*SPOILER ALERT: If you are not up to date with The Walking Dead, please read at your own risk.
It’s the end of the world. Zombies are in abundance, lurking around every corner, looking for their next meal. Hey, look! There’s Lori and Shane from The Walking Dead having sex in the woods. Or maybe it’s Lori and Rick. Hell, I can’t keep up. My feelings for Lori aside, the point I’m trying to make is that intimacy continues to happen even in the direst of times.
But why, when the world is falling apart around you and death is knocking at your door, would intimacy and sex even cross your mind? During the zombie apocalypse, intimacy is extremely important to the health and well-being of any human, and you obtain a healthy well-being through socialization, support and love.
Socialization helps shape our personality through interactions with others and personal experiences. It also provides an outlet for stress via intimate relationships. We are social animals who crave acceptance and love from others, so connecting to people is at the core of a healthy existence. If we do not receive acceptance or love, we are likely to end up acting a lot like Shane, and no one wants that. Of course, socialization doesn't just apply to romantic relationships. Intimacy between any two people is crucial when dealing with stress and seeking comfort, especially when walkers are breathing down your neck.
Rick’s camp in The Walking Dead graphic novels by Robert Kirkman and AMC’s TV adaptation, as well as Katie’s fort in Rhiannon Frater's As the World Dies trilogy, are prime examples of the need for socialization in times of extreme desperation. Without interaction with other humans, it is very difficult to handle the insurmountable stress that is plaguing these characters’ psyche. Plus, walking through zombie-infested cities and forests are much easier when Daryl Dixon has got your back.
Support is another important aspect to a person’s well-being. We depend on other humans from the minute we are born, and need their assistance throughout our lives. Social support is a very valuable asset to us, and building those intimate relationships just comes naturally. We need to trust that someone will be there with a machete (or a samurai sword!) when a zombie is about to take a bite out of our arse. We need people to be honest about that time there was a zombie stuck in the mud, and they didn't kill it or tell anyone, and awww shit, Dale died! (I'm still pretty sore about that!). We also need to communicate! While non-verbal communication conveys a large part of our messages, it would be nice to know that your irritable, brooding, pissed-off gestures mean you're psychotic!
Katie and Jenni in Frater's As the World Dies trilogy are two very different women who band up during the zombie apocalypse. Their friendship is one I feel works beautifully because it is founded on support and acceptance that remains intact, regardless of how difficult and tragic their lives may be. While Jenni may lose her shit a time or two, these friends are always there for the other when zombies and other threats are near.
Lori, Rick, and Shane from The Walking Dead are a perfect example of the importance of support during the zombie apocalypse. In their case, it’s what not to do. Lori's sexcapade with Shane prior to Rick's arrival at the camp, Shane's slow decent into jealousy and madness (bad combo, people!), Lori's tight lips about her relationship with Shane, and that her unborn child might come out with red eyes or something equally freaky. All of these actions lack in the trust, honesty and communication department, which adds up to one hell of an intense love triangle that puts many people in danger. Yet that intimacy is still craved so much by the parties involved. At the end of a gory day, we still yearn for companionship.
Lastly, love and respect are at the core of who we are as humans, and these two concepts lead us to a very important point. If you lose respect for your fellow survivors, your humanity is likely to get tossed down the next zombie-infested well. Post-apocalyptic stories really bring out the best and worst of people, and it doesn't take long to figure out who has the fortitude to carry on during the end of days. Those who are less able to handle the WTFckery that has landed at their feet are more likely to turn on their fellow humans in the name of survival. Holding onto our humanity in dark times is of utmost importance, unless we lead our camp into the jaws of death, literally.
In the beginning of the Living with the Dead series by Jesse Petersen, Sarah and David are on the cusp of divorce. However, the zombie apocalypse does wonderful things for their marriage. They begin to communicate better (probably out of necessity), respect returns to the relationship, and the passion reignites. While their relationship isn't without struggle, these two bring their A-Game to their relationship and survival, every day.
Intimacy during the apocalypse sounds daunting, but in reality, humans would not survive these intense struggles alone. Sure, they might be able to fight off the zombie hordes more efficiently without worrying if little Carl still has all his appendages, but they would slowly wither away, emotionally.
Why do you think it is important to invest in relationships during the apocalypse? What characters have had success or continue to fall deeper into their grave?
Ash H, aka Smash, loves a good zombie book and firmly believes that a snarky personality is the best kind to have. Alcide Herveaux makes her weak in the knees, a fact she proudly flaunts. You can find her rambling about books at Smash Attack Reads or getting her (
hourly) Twitter fix.