Shelby Sells (Interview)

Illustration by Sam Liacos.

Sex and Relationship Coach on the importance of touch and letting go during these times.

What have you seen most single people struggle with during these times? 
In my experience, single people have been struggling without the contact or prospect of a partner. Being single during a global pandemic can be lonely, and seeing how this is new territory for everyone, it’s important to be gentle with yourself when navigating this space. Journaling is a great exercise to process all of the thoughts and feelings that arise during this time. Reach out to a trusted friend and ask if they’re available to talk. Download dating apps, if you feel comfortable, and practice getting to know someone. Make a love list entailing what you want out of your next relationship and start manifesting.

 If it’s not genuine, and will stir up painful feelings, don’t text your ex.

Shelby Sells

What are your thoughts on the thinking behind wanting to reach out to a past lover during these times? 
It depends on the intention behind reaching out. If it’s not genuine, and will stir up painful feelings, don’t text your ex.

Touch..what is touch even nowadays? (Joking) What are your thoughts on how the definition and significance behind touch has changed?
Touch is so important. In my opinion it’s always been important and will continue to be important to human health and connection. Oxytocin aka the “cuddle hormone” is released when people get close physically or bond socially. Benefits of touch include lower stress, lower blood pressure, relieves physical pain, relieves cold symptoms, creates intimacy with your partner, and helps you sleep. If you’re single, don’t fret, cuddling with a pet or even a body pillow can elicit similar benefits as cuddling with a human. Make sure all cuddling is consensual.

It’s always valid to feel lonely, but when do you act on it? How do you deal with it?
Loneliness is 100% valid and it manifests itself differently in each person. In my opinion, acknowledging the feeling [of loneliness] brings a certain amount of relief. Feelings are usually a signal to alert us of a need or value that’s not being recognized. Instead of ignoring the loneliness, what would it look like to engage with it and hear what it has to say? If you’re feeling especially lonely, try reaching out to a close friend, family member, or mental health professional like a therapist or life coach. Fill up your cup by showing yourself some extra love (face mask, hot bath/shower, long walk, etc.)    

We’ve had time to think about ourselves for ourselves, leading us to want to let go, and for some let go of people. Is it smart to let go of someone during this time? What are the steps you’d suggest to take to do so and to do after?
Letting go is an awesome part of healing and moving on. Have you seen the mango meme? “If he’s wasting your time, let that (insert picture of mango) MAN GO.” Please feel free to insert any gender or connection here, it doesn’t have to be romantic.

Letting go of people, things, or habits that hold you back ultimately help you align with yourself and your purpose. Steps I recommend to move forward are: setting boundaries (and sticking to them!), creating space to process and heal, and if you’re up to it – writing down what or who you want to let go of and burning it in a safe, ceremonial setting. Remember, when one door closes, another one opens!

What self-revelations about love or dating have you seen arise?
I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems like the time spent in quarantine has been reflective for a lot of people. This space has given folks the opportunity to figure out what they really want in life and out of their relationships. Clarity is powerful.

Do you have any recommendations for finding new coping mechanisms when you can’t do what you’d normally do?
Try on a new perspective to look at the core issue another way. Where is there room for possibility? Experiment with healthy coping mechanisms and grounding techniques. Research and get curious. Everything is temporary. 

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