The Perfect Storm: The Impact the Pandemic Has Had on Relationships

Romantic couple at the bar staring at each other's eyes

For couples everywhere, the pandemic has proved to be a huge challenge. During the past year and a half, our lives have been turned upside down. It’s no surprise, therefore, that our love lives have also been seriously impacted by the state of the world. Love and dating during the pandemic have meant different things for everyone. For many, the pandemic turbo-charged their relationship and nudged them towards taking big steps forward (such as taking the plunge and moving in with a new partner over lockdown). For others, it has made them question their relationship entirely. 

As things slowly begin to return to normal (or at least a version of normal), some relationships are sure to face some of the biggest challenges yet. And with an anticipated influx of breakups and divorces, how can you know when forever really means forever? 

What has the pandemic done to relationships?

For new couples everywhere, lockdown signalled a moment of ‘make or break’, and while some couples called it quits, others went all in. Many couples saw their relationship progress at an accelerated speed over the pandemic. Lockdowns and restrictions encouraged many new couples to get to know each other much more quickly. This nudged them to embrace relationship milestones like proposing or moving in together more rapidly. One study by eharmony and Relate found that, for over a third of people living with a new partner in lockdown, two months together felt like the equivalent of two years of commitment. 

Despite this large proportion of turbo relationships, many well-established couples were experiencing the opposite effect. For some, lockdowns and social isolation resulted in high levels of stress. Spending so much time together in such an intense environment made many people question what they wanted in a relationship. This uncertainty is reflected in the surging divorce statistics of 2020. One British law firm, Stewarts, saw a 122 per cent  increase in divorce enquiries between July and October last year. This spike in divorce applications has also been noted in other countries that endured tight lockdowns, such as China. 

The conditions of the pandemic have been the perfect storm when it comes to relationships. One way or another, couples everywhere have had to adapt. Even those turbo couples from the beginning of lockdown are now facing new challenges as things begin to return to normal. Because of this, many believe that a ‘breakup influx’ could be on the horizon. After all, the world is becoming a different place to the lockdown environment in which some relationships flourished.

Rebooting your relationship 

Although it sounds a bit ‘doom and gloom’, these big relationship challenges aren’t necessarily a bad thing. While some couples have decided they want different things, others have become closer together than ever before during the pandemic. As for those that have decided to separate, it isn’t all negative. There is certainly a hopeful element to the fact that the pandemic has made people better understand what they need and what they don’t need when it comes to romantic relationships. The pandemic has offered many couples an opportunity to reassess their relationship. Plus, while many have decided to go their separate ways, others have been able to put more time and effort into rebooting their relationships. 

This hasn’t just been couples working on their relationships alone either. In some cases, the state has stepped in to help couples figure things out. For example, in response to the rising divorce rates in China, a new ‘cooling off’ law has been implemented. According to this law, couples must take a mandatory month-long cooling-off period after first filing for divorce, to reflect on their relationship. If they decide to go forward with the divorce after this period, they can make a second appointment. So far, this system has been a huge success in bringing down divorce rates. After the rocketing number of divorces, we saw previously, the rate has now plunged by 70 per cent

The pandemic has made many people question their relationship, but if this questioning results in a period of self-reflection, it’s certainly not a bad thing. Although many couples are calling it off, many others are coming out of this period stronger than ever after putting the work in, re-learning what each partner needs, and rebooting their relationship so that it can be stronger than ever. 

An eternity together 

Relationships are certainly undergoing a period of change. This is completely natural considering the turmoil the world has been in during the pandemic. However, despite break-ups and divorces, there are many couples, both old and new, surging forward stronger than ever. There has been no shortage of lockdown engagements, and a surge of marriages is expected as soon as all of the restrictions have been lifted. What’s more, many countries have seen a boom in sales of diamond engagement rings over the course of the pandemic, and a rising interest in eternity rings. This jewellery style, which consists of a full circle of diamonds spanning the finger, symbolises everlasting love. Recent figures from Angelic Diamonds show that eternity rings are currently most popular in the UK, Australia, the US, and Canada. So even with increasing divorce rates in these countries, it’s clear that many couples are expressing their love, showing their commitment, and beginning an exciting journey together, even in the context of the pandemic. 

The pandemic has caused both ups and downs in the world of romance. Where some couples have faltered, however, others have come out stronger than ever or even started a new journey. It has certainly been a time for reflection, and whatever that has meant for your relationship, you’re sure to be coming out of the other side stronger and more in tune with your own needs than ever. 


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