COVID-19 completely turned life upside down for many of us. Social distancing mandates, closed businesses, and other precautions have changed the way we work and socialize. Even simple activities like going to the grocery store look much different now than they did a year ago.
This new way of life has had a major impact on all types of relationships. The way you interact with your friends, family, coworkers, roommates, and romantic partners may now be entirely different. As COVID-19 continues to unfold, we can see the effects of lockdown and social distancing on our connections with others.
Staying Home Brings Us Closer Together and Farther Apart
Social distancing is a critical precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. To keep ourselves and others in our community safe, we’ve been advised to stay home as much as possible. When we do have to go out, we should keep at least six feet of distance between ourselves and others.
Staying at home and socially distancing has brought some people closer together and pushed others farther apart. You’re probably spending much more time now with those you live with and much less time with friends, partners, or coworkers.
Some people have felt closer to the people they live with as they navigate this crisis together. Others have struggled to spend all or most of their time with people they may not see eye-to-eye with. It’s easier to be forgiving of a roommate’s quirks when you aren’t around them 24/7. Now, many people have had to face interpersonal conflicts that they used to be able to avoid.
It may have been challenging for you to lose contact with friends or family members that you don’t live with. Phone calls and video chatting are good opportunities for social interaction, but they aren’t the same as spending time in the physical presence of a loved one.
You may also be missing your interactions with coworkers, classmates, or other acquaintances while you work or study from home. You might not be close enough with these individuals to chat with them on the phone, but if you used to see them every day, missing out on the casual conversations with them can be tough. Humans are social beings, and the lack of contact with others can be painful.
The Effects of COVID-19 on Marriages and Partnerships
While all types of relationships have been impacted by COVID-19 and social distancing, the pandemic has been an especially big challenge in romantic relationships. Whether you’re casually dating or married, you may have seen a shift in your relationship dynamic in the last few months.
In the early stages of a partnership, lockdown and social distancing can make it difficult to maintain the connection and communication. Your options for date locations are severely limited. Even if you and your partner meet up for a walk in the park, you have to stay separated and avoid physical contact. These restrictions may have caused you to lose some momentum in a new relationship.
You may face the opposite challenge if you’re living with your partner. Too much time together can be stressful when you’re not used to it. If both of you are now working from home, you have to figure out how to manage your time and space.
Disagreements on how to handle the pandemic and the new restrictions can be a source of stress as well. Some people are more worried about social distancing and staying home than others. COVID-19 is one of the biggest worldwide crises most people have ever experienced, so differing opinions can turn into a major conflict.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 seems to have taken its toll on some marriages. The Chinese city Xi’an saw a dramatic increase in divorce requests in March as the marriage registration offices reopened. Spouses cited stress from finances, job loss, working from home, and teaching their children from home as reasons for filing for divorce.
Lockdown can have an impact on your mental health in general. A research review found that quarantine leads to negative psychological effects like frustration, boredom, anger, and post-traumatic stress. Whenever your mental or emotional health wavers, it can have an effect on your relationship. It’s hard to offer emotional support to your partner when you’re struggling. If you or your partner feel anxious or on edge, you may lash out at each other more often than usual.
On the other hand, lockdown could be an opportunity for your relationship to thrive. Some people have never felt more secure and supported in their partnership than they do right now. Keep in mind that our world is currently in a crisis, and everybody responds to crises differently.
How to Maintain Healthy Relationships During the Pandemic
No matter the state of the world, communication is the key to healthy relationships. Make your best effort to communicate with your friends, family, and partner during this time. This can include texting, talking on the phone, video chatting, or any other safe form of connection you can find. It takes a lot of effort to reach out to loved ones when you don’t see them regularly, but you’ll feel better after talking with the people you care about.
It’s also important to establish and respect boundaries with those you live with. When you’re home all the time, your relationships with roommates, family members, or your partner can become strained. Understand what you need for alone time and personal space in order to stay mentally well. Communicate those needs with the people in your home, and respect their boundaries, too.
If you live with your partner, find special moments to share at home. Being around your partner 24/7 isn’t the same as spending quality time together. Try to make time for an at-home date night where you cook a nice dinner and watch a movie or play a game. Do something outside of your normal routine that feels special.
Now is a great time to find a hobby to share with the people you live with. Cooking, gardening, art, or other activities can be a fun way to bond while also learning something new and enriching. Finding ways to enjoy your time at home is valuable for your mental health, and it can be an opportunity to spend quality time with your partner, roommate, or family.
COVID-19 has changed daily life in a number of ways, including our interactions with others. If you’ve struggled to maintain contact with friends or are feeling frustrated with those you live with, you’re not alone. Many people have found that the pandemic has impacted their relationships. Do your best to keep an open line of communication with your loved ones, and remember that this won’t last forever.
If you’re concerned about the effect COVID-19 has had on your mental health or relationships, consider seeking support from a therapist. Both individual and relationship counseling can be great opportunities to work through your struggles and gain coping skills. To connect with a therapist in Beverly Hills CA, contact us today.