Coronavirus: Making relationships work during lockdown

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Cartoon coupleImage source, Getty Images

Quarantine and chill? Maybe not.

That's been the reality for many couples in the UK since lockdown rules - which state we can only leave the house if it is essential - came into place.

Unfortunately, seeing your other half - if you don't live with them - isn't classed as essential.

The deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, warned that couples could pass on the virus if they continue to visit each other at their individual homes.

She suggested couples "test" their relationship and move in together while the lockdown restrictions are in place.

'It isn't the fairytale I'd always dreamed of'

One couple who decided to take that test and move in together are 27-year-old Laura Collins and her partner Jon Pearson. They've always lived separately during their four-year relationship - both in Cheltenham.

Laura says she couldn't think of anything worse than being alone in her flat during the lockdown - so once it was announced the couple decided to move into Jon's parents' house in Cornwall.

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Jon and Laura never planned on moving to Cornwall

"Jon's currently working in his childhood room, he's surrounded by teddy bears, Pokemon cards and his old Guitar Hero set - it's quite funny," Laura tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"It's a little bit different to how I pictured us moving in together but it's nice to be together and have our lunch breaks together in the garden."

Image source, Laura
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We're not sure how Jon gets any work done with all those potential distractions laying around

So what's it like moving back in with your parents for the first time in eight years - with your girlfriend - during a global pandemic?

"We're not getting on each other's nerves yet," Jon tells us. "But dad gets annoyed at small things, like if we don't empty the dishwasher."

Jon and Laura never planned on moving to Cornwall, but they're making the most of it now they're there.

But it's not just happy couples like Jon and Laura who took the plunge.

'I moved in with my ex'

Yes, you read that right.

Kieran Lineham and AJ James, both 23, were a couple for four years but split five months ago and have remained "really good friends".

"It's not awkward or anything like that - we make jokes about it and so does the family," AJ tells Newsbeat.

When there were rumours of a lockdown, AJ asked Kieran where he would prefer to stay: "For some reason he said he'd like to live in my mad house for three weeks."

So he moved in with her, her parents and her younger brother.

Image source, AJ
Image caption,
AJ and Kieran have been sharing a bed, along with AJ's dog

"I think my family love him more than me, they'd happily trade us in.

"As soon as the lockdown finishes, he's off. His dad can have him back," AJ says.

They've both still been working - Kieran is a lorry driver and AJ is a carer for people with special needs.

Kieran says he was, and still is, confused that he was invited over.

The two have been sharing a bed with AJ's dog, but insist it is unlikely they will get back together.

'We're travelling the world... virtually'

From London to Paris to New York - Riya and Rajeev have decided to virtually tour the world.

They've been together for just under a year and live separately - but have been making "extra effort" to keep things interesting in lockdown.

So far, it's been an exploration of museums, visiting the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Louvre in Paris online together.

"It's cool being able to still see amazing places and travelling the world, albeit through the internet rather than a plane," Riya, 23, says.

Rajeev even made an effort by putting on a shirt - which isn't all that common nowadays.

But their relationship isn't all about touring the world.

Tips for keeping your relationship healthy in lockdown

Sami Wunder, dating and relationships coach

1. Give your partner and yourself enough time to look after yourselves. You can read a book while your husband plays PlayStation, get that space and freedom. You shouldn't expect that because you are both at home you should do everything together.

2. Romance doesn't have to completely disappear just because you're stuck at home. You can make date night at home - have a candlelit dinner, dress up and look good.

3. Be honest about any challenges and work towards a solution. If you think there's not enough physical intimacy, make time for it. Do things which connect each other, such as giving a nice massage.

4. It's a chance to be creative, especially if you're not living with your partner. Send flowers, meals and thoughtful letters - and surprise one another.

5. Lockdown is also a good opportunity to revisit your priorities in life. Even though it might feel like you're caged in, it can actually be a great opportunity to connect with your loved ones and do things you couldn't do before.

Riya and Rajeev have also created a reading club for themselves, subscribing to each other's favourite publications - the New York Times for Riya and Medium for Rajeev - and then discussing what they read.

And Riya's even taken the time to understand Rajeev's job (he's a data scientist) a little better.

"I was doing a coding tutorial to find out more. And now I kind of understand. It was cool to learn and a good skill," she says.

They say all these activities have been important for their relationship.

"It's nice to do these interesting things rather than just staying at home, because then you get a bit negative and start bugging each other about the situation you're in," Rajeev says.

"This way you're making each other feel good and having new shared experiences."

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