The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Love lost in lockdown: Staying at home has been make or break for couples

Cooped-up partners under strain as research reveals impact of Covid restrictio­ns on fragile relationsh­ips

- By Janet Boyle

The strain of lockdown is testing relationsh­ips with up to 20% of couples reporting more arguments and broken relationsh­ips.

Couples aged between 18 and 24 are most likely to report more arguments and fears over their relationsh­ips ending, a study carried out by Glasgow University academics has found.

The research suggests one in five young couples argue and worry about splitting up while more than 10% in the 35-44 age range report similar cracks in relationsh­ips.

The evidence is revealed in a study by the National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.

Some of the research was conducted by a team led by Professor Kirstin Mitchell at the University of Glasgow. They revealed the impact on relationsh­ips was greater for those under 44 while older couples were more likely to enjoy spending more time together at home.

The university looked at couples mainly in a steady relationsh­ip and interviewe­d 4,271 people. Almost 90% were living together.

Mitchell, a professor of social science and public health, said: “The overall picture is of more change in the younger relationsh­ips and greater stability in the older ones.

“It is important that we don’t overlook the proportion for whom things got worse and this group reported arguments and worries about the relationsh­ip ending.

“That’s more than one in five in younger people and one in 10 in older age and at a population

level that equates to a great many people.

“Covid has deeply affected the way we interact with people and our lives have been disrupted. Young people are less likely to have settled into long-term relationsh­ips. Covid has come at a time of their lives where they have steady but not establishe­d relationsh­ips.

“The 35-44 couples are more likely to have young families and the impact of working from home with children may play a role.”

Mitchell added that they would return to the couples to look at how things stood in a year’s time.

Claudia Estcourt, professor of sexual health and HIV at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “Young adults are frequently making and breaking relationsh­ips because they are at that stage in their lives.

“However, this research shows that relationsh­ip break-ups for them seem to have been compounded by Covid.

“It is important to carry out more research to discover more about why this has happened.

“We in sexual health clinics have certainly been open for business over the past year and have been treating people

Younger couples have struggled emotionall­y

with new sexually transmitte­d infections.”

Responding to the research, Stuart Valentine, chief executive of counsellin­g charity Relationsh­ips Scotland said: “The impact of lockdown on young people is mirrored in research between us and Relate, which operates in the UK outwith Scotland.

“We have seen younger couples in particular struggling emotionall­y in their relationsh­ips, with one in three of them that are under 30 saying that their relationsh­ips were in trouble.

“A big part of this is to reach out for support before their relationsh­ip breaks down completely. We have seen a great many couples thrive under lockdown and found that 64% said their relationsh­ips are thriving.

“Having the support of a highly trained counsellor can help couples remember the reasons why they got together in the first place and to help them find way to resolve their problems.

“It is all about good communicat­ion, listening to one another and learning to embrace all of the good things in their relationsh­ip whilst also finding new ways to get through the hard times.”

 ??  ?? Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor row while famously playing a couple in turmoil in 1966 movie Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor row while famously playing a couple in turmoil in 1966 movie Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
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