Have lockdowns really 'added years' to couples' relationships?
The pandemic has stripped away date nights, holidays and new experiences for couples.
What’s left (the staying in, the Netflix dinners and the repetitive routines) can sometimes resemble middle-aged married life.
A new mathematical formula estimates that couples have added the equivalent of more than three years to their relationships since lockdown began – a number that was calculated by taking into account the sheer amount of time spent together and the boredom.
So what do couples think? Has the pandemic added ‘years’ to their relationship and is this necessarily a bad thing?
Alex Hickson, who has been with his boyfriend for 18 months, says that the pandemic has certainly sped things along.
He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I’d definitely say my relationship has moved quicker as a result of lockdown.
‘My boyfriend and I met in August 2019, decided to move in together at the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020 and have just had an offer accepted on a house together – and are talking about marriage.’
Alex, a digital PR strategist, says the sheer amount of time the pair have spent together over the past 12 months has got them planning for the future.
‘I think spending time together day-in-day-out sped the process up,’ Alex says. It was clear we had the same ambitions and goals together and I’d say our relationship has thrived through this forced lockdown whereas I know other relationships have suffered.
‘We definitely have a “if we can survive this, we can survive anything” attitude and, without being too soppy, it’s cemented the fact we want to spend the rest of our lives together.’
Similarly, journalist Natalie explains that the events of the past year have made her and her boyfriend feel like they can tackle anything in future – whatever it throws at them.
She says: ‘My boyfriend and I had already been together a long time before the pandemic – but now it really feels like we have genuinely always been together. We are approaching our second anniversary of lockdown (this will be nine years) – but it feels like we have lived a lifetime together over the past 365 days.
‘This year we have coped with family tragedy and bereavement, uncertainty around work and isolation from our friends and family – and all that pain has brought us so much closer.’
Natalie feels like it’s added years onto her relationship – but in the best way.
She adds: ‘I feel like we have experienced about five year’s worth of heartache since lockdown began and that has 100% accelerated things for us. I feel like we are now a wise old married couple who can get through literally anything.
‘We already rent a flat together, but we are now in the process of buying our first place – I think this year has made us both ready for that next step sooner than we expected.’
Before the pandemic, Claudia Colvin, founder of Nobody’s Watching, was in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend Ghent. But the pair decided to move in together in London, last September.
She tells us: ‘He really missed his colleagues and family in Belgium and we started talking about what to do and where to live in future.
‘It was all very uncertain but one thing we knew was that regardless of where we lived, we wanted to be together.’
Then Claudia received an unexpected surprise.
‘That’s when the spontaneous proposal happened,’ she says. ‘He didn’t have a ring so he drew one with a sharpie.’
Now the couple are living in Belgium.
Claudia adds: ‘We certainly wouldn’t have moved to Belgium or got engaged without lockdown. We saw these things as further along the line.’
Couples with children also feel like lockdown has aged their relationships.
Cecile, from the blog The Frenchie Mummy, says various lockdowns have made her relationship stronger than ever before.
She says: ‘It has been an eye-opener on how well we complete each other
despite being so different in so many ways. I know more than ever that
my partner is my rock and we are stronger together. I suppose with the
extra pressure that homeschooling brought to us while working from home,
we developed the concept of teamwork more than ever.
‘Being 24/7 together in the same house with our son, who is five, has really strengthened our relationship.
‘It has definitely added years onto our relationship because, in a
way, it feels like we have been through so much together in such a short
period of time.’
While we might be quick to assume that ‘adding years’ onto a relationship is a bad thing (because of the loss of that exciting spark), most couples are actually happy about the maturity and closeness it has brought them.
What’s more, it looks like the pandemic has made more singles keen to settle down with a partner, rather than just have hook-ups in future.
It’s clear these are just a handful of ways that coronavirus has changed the world of sex and relationships.
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