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Bury St Edmunds sixth former Libby Vooght looks at how the pandemic has affected relationships

Relationships … Such an interesting aspect of people’s lives that can be unpredictable, bewildering and equally beautiful – both with and without a global pandemic taking command of our world.

So many people have been impacted in varying ways by the current climate that the coronavirus has brought upon us, whether it has involved losing those that we love, searching and fighting for jobs and businesses, feeling anxious about returning to normal.

Each of these impacts have been equally important in people’s lives, but how have romantic relationships been affected by these bizarre and difficult times?

The pandemic has put strain on relationships
The pandemic has put strain on relationships

Dating and relationships seem to be ever-changing, not only between those involved, but in society as a whole. Long gone are the days of meeting in clubs, at work or even as a young, smitten high school student. Tinder, Bumble, Snapchat and ‘Sliding into the DM’s’ are all ways in which 21st century individuals choose to seek romance, particularly when forced into our homes by a global pandemic.

Without the privileges of congregating in person, apps like Tinder have seen a surging rise in usage, and screen time as a whole has rapidly increased. According to the boss of Tinder, daily conversations in the UK on the app rose by 12 per cent from mid- February to the end of March 2020, evidence of alternative ways in which people sought romance.

Regardless of how it may seem, teenagers have found online communication extremely difficult and the process of communicating through snapchat, Instagram DM, Facetime and dating apps are no longer as enthralling as they may have once seemed.

Abbeygate Sixth Form student Abbey Vooght
Abbeygate Sixth Form student Abbey Vooght

Research based on 48 students who are not in relationships at Abbeygate Sixth Form found that 87 per cent have felt that the pandemic has made forming a romantic relationship much more challenging because solely communicating online has become boring and strenuous. One 17-year-old respondent commented: “I don’t have the effort to talk to new people as my attention span has diminished, it’s also impossible to meet them and hold proper conversations so talking stages seem pointless.” This demonstrates that, although it may seem that young adults enjoy using online communication 24/7, even those who are more used to these modern-day technical ways are struggling to maintain only virtual conversations. The ‘talking stage’ that can also be referred to as dating, courting or getting to know each other has been particularly testing, partly due to miscommunication and general lack of motivation.

For those in relationships, lockdown has been equally as challenging.

Couples who have been living under separate roofs have been faced with the challenge of spending weeks and months apart from each other. Approximately 50 per cent of Abbeygate students who were part of the study, that are in a relationship, believe that the prolonged separation has caused more disagreements between them and their partner due to lack of physical affection and mainly having to use online forms of contact. Messages can be complex and hard to understand (however well the couple know each other) and it is easy to feel that a connection has been lost or ‘the spark’ has gone whilst undergoing isolation.

Breakups and divorces have rocketed during 2020 and the beginning of 2021, as some couples have become stressed from too much time together or have been challenged by long distance.

So, have the tiers caused tears amongst relationships? It’s hard to judge with all couples as they each vary in nature and living arrangements. However, Abbeygate students in particular don’t seem overly impressed by the lockdown’s impact on their love life.

- Libby Vooght is studying A-levels in geography, media and sociology at Abbeygate Sixth Form College, Bury St Edmunds.

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