined from 49 to 38 percent, in contrast to those living in union, which went from 11 to 20 percent. Likewise, more than 50 percent of Mexican women between the ages of 20 and 24 are single. These data signify women's appropriation of their freedom.

It means that they are reflecting that marriage is not their only way to live better and to have a companion. It may be reflecting various forms of love bonds, which do not necessarily have to do with marriage, and which do not have to do with traditional relationships, which are of the patriarchal type, in which many women are subsumed. This chosen, thoughtful singleness is a sign of freedom, of the fact that they have more schooling, and participate more in the labor market.

Marriages now do not last as long as before because we can exercise our autonomy, and decide to stop a toxic relationship, or some couples work much better separated than together every day. To live a couple of relationships, you don't have to go through marriage, reproduction, or the formation of a family in traditional terms, besides people work a lot and sometimes don't have time for an affectionate life.

Chosen accompaniment

There has been isolation towards the elderly, we forget to call them, to be with them, to support them; this is a sign of lack of love, it is part of this logic of survival and fear of this stage, they are living loneliness, which is not necessarily chosen, it is imposed by the dynamics of the pandemic, emphasizes the also coordinator of the Interdisciplinary University Seminar on Aging and Old Age of the UNAM.

In their chosen solitude, several people from this sector took advantage of the time to love themselves, "they recovered the time for their music, their space to read, they decided to do so and that seemed to be a resilient way, there were chat groups that set up clubs to monitor each other, as a loving follow-up," she recalls.

Others met again, they had not seen each other for several years: ex-boyfriends, ex-partners, they even decided to get together, they no longer go out, but they are together, they are like a modality to face in a new way. It is solitude or a chosen accompaniment," she concludes.