Married, dating or single, the coronavirus with no doubt had and is still having an impact on your relationship. The social distancing rules enforced during the pandemic have seen couples spending long periods of time together, often in close quarters. It is therefore worth looking into whether the impact is : for better or worse?
Accounts from across the world show us not all couples have adjusted well. China reported an increase in the number of married couples filing for divorce. Worryingly, incidents of domestic abuse may also have increased.
Lengthy periods of close contact may have acted as a stressor which intensified negative relationship behaviours and dissatisfaction, particularly for people with existing personal vulnerabilities.
In the recent past, have been surveying a good number of adults of all ages, to gather data on sex and relationships in the age of COVID-19. Let's face it. From something as simple as getting groceries to something as meaningful as getting married, COVID-19 changed human interaction.
The survey took a close look at how the lockdown impacted people's romantic relationships. It found for some, love during lockdown can be difficult. Yes there are some people who are really struggling in their marriages and their relationships right now. Stress is getting to them and their partner, maybe seeing too much of each other."
Interestingly, the majority, 75% of people surveyed saw something positive during the pandemic: communication with their partner improved. Despite all the stress, a lot of people were turning to their partners to talk about the things that they're stressed about, to talk about what they hope to do several months from now, sharing vulnerabilities with their partners that perhaps they hadn't been.
Remember the theory about a baby boom after lockdown? That may not happen. The study found our sex lives stalled during lockdown, perhaps due to challenges with movement. Those that had no challenges meeting, though reported getting adventurous. People were trying new things in their sexual lives. A lot of that was people talking to their partners about sexual fantasies. They'd never had that conversation before.
Then there's this eye opener: 20% people say they reached out to an ex during lockdown. Some people said it's because they were worried about their former partner that they still had connections with. Some said that they were interested in initiating maybe a romantic or sexual relationship with them.
For singles, the study found COVID-19 created high rates of loneliness and worry and more use of dating apps to make a connection. They're engaging in more messaging and more thoughtful interaction on those apps so looking at people's profiles.
Intimacy, even with social distancing, is still happening. This is evidence that we crave connection - in sickness and in health. It's an opportunity for us. Despite how scary it is right now for so many people, it's an opportunity for us to think seriously about the importance of love relationships in our lives.
In conclusion, people in loving and supportive relationships are likely to cope more effectively with the enforcement and relaxation of social distancing guidelines (and other challenges, whether related to the pandemic or not).
These are typically couples who constructively deal with conflict by working together towards solving issues, take on each others’ perspectives, and respond sensitively when the other is feeling stressed.
That’s not to say these couples never argue and don’t sometimes get frustrated with one another. But their adaptive ways of communicating and supporting each other mean these couples are likely to fare better.