Maintaining relationships in lockdown

(Image courtesy of Unsplash)

Loneliness has been one of the biggest hardships of this pandemic and with going into a second lockdown, I would like to reflect on some of the things we may have learnt from the first lockdown, and explore some of the ways we have found to keep in contact with those we love.

Before continuing, I would like to bring your attention to the Samaritans Helpline which works around the clock and is available free of charge if you need someone to talk to, as well as the university’s support and wellbeing service for any mental health concerns you may be facing at the moment. (Reaching out is scary but it’s probably worth it).

This lockdown is very different from the first one, especially for students: we are allowed to go to university, we have some understanding of how Coronavirus works and we have done it all before. Video-calling extended family or professors might have seemed wild a few months ago, but now adjusting our video call backgrounds is completely normal … mostly.

During the first lockdown lots of new kinds of online interaction became popular; pub quizzes, Netflix parties, online games, you name it. We’ve tried and tested it all, and now, while trying to figure out how to do this online uni thing, you can message a friend or the old group chat and arrange an activity for you all to do after class.

In the first lockdown, I reconnected with lots of old friends I hadn’t talked to in ages as we all had many more free evenings. In this new lockdown it’s easier to contact these people already. With uni friends it can seem a bit awkward to hop onto a video call when you live in the same city, but we’ll probably find ourselves laughing at this absurdity soon.

In terms of physical interactions, if you live with nice housemates it’s lovely to watch series together a couple of nights a week or start a sports challenge together. Otherwise, walks in Westgate Gardens are always a hit. Friendships require a bit of adapting the activities you’d normally do and the ways you’d normally hang out, but at least it might be easier to find time to see people now.

In terms of intimate relationships lockdown can prove tricky. I spent the last lockdown with my partner and yes, sometimes it was annoying being around each other constantly, but when you figure out that being alone sometimes, or just working in different rooms is totally ok, even good for you, it really makes a difference, and you can appreciate quality time together more. Like with every single kind of relationship the most important thing is COMMUNICATION. It’s definitely a test for any relationship but surely, it's better to find out sooner rather than later if a relationship isn’t right? A lockdown relationship is a super quick way of finding that out!

For relationships that are suddenly long-distance let me give you some insights as someone who has been doing this long-distance thing on and off for nearly three years. Firstly, understand that while your partner is going to be home all the time, this doesn’t mean they are constantly available. Figure out a time when you would usually talk to your partner (probably morning or evening) and call them at that time every day, or a couple of times a week. You could also plan to watch a film online together and send them actual physical letters! A long-distance relationship is also testing, but hey it’s (hopefully) only going to be a month and imagine how great it’ll be when you can hang out in person again!

For those not in relationships, but possibly looking for one, my housemate, who has been dating online during the pandemic, notes that “Dating online with the craze of Tinder, Bumble, Hinge has become a new fashion. During the pandemic these apps and platforms have very much come into their own since they offer something that a lockdown cannot - the ability to meet new people, chat to potential partners and learn also more about yourself too and how you interact.” Furthermore, she adds that the advantage to online dating platforms during this time is that “it still keeps one connected and makes one feel they have another form of social life. Moreover, it actually takes dating back to how it was before; a traditional phone call before you meet up with the person to see if there is a connection and dynamic. In many ways you could argue this is more effective!”. So online dating at the moment may seem more complicated in some ways but may also lead to better connections once you can meet people again! Finally, I will just leave you with this little tip (for those not with partner(s), but also everyone): a: a lot of sex shops deliver (and with discreet packaging) you’re welcome!

So, I think it’s fair to say that we’re still adapting to life in lockdown and the way we connect and communicate with people have both upsides and downsides, but there are certainly ways to get through this time and you might find your relationships with others evolving in new and wonderful ways.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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