My boyfriend lives in the United States and I’m in Canada. He’s the love of my life.
We’ve long been the masters of distance, with frequent visits to each other and healthy communication. Until COVID-19.
Visiting had to stop for obvious reasons. But now, because of xenophobia in the media and from friends/family, we’re starting to feel new pressure on our relationship.
We’re both patient and passionate enough to wait out the border closure and physical distancing requirements, but how can we stop/overcome these other external pressures from taking a toll on our relationship?
I know there are bigger matters at hand and stopping COVID-19 is a top priority, but I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t upsetting.
Prejudice in the Pandemic
Xenophobia is as ugly and hurtful as any other form of discrimination and hatred - racism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-Muslimism, anti-Semitism, etc.
When it’s expressed by family, it’s even more hurtful because it reveals a strain of fear and ignorance toward anyone - including you, a family member - who’s aligned (indeed, loves!) someone “different” or “foreign” in nature, and therefore potentially “dangerous.”
So let’s cut to the chase. Your boyfriend, an American citizen, is apparently being judged by your Canadian family for the views and behaviours of some of his country’s politicians and citizens.
In the United States, President Donald Trump made uninformed, misleading statements that the coronavirus would disappear quickly.
On January 22, he said in a TV interview: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.” In the following weeks, he continued to blame “foreigners.”
By late March, when some states like Florida finally issued lockdown orders, much of the American public doubted the need. They were more used to blame.
Yet, by May 14, the US - which dwarfs Canada in population numbers - had 1,443,946 coronavirus cases, 86,244 deaths and 312,513 recovered.
Canadians, by contrast, quickly accepted public health and political leaders’ orders, and observed social distance and self-quarantines starting several weeks prior to many Americans.
Now, with no vaccine widely available for perhaps 12 to 18 months, many Canadians want a closed border with their giant neighbour.
None of this can lay fault to you and your partner who only wish to be together.
IF the borders open (and they will, in time, due to trade and other economic factors), you’ll likely have to choose in which of the two countries to make your permanent residence.
Regretfully, some people may still display the ignorance of xenophobia. Asians in both Canada and the US have been experiencing this ever since the pandemic’s beginning.
With family, make a one-time plea that they end their hostility to Americans (Asians too, since hate is hate) or risk losing contact.
With others, walk away from ignorance… since it’s “upsetting” but not worse. If it becomes so, there’d be a case for going after a hate crime.
FEEDBACK Regarding an exhausted boyfriend’s distance as a front-line worker (May 13):
Reader – “My daughter’s a nurse. She’s worked in the Covid unit since the outbreak started. The staff’s overwhelmed, they don’t have enough PPE contrary to what the government says, she’s worried about catching or transferring the virus.
“When she goes home at night she’s only interested in food and sleep. She’s had a major panic attack over this crisis.
“The writer seems unsympathetic. These healthcare workers are human beings that have suddenly been turned into superheroes. They need support, not criticism.”
FEEDBACK Regarding having a Positive Attitude:
Reader – “To update you on our daughter (a 2012 letter) who at 18 chose a 48-year-old man, separated from his wife with three teenage boys, to be her boyfriend, which had us incredibly concerned:
“The advice we received from various sources, including you, was to stay calm, point out the age difference factors and be supportive.
“We did, and now the man is her common-law-husband and a friend to us.
“They have an eight-month-old child who’s adorable, cheerful and fun.
“Our daughter prefers a good and loving relationship for a shorter time-span than being with someone her own age, but miserable, possibly for many years.
“It’s her life, and up to her.”
Ellie - At a time of turmoil and fear for your daughter, you wisely chose acceptance and accommodation to her persistent desire: A committed partner, a child, a happy home.
Tip of the day:
When xenophobic statements come from a political leader, haters repeat it and the media must expose it.