Can Marriages Work When Spouses Live Apart? An Expert Weighs In

As many of us have already figured out, whether, through our own experiences or the ones we’ve observed, marriage is no joke. It seems like so many married couples (both young and old) end up calling it quits sooner or later. Marriage is already hard enough as it is when you live under the same roof, so what are the odds of success for spouses who are trying to make things work while living in different places? Can marriages work when spouses live apart? And if so, how on Earth would they manage to keep things running smoothly?

We spoke with licensed psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher to get his take on whether or not a happy and healthy marital relationship is possible when you don’t live together. “We all have certain things we need to feel loved and satisfied in a committed relationship, such as quality time, affection, emotional intimacy, adoration, sexual contact, etc,” Dr. Fisher tells us. And he’s right! These are all basic needs that our partners should be able to meet if we want our relationships to succeed.

As someone who was in a long-distance relationship for almost two years before my partner and I were finally able to move in together, I can say that technology helped a lot, especially when it came to spending quality time together and building emotional intimacy. But according to Dr. Fisher, technology has its limitations.

“Other [needs] such as affection and sex can only occur in person,” explains Dr. Fisher. “Therefore, if a couple is living apart, they still need to make time to be with one another a top priority.” Texting is great, but you can only send each other so many sexy pictures before the fun fade and you’re desperately counting down the days before you can wake up next to your bae again.

It’s also important to consider how long you’re planning to be separated from your spouse or living in different places. If you know it’s only for a set amount of time and you’re planning on moving in together after, or at least relocating to live in the same city, then it seems the marriage isn’t so different from any other long-distance relationship. But the truth is that no amount of FaceTime action can make up for the fact that you and your SO are missing out on the important things happening in each other’s daily lives. This is especially true if being apart is going to be a long-term arrangement, which Dr. Fisher warns against.

“Part of being married is sharing a life together under the same roof, not under two. It defeats the purpose,” says Dr. Fisher.

But if you and your spouse are trying to make it work through an indefinite period of time when you won’t be together, should you just give up now? Of course not! According to Dr. Fisher, while the success of the relationship in the long term might not be probable, he does say that it isn’t impossible. It may sound like a cliché, but anything is possible folks —especially if you are both willing and able to set aside enough time for one another IRL. If you and your spouse are going to be living apart for a pre-determined period of time, it’s important to go into things with realistic expectations of how often you will be able to spend time together.

“A long-distance relationship is not only logistically challenging, but it is also extremely psychologically challenging,” explained clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio ShowJoshua Klapow, Ph.D. “If you and your partner struggle with communication, transparency, [or] if your expectations about how much you will be together are off… you will create a level of psychological tension in the relationship that ultimately will be its demise.”

It may be helpful to have a conversation with bae about your respective needs and expectations, so you both can come up with a strategy for scheduling quality time (either in person or via Skype). Making sure your communication habits are as strong as they can be leading up to a period of separation is also a good way to avoid unnecessary conflict later on down the line. Although not being together can be really tough, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on a marriage that is going well otherwise. As long as you are both willing to compromise, making it work is always possible!

 

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Zumping? Here’s What You Need To Know About The Latest Dating Trend

Ugh. Not another one.

What’s the worst way that someone could break up with you? Maybe it’s over a text message or in a voicemail? In most cases, we would prefer that our significant other dump us in person, because it seems like the appropriate thing to do.

But what happens when you can’t even see your partner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and you decide that it’s time to call it quits?

Many people are turning to the closest alternative to in-person breakups during this time by scheduling a Zoom conference to dump their significant other.

This new form of breaking up, referred to as “zumping,” allows couples to see each other and their reactions without breaking any social distancing rules.

The word “zumped” is a combination of the words ”Zoom” and “dumped.” Although many couples now use Zoom or other video conferencing apps to host their dinner dates or even a wedding, a Zoom call could spell the end of a relationship for some couples.

For the person being dumped, “zumping” sounds like the worst possible breakup that you could imagine.

However, let’s play devil’s advocate for just a second here and look at this from the angle of the person who’s dumping their significant other.

If you decide that this relationship should end, but you’re unable to see your partner during this time of quarantine, then you can’t break up with them in person.

Of course, you could possibly wait until life goes back to normal, but why prolong a relationship if you know that it’s going to fail?

You don’t want to simply text them or slide into their DMs to say that it’s over, though, so what do you do? Well, as it turns out, you can “zump” them.

Does it sound awful? Yes, it does. But aren’t all breakups awful? And at least they had the guts to actually look you in the face while they did it, instead of opting for something like a phone call or a text.

And honestly, I’d rather have someone dump me over Zoom than to waste weeks of my life with them. I wouldn’t want to invest my time in a relationship if my partner has already checked out of it.

But do we really need a separate word to describe someone who’s dumping their partner over Zoom? Probably not.

There are millions of different ways that someone can dump you these days, and we don’t always create new terms for all of them.

Since “zumping” is a part of the pandemic, though, it is probably going to be here to stay. But at least now you know what it means.

 

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Here’s How To Have Safe FaceTime Sex

Sexting and exchanging nudes is fun, but it’s not always enough to get you off when you and your partner can’t be together IRL. More than sexy Snapchats — and even more than tried-and-true phone sex — FaceTime sex is the closest you can get to enjoying the real-time thrills of sex IRL, and it’s not just for committed couples. FaceTime sex with a casual partner can always be an option if you want it to be. But, like with in-person sex, safe FaceTime sex should always be a priority — especially when you’re doing it with someone you don’t know too well.

In a long-distance relationship, you and your SO already have an established foundation of trust. Partners can nurture intimacy for months, or even years, before going long-distance. But that trust might not exist with someone you’ve only known for a few weeks, or with someone you’ve never actually met IRL at all. That’s why it’s important to take safety precautions during sex — no matter what form it takes — just like you would with IRL f*ck buddies, flings, and one-night stands.

