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Navigating new relationships during a pandemic

Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK
01 September 2020
For those looking for love, dating will have been very different this year. And now that lockdown has eased, it could be both a tricky and great time for new couples. Here I explore what impact love in lockdown has had on new relationships and how to navigate the new world we live in.

Some research has found that the pandemic has affected new relationships in lots of ways, many of them positive.

Turbo relationships

For example, many couples moved in together when lockdown was announced. These relationships have been labelled ‘turbo relationships’. This is because couples have reached common relationship milestones much quicker – like moving in together or meeting the family via video call. Milestones that may have normally happened within months or sometimes years have happened in a matter of weeks and short months.

Commitment

A report from Relate and eHarmony found that over a third of people recently living together said that two months felt more like two years of commitment. And nearly 60 per cent said they felt more committed to their partner than ever.

When a crisis hits, it’s natural for people to seek comfort in one another. That, combined with the shared anxiety, uncertainty, and the lack of usual routines like seeing friends, meant couples became closer more quickly. Many say the increase in pace and going through a pandemic has made them reassess what they want from a relationship. Some also say that lockdown has meant they’ve gotten to know their new partner in a completely new and different way.

Romance

For many, this scenario feels very romantic. For example, lots of people have commented on Twitter what a great novel or film this setup would make. But while it might be romantic for some, it may mean you’ve run into a new relationship much faster than you’d intended or even wanted.

What now?

Once the initial romance has worn off you may be seeing signs that need attention. For example, are you bickering a lot, often over little things? You might have realised you don’t have as many shared interests, or that you have some different values and beliefs. These things don’t mean that your relationship isn’t happy and healthy. But now is a good time to think about how to move forward and protect what you’ve built together.

Five tips on moving forward

Slow things down

Now that lockdown has eased, you can change the pace of things. Remember there’s so much to find out about your partner, which is exciting. See if you can find ways to slow things down so that you can enjoy the parts of being in a new relationship that you may have skipped.

Start re-dating your partner

One of the fun things about being in a new relationship is that sense of mystery about someone you want to get to know. So, go out on some dates and get to know one another. One of you could arrange a surprise date for the other and vice versa. It could be a picnic in the park, dinner at your favourite restaurant, an exhibition or movie night at home. Whatever you do, be creative and importantly, have some fun.

Give yourself opportunities to miss each other again

If you’ve been living in each other’s pockets over lockdown, you now have more opportunity to go out separately and give each other chance to miss one another. Many couples have been working from home together too. So there might not be a whole lot to fill each other in on when it gets to the end of the day! Refocus on the activities you like to do by yourself or with friends (following social distancing rules) and spend some healthy time apart.

Remember to readjust

Going from being together 24/7 to then seeing friends and doing things without each other can feel strange. It might even make you feel anxious. It’s important to recognise that it’s natural to feel like that, but it’s normal – and healthy – to do your own thing sometimes. So give yourself some time to adjust and accept any difficult feelings as you head out into the world a little more.

Communicate

And with all relationships, communication is key. Talk to each other and listen to one another’s points of view. Keep communicating as you navigate through this together, as a couple.

Caroline Harper
Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK

    • Lockdown creates a wave of 'Turbo Relationships', with new couples quicker to commit. Relate. www.relate.org.uk, published 24 June 2020

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