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The impact of Coronavirus on relationships

This is a guest post written by Claire Stapley.

I didn’t really know where to start when I initially wrote this article, because I honestly think that ‘relationships’ fall into many categories.

Your relationship with your partner.

Your relationships with your friends.

Your relationships with your family.

Your relationships with your colleagues.

During this time, all of these have been tested in ways that we never would have imagined, and I think it’s important to talk about the positive impact that this has had for a lot of us, but also the negative side, too.

I’m 24, so not a guru in any of these areas, but I hope that some of the anecdotes throughout will make you laugh, can be related to, and in turn, shed light on the impact that Coronavirus has had on our relationships and our mental health, too.

Making the decision to quarantine with my boyfriend was a no-brainer for both of us (or so he tells me) as I’d just come back from travelling and couldn’t wait to be reunited. 

In all honesty, I thought the lockdown was going to last 5 weeks, tops. Never did I imagine that we’d still be in this situation.

They always say you never know someone until you live with them, and that couldn’t be more apparent after spending 24/7 with him for nearly three months straight.

If you’re reading this and you’ve quarantined with your boyfriend, just know that I’ve discovered what “The Gulag” is, and if you haven’t tried Call of Duty you can customize his gun when he’s not looking, and turn it into pink camouflage. 

I’ve also discovered that during arguments they are often over nothing, and it’s usually an indicator that we are spending too much time together, not that there’s anything wrong in the relationship. 

It’s completely fine during this time to experience extreme emotions if you’re with your partner 24/7, and to also talk about why you feel that way so you don’t run the risk of bubbling over.

Spending time alone, whether it’s going for a walk without them or reading a book, softens the intensity of the situation and gives you the “me time” you both need.

The same goes for your friendships. Now that we are constantly at home, and more often than not glued to a screen, there can be anxiety felt to reply immediately because, well, what else are you doing?

I was speaking with a friend about this the other day, and we both admitted that the reason that we take 3-5 business days to reply to each other on occasion is because trying to be connected constantly to friends can feel forced – and it’s okay if you don’t want to join a Zoom quiz because you’d rather binge-watch Normal People

The point that I’m trying to make is that we are used to feeling connected to our family, friends, colleagues and partners because we could see them, hug them, go out for dinner with them and celebrate wins in the office.

Trying to replicate that virtually on a day-to-day basis does have an impact, and if it feels exhausting and you need time to yourself (ironic when you’re isolated) then that’s absolutely fine. 

Social media can also impact your relationships during this time, and I’d be lying if I said Instagram filled me with joy and laughter every time I opened it.

Why is Sally from yoga* learning Mandarin and posting it on her story, and I’m in bed eating my tenth biscuit and crying over a cat video? Does that mean as friends we have nothing in common anymore?

We all have these thoughts of what we should be doing, and how this situation has put us in a bizarre position with those we are used to being connected with; there can be a feeling of disconnect if you rely on social media as a tool to see how people are.

Sally from yoga is not superior to me, and vice versa. It’s a heightened situation that we are all in, and it’s important to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel the way that you feel. Here are the three things that have helped me when it comes to my relationships during this time:

  • Communicating the good, the bad and the ugly really does help (we are all in this together after all)
  • Having ‘me time’ works wonders
  • Social media is not real life, so try to not use it as an indicator of how you feel about yourself, or your relationships

Finally, try to be kind to yourself… Relationships during this time are hard, friendships can feel strained, and work can feel overwhelming. A little communication and time to reflect on how you’re feeling can soften the impact, and hopefully – make you feel better.

Sanctus x

*I haven’t done yoga since I was at university, but it sounded good as an anecdote