The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our relationships and how we connect with each other. Lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures have resulted in us living closer together with some people and further away from others. While for some, living together during this time has made their relationships stronger, for others, the restrictions have contributed to strains on existing relationships, with reports of increasing rates of domestic violence and increased burden of care.
As well as affecting our relationships with those we live with, enforced social distancing measures have meant that many people are isolated from family, friends and their wider communities, with little opportunity to socialise and spend time with others in person (e.g. in cafes, gyms, workplaces). People have been cut-off from their usual support systems, and loneliness and worries about relationships have been reported as key issues for younger people and for those who are single.
Maintaining social contact without meeting face-to-face has led some people to embrace other means of connecting with people, like video calls, messaging and social media. However, these technologies are not available equally. While young people’s use of social media seems to have increased, older people and those who cannot afford data or broadband charges might find themselves without access to these alternative platforms for socialising.
While lockdown restrictions during the pandemic have had some negative impacts on relationships, research suggests some potential positive outcomes. Recent surveys have reported that lockdown has resulted in many realising how important their relationships are to them and feeling more connected to loved ones. They also suggest that there have been some positive impacts on feelings of social connectedness within the wider community, with a rise in volunteering and friendliness with neighbours.
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