Lockdown has impacted every single aspect of our lives, but one aspect that has been overlooked by many is our romantic relationships.
Measures are in place to allow certain people the ability to form “social bubbles”, people who live alone can form a bubble with another household and people with young children can form bubbles for childcare purposes, but there has never been any option for couples that live apart to be included in this.
Unless you live with your partner, or one of you lives alone, many of us have been overlooked.
Months on end apart has left many couples severely affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Some relationships have blossomed, and some have come to an abrupt end.
Me and my boyfriend have been together for over four years now. We don’t live together, and we don’t live near each other, so we couldn’t form a bubble and we couldn’t go for socially distanced walks as it would mean one of us leaving our local area, which isn’t permitted under current COVID restrictions.
During the first lockdown arguments began happening and eventually they were near enough every day, it was becoming too much for both of us.
As we entered our third lockdown the effects of the first one were still lingering and we were both nervous we would end up in a similar position, so we made the somewhat controversial decision to see each other and go on socially distanced walks.
Leaving our local areas meant we were breaking the rules but after the huge negative impact on our relationship in the first lockdown, we felt we had no other choice.
Lockdown was always going to negatively impact our relationship because neither of us wanted to be apart but having that time away from each other has taught us how much we value our relationship and our time together.
Sarah, 36, found herself in a similar position with her boyfriend.
“I met my boyfriend a year ago right at the start of the first lockdown, so the pandemic-life is all we’ve known as a couple. But I personally have found this latest lockdown by far the hardest and having to go weeks without seeing him definitely made my mental health considerably worse.
“We decided to break the travel ban during this lockdown, I think it was after about four or five weeks. We live about 100 miles from each other, although he lives alone so we could bubble.”
Results from Google trend data show that not everyone is willing to stick it out with searches for “How to break up with someone” increasing by 9.900% and “Breakup in lockdown” increasing by 3500%.
Relationship therapist Zoe Williams at GearHungry says: “Arguing in lockdown is inevitable, but not necessarily unhealthy. I encourage anyone who is consistently arguing to establish what is necessary arguing and what is unnecessary.
“What means something to you and what doesn’t? What are you willing to negotiate on and what are you unwilling to compromise on? When you determine this, you argue less. In other words, you choose your battles.”
Lockdown has been hard on everyone’s relationships, but particularly for those who are shielding. For many it’s a matter of life or death, so breaking the rules isn’t even an option.
Anthony, 22, has been shielding since the pandemic began, having only a few months of freedom last summer.
“I started speaking to someone a couple of weeks before lockdown, but my shielding started before it had chance to move into anything serious.
“When cases were reduced and the shielding period ended in summer we were still speaking, so began to meet up at pubs and gardens.
“I started shielding again in September, and bar a couple of garden meet-ups on Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day we haven’t seen each other since.”
It’s easy to focus on the negatives of lockdown and its never-ending effects on our relationships, but there are some happy endings out there.
Jordan, 25, met her best friend on Tinder, shortly after she began seriously dating someone else, yet within this time her best friend, Theo, had fallen in love with her. After splitting with her partner, it became clear to her how much she loved Theo.
“Not being able to see him changed everything. I told him so, and as restrictions lifted, we started to see each other.
“I moved in at the start of the second lockdown in November and our house is full of love and laughter, wine and words.”
Keeping the spark alive in lockdown can be a real challenge, especially for couples that enjoy date nights together. Let’sDate Crate have made the perfect solution.
Keenan and Anat have been together for 10 years and realised early on in the pandemic they were both about to lose their jobs. With the help of their savings, they founded Let’sDate Crate. Their “fun and flirty” date night boxes allow couples to have a date night from home and make special memories together.
You have a choice of 90s Rewind to teleport back to your younger years or Tropical Staycation to experience an island retreat from home.
Each box retails for £59.99 each and can be found at Let’sDate Crate.
Lockdown feels like a never-ending nightmare for most people, whether you’re in a relationship or not, but this won’t last forever and we will get through this, together.
*Some names have been changed to preserve anonymity at the request of interviewees