How are people in new relationships coping with not seeing each other?

Three weeks into 'lockdown' and some couples are pulling their hair out, managing life on top of one another, and their children. But what about newer relationships and couples living apart? Michelle Heffernan finds out if COVID 19 will mean make or break 


“The lack of physical contact is more difficult than I would have thought,” says Tracy, 34 and
living in the South East, “we haven’t been intimate in a month at this stage”.

Tracy met John about five months previous to the pandemic, and things were becoming exciting before coronavirus burst their honeymoon bubble. “Before all this happened we generally saw each other twice a week,” she says. “He lives an hour and a half away, so we would meet halfway. I was about to move into a new home, and we were looking forward to more time together, but coronavirus has put a stop to all that,” she says.

Danielle, 31 and living in Navan, also feels the health crisis has put a major weight on her relationship, particularly as her new partner who lives in the UK. “We are trying to make a long-distance relationship last, so it’s really hard” she says. “I was meant to see him in March but my flights were cancelled. We had rebooked flights for May, but we can’t see that happening now either. We have a two week holiday in Florida booked for September, we’ve been planning it for months and we’re unsure of that now too,” she says.

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Acknowledge the loss

“It seems like we’re all in the same boat, but underneath we are being affected in
different ways,” says Natalya Price, Psychotherapist, and Sex & Relationships Counsellor at
MindAndBodyWorks, Dublin. Natalya has seen a clear change in the nature of the issues her
dating clients are contending with since the pandemic began, and stresses that it is important to acknowledge just how differently the crisis affects each new relationship.

a new couple, in particular, need to acknowledge what they have lost, before they can begin making adaptations to the relationship.

“Some people have lost their jobs, and some are busier than ever” she says, “some people lost their income, some are back living with parents; there could be lots of different circumstances that are different now, than to how the relationship was when it began.”

Natalya underlines that a new couple, in particular, need to acknowledge what they have lost, before they can begin making adaptations to the relationship. ”If you are dating, and you can’t see each other it affects your mood” says Natalya. ”Both people need to acknowledge the loss. We’re all in the process of grieving. There’s sadness behind it all that needs to be acknowledged by both partners before they try to be adaptive,” she says.

"Alexa, play I wanna hold your hand"

Newer couples confess they have been struggling to adapt, particularly when it comes to
communication.“I think it’s been hard for us” says Tracy, “We’re different from other couples.
We were strong on non-verbal communication, but now it’s all verbal now and it’s tough. We were kind of dependent on meeting face to face. Now we can’t look forward to our next date and to be honest, it’s been more difficult than I would have anticipated” she says.

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Waterford woman Gemma, who has been dating her boyfriend just under a year finds herself in the same boat. “We have been really happy together, but we’re struggling a bit at the moment” she says. “We’re not big texters. I think a lot of really new relationships, maybe ones that have come out of tinder etc, are finding this really hard,” Gemma says.

Get ready like you are going on a date, put on your perfume and do your hair. Don’t get complacent, make it special.

Natalya Price believes a new couple can rise to the challenge of lockdown by being both creative and adaptive. “This is going to be an era of great adaptation” she says, “we are going to need to think beyond what we know” She believes a couple needs to “get rid of that attitude that it’s not going to be the same if we have a date online“. “Get into the zone and fully go in,” says Natalya. “Get ready like you are going on a date, put on your perfume and do your hair. Don’t get complacent, make it special. I heard a story of a girl who stepped away from her Zoom screen and her partner said “Alexa, play I wanna hold your hand”. I thought that was so sweet” she says.

Develop emotional intimacy

Natalya tells new couples that romance definitely isn’t dead; “It’s not going to be the same, but it can be something different” she says. And while lockdown can push up out of our comfort zone, it can also push the relationship to greater heights. Natalya believes that the pandemic presents as both an obstacle, and an opening for growth in relationships; “This is a time of great opportunity to develop emotional intimacy” she says, “and that is something that a lot of relationships don’t get time for”.

As the couple navigates a difficult time together, they see their new partner become vulnerable, and this can allow a real bond to form. “You are getting to know each other, not in the best of times, but in difficult times. That brings realness to a relationship” she says.

We have definitely become closer, and I think it will make us stronger.

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Some newer couples confess the pandemic has shown them how much they value the new
relationship. “Times like this make you see things a lot more clearly,” says Tracy. “It’s early days, but I do have complete faith that this is a long term commitment on both of our parts, and I don’t think I would have come to that conclusion as early but for this”.

Danielle also agrees that the lockdown as brought her and her long distant boyfriend closer. “We have definitely become closer, and I think it will make us stronger. I also think we will try to see each other more physically as well in the future,” she says.

Love, may actually bloom in the time of corona, or it may be put on the back burner, either way, the best thing we can do is to be patient with ourselves, and constantly reassess where we’re at. “Things are changing quickly” Natalya says.“Week 3 feels different to week 4 and so on. How you felt at start of a relationship will be different to how you feel now. Reassess often where you are and how you are feeling as individuals. Remember that good self care will lend to relationship care”

MindAndBodyWorks are now offering a variety of therapeutic services online. See
mindandbodyworks.com

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