Couples moving at a faster pace as relationships intensify in lockdown, experts say

23 June 2020, 18:44 | Updated: 24 June 2020, 07:26

The coronavirus lockdown has led to a wave of "turbo relationships" where couples have moved at a much faster pace than they would have otherwise, experts say. 

New couples who have started living together during lockdown have seen their relationships intensify, with a few months together sometimes feeling like several years of commitment, according to research by the relationships charity Relate and eharmony dating website.

The findings come after deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries urged couples to "test the strength" of their relationships and move in together at the beginning of the lockdown in March.

The study of more than 2,000 over-18s in the UK found that almost two thirds (63%) said their relationships had strengthened after living together during lockdown, while 58% said they now know they want to be with their partner forever.

More than half of couples (59%) felt more committed to their partner after dealing with the pandemic together.

In more established couples, 42% welcomed the quality time they had been able to spend with their partner.

The lockdown has also accelerated some relationships, with more than a third of respondents saying two months together had felt like two years of commitment.

The same proportion said they had reached common relationship milestones sooner.

Eharmony relationship expert Rachael Lloyd said that while the pandemic has "seriously tested" relationships, many new couples are coping well.

"What's really interesting is the creation of so-called turbo relationships whereby couples who'd never usually move at such speed may have found themselves living together within weeks of meeting - and largely thriving," she said.

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With couples feeling closer than ever during lockdown, some may fear their relationships could change as things return to a more normal way of life.

Relate counsellor Peter Saddington said: "In wider periods of societal unrest, couples often pull together. The combination of more time spent together, heightened anxiety levels and the removal of common routines - like seeing friends - is an intense mix.

"And, whilst many of the consequences of these turbo relationships are encouraging, people must remember we are living through a unique set of circumstances.

"If your relationship doesn't continue at the same pace or feelings lessen post-lockdown, that doesn't spell disaster. Communication is vital to allow couples to navigate what feels right when normal life resumes."

Some couples have fared worse than others, with around one in seven (14%) realising their relationship is over.

Singletons have also faced struggles, with two in five single people saying they felt lonely in lockdown and more than a third saying lockdown had been bad for their mental health.

Many have been embracing online dating as a way to deal with loneliness.

Sign ups to eharmony rose 50% year-on-year in April and May, while communication has increased by a third due to its video date feature.

Meanwhile, nearly a third of single adults said the lockdown period had made them realise they are happier alone.