Keep these pro-tips in mind if you’re curious about how to have FaceTime sex safely.

Be Selective About What You Show

Moyo Studio/E+/Getty Images

Approach FaceTime sex the way you’d approach sending nudes. For one, don’t include your face in the frame. “Keep in mind that tattoos can also be big signifiers, so try to avoid having any of them in nude photos, too,” Gigi Engle, certified sex coach, and SKYN Sex and Intimacy Expert, tells Elite Daily.

Along with your face and tattoos, you’ll want to leave certain personal items or decorations out of the shot, too. “Whether FaceTiming or sending photos of any kind, be sure not to reveal identifying details in the background,” Alison Falk, a cybersecurity professional, and president of Women of Sextech, tells Elite Daily. “It’s extremely easy to determine the location of where people live and work when even the slightest details are exposed.”

If your cyber-sexual relationship develops beyond a one-night stand, you may not have to worry about hiding your face or tattoos in the future, but that might take some time. “Trust needs to be built before you engage in higher-risk sexting,” Dr. Chris Donaghue, a certified sex therapist and SKYN Sex and Intimacy Expert, tells Elite Daily.

Discuss Screenshots

While STDs, STIs, and pregnancy aren’t concerns that come with digital sex, it does pose its own risks: screenshots, screen recordings, and your partner possibly posting these nudes without consent. “These are things that don’t need to deter you, but you should discuss this possibility and talk about how violating it would be,” Engle explains. “It is sexual assault, as far as I’m concerned. Be open and honest that this would be completely not OK with you, and make sure they feel exactly the same way about it.”

No federal, anti-revenge porn law exists, says Falk. “So do everything possible to protect yourself legally.”

Forgo Alcohol & Other Substances

Dean Mitchell/E+/Getty Images

Make sure your mind is clear while engaging in FaceTime sex. If you enjoy indulging in some wine or other substances to take the edge off, consider abstaining prior to your cyber-sesh, says Engle, as they can impair your judgment and lead you to reveal more than you’re actually comfortable with. Especially if it’s your first time having FaceTime sex, leave the White Claws and weed behind.

Get Cryptic

When it comes to digital sex, privacy should be top-of-mind. “Do your homework first and be sure to use the right apps,” Falk says. “Everything is hackable. There is no bulletproof way to ensure 100% privacy with anything in our digital lives.” One encrypted app she recommends as an alternative to FaceTime or Zoom is Signal, which does have a video call feature. While you do still need to be wary of screenshots, Signal’s encryption protects you against hacking.

Make Sure You’re Comfortable

Charday Penn/E+/Getty Images

With both cybersex or sex IRL, trust is the name of the game. But discerning whether your dating app match is trustworthy can be tricky. “This isn’t someone you know very well, so you can’t make that kind of call,” Engle says. “There is no special formula for accessing whether someone is a creep or not.”

Likewise, while Donaghue acknowledges the benefits of online sexual expression, he urges against having FaceTime sex with people you’re not super comfortable with. “Emotionally, you want to be able to let your guard down and really enjoy the eroticism and arousal.”

Even though there’s no real way to tell whether your digital f*ck buddy is someone you can trust, you can ask all the right questions to make that judgment to the best of your ability. Discuss what they’ve done with screenshots during other forms of cybersex, like sexting. “Ask them what they did with pics they have been sent in the past from others, and if they ever share them,” Donaghue advises. “If they explain that they sext ethically and therefore delete after the sexting goal has been achieved — or the relationship ends — then that’s a good starting point.”

When you’re embarking on your sensual FaceTime adventures, remember that the same way dental dams, condoms, birth control, and frank conversations can help put you at ease, so can taking proactive steps toward safe FaceTime sex.

 

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Zoom Social Pressure Is Rising As The Novelty Wears Off

Remember a few weeks ago, when Zoom emerged as the digital solution to social distancing? All of a sudden, videoconferencing became not only a way to take meetings from home, but also a way to check in on friends, date, and even party. It was a golden age of Zoom happy hours, Zoom movie nights, Zoom brunches. But as we reach what feels like week 2,000 of social distancing, the mere sight of the illustrated blue app icon can conjure feelings of social anxiety.

As someone with a typically non-existent social calendar, I was surprised to find that it only took a global pandemic for people to start making plans with me. People who I never talked to on the phone before are sending me Zoom invitations to “catch up.” I even fielded an invite to a virtual poetry reading from my college’s alumni association. According to some fans-turned-fatigued users of the app, the same dread that once came with an overbooked social calendar now follows a packed Zoom meeting schedule.

“I’ve just come to the realization that if I wouldn’t entertain friends in my home every single night of the week IRL, I don’t need to do it on Zoom, either,” says Jeanne, 32, a first-time WFH employee. She adds that dealing with anxiety around coronavirus has made her “more tired and less interested in socializing than usual,” despite a short-lived affair with video-chat hangouts.

Dr. Hilarie Cash, PhD, LMHC, CSAT, WSGC, and founder of reSTART Life, a treatment center for digital addictions, is exhausted from “impersonal” online meetings herself. “We don’t quite look in each other’s eyes [on a video chat], or pick up the nuances of body language,” she tells Bustle. But most importantly, she points out, “We don’t get to experience limbic resonance — which is our birthright as social animals.” Limbic resonance is the energetic exchange that occurs with IRL interactions. “The in-person experience (if we feel safe and cared for) releases a bouquet of neurochemicals in our limbic brains that keeps us well regulated emotionally and physiologically.” Without it, Dr. Cash says, we don’t get to feel the satisfaction of being connected in the same way we do IRL.

