It’s safe to say 2020 was not the year any of us were expecting, between the global pandemic, the whole world essentially shutting down, millions of people losing jobs, we have all been affected. But aside from those things, the lockdown really put relationships to the test, it either broke or helped them blossom.
On March 23, 2020, Boris Johnson imposed three major rules: the first required people to stay at home and only leave when necessary, such as for work (if an essential worker), food shopping, or daily exercise. The second involves closing certain businesses; except stores for food, or medicine and other vital establishments. The third being the halt of gatherings of more than two people in public.
When Johnson put these measures in place, the majority of us were under the impression it would last for no more than one month, and that we would soon be able to go back to our normal routines, although there have been at least two more lockdowns since then.
But what do these lockdowns mean for relationships? Relationships are an essential part of life, whether it is our relationships with family, friends, or partners.
“It’s also made me appreciate the smaller things in life.”
Some may have spent lockdown alone; others huddled in their homes with families, friends, or their partners. The unprecedented events that have been unfolding throughout 2020 have certainly raised alarming statistics regarding marriages in the US.
Whilst conflict in every relationship is very much real; it’s safe to say that Covid-19 has amplified these issues. With the divorce rates in the United States rising to 34% by April 2020 in comparison 11% a year earlier, there is no denying that many couples may have reached their breaking point.
Before lockdown in March, Tia Richardson was in a four-year relationship. She had worked throughout the restrictions as an essential worker in her job as a Housing Officer.
“Weirdly, the lockdown was the best thing that has happened to my relationship.”
“I was so caught up in my toxic relationship that I secluded myself from family and friends, for me lockdown has been a blessing in disguise as it made me realise that I have such good people around me and it has allowed me to create a closer bond with them.”
As many have seen on social media, millions of people have been using their newfound free time in lockdown to work on themselves, or to simply take a break from responsibilities.
During the peak of the first lockdown in April 2020, adults in the UK spent an average of just over four hours online, whether it was on social media, online messaging platforms, or streaming sites.
But other than staring at screens to occupy ourselves what else is there to do? Many, like Tia, have spent their free time trying to self reflect. According to research by Bradley Stats in call centres, individuals who spent 15 minutes at the end of their days reflecting on the lessons they have learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect. So how exactly does this affect our relationships, you wonder?
The inability to interact in person with our friends, to discuss our thoughts and to vent, definitely causes tension to rise. That being said, after speaking to a number of people about their relationships during the lockdown, it’s apparent that communication was the most vital.
“Lockdown made my life slow down, so I had more time in my own thoughts”
Mitchell isolated with his family, he claims that lockdown had made the relationships in his life “much stronger”, and said that when the stay at home rule was first introduced, he and his partner would constantly speak, via text messages or phone calls, and it had reached a breaking point at one moment.
“I just said it was too much so we tried a more laid back approach speaking and creating that space allowed us to explore who we are and what we enjoyed doing and it made us a lot happier,” Mitchell said.
When all that is said and done, talking is different from communicating. Communicating is about expressing our thoughts, our feelings. We all fall short of doing this sometimes but try it.
Sometimes even just talking to yourself in the mirror is good, don’t be afraid to say what you need to say.
Featured image by Taylor Hernandez on Unsplash.
Edited by Emil Brierley, Giuli Graziano and Jussi Grut