For many people, lockdown has been an isolating lonely experience for the last seven months.
Being apart from friends, family and loved ones as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world has taken its toll.
But for others, it’s brought them closer together as people are forced to spend more time with those at home.
A new survey by the Open University revealed that a quarter of couples claim coronavirus has actually improved their relationships because they are sharing housework and childcare.
Romantic relationships were more likely to get better than worse during the pandemic, while the majority stayed the same. Just one in 10 of the 1,319 surveyed said that their relationship had deteriorated between March and early August, the research by the university and couples app Paired showed.
The report, by Jacqui Gabb, professor of Sociology and Intimacy, said: “The UK lockdown enabled many parents to spend more time with their children.
She explained: “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.”
Two couples explain how Covid has changed their relationship for ever – in some VERY surprising ways.
James and Fran
They would be the first to admit that before lockdown, their lovelife was pretty average.
But for James and Fran, lockdown has seen their intimacy levels rocket and the amount of sex they were having increase.
“We were doing it about four or five times a week at points. Before lockdown it was about once a week. So it definitely improved,” said James Joseph, from Banstead, Surrey.
IT engineer James and Fran, 30 have been together for nine years and married for six.
The 32-year-old explained: “Our intimacy definitely increased quite a lot as we were spending so much time together. We were doing it about four or five times a week at points.
“Before lockdown it was only about once a week. So it definitely improved. It felt like on the outside the world was collapsing but inside the two of us stayed the same in our own little bubble.”
And even working from home didn’t dampen the couple’s passion for one another.
James said: “I was seeing Fran all the time but I was locked in my room for most of the time when I was working.
“However, I was constantly making an effort to see her and making sure that maybe we had lunch together when I was working, so it would be nice to do that. Just to sit down and watch something – at least we would be together which was really nice.
“We seemed to be getting closer during lockdown. I enjoyed spending time with her. I would do my best to spend as much time together with her as I could. Overall I just enjoyed being with her more than before.”
For Fran Green-Joseph, living and working so close to James has been a good thing – and she believes it’s brought them closer together as a couple.
She said: “I think we’ve been really lucky actually because we’ve always been really close but lockdown forces you to look into things more.
“You are definitely forced to look into your relationship when you’re stuck with someone in the house 24/7.
“When we were allowed to go on our daily exercise, James asked me if I’d go with him on walks, so we started to do walks, which was really nice.
“I’m not that much of an outdoorsy person, I’d rather do things inside but by going on that walk, you don’t have your phone, you can’t be looking at your phone all the time when you’re walking.
“Again, it forced us to have conversations with eachother, so that definitely brought us closer together.”
Fran, a professional cake maker, added: “There was a solid half an hour on the day where it would just be the two of us, no distractions, no work, no phones.
“Just the two of us having a conversation with eachother. Our intimacy definitely increased. Again you’re locked inside, trying to do other things aside from watching telly.”
Jacob and Seren
Jacob Moreton, 22 from Cardiff has been with his partner Seren Morris, 23 for three years and lived together for the past two years.
However, lockdown has cemented their feelings for one another.
Jacob, a journalist, said: “We were living in London when lockdown first happened and we decamped to Wales to stay with my girlfriend’s family. I thought it would make things more stressful, but actually it was really positive.
“I’ve always felt that our relationship was pretty strong and it was robust enough to weather everything that was coming. I think that’s mainly because we made an effort to keep things going – such as date nights.
“I don’t think that in terms of intimacy there was a great deal of change there but there was in terms of being more aware of each other’s feelings.”
However, in contrast to James and Fran, Jacob and Seren were less physically intimate with each other during lockdown – but don’t think it’s a bad thing.
Jacob explained: “The relationship grew less in a physical way but more so in terms of being in tune with eachother’s feelings.
“During lockdown, we had to make more of a conscious effort. We would get a takeaway to have of an evening. We kept that going and I’m so glad we did.”