The pandemic has forced many of us to the confines of our homes for weeks on end. With joblessness at an all-time high and the overall stress of the COVID-19 epidemic reaching its zenith, it’s no wonder we’re seeing a shift in relationships during the crisis. After all, spending a lot of time with your partner can be quite revealing, and some couples are finding they don’t like what’s been revealed.
The pandemic isn’t exactly driving relationship breakups, but it is showing couples what they may have been missing, or what they dislike about their partner. It’s also been a catalyst for people to focus more so on their own mental health, which could mean neglecting the relationship for a period of time. Let’s look closer at how COVID-19 has reshaped our relationships.
The Focus on Personal Mental Health
Unfortunately, individual mental health is still something that’s often swept under the rug and ignored or highly stigmatized. Many people choose to ignore their own mental health because it’s scary to think that they might be afflicted by mental illness. What will my family think? Will my friends still be here? What if I never get better? What if there’s no place for me now?
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, more and more people are realizing that they’ve been neglecting their mental health for far too long. We tend to get caught up in life, relationships, jobs, and other distractions that keep us from realizing that something is wrong. Then, a virus sends us home for weeks on end to quarantine ourselves, and there’s suddenly no one but us, the mirror, and our partner.
Many of us are getting a crash course on how to forget about someone or how to make changes that don’t involve a partner. Either way, focusing on personal mental health is a good thing for both individuals and society as a whole.
Some people form a bad habit of jumping from relationship to relationship in order to lean on another person for their mental health. Their life becomes entirely focused on the relationship rather than personal mental health, and when it ends, a new one quickly forms to fill the void. This kind of relationship therapy can only lead to one inevitability: those mental health problems catching up with the serial dater.
Some couples are finding that being in close proximity for weeks at a time brings into sharp focus the flaws in the relationship; and those “serial daters” are starting to realize that they have been burying their problems in the backyard of the relationship. Not everyone who dates a lot of people in a short period of time has some deep-rooted issues they need to face, but it’s more common than you might think.
Another side of this coin is simply dating to not be alone. Some people find that it’s easier to fall into a quick relationship than to be alone with their mind. With COVID restrictions in place, you may begin to realize that this person you’ve fallen in with actually isn’t right for you. You have nothing in common, you don’t get along all that well, and close-quarters interaction for weeks at a time is actually making you loathe your partner.
Let COVID be a stark reminder of the need to take care of your own mental health before you enter a relationship. We have a responsibility to ensure our own problems are taken care of, rather than dumping them on someone new or using them as a crutch.
Countries throughout the world have reported an increase in both domestic violence police reports and hotline phone calls since quarantine went into effect. This startling realization shows us something very important: that abusive relationships are so much more common than we thought.
We can only hope that the victims of these relationships begin to understand that they’re being abused, and seek refuge from their situation. Many people find that they have nowhere to go and start to feel trapped at home. We can only imagine the kind of stress they must be feeling as the world crumbles around them; not even their home is a sanctuary.
What will dating be like post-COVID-19? Will divorce rates skyrocket? Will we look at relationships differently? We can speculate all we want, but at the end of the day, the only way we’ll know is to see it when we get there. Perhaps society will focus more on personal mental health after the pandemic, and form this shift, we’ll see healthier and more stable relationships forming.
Remember, be safe, follow guidelines, and don’t lose hope! Our scientists and researchers are working hard on a vaccine so we can all return to a sense of normalcy in our lives, but it’s up to us to practice social distancing and wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.