We’re closing in on a year of living with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Did you ever think you’d have this many adjustments in your life — the way you live, work, play and go to school? Let alone the places you can go.
We’ve all made adjustments. And, now that there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, it will be interesting to see how many of these trends will continue.
Some areas of our lives have improved, and some have declined. While this is subjective in many cases, there have been surveys that measure the impact of all these changes.
How’s it working for you?
One survey that caught my eye was a sample of 1,287 respondents, conducted by Verywell Mind, that examines ways in which the pandemic has affected primary relationships. The survey found that the pandemic has made relationships better for 27 percent of its respondents, and worse for an equal proportion.
Spending more time together as a result of remote working, remote schooling — and limitations on going places in general — has put a spotlight on both the strengths and weaknesses of primary relationships.
Meanwhile, single folks have been forced to choose between navigating the murky waters of dating during the time of COVID-19, or riding it out on their own, according to writer Joni Sweet in an analysis of the survey results.
A whopping 84 percent of those who have gone on dates say the pandemic has made the experience more difficult.
“Due to the pandemic, some couples are experiencing increased anxiety — which has the capacity to shape and strain a relationship, regardless of the foundation of love, respect and ideals,” explains Dr. Leela R. Magavi. “Anxiety can manifest as irritability and anger. As a result, some couples are arguing more.”
The survey found that 20% of people experienced mental health issues while living with their partner during the pandemic. Others have struggled with financial stress, family-related issues and more.
On the flip side, some couples are finding that the pandemic has brought them closer, explains licensed social worker Amy Morin.
“The pandemic may help them spend more time together, which could be an opportunity to get to know one another better,” says Morin. “Some couples might be learning new things about each other as they work from home. They may see a professional side to their partner that they’ve never seen before.”
One couple in the study cited that it’s been a positive experience to “exist in their own little world.” They noted they’ve been able to establish new routines and new little traditions — like taking a walk every day and making and eating lunch together.
Dealing with boredom
For many respondents in the study — 40% — the most frequently cited concern was running out of things to do. “It’s not surprising that boredom is causing a lot of strain on relationships,” says Morin.
“Novelty is one of the key components of a good relationship,” continued Morin. “Without being able to venture out, meet people and see new sights, many relationships may feel stagnant.”
Managing too much together time
A lack of solitude was the second biggest issue cited by respondents in the study. “Alone time is a key component to good psychological well-being,” explains Morin.
Couples who are together all the time may miss activities they enjoyed doing alone, such as reading, journaling, watching a certain TV show — or just getting away.
Carving out alone time has been especially tricky for one couple, cited by Sweet in her analysis. Rubio and Li share a one-bedroom apartment. They say solo exercise routines have been key to finding a bit of breathing room while living in close quarters.
“I think each of us having a dedicated workout time most days creates a beneficially talk-free space,” says Rubio. “Alex will work out during lunch, and I’m in the morning or right after I close up work.”
If you’ve felt that being cooped up at home with a partner for nearly a year has been a challenge, you’re not alone, explains Sweet. Dealing with boredom — and too much together time — can both impact your love life.
Experts note that keeping open lines of communication, carving out some sacred solitude time and trying new hobbies can strengthen relationships, particularly in pandemic times.
You may have already gone through these issues in a trial-and-error type of way. Let’s face it ... this pandemic did not come with a handbook. In the coming months you’ll likely have more choices about the way you live your life.
These choices will present themselves gradually. It won’t be like flipping a switch. We didn’t get here overnight, and things won’t change overnight.
You may want to do a little advance planning as to how you’ll “reemerge” when more choices become available. We’ve all learned a lot during this pandemic, and it would be a shame not to apply those lessons.
Chances are, you’ll be better for it — more discerning about how you choose to spend your life’s energy.