Hailey, 21, who has worked from home for two years, says that she “feels guilty,” but she’s more interested in having some relaxing quarantine downtime. “If I accepted every virtual call or event or hangout I’ve been invited to, I could quite literally be busier than I was before.”

brittany packnett cunningham does not do remixes.

@MsPackyetti

As someone who had to spend sometimes 10 straight hours on Zoom before this pandemic, a piece of advice:

Always ask yourself what needs to be a meeting or what can be an email, a recorded message, or a deck that you send out.

8 back to back hours on a screen is not a life.

Melina, 33, tells Bustle that personal video calls are starting to feel invasive. “My home is my sacred space and having to constantly share it with others is starting to feel like boundary crossing, even when they are close friends.” Having to push the litter box out of frame or trying to shush her infant inconspicuously off screen is tiring. “I feel like I always have to be ‘on’. Knowing that my face is stretched across someone’s computer screen like a spotlight makes me feel like I have to exert a lot of energy to seem engaged, even more than in person,” Melina adds. But the most stressful part about accepting an invitation for a social Zoom meeting, according to Melina, is finding an excuse to hang up. “We’re all stuck at home with nothing to do, so there are limited reasons to end the call and it’s hard to find a nice way to do so.”

While everyone that I spoke to could recognize the privilege and utility that Zoom provides them professionally, they’re not looking to spend more time on the app than absolutely necessary. “Honestly, I just want to get the hell away from screens at the end of the day,” Jeanne says, despite her need and understanding of the desire for connection.

Isaac Fitzgerald🤞🏻🖤

@IsaacFitzgerald

Had a friend say they couldn’t make a zoom cocktail party because they have another one scheduled for that same time period so yes you can still feel unpopular during the apocalypse.

Contrary to the illusion that “face to face” screen time provides, Dr. Cash says it cannot evoke the level neurological connection we crave while we’re practicing social distancing, “and, therefore, it actually drains us rather than replenishing us.”

That said, seeing someone’s face is more neurologically stimulating than simply hearing their voicea 2013 study published in Cyberpsychology: Journal Of Psychosocial Research found. So instead of ignoring your friend’s noble attempts at fostering community during an isolating time, strike a balance; space out your social engagements, or feel free politely decline. It’s important to “manage the stress of isolation,” Dr. Cash says, so do whatever makes you feel most peaceful at home. If that’s opening up your living room to a gallery of digital faces every night, lean into that desire and socialize. But if that’s closing your screen at the end of the day and disengaging, that’s fine, too. Treat your virtual social life the same way you would treat your IRL social life.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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How To Have A Zoom Game Night

Now that the majority of the country is practicing social distancing, the way we entertain ourselves has drastically changed. Musicians are streaming concerts on YouTube, comedians are going live on Instagram, and people all over the world are using Zoom well after their work calls are over in order to spend time with loved ones. But if your video chat hangs are starting to feel a bit repetitive (read: You’re drinking way more wine than usual), a game night on Zoom may provide a much-needed reprieve.

“Using video conferencing technology to have fun, to engage with other people, and to connect socially, reminds us that we are not alone and that we have people there to support us,” Dr. Josh Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and associate professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, tells phicklephilly.

Hopping on video chat can be a great way to feel less isolated. Folks everywhere are propping up their phones while they cook together, watch movies, or simply have conversations. But the fun of a game night, in particular, can make these quiet evenings seem a little less strange and a lot more nostalgic. Battling it out with friends might even ease coronavirus-related anxiety, at least for a little while, as you focus your mind elsewhere.

Here, a few ideas for ways to have a Zoom game night, so you can stay connected from afar.

1. Trivia Night

You may not be crammed into your favorite bar booth with five of your closest friends, but you can still recreate trivia night by playing together on Zoom. Start by assigning a host (like yourself) and coming up with questions. Aim for five or so categories, with about eight questions each.

From there, figure out how you’ll communicate. Each team will need a private space to whisper answers, like a breakout room, but you can all meet back in the main “bar” area on Zoom. Give everyone 30 seconds to deliberate, and then have them submit answers via DM.

Of course, as with any trivia night, you’ll want and need rules. Remind players to stay off Google, to put their phones down, and to only get answers from teammates — not their roommate, who is a fount of 90s music knowledge. And just like that, you’ll have recreated trivia night from the safety of your homes.

2. Punderdome

A rousing game of Punderdome can easily be played via Zoom. To begin, gather at least three people, ensure that someone (again, probably you) has the deck of cards, and spend an evening making awful jokes.

To play, the “prompter” draws two cards from the deck and then reads them out to the rest of the group. Everyone has 90 seconds to create the worst pun they can come up with that combines the two prompts.

The prompter then chooses the pun they like best. The first person who gets 10 pairs of cards wins!

3. What Do You Meme

The “adult party game for meme lovers” is another one you can play from afar. If you’d like to show your cards, simply angle your camera so everyone can see what’s on the table. Get creative with this, and it’ll feel much more interactive.

What Do You Meme is all about matching up photo cards with caption cards to create your own meme. Similar to Cards Against Humanity (we’ve all played that, right?), the winning puns will come down to personal preference and can lead to heated debates over what’s funny and what isn’t.

Since you can only play with up to six people, it’s a great game to try on video chat without feeling too overwhelmed. Drinks, snacks, and other social distancing comfort optional.

4. Truth Or Dare

This classic game is a fun one to try from the privacy of your own home and can be played with as many people as you like. Ask your friends “truth” questions to learn more about each other, or go for a “dare” if your goal is to crack each other up. The possibilities are endless, as long as they all involve staying inside.

5. Charades

In case you need a reminder, charades is that game where you act out a word or phrase without speaking, and your teammates have to guess what it is. To do it over Zoom, simply move your camera when it’s your turn, so everyone can see what you’re doing.

You’ll need two teams, a list of suggestions, and a timer. Each person will get a chance to act out their word, while their team tries to figure it out. You might get something like “gardening,” at which point you’ll get down on your hands and knees, dig in the dirt, plant flowers, etc. Use your imagination.

