How Coronavirus Has Affected Our Relationships
Posted on 24th August 2020 at 16:05
Our guest blogger Michelle explores how the coronavirus pandemic has affected our relationships with the various individuals in our lives.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a curious impact on people; how we live our lives and how we interact with those around us. Ultimately all the relationships we have as individuals with other people, has changed. Be it romantic, friendly, working, family or neighbourly, they’ve been affected in one way or another over the last six months. Some relationships have begun through the pandemic, some have been strengthened; like communities that come together to support each other. Whilst others have been put under significant extra pressure such as families isolating together and spending more time with one another than they usually would. There will also be those relationships that may have broken down; the strain of such unprecedented times taking its toll on people’s abilities to cope and adapt. Work colleagues who were used to seeing each other across desks every day have had to find new ways to chat instead of with a cup of coffee in the communal kitchen or over the office biscuit tin.
For some people, relationships have been more important than ever before. Those who’ve been shielding or had to self-isolate for example, have had to rely on others for even the simplest of things like the weekly shop. They may have taken advantage of their neighbours when offering help to get food or sought support from friends willing to make an extra trip to the supermarket. It’s these odd exchanges; the somewhat awkward bouts of communication that have meant in some cases relationships have presented difficulties perhaps where there weren’t any before. People, both friends and families, were forced to spend more time together than they were used to. Our teenagers missed out on the joyful traditions of leaving school, that most of their elders were lucky enough to experience. Partners isolated at home for months, putting their relationships under incredible stress which they’ve never had to go through before nor indeed could’ve prepared for.
Where does this leave us all? Many relationships will thrive, enhanced by having been through one of the toughest times society has had to face. A time of reflection and reliance on the kindness of others. However, a sad fact is, that some relationships won’t make it and will have broken down irreparably. But is this anybody’s fault? Not necessarily.
Society has arguably become a selfish one; we’re taught to look out for number one and everyone else does the same. How we are raised has a huge impact on how we behave in later life, but sometimes your perceptions and behaviours are shaped by the actions of those around us; the feeling we can only rely upon ourselves and nobody else, can come from being let down or hurt by other people. Of course, it’s only natural for humans to engage in selfish activity; completely normal and healthy. More recently this is being communicated through the encouragement of self-care; make time for yourself in order to reflect, recharge and refresh.
Whatever the reason, looking out for ourselves first and thinking of others later often leads to a lack of empathy, or the inability to put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes. You only have to look at the number of people who were clearing the supermarket shelves back in March to see evidence for this. Hoarding food and other essentials without a thought for other people and families equal need. Those who perhaps couldn’t afford to stockpile, those who worked shifts on the front-line and couldn’t get to the supermarket until everything was gone, the elderly who couldn’t carry more than they needed and stood bewildered in the aisles unable to comprehend the situation.
Of course, there’s been some great examples of communities coming together to support like helping vulnerable neighbours to get what they need. We’ve seen people going above and beyond to lift the spirits of those isolating and to bring joy to those around them. Stories of people finding unexpected friendships and support from those who stepped up when nobody else did. Inspirational couples illustrate that finding love in the most unpredictable environment is possible. Those relationships that now have a stronger bond for having lived through a pandemic together. On the opposite end of the spectrum there are increases in domestic violence and abuse, more people wrestling with anxiety and dealing with depression. Some people with nowhere or nobody to turn to for help. We can only hope for every person who is feeling alone and disconnected from the world there is a positive story to counteract it.
We can all do our bit to tip the scales and spread a little kindness with very little effort at all. Take the time to check in on a work colleague or friend who we assume is doing just fine. Pop a note through our neighbours door to ask if they need anything next time we go to the supermarket. Show some understanding to a friend or partner who is feeling particularly anxious about venturing out again after lock-down. It’s easy to think that we know what is happening in other people’s lives or presume someone else will do the checking in. However, you could be wrong, and then that person continues to be alone and struggling. They may need a friend more than anything right now, so its often worth just confirming with them.
For those relationships that don’t make it, we may ask ourselves why? Was there anything more we could’ve done to understand the other person better? Could we have given them a little more of our time? Could we have showed more empathy towards their situation? Or of course, vice versa. If we can answer these questions honestly and openly with a resounding no, then maybe that relationship had run its course regardless. This unique situation presents opportunity to learn what and most crucially who is important to us and our lives; who we want beside us, those we’re happy to take a backseat and those we’re comfortable to leave behind on our journey. We may come to realise we were asking more of people than they were willing or able to give or that they were asking too much of us. Either way, it’s important to know the ending of a relationship is OK. Sometimes, it is not the fault of anyone and that’s OK too. The pandemic has put different pressures onto all of us and each of us react differently with our own distinct sets of priorities. It may have brought you closer with your partner (or indeed any other kind of relationship) or it may have driven you apart. One thing we know for certain is that the unique situation with Covid-19 has changed the way many of us live our lives, altered our perspective and in one way or another, it’s changed the depth of our relationships.
Here at Relate we offer counselling for all types of relationships. If you feel you or your relationships have been affected by Coronavirus, we are offering a free 30-minute telephone counselling session to anyone over the age of 18 living in Nottingham. To book your appointment email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0115 958 4278.
Author - Michelle Fisher
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