The global pandemic known as ‘COVID-19’ has certainly changed life as we know it. Every day there’s a little bit more information available and suggested tweaks to how we are doing things as a collective.
What I knew would shift in a big way was relationships. I just didn’t realize they would shift in this way. This is why I am always so excited to learn more and more about the human experience and our own individual ways of dealing with the same problems.
Plot a course
Due to the nature of being on lockdown, people have been getting more creative with the way they are searching for human contact and relationships. There’s the nifty idea from the folks who brought is ‘Love Is Quarantine’ named aptly after the binge-worthy reality show Netflix released, ‘Love Is Blind’. It’s a dedicated Instagram page for singles who are looking to mingle during the pandemic. Then are people who are attending creative virtual dates together, one of my favorite being a Boozy Drag Brunch. Shockingly, even the popular dating app Tinder, removed their location based matching restrictions allowing users to look far and wide for a quarantine boo.
People are having to think outside the box with date night ideas, video chatting longer than usual, and bringing sexting to another level — all while still practicing self-care. But, no matter how people are finding love during these times, an interesting phenomenon is taking place and it’s called, Turbo Relationships.
Make it so
There has been reports of people on and offline who are engaging with others at an unprecedented rate and the effect seems to be taking hold. Enter, the ‘Turbo Relationship’. Those meeting people online or even socially distant in person have said they feel like the weeks and months they are spending with someone is unusually, incredibly intense. So intense in fact, they are equating it with years of commitment.
Fresh couples who either were forced to lockdown together or decided to fast-track that decision early on in their relationship have seen an incredible connection happening. The research, Relationships in Lockdown, found more than half (59%) of the new couples felt more committed to their partner in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
It seems odd that the pandemic has affected relationships in this way but many people are reporting a new feeling of closeness that isn’t often seen early on in traditional situations. This closeness is putting the pedal down and speeding past “normal” relationship timelines.
In my work I have heard from clients that navigating the lockdown with a partner has actually made people feel closer, despite the close quarters. Many have reported feeling stronger than ever for their partners and a few have come to the conclusion, they are with person they want to be with forever!
Loneliness and isolation are concerning factors that most people want to avoid for the good of their own mental health. Which is why it isn’t surprising that sign-ups on the popular 20-year dating site eHarmony rose a staggering 50% for the year in April and May. They also shared that communication has increased by a third due since unveiling its new “video date” feature.
I’ve read that couples are equating two months in isolation together on the same level as two years together. The milestones of moving in together, helping someone when they are unwell, emotionally or physically, and having to communicate their feelings more openly is leading to feelings of impassioned connectedness. Not to mention, when you’re with someone nearly 24/7 you’re going to have plenty of opportunities to uncover new interests, hobbies, and passions that you share — together.
Bonding in a new way
For those who were just on the verge of starting something new or even looking for something new, time was of the essence at the start of global lockdown in March. Some people were talking about moving in together and had to take the leap if they wanted to be coronavirus cuffed together (i.e. stuck in isolation together).
The epidemic is unpredictable in the world of psychology. We still know that moving in together, having a baby, starting (or quitting) a new job, and of course the loss of people in our lives are among the most stressful of times we experience. Many of us are at maximum stress levels.
Making big choices with the heightened levels of stress would normally be a big no-no but it seems the opposite is proving to be true for some in this circumstance. Cohabitation can actually decrease stress, as long as everyone is upfront about their interest in the relationship and their expectations.
For me it’s good timing. He is helping me with affection, because we don’t know what is going to happen in the world. He is very quiet and calm, and I like it. — Camila Porto Araujo via “Coronavirus Isolation Is Creating New Couples”
If you’re going the turbo relationship route, be sure to have candid and explicit conversations about what you need and what you can realistically provide to someone.
- Do you plan to move in together for temporary support?
- Will you continue to cohabit after the virus is under control?
- Do you need to agree on when the virus is under control?
- How much space and alone time do you need?
- Are there any specific habits or shared living space deal breakers I should know?
- What’s the plan if one or both of us get infected?
Your partner might not have ever voiced it but find out if they enjoy afternoon tea, or prefer to cook alone. Perhaps they enjoy nightly bathtime for relaxation. Get to know their routine and share yours so you can bond together at the right times without suffocating each other.
Full speed ahead
If you’re going to be in close quarters, remember to take time for self-care. As long as you’re abiding by your local laws most people are able to safely take walks and exercise, getting fresh air and some alone time.
Keep yourself busy with agreed upon divided chores, take chill time on your own, voice and adhere to personal boundaries you would like respected, and reach out to friends virtually.
When possible devise a stress management plan such as therapy, life coaching, or even just journaling about your feelings during this time could be beneficial.
When couples, new and old, struggle individually — being laid off, having a sick family member, isolation from friends — it is advisable to speak up. It’s better to be upfront about any additional burden you cannot bare at this time and shift it to the other partner if they’re in a better place to handle it momentarily. Whatever you do, I urge anyone experiencing issues to get in touch with a professional for tele-help now rather than letting things fester until things get irreparably bad.
Just because you’re stuck in doesn’t mean romance should go out the window. Couples can also adopt long distance relationship practices such as phone calls, playing video games together, writing love notes and letters, planning no-electronic date nights, flirting from different rooms via video chatting and more.
Life is definitely more scary and overwhelming than it has been ever before for many of us, that’s why it’s nice to have each other.
We are living in history. The rules of the land are reshaping each day. Navigating through a pandemic, lockdown, and social distancing is having a profound impact on not only the way we live but especially how we love. Pairings are being stretched and put to the test but many are taking it in stride and finding love in a time when you would least expect it and forming deeper connections than ever before. Will they last? Only time will tell and that’s all a lot of us have at the moment.