Maybe it’s our weakened immune systems, but there’s something about being sick that makes many of us suddenly expect our significant (or quasi-significant) others to prove how much they love us by taking care of us and smothering us back to health. But for contamination’s sake, it’s only polite to not curl up in bed like we’re Beth from Little Women in her final days, exaggerating our ailments just so we can see how much we really mean to our loved ones… right… right?
Sure, a nasty summer cold is currently circulating, destabilizing even the healthiest, non-smoking yogis out there… if those people even exist. The rest of us are falling victim to heatwave fever of the literal kind – dripping sweat from every pore while coughing up gooey hunks of yellow and green when the humid city air already feels like a giant smog cloud of phlegm. At least the winter offers the opportunity to cozily curl up in bed with Netflix and NeoCitran, but right now the sun’s rays are piercing through the pulled blinds of the sick, turning even the most diehard Pollyanna’s into feeble-bodied bébés-lalas. But that’s no reason to bring your significant other down with you. Here’s the proper cold and flu etiquette to follow whilst in the dating game so you can get over your sickness without ailing your relationship in the process…
Do: Impose an initial quarantine
Sure, we’d all love it if the person we’re seeing or are in a bone fide relationship with would stop by to make us soup and bring us cold medication, but it’s unfair to expect it, and rude and inconsiderate to demand it. As soon as you realize you’re falling ill, you’re probably at your most contagious. If you’re nice enough to call in sick to work to avoid infecting your co-workers, you should be even more concerned about your partner’s health and well-being. Don’t just tell your significant other to keep his or her distance for the time being as well – insist upon it, no matter what he or she says. You might reap the benefits of having him or her come over to make you tea and soup now (FYI, sick people can still boil water, open cans, and these days even order groceries that include items from the pharmaceutical aisle), but being sick is a lot like moving. If you ask your loved ones for help, you better get ready to return the favour. It would be a much better world if everyone hired movers (Craigslist tends to be cheaper than buying pizza and beer for everyone anyway), and an even better place if everyone just kept to themselves in the early days of their colds and flus.
Yeah, it sucks to feel weak and alone, but while you might envision yourself as some kind of damsel or don in distress whom your partner will want to nurture back to health, you probably look and sound more like a British bulldog. Why not keep the snotty nose, terrifying cough, and puffy eyes to yourself and whatever you want to marathon-watch on Netflix? Even if you and your partner live together, let your beau take the couch in the first few days or week of your cold or flu bug without taking it as an insult. This isn’t Twilight, and you don’t need to “turn” your partner because, even though vampires live forever, colds don’t need to be eternal if you just chill the eff out… Vampires are also fictional, so there’s that too, but I digress…
Don’t: Concoct annoyingly dramatic responses to “How are you feeling?” texts, emails, and phone calls
You know how hearing someone’s step-by-step replay of his or her terrible time at the airport is kinda the worst and most boring story of all time? So is your story about how it’s difficult to breathe without your head propped up and how tired you feel even though you tossed and turned for the last 12 hours. If you really thought you were in dire straights, you’d be at the hospital by now and not on your iPhone telling boring stories, right? Besides, now’s the time to set a precedent for complaining in your relationship. If you keep your grumbles to a minimum, your partner will feel less inclined to attempt an equally mind-numbingly pointless dramatic monologue about his or her symptoms when he or she inevitably gets sick in the near future. It’s not a competition in being frail, and nobody – nobody! – wants to date the person who wins.
Do: Expect “How are you feeling?” texts, emails, and phone calls
If the person you’re dating seriously or even casually doesn’t bother to check in on you because you’re a ball of snot, you’re probably dating the wrong person. Scratch that. It’s a definite sign you’re dating someone so self-centered that he or she can’t be bothered to think about you when you’re not in the same room and in a less than desirable state. It sucks that finding this out had to come about this way, but at least you know what the future holds before life deals you things worse than a common cold. On the flip side, don’t expect endless flower deliveries along with a 24-hour webcam keeping your partner informed of your progress either. Dude, just sleep.
Don’t: Make that exaggerated sick voice on the phone
Your real sick voice will do just fine. Everyone can sense a drama queen or king, so no need to answer the phone like you don’t have caller display and you’re suddenly auditioning for the part of Jack in his final scene in Titanic. Now, your partner is going to ask you how you’re feeling. Keep it along the lines of “been better” and no more dramatic than “I’ve watched two seasons of The Good Wife and have applied to law school. I missed my calling.” There’s nothing like a sick person who can still laugh at the situation to remind the not-yet-sick person just how lucky he or she is to be with such a good sport.
Do: Sterilize your leftover cold meds and soup cans and hand them off
Oh, c’mon… it’s not like you fully followed any of the rules above. True love always gets in the way of keeping complete distance during a flu infection. Your partner is about to get crazy-mad sick, and it’s all your fault. Show how much you love him or her by kinda-sorta being there and sending a slew of “How are you feeling?” texts and emails… And go on over and make soup because you’ve already got this virus out of your system and tortured your beau with your exclusive preview.