You can’t, of course, mouth the answer, make noise, or use items in your room as clues. That’s some hardcore charades cheating, right there. But you can think back to your high school theater arts class, and put your old miming skills to work.

6. Dungeons & Dragons

The cool thing about D&D is it’s an imagination-based game, making it something you can easily play on Zoom until you can meet up with your friends in real life.

The majority of the work will fall on the game master (probably you) since it’ll be important to consider ways to keep everyone involved. But it can be done! Just pretend you’re all sitting around the same table, as per usual, and continue your story.

If a player needs dice to roll, they can do so online with a quick Google search. There are also fancy virtual tabletops you can try out. But you may want to keep things simple, especially if you aren’t too experienced with the game or have never tried it before, and stick to fun, light-hearted role-playing.

7. Mind Meld

Have all your friends sign on to Zoom, then take turns going in a circle while trying to “meld minds,” aka say the exact same word at the exact same time.

Two players will start by counting down from three and then saying any word that comes to mind. One player then turns to the person “next to them,” and they count down from three, then say a word that the two previous words made them think of. And so on.

It’s basically a game of word association, and if you play it right — where no one’s trying to be funny or saying random things just for a laugh — you will eventually hone in on the same word, and it’ll feel like magic.

8. Never Have I Ever

This is a classic drinking game that can be played with or without alcohol over video chat.

Have everyone hold up their hand as players take turns sharing something they’ve never done before. If someone in the circle has done it, they put a finger down (or take a drink). Go for spicy questions to keep things interesting, and to make it less likely that everyone’s done it.

Ideas: Never have I ever fainted. Never have I ever bungee jumped. Never have I ever had a paranormal experience. Never have I ever had a one-night stand.

The person with the most fingers remaining up at the end wins!

9. Quiplash

The rules of Quiplash are super easy, as there are no rules or correct answers. All you do is answer prompts within the game, then everyone votes on the wittiest answers.

According to the game’s creators, you can play with up to eight of your friends, as well as up to 10,000 participants in the in app “Audience.” Playing on a stream? Your viewers can join in and participate in the game, too.

10. 21 Questions

Woman using a laptop in the night sitting on a couch in the living room at home
Shutterstock

Get to know your friends even better by playing a game of 21 Questions. To get things started, have everyone come up with a list of 21 Qs, then roll a die, and have the person with the lower number answer first.

The person who is asking should start with easy questions, like, “What did you have for breakfast this morning?” Then move onto ones that are more risqué, if your friends are OK with that.

You can ask “what if?” questions, pose interesting scenarios, ask about dreams and fears — or whatever else sounds fun.

11. Two Truths & A Lie

Two Trusts & A Lie is another party game that focuses on telling, well, two truths and a lie. Each player will have a chance to share two facts about themselves plus something that’s entirely made up, and the goal is to correctly guess which one is the lie.

To throw everyone off, choose two truths about yourself that people might not know, or two things that seem a bit outlandish or out of character for you. Mix those in at random with a lie, which can be equally outlandish, and chances are everyone will have a hard time figuring it out!

12. Read My Lips

To play Read My Lips, have the person who is “it” turn off their microphone. They will then say a series of words in a given amount of time while everyone else reads their lips and writes down what they think they’re saying. The person with the most correct guesses is the obvious winner.

13. Pass It Along

This game is all about creating a story together, one sentence at a time. Start the story, then pass it off to another friend who will add the next sentence, then someone else will add the third sentence, and keep going until it feels like the tale has reached a natural conclusion.

You can be as serious or as silly as you want, but think about the plot, remember to add in characters and details, so the story is interesting. Try to recall what was said before you and work together to create a narrative with rising action.

For an added element, record the story and listen back afterward to hear back how utterly ridiculous it was.

14. Scavenger Hunt

If you’re hosting this event, create a list of things people may (or may not) have around their apartment. Add everyday items to the list, like a coffee mug or a box of pasta, as well as a few unique items, like an antique watch or a Slinky. Set a timer, share the list, and see who can come rushing back to Zoom with the most items on the list.

15. Drawing Challenge

Pick a category, form teams of two, and have one person from each team do a Google image search of abstract shapes or pieces of art that fall within the category.

Go into Zoom breakout rooms so you won’t be talking over each other, and then be as specific as possible as you describe the image to your partner, so they have a better shot at drawing it on a piece of paper, with paint — whatever medium you’ll all be using.

Give everyone five minutes to draw, then come back into the main chat and vote on the winner.

16. Last Letter

If you’d like to keep your brain sharp during this time of social distancing, play Last Letter with your friends. All you need to do is choose a category — ’90s movies, flowers, states, colors, etc. — and say a word within that category. The next person will say a word that starts with the last letter of your word, and on and on you’ll go until someone comes up blank. That person will then sit out the next round. Keep playing until only one player is left standing.

17. Would You Rather?

Ask each other “would you rather” type questions, such as “Would you rather have really long arms or really long legs?” or “Would you rather have super strength or super speed?” Be creative and have fun!

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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9 People Share Their Wildest Zoom Dates

Shelter-in-place doesn’t have to mean celibacy-in-place. Though you can’t literally meet up for drinks, it’s totally possible to turn up the heat with someone, all from the comfort of your own quarantine. While some may stick to a FaceTime Frappuccino (the internet version of, “Wanna get coffee?”), hanging out over video chat can enable your camera and your imagination. From naked crafting to green screen-backed dinners, the wildest Zoom dates truly know no limits.

