Since the spread of COVID-19 has resulted into a world wide pandemic and lockdowns across the country, increased levels of anxiety, depression, stress are impacting even the strongest romantic relationships. While the majority of individuals in romantic relationships express not having enough time to spend with their loved ones, no one was prepared for this kind of continuous, close-quartered living. While many couples are used to either having opposite schedules or both individuals being out of the house and coming home at different times to spend a few hours together before bed, this current situations leaves little space for time apart as individuals. COVID-19 self-quarantining means 24 hour exposure to your significant other, which is enough to drive even the happiest couples up the wall.
Make Up or Break Up During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all, causing widespread fear and uncertainty, both now and for the future. While questions remain about when life will return back to normal, there are also questions about how intimate couples are dealing with this new found stress in addition to relationship stress. The compounding of these unprecedented and unanticipated challenges on top of everyday relationship struggles can be difficult to navigate. Whether a couple lives separately or together, the current crisis doubtlessly changes the dynamics of the relationship.
It takes two people to make or break a relationship. This means recognizing differences in communication style, stress management, emotional needs, and how to support one another during these trying times. The stress of adjusting to this new normal and pandemic-related anxiety are bound to test any couple’s boundaries and connection. This may cause increased sensitivity and tension within the relationship, causing more arguments and disagreements. Left unaddressed and without the right skills for processing issues together, these factors can ultimately lead to major blowouts or even the end of a romantic relationship. Safeguarding your relationship and prioritizing the connection between you and your partner can be vital during these already uncertain times.
Social Distancing in Relationships
For couples who do not live together, social distancing can take a significant toll on a relationship. Beyond adapting to new norms for working from home or gaining access to essentials, social distancing and self-quarantining during this pandemic forces one to find new ways to communicate and connect with the people we love. Inability to cope with this strain can spell disaster for romantic relationships.
Within the last week, I have had to provide a friend with continuous support as she copes with a break up during the quarantine. My friend and her significant other were already struggling to get quality time together due to his status as an essential worker and her fear of getting ill. Social distancing and the COVID-19 lockdowns greatly impacted their usual routine of using outdoor activities as a means to bond. Ultimately, he decided to put an end to their relationship because his feelings changed, ind addition to an increase in work-related stress. While this has been a significantly difficult time for my friend, it serves as a reminder of the importance of having a strong and solid foundation within a relationship during challenging times.
Foundations of a Relationship
Unease and anxiety during this pandemic may highlight other areas of uncertainty in ones life, bringing up questions and feelings of unrest. When applied to a romantic relationship, emotional instability can put any bond to the test. This is why having a strong and solid foundation within a relationship is extremely important. Building a foundation in a relationship is not easy and it takes hard work and dedication in order to have a healthy and thriving relationship. So what are the key foundations within a relationship that make it successful and long lasting? Listed below are the core foundations of real love and true intimacy provided by Dr. Gary Brown, PHD, LMFT, FAPA:
Navigating a Break Up During the COVID-19 Pandemic:
Break ups are never easy to go through. No matter how it happens, it is an emotionally taxing experience. The most effective tips for coping with a break up during social distancing include:
- Acknowledge the pain
- Use your time wisely
- Lean into your work and healthy activities as a distraction
- Reach out to social support
- Recognize that this gives you an opportunity to make a clean break
If you are having a tough time in your relationship right now, or experiencing a break up of your own, know you are not alone. Support and resources for how to cope are available, including counseling online or by phone.