Love in a time of Corona

Love in a time of Corona

There was some great news this week for anyone in love affected by social-distancing, if they live alone and in England.

We’re slowly getting back on our feet after the first wave of the pandemic. And this week the Government relaxed more of its quarantine rules to help single people cut off from friends and family.

Single adults can now form a support bubble with just one other household. They’re allowed to visit anywhere in the country, and the social-distancing rule does not apply inside the house. They can even stay overnight.

This decision brings long-awaited relief for many people distanced from their partners since we all closed our doors.  No matter how close the relationship, if we weren’t cohabiting at the time of lockdown, no social contact was allowed.

As Jenny Harries, UK Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said on 23rd March – people switching households defeats the purpose of reducing social interaction, and allows the transmission of the disease. Harries told couples on 23 March to “test the strength of their relationship,” and either quarantine together or stay separate during lockdown.

Forced to rely upon virtual contact, and with no set timeframe for the easing of restrictions, how has this impacted our relationships?

Many people have found that being separated from their partners has been the hardest adjustment to make in lockdown. And the younger you are, it seems, the harder it’s been.

15% of adults between 18-24 feel there’s been additional strain on their relationship, almost twice that of couples in the 45-54 age bracket (8%). Perhaps this is because quarantine has removed our ability for social interactions. Or maybe newer relationships are missing the opportunity to create bonds that longer relationships have.

Hard as this is on our singles, it’s been even worse for those in long-term relationships kept apart by lockdown rules. In these cases, three in every ten couples between 18-24 are feeling the pressure of separation, as are one in five couples between 25-34.

It’s not necessarily easier for partners living together (either in a relationship, or who are married or in a civil partnership). 14% of people between 25-34 feel that constantly being together is adding strain to their relationship. This may indicate that furloughing or home-working has taken a greater toll than we might have expected.

The introduction of social bubbles will provide much needed air for our restricted relationships to breathe again, particularly for younger people. But there are some difficult discussions ahead.

Support bubbles must be exclusive. Currently there’s no option to switch to a new bubble.  How many single adults now face the dilemma of choosing family over their relationship? Will single-parents who need childcare have to take that option over their partners?

And who gets the golden ticket, if only one person in a house-share is allowed a support bubble with another home?

Patience is a virtue, and we’ve been patient for several weeks now. For many of us, we will be virtuous a little bit longer. But at least for some of us living alone, there’s some small freedom from the isolation of quarantine. 

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before it’s safe to make our bubbles bigger. As this happens, is there a role for brands to play in helping us reconnect with one another in person? Are there campaigns that can speak to the needs of the #StayAtHomeCustomer, now they’re a pair? After several weeks of isolation and loneliness, there’s an opportunity for brands to position themselves as a key part of the reconnection story.

Download the COVID-19 Impact Tracker White Paper  – Unlocking Change

Our second white paper Unlocking Change moves the story on, from the initial lockdown period to now, to provides marketers and communicators with learning on how to engage with consumer right now. Download your complimentary copy.

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