As coronavirus continues to spread, more and more people are staying in their homes. While self-distancing may change the structure of a traditional first date, it certainly isn’t stopping people from finding love (or, you know, someone hot to hook up with.) According to a recent report from OKCupid, 93% of global respondents are still digitally dating right now, with video chatting, playing video games, and joint-watching movies or TV shows as some of the most popular long-distance date activities. While Animal Crossing and Netflix Party can surely provide a virtual space for a fun and flirty e-hang, there’s no shortage of ways to try to woo your internet boo.

Bustle asked nine people about their wildest Zoom dates to date, and what they said will make you red in the Face(Time).

1. Hit It & “Command + Option + Esc” It

The other night I had video chat sex with this total hottie I met through an online queer chat room. We edged, and dirty talked with each other for, like, 30 minutes, and when we both finished, we called in a night. Honestly, it was incredible to be able to focus on my own pleasure rather than attending to someone else’s or worrying about how they perceived me or if they were comfortable. Shout out to Zoom sex.

— Cooper, 26

2. Arts & (Naked) Crafting

We’re both artists, a little kinky, and we’ve been doing ‘naked crafting’ dates where we do our projects naked. I’ve been working on a painting, and he’s making friendship bracelets. If I can find a way to sanitize a canvas, I want to send him something.

— Julia, 25

3. Gin, Tonic, & Reaganomics

Toward the end of the date, he turned, and I could see that the only decorations in his room were a Shepard Fairey-style portrait of Reagan and a poster that literally said: ‘I Heart Capitalism.’

— Mallory, 24

4. Green(screen) In The Face

He kept using green screens and filters. At first, it was fun to pretend that we’re talking on the beach or in a restaurant, but then he started using a Memoji face sticker, and I spent 20 minutes talking to an animated mouse. It was like I was in a bad children’s movie.

— Sarah, 23

5. Group Hang

He was in his living room, and he didn’t have headphones in. His roommates were all around and watching a movie. I was initially a little offended, but his roommates were pretty funny. I ended up asking them what they were watching and watched it on my computer along with them.

— Rebecca, 30

6. A Work In Progress

At first, I thought he was shy, and video chatting can be a little distant, but then I realized he was completely consumed with other things on his computer and typing a lot. It looked like he was answering emails as I was trying to talk. I asked if there was a better time we could call, but he kept saying he was almost done and just needed five more minutes. I watched him work for about two minutes and then closed my computer.

— Heather, 26

7. Family Matters

The guy I’ve been seeing didn’t tell me that he had gone to quarantine at his parents’ house. When we video chatted the other night, and I was like, “Where are you?” and he was like, “My parents’ house! Mom, say hi!” and turned the camera so his mother could meet me. I was, thankfully, fully clothed, but you’d think he could have given me a warning or something!

— Alyssa, 25

8. Frozen In Time

His screen froze while we had cyber sexy time, but I was in too deep to stop, so I just finished on my own, but then I pretended I hadn’t already finished and was still ‘so close’ when his WiFi connection got better. And then just finished again.

— Mara, 24

9. In The Dog House

Their camera was pointed at their dog the entire date. I know they really love their dog, and, yes, it’s a really cute dog. But we’d been texting for a week, and I was excited to have a face to face conversation, even just over video chat.

— Dena, 28

 

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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Getting Dumped On Zoom Is The New Worst Kind Of Breakup

Forget the Post-It note Berger left Carrie. Forget Joe Jonas’ 27-second phone call to Taylor Swift. Forget the breakup text from your cowardly ex. The official worst way to get dumped? On Zoom.

Or is it the best way? In this age of social distancing, there aren’t many options when it comes to ending relationships. But when enough is enough, calling it quits over video chat is, at the very least, a way to do it face-to-face, however strange that may be.

Julia, 26, had been dating someone for two months when he decided to end it on a Zoom conference call. “We’d been talking every day […], but also we were sort of in this weird pre-label limbo zone because we’d only gone on three dates before coronavirus,” she tells Bustle. “But they were incredible dates, and there was clearly a connection.”

Like many couples who are self-isolating apart, Julia was maintaining her connection with her partner by hopping on Zoom and FaceTime dates, in order to watch movies and hang out with her SO from their respective homes. “He was the first guy in a very long time I was excited about,” she says.

When the fateful “you free to talk later?” text landed in her inbox, Julia immediately knew what was up.

Julia Moser

@juliamoserrrr

am i the first person who’s been dumped via zoom?

“I had sensed him getting a little more distant the last week or so, and was anxious about it, but couldn’t pin down if it was just general anxiety about the world or just in my head,” she says.

Not wanting to take any chances, she quickly put on a bit of makeup before the call, which made her feel more confident and prepared, and less, as she puts it, like a “working-from-home zombie.” But that didn’t make it any easier.

Put plainly, breakups suck, whether it happens in-person, over text, or through a screen. But the biggest difference between doing it IRL and URL? You can’t physically walk away, and closure is as nonexistent as virtual reality.

“It sucks,” Julia says. “But I probably would have been pissed if it had been via text, and I’m not sure I could have stayed calm and collected if it were in person — not that that was even an option.”

When budding romance is bound by the ceilings of technology, it may be best-case for relationships to die as they live: online.

 

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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How To Plan A Zoom Brunch You’ll Look Forward To Every Sunday

While brunch plans outside of the house might be indefinitely postponed, mastering the art of how to have a Zoom brunch will hit a certain kind of spot in the meantime. If a lazy Sunday morning hang with your favorite people is a staple (or the staple of) your social life, missing this event can be painful. While we’re all at home social distancing and attempting to flatten the curve, social connection is more needed than ever. Honoring those brunch plans online could be a valuable dose of comfort.

Though it may seem insufficient, virtually eating a meal with your friends can help bridge the gap between solitude and support. Zoom, the rising video conference app, has become increasingly popular for a reason. According to The Guardian, an app tracking firm called Apptopia reported that Zoom was downloaded 2.13 million times on March 23 alone. The Atlantic notes that Zoom cocktail hours, coffee breaks, and dinner parties are booming, especially among tech savvy Gen Z-ers. And to help save our social lives during quarantine, Zoom is now offering free upgrades to non-paying users so that they can chat longer than the allotted 40 free minutes without being charged. Now is the time for that bottomless brunch in cyberspace if there ever was one.

