New research from leading relationships charity Relate and online dating website eharmony has explored how lockdown is affecting our relationships and it seems this unique period is bringing many couples closer together.
Using direct insight from counsellor focus groups combined with survey research, the findings reveal how couples and singles are coping against the backdrop of a pandemic, and how things look set to change once lockdown is fully lifted.
A key finding of the research relates to how the pandemic has affected the relationships of couples newly living together. It seems these strange and testing times are making new relationships stronger, so much so that the term ‘turbo relationship’ has been coined to express how feelings of closeness are being accelerated.
Navigating lockdown as a pair has made close to two-thirds (63%) say their relationship feels stronger, and over half (58%) now know they want to be with their partner forever.
Coined ‘turbo relationships’, over a third (36%) agree that two months in isolation feels equivalent to two years of commitment, and the same amount (36%) say they’ve reached common relationship milestones, such as moving in together, quicker. This acceleration has also led to more sex (23%), better communication (28%) and the opportunity to discover new, shared passions (18%).
But why is that the case?
“In wider periods of societal unrest, couples often pull together”, explains Relate Counsellor, Peter Saddington. “The combination of more time spent together, heightened anxiety levels and the removal of common routines – like seeing friends – is an intense mix. And, whilst many of the consequences of these turbo relationships are encouraging, people must remember we are living through a unique set of circumstances. If your relationship doesn’t continue at the same pace or feelings lessen post-lockdown, that doesn’t spell disaster. Communication is vital to allow couples to navigate what feels right when normal life resumes.”
It's not just these new ‘turbo relationships’ which are growing stronger. The research also measured the pandemic’s impact on longer-term love and found positive statistics.
Close to half (42%) of all couples have welcomed the ‘quality time’ it’s allowed. Over a third (36%) now feel more grateful for their partner, and one in seven (15%) have seen a more caring side to them.
However, that’s not to say that’s the case for everyone. Sadly, one in seven couples (14%) say that lockdown has made them realise that their relationship is over, while 4% of people uncovered a virtual affair and 3% uncovered an affair in real life.
When looking at the reasons behind arguments, children (11%), finances (10%) and mismatched opinions on lockdown rules (9%) were revealed as the top three sources of tension. Mismatched sex drives was another concern. with men more likely to cite this as a negative consequence of lockdown (9% of men compared with 6% of women).
Single life and sex
When it comes to single people, loneliness was the biggest reported negative issue in lockdown, with two in five (40%) feeling this way. Over a third (35%) also agree that isolation has had a negative impact on their overall mental health.
Time alone has afforded singles some positives, though. Four in ten (39%) believe they’ve been able to reclaim their own time and, remarkably, over a quarter (29%) think lockdown has made them realise they are happier alone. One in five (21%) feel more in tune with their sexuality.
Sex is certainly on the mind for some and has been a topic of conversation in Relate counselling sessions. Seven percent (7%) admit breaking lockdown rules to meet an ex for sex. And, over one in ten singles (13%) have plans for a ‘hook up’ as soon as the rules are relaxed, with men much more focused on this aspect of single life (20%) than women (5%).
While drinks at the pub are currently off the cards as a first date option, people are still pursuing their search for romantic love online. eharmony reports its sign-ups were 50% higher across April and May than they had been in the previous year. Over that same initial lockdown period, communication rates online at eharmony were a third higher than average.
eharmony relationship expert Rachael Lloyd said of the findings: “Make no mistake, we are living in historic times, with a pandemic and the resulting lockdown having a profound impact on the way we live and love. Relationships have been seriously tested, as have many friendships. It’s not usual for a couple or singles to exist physically cut off from the wider community, we rely on a range of supportive bonds to process experiences and emotions. In this context, I’m delighted to see more than half of couples (59%) feel closer than ever. However, it’s also not surprising that around 17% say they’ve decided to move on.”
Relate Counsellor, Peter Saddington, added: “In our now virtual counselling sessions we’re hearing how increased pressure around finances and the stress of juggling work and home schooling is taking its toll on some relationships. Disagreements about lockdown rules are common across the board no matter how long a couple has been together, and loneliness has been a key issue for single people. If, like some respondents, you’ve uncovered an affair during lockdown then that’s a lot to deal with, particularly if you’re still living with your partner. We’d urge anyone experiencing relationship issues during lockdown to consider webcam or telephone counselling. You can attend on your own or as a couple and many people say they’re finding it easier to open up in the comfort of their own homes.”
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
In need of some positivity? Get delicious recipe ideas, uplifting lifestyle news, and fashion and beauty tips. Make the most of your time at home and enjoy Good Housekeeping delivered directly to your door every month!
You Might Also Like