Study finds intimate relationships are actually doing well during the pandemic
A recent Monmouth University survey of 556 American adults, between April 30 to May 4, found that despite the stresses that might come from home quarantine, working from home, losing a job, business lockdowns, or managing kids, most are happy in their relationships. Although they are far from perfect, on average, they are in pretty good shape.
The survey reveals some encouraging results:
1. About three-quarters of those polled with a romantic partner say their relationship has not fundamentally changed since the coronavirus outbreak.
When asked if their relationship had gotten better or worse since the pandemic began, 74 percent said it was about the same. Ten percent said it was a lot better and 7 percent said it was a little better. Only 4 percent said a little worse and 1 percent said a lot worse.
Weathering a pandemic is stressful. Being able to turn to our partners for support during difficult times creates closeness in the relationship.
2. Argument frequency and sex lives have changed for the better, but only slightly.
7 in 10 said there has been no difference, less than 2 in 10 said they get into fewer arguments with their partner, while 1 in 10 said they get into more of them.
Despite the expectation that isolation leads to more opportunities for intimacy, 77 percent say it is about the same, 9 percent said their sex life has improved.
Only 5 percent said it’s gotten worse.
3. About half expect their relationship will emerge stronger — and hardly any think it’ll be worse.
When looking toward the future, survey responders were even more enthusiastic about the strength of their relationships.
A 51 percent majority said their relationships will get stronger by the time the outbreak is over. Another 46 percent said their relationship will not have changed at all. Just a percent said their relationship will be worse.
Optimism plays a siginificant role in relationships. If a relationship has at least one partner who’s an optimist, the couple generally has higher relationship satisfaction. Optimists handle life’s rough patches better, which is certainly helpful given the outbreak.
4. Married partners are more likely than unmarried ones to say their relationship has not changed.
About three-quarters of married couples said their relationship has not changed for better or worse since the coronavirus outbreak began, while just under two-thirds of unmarried couples said the same.
Among unmarried partners, 22 percent said their relationship has helped decrease their daily stress level, compared with 12 percent of married couples. Similar shares of each said they have increased levels of stress.
The pandemic hasn’t drastically changed married couples’ relationships.
Younger people in relationships, those 18 to 34 years old, were more likely than older people to say the pandemic has affected their relationship.
5. Most say their relationship isn’t adding to pandemic stress — but women are a little more affected than men.
A 59 percent majority said their relationship has had no impact on their daily stress level. But 29 percent of women said their relationship has added to their daily stress, while 23 percent of men said the same.
Overall, these results suggest that the global pandemic may not be as bad for relationships as many have anticipated. The outbreak offers opportunities for relationships to become stronger and even more important than they already were.