Quarter of adults say relationship improved during Covid outbreak – research

Romantic relationships were more likely to get better than worse during the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers found.

A married couple hold hands (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A married couple hold hands (Andrew Matthews/PA)

A quarter of adults in a relationship said it improved during the coronavirus lockdown, research has found.

Romantic relationships were more likely to get better than worse during the Covid-19 pandemic, while the majority stayed the same, according to the Open University.

Its survey, of 1,319 UK adults, found that around one in 10 respondents (11%) said their relationship had deteriorated between March and late July/early August.

More quality time together, talking, emotional support and thoughtful gestures were commonly reported by the 26% of respondents whose relationships improved.

Almost half (45%) of men, and 36% of women, reported helping more around the house – which could also have contributed.

The report, by Jacqui Gabb, professor of Sociology and Intimacy, said: “The UK lockdown enabled many parents to spend more time with their children.

“More co-parenting could improve relationships for women – who are usually the main carers of children (and indeed older relatives); whilst also putting other women’s relationships under more stress (for instance, when working from home whilst also homeschooling and looking after children).

“The changes and challenges that Covid-19 has placed on relationships could have been more likely to be ‘make-or-break’ women’s shorter relationships: moving in together at short notice due to the lockdown, or not seeing each other, can worsen a relationship or prompt people to make more effort to maintain it.”

Dr Gabb, chief relationships officer at Paired – an app aiming to improve couples’ communication, said: “Communication is absolutely key when it comes to successful relationships.

“I have studied long-term couple relationships for years and I cannot stress enough how important it is to simply talk, to discuss feelings and not to brush issues under the carpet and let them fester – that is how small problems become huge points of contention.”

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