My therapist friend and I have an ongoing joke that “business has never been better” since we all started quarantining.
While some of us may be enjoying the extra quality time with our significant other, there are hundreds of other people reconsidering whether the person they claimed to love is the person they want to be with anymore.
Two months into quarantine, I got a frantic call from a friend, “I need to get away from him before I kill him!” They were already having problems, so it was no surprise that not having jobs to go to, friends to hang out with, or a place to escape was going to be the nail in this relationship’s coffin.
But there are other reasons I feel a lot of couples will call it quits once this pandemic comes to an end.
Here are the six biggies:
1. You completely disagree on how to deal with the virus.
This is the biggest one cropping up with not just couples, but friends, family, and complete strangers. One of you is completely hard-core about sheltering in place, social distancing, and not seeing anyone outside your close circle, and the other person can’t understand why everyone is making such a big deal over this thing.
Let’s agree there’s been a whole lot of eye-rolling amongst people debating the topic. If you’re one of those people out socializing you “aren’t taking this seriously,” but if you’re absolutely fanatical about not seeing people at all you’re accused of “overreacting and living in fear.”
Nobody is wrong here. We’re dealing with our health, our children’s safety, our finances, and our personal freedom. Of course we feel strongly one way or the other. It’s one thing to have opposing viewpoints amongst our friends, but when our partner is not in alignment with us and we feel they are either “putting us at risk” or “trying to control what we do,” the relationship will blow up.
2. There is nowhere to escape to.
Let’s be honest, a little absence makes the heart grow fonder. I personally have always preferred having my own life outside of whomever I was dating/married to and appreciated going to work and being separated eight to nine hours a day. It gave us something to talk about when we came home and there was the anticipation of seeing each other after missing one other all day.
Before COVID, there were places we could go when we needed our space. If our partner was working our last nerve, we could go to the gym and blow off some steam. If we got into a fight, we could call a friend to meet up for a drink and vent.
With many places still shut down, couples can’t escape each other. With no space and nowhere to go, many couples will find they don’t like being together as much as they thought and realize this isn’t someone they ultimately want to be with.
3. One or both of you will realize the other person isn’t who you thought they were.
You’ve been stuck together now for way longer than you ever have before, and you realize this person you held up on a pedestal is…well, not who you thought they were.
They nag you about all the little sh*t like cleaning the cat litter and the dishes you leave in the sink. Some of your biggest fights have happened over what to watch on Netflix. And all the talking you’ve been forced to do since you can’t go out to a movie or distract yourself hanging out with other people has revealed that who they are, what they want, and how they think is different from you, and you don’t quite vibe the way you once did.
4. One of you has not handled the stress of COVID well.
If you’re married, the pandemic would surely fall under “bad times” in the “good times and bad” category, and one of you does not do “bad times” well. And let’s face it, the true test of any relationship is not how someone shows up during the good times, but how they handle the sh*tty ones.
Some people will come to the conclusion after this that they don’t want to be with someone who can’t get through something difficult since this probably isn’t the last difficult thing life will throw their way.
5. The future doesn’t look the way you thought it would.
I know one couple who planned to get married and start a family, then when COVID happened, disagreed on doing both. One of them was worried about losing their job and having the finances to get married and have a kid while the other thought it was a ridiculous reason to put their life on hold.
Ridiculous or not, many couples are living in fear of the unknown. And that fear is putting a wrench in many couples’ plans. It also will be a reason those couples will choose to part ways.
6. One or both of you will realize life is too short to stay in something that wasn’t working in the first place.
This is for the couples who already knew things weren’t working in their relationship. You may have talked about breaking up before the pandemic happened and then hit the pause button expecting things to blow over in a few weeks. Now that we’re headed into a longer haul, you’re realizing life is too short to be miserable. It wasn’t working before, it isn’t working now, and you’re pretty sure it has no chance of working in the future.
Here’s the good news: for every couple who will call it quits, there are lots of relationships that will not just survive, but thrive because of the pandemic.
Because if you can make it through something like this (the bad times), you’ve got a pretty good shot of making it through anything.