Friendships and relationships during lockdown - by our charity partners Relate

Relationships Mental health

The lockdown has really put a spotlight on friendships and relationships.  However social you are, too much of any one thing can test even the best of us. 

Managing friendships in flats/ shared accommodation

Not being with family and people you’re closest to can be really tough at this time – but you can still stay connected to the people in your accommodation and those further afield.  There are more and more examples of new and different ways people are finding to do this.   But do remember to try and keep a balance.  See the section below on finding a new normal

Some people are finding themselves surprisingly busy just at the moment – we’re all learning new ways to run our lives.  It can mean that people will have different responsibilities and routines than you’re used to and so might respond differently – for example the times they choose to do things, the way they say things, or who they include. 

The simplest piece of advice here is whilst you look after yourself, look out for those around you.  Know that everyone deals with things in different ways, and that things can affect us all (including you) in unexpected ways.   Even when you’re in the same house, it can be important to stay connected to each other – friendships and behaviours will develop in unexpected ways at this time – make sure no-one is missing out. 

Remember, you will almost certainly learn something new about each other during this time.  Work on being generous and interested with house or flatmates, even if you don’t always feel like it.  And think how some of this will become the stories we will tell when we are all finally allowed to be out and about again. 

If you’re worried about someone, look at the links at the end of this piece to see you can talk to. 


Romantic relationships whilst apart

This can be tricky, especially if it’s a relatively new relationship. Make the time to talk regularly – be as open as you feel you can be. It’s very normal for one person to be finding being apart more difficult than the other – this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how they feel about you. Be aware that you might not actually have much to say – lockdown has certainly put a damper on some of the usual things we’re used to talking about. But just sharing time together, even it’s not in the same space, is really important.  

Try not to be too hard on each other or expect too much during this time. In normal times, you might feel you’re missing out on something in the other person’s life. But in these times, you’re both in the same situation. Everything is different, and that affects you and your relationship. Some things might just have to wait until you’re together again.


Finding a new normal

There’s nothing ‘normal’ about right now. Sorting out what you need and want to do to stay sane is important.

It would be easy to let everything slide so maybe think about the points below and how you could make them work for you.

  • Find a routine. Get up, get dressed as if you were going out
  • Stay moving. Get some exercise – at the time of writing, you’re still allowed to go outside to do this. Plus, there are dozens of apps and channels to help and iQ is running bespoke classes you can do in your room on their Instagram channel
  • Eat well. Learn to cook something new perhaps. Or learn the science behind whatever’s left in the food cupboard or on the shelves in the supermarket and create the ultimate dish – challenge others to do the same
  • Watch the booze. There is lots of help to do this: Drinkaware is just one example
  • Stay busy. One of the upsides in all of this is the amount of free stuff popping up online. Just Google your favourite band, team, author...

Most importantly stay in touch with people. Ironically, you might find yourself online more than ever before. So perhaps pick up the phone! 

Now might not be the best time for those really 'big' conversations – those can need space and time apart. But equally, you might not be able to avoid it, and it could be a unique opportunity to talk about how you feel, to negotiate anew ways to live alongside each other.

In almost all cases though, it’s going to be important you talk – either with your family, with someone else you can trust, or with someone independent. Relate have trained advisors who can help you. Or you can look here to find out tips on having those conversations.


Where else can I go for support?

Many sources of support have now moved online. Demand is high and sometimes it is taking time to get through – you might need to be patient. Here are some of the places which might be useful:

  • For official advice on the coronavirus, go to the UK Government website
  • You can also see daily updates from the World Health Organization (WHO) on YouTube
  • These are anxious times. Most people are feeling anxious. This is normal and not surprising. Here’s a video from Relate about managing anxiety
  • For emotional and mental health support – The Samaritans, and Mind and Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity
  • For relationship support and advice on spending time with your family - Relate
  • Dedicated webpages, helplines, your local Nightline and other support set up by your university, students union or iQ
  • The Mix, essential support for under 25s
  • The Money Advice Service offer free and impartial money advice, including some specific to coronavirus
  • Citizens Advice offer a wide range of advice on both debt and other legal issues, including a specific page on coronavirus
  • Drinkaware can help you make smarter choices about drinking
  • If you’re worried about your safety, ring 999 or contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline

Don’t keep your worries to yourself. Whether it’s friends, family, or maybe an agency or advice line, there’s always someone to talk with. Just get in touch.


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