“We are social beings. We need to be connected to thrive. Being physically separated takes its toll on us, but we can get back some of the social connectedness with technology,” Dr. Josh Klapow, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. Keeping the routine of regular “hangs” with your friends will benefit not only to your social life, but also your mental health.

Having a social engagement on the calendar is helpful, especially when you feel like your life is a never-ending Monday from apocalypse hell right now. So stay connected, and to honor your routines, host a Zoom brunch. Here’s how:

Get A Zoom Brunch The Calendar

Get a Zoom brunch on the calendar.
Shutterstock

Pick a date and time that works for you and your brunch crew. You want to make sure that you settle on a time that everyone can actually be present for, so get a group chat going and talk about this for a minute. For example, if your friends have kids, schedule your brunch during a nap. Or, if your friends live with other people, have them check with them to find a time that they can ensure a good hour or so of quiet, uninterrupted, private screen time, in a room they can eat in that also has great WiFi. Once you’ve found a time, set up a Zoom meeting so it’s ~official~.

Make Sure Everyone Is Signed Up For It

If you don’t already have Zoom, you’ll want to download the app on your phone, or desktop, and sign up for it ahead of time. The signup process only takes a minute, and requires you to add your email and name, activate your account by clicking a link that you’ll receive in your inbox, and bam, you’re ready to chat. Because you’ll likely want to make this brunch party a regular event, it’s best to have everyone signed up with the app and familiarized with it, first. Once you set the date and time and enter in all of your friends’ email addresses, the invites will get sent out.

Discuss Your Zoom Brunch Menu

Plan your Zoom brunch ahead of time.
Shutterstock

There are many different ways to go about having a virtual brunch, and you’ll want to decide on a plan of action with your crew ahead of time. You might want to prepare your food before the call, so that the meal isn’t an interruption. Or, if the food is an important element of the hang, you might want to decide on a theme, so you can all show off your meals when the call begins. Alternatively, you might opt to cook a meal together, while you’re chatting. Fruit breads, muffins, and scones are all the rage right now, and here are a few recipes to consider for your brunch bake off:

If Cooking Brunch “Together” …

Cook brunch with your friends on Zoom.
Shutterstock

If you decide to cook with your friends on Zoom, whether you’re making avocado toast or banana bread, you’ll want to prep the ingredients ahead of the call, to minimize the amount of clanging and maximize the time you have to sit down, and eat your meal with your friends. Have everyone take out the items they will need, and enjoy the privilege of getting to help each other through the process. You can compare notes on how to do each step, and when you have a finished product, you’ll actually feel like you made a meal with your friends, which will be even more rewarding.

Guide The Zoom Call

Though you might be brunching with your closest friends, it takes a while to get the hang of a multi-person video call, especially if you’re not used to Zoom. To help take the pressure off the potentially unnatural conversational flow, play Zoom games, or pick talking points to keep everyone engaged, like “what’s the pit and the peak of your week?” or “what show is everyone loving right now? If you choose to cook together, you can each present your meals once they are done, show them off to the camera, and discuss how the cooking process was for you. If you opt to cook your own meals ahead of time, you can still go around and share what you made, how you made it, and whether you like it — suffice it to say we could all use as many boredom busting recipes as we can get right now.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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21 Icebreakers That’ll Make Your Zoom Happy Hours The Highlight Of Your Day

With social distancing guidelines in full effect, all of your favorite social activities may have shifted to online. This includes movie nights, romantic dinners, and even happy hours. And while for some people, this may have taken away some of the anxieties that IRL interactions cause, for others, it’s done the opposite. If you’re someone who dreads trying to make conversations in virtual social settings like Zoom happy hours, some big icebreakers could really help. Just remember that everyone is collectively dealing with the stresses of the coronavirus pandemic, and that you’re probably not the only one who’s feeling a little nervous.

Icebreakers are a great way to start conversations and get yourself and everyone else comfortable. Though social distancing has been going on for a while now, people may still not be used to having interactions solely through virtual settings. It can feel a little awkward talking to coworkers from your bedroom. This is where icebreakers can come in and eliminate any discomfort. You’ll get to relax a bit all while learning a little more about the people you’re working with.

Here are a few icebreakers you can use in your next Zoom happy hour to make everyone (including yourself) feel a little more at ease.

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1. Check Ins

Checking in with how everyone is doing is a good way to break the ice in Zoom happy hours.
filadendron/E+/Getty Images

Because everyone is dealing with the anxieties and stresses that coronavirus may be causing, it can be a good idea to start off a virtual happy hour with a check in. Gauge how everyone is doing. See how everyone may be dealing with social distancing and even ask for or offer advice on how to keep busy and stay calm while this plays out.

2. Virtual Room Tours

The cool thing about having a virtual happy hour is that everyone is probably in their own respective bedrooms or living areas. This can be a great opportunity for an icebreaker. Give a virtual tour of the room you’re calling from or at least point out something fascinating or unique you might have in your room. Whether it’s a poster behind you, a souvenir from another country, or that stuffed teddy bear you’ve had since you were two, it can put you at ease to share something about your space with others.

3. Two Truths And A Lie

Two Truths and a Lie is like the go-to for a lot of icebreakers, and talking through Zoom doesn’t change that. This simple yet entertaining game will not only help you and everyone else to learn more about each other, but it’ll also let you assess each other’s ability to tell a lie. Plus, you’ll be debating together in no time, making it a super easy environment to relax in.

4. Social Distancing Bingo

If you’ve seen the Instagram social distancing Bingo going around, you can set yourself up for another great icebreaker. No, you don’t have to break out a Bingo board, but you can assess whose done what activity on the board by having people raise their hands. Has anyone else slept in past noon? Baked for fun? Binged an entire season in a day? Bingo!

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5. I Spy

I Spy can be a fun icebreaker when everyone is participating in the Zoom happy hour from their bedroom.
RichLegg/E+/Getty Images

I Spy is not just for children. Because you can use Gallery View on Zoom that allows you to see everyone’s video window at once, a game of I Spy can be really entertaining for everyone involved. If someone has a blue hat in the background or a huge, colorful tapestry, you can try and get others to guess at it. This’ll get everyone playing and let you take a good look around everyone’s backdrop.

6. Netflix Series You’re Currently Binging

Admit it, we’re all binging a Netflix series right now. (I’m on my fifth rewatch of New Girl). A really interesting yet simple icebreaker could be to ask everyone in the video call to say which series they’re watching. You’ll get to connect with other people based off of mutual taste in shows, and you’ll probably get a few great suggestions for your next show to watch.

7. Favorite ‘Tiger King’ Character

Speaking of Netflix, Tiger King is a great way to break the ice at a happy hour. Ask each person who their favorite character is and why, and watch your virtual chat room explode into debate and intrigue. You’ll get to discuss one of the best shows to come out of Netflix all while learning about everyone’s point of views.

8. First Trip Once All Of This Is Over

A great icebreaker that can get everyone in a slightly happier mood is asking everyone what they want their first trip to be once everything returns to normal in regard to the pandemic. Has someone been itching to go to Italy? Mexico? Maybe Dubai? Discuss your future travel plans and learn a little more about the people you’re virtually drinking with.

9. Hidden Talents

Can you touch your tongue to your nose? Wiggle your ears without touching them? Showing off your totally weird but still very impressive hidden talents can be a wonderful icebreaker that’ll not only make your coworkers laugh, but inspire them to show off theirs. Just remember to keep it office-friendly.

10. Self-Care Routine

Having perfect morning. Dark-skinned woman having perfect morning while drinking coffee lying in bath
Shutterstock

It’s super important to take care of yourself, especially during these unpredictable times. If you have any special practices or routines you use to pamper yourself, or just make yourself feel good, now’s the time to share that. You might even get some more inspiration from your coworkers.

11. How Many People You’re Quarantining With

If you’re like me, you have a huge family you’re quarantining with (eight!). This could be a really fun fact to share with coworkers during a Zoom happy hour. Share who you’re quarantining with, what it’s been like, and how you’ve been handling it.

12. Good Books You’re Reading

Aside from binging on shows, you’ve probably burned through a couple of really good books. Sharing what you like to read is a great icebreaker for people you work with. You can understand people’s favorite genres, what literature they like, and also topic they’re interested in.

13. Habits You’ve Picked Up In Quarantine

With so much time on your hands, it’s likely that you’ve picked up a fun, quirky, or even educational habit. I’ve started listening to podcasts in the morning again. If you’ve added something to your daily routine, share it with people in your Zoom call. You can see what people are doing at home to spend the time.

14. Bets On When Quarantine Will End

I’ve been debating with my friends since quarantine started about how long it will last. Because the news is always changing, it’s super hard to tell. Start a friendly wager or just poll the room to see when people think quarantines will be over.

15. Things You’ve Baked

Woman decorating chocolate cake in the kitchen. Female chef making a cake at home.
Shutterstock

People have been taking up baking in quarantine. If this includes you, it could be a fun icebreaker to talk about what you’ve been baking and what everyone else has been baking. If something sounds good, you can even ask for a recipe.

16. Your Go-To Lounge Wear

While my home-attire-of-choice is an old, oversized t-shirt and any pajamas I can find around the house, you might be someone who has specific outfits you’re wearing everyday. Are you dressing up at home to get in a busy mindset? Or are you kicking it in boy shorts? See what everyone wears to work from home.

17. New Music You’ve Discovered

You’ve probably come across some new music while in quarantine. Talk about any music or artists you’ve discovered. Is there an album you’re stuck on? Share it! You might get some awesome new music suggestions from others, as well.

18. Pet Peeves You’ve Discovered In Quarantine

It can be super stressful to be quarantined with someone for so long. It can even make you realize you have some pet peeves you never thought about before. Do you hate people who chew loudly? Talk about it to break the ice.

19. New Sleep Schedule

Some people in my family have been sleeping in as late as 5 p.m. and waking up way past noon. Is your sleep schedule all over the place? This is a topic of conversation that can serve as a great icebreaker because you’ll get different answers across the board.

20. Your Go-To Quarantine Snack

Rear View Of A Young Woman Taking Food To Eat From Refrigerator
Shutterstock

Is there a snack that you’ve been munching on everyday of quarantine? If there is, poll the video chat to see who else may have one. Everyone has probably been eating more than usual in quarantine so you might as well get some inspiration for snacks.

21. What TikToks Have You Made?

A lot of people are taking part in TikTok challenges or just creating TikTok accounts of their own. If this is something you’e done and think others have done as well, bring it up as an icebreaker. Maybe there are TikToks that your coworkers haven’t done yet but totally want to try.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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8 Zoom Hacks To Try During Your Next Work Meeting Or Virtual Happy Hour

Instead of meeting friends downtown on your way home from the office, virtual happy hours and working from your couch are quickly becoming the new, strange norm. And even if you’ve already hopped on the Zoom train, there’s always room to learn more about the conference call app. Whether you’re on the clock or just catching up with … Continue reading “8 Zoom Hacks To Try During Your Next Work Meeting Or Virtual Happy Hour”

Instead of meeting friends downtown on your way home from the office, virtual happy hours and working from your couch are quickly becoming the new, strange norm. And even if you’ve already hopped on the Zoom train, there’s always room to learn more about the conference call app. Whether you’re on the clock or just catching up with your friend group, consider testing out some of Zoom’s not so obvious hacks during your next meeting.

The spike in Zoom app downloads makes sense when you think about the statewide and citywide “shelter in place” orders encouraging people around the country to stay put unless they absolutely need to seek medical treatment or buy essentials like food and medicine. In total, over 15 states including California, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Louisiana, and New York recently initiated statewide “shelter-in-place” rules, according to a map published by Wired. And more states might join as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise.

Thankfully, whether you’re stuck at home or somewhere else for the time being, video chat apps make it possible to stay connected with the people who matter most. If you just downloaded Zoom, here are some of the most useful hacks to remember next time you join a work meeting or chat with family:

Hack #1: Change Your Virtual Background On Zoom

If your bedroom wall isn’t cutting it as a backdrop for work calls or you just want to make your friends laugh, Zoom gives you the option to change your background to any image you want. Go to Settings on either your desktop or mobile and then click on the Virtual Backgrounds tab. From there, you’ll see all the pre-installed backgrounds Zoom has, like the New York Skyline, Golden Gate Bridge, and even outer space. But if you’re not too fond of the options that are available, you can upload pictures of your own, from pretty landscapes to your favorite memes.

Hack #2: Use Zoom’s Annotation Tool

Bryan Veloso

@avalonstar

When your friends find out that @zoom_us has annotations.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

 

If you’re a big notetaker during meetings, there’s no need to bring out the pen and paper. Zoom lets you make annotations and take notes right on your phone or even your desktop with its whiteboard feature. Just go to Settings, hit Meetings, and double check that the Annotations option is checked. Then, using your finger, a stylus, or your mouse, you can make as many notes as you’d like, either for yourself or for everyone in the meeting. Jot things down on slideshow presentations for work or draw up funny doodles to your friends in the middle of video calls.

Hack #3: Share Your Screen On Zoom

You can share your screen during Zoom meetings to provide a visual aid for other members.

If you’re giving a presentation or want to share a funny Instagram post or Tweet with your friends during a virtual happy hour, Zoom’s screen sharing feature is key. All you have to do is tap the Share Screen option at the bottom of your screen. You’ll be able to choose whether you want to share your entire computer desktop screen or just your screen when you’re on specific applications like Microsoft Word. Plus, you can pause your screen sharing so your coworkers don’t have to see you awkwardly fumble between apps.

Hack #4: Share Multiple Screens On Zoom

Multiple people within a video conference can share their screens at the same time using Zoom.

If there are multiple people trying to give a presentation or get their points across, test out Zoom’s multi screen-share feature. That way, more than one person can share their screen in a meeting — it’s perfect if you’re trying to compare documents or complement each other’s points. Just make sure that the host clicks on the arrow icon to the right of the Share Screen option (on the bottom of the screen) and turns on the “Multiple participants can share simultaneously option.”

Hack #5: Record Zoom Meetings For Later

Zoom allows you to record your meetings so you can go back to them later.
Zoom/YouTube

Zoom users have the ability to record meetings to a Cloud or their computers, so that important points and discussions are always on file. Just tap the Record button at the bottom of your screen and click where you want to save the video. Afterwards, you can access the video and any others you recorded by logging into your account and going to the My Recordings page.

The only catch is that the type of account you pay for dictates how much storage you have within your Cloud. For example, a Zoom Education account (usually for educators) gives you 0.5 gb per user. If you have a free account, you have the option to upload the recordings to your computer as opposed to the Cloud.

And this isn’t just for work meetings. If you’re having a convo with friends, you could always record your hangout and then post a snippet of it to Instagram or Twitter to show everyone how much fun you can still have while social distancing.

Hack #6: Record Transcripts Of Zoom Meetings

Kane Fulton

@KaneFulton

It’s an absolute joy to read through an interview that’s been conducted over @zoom_us and transcribed by @otter_ai with pretty much flawless accuracy. Means I can conduct interviews with just my AirPods in & note down topics to search for in the transcript once it’s processed. 🙌

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Being able to record a meeting is super helpful, but sometimes having a readily-available transcript of your meetings is even better. Just go to your Account Settings, click Cloud Recording, and then hit the Recording tab. From there, go to Advanced Cloud Recording Settings, click Audio Transcript, and then Save your settings. Once you have your transcripts, you can even search them using different keywords.

Hack #7: Put Zoom’s Touch-Up Feature To Work

Stacey (Kendall) McCain@staceykendall11
Replying to @zoom_us and 2 others

I was totally joking, but thanks for being so responsive. I will have to give the smoothing filter a try😉.

Zoom

@zoom_us

Haha ok : ) Cool, check for the “touch up my appearance” setting under settings > video. Happy Zooming Stacey!

View image on Twitter

Just rolled out of bed but don’t want anyone to know? Zoom’s Touch Up My Appearance option puts a soft focus filter on your video feed, giving you the appearance of a good night’s sleep (even if that’s not really the case). You’ll look more polished, and you won’t have to worry about wiping off any makeup once your virtual meeting is over.

Hack #8: Try Out Zoom’s Gallery View

Zoom

@zoom_us

Zoom’s Rockin’ Some Serious Green Gallery View Style

View image on Twitter

Whether you’re on a work call or just chatting with friends, sometimes you want to be able to see everyone you’re talking to on the same screen. Well, with Zoom’s Gallery View, you can do just that. The feature lets you display up to 49 participants in one screen. Go to your Settings and then Video to open up your Video Settings options. There, you should be able to enable Gallery View. Then, all you have to do is start or join a meeting, and you’ll be able to see everyone in the video call all at once. You can also just click the little grid icon at the top right of your screen once you’re in a meeting.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy Phicklephilly THE BOOK now available on Amazon!

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