Love Lockdown: Relationships During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last Updated: 09/07/2020 at 14:46

Whether you're playing the dating game, just started something new, or have been together long term, coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting everyone's romantic relationships. We've got some tips on how to stay healthy and happy - separately or together.   

What are the rules about meeting up with people during the lockdown?

From 10th July, we are in Phase Three of the lockdown exit strategy, meaning the Scottish Government have eased the restrictions on visiting people from other households. You can now visit your partner indoors if you don't live together but you should remain physically distanced (2 meters apart) unless you agree to form an extended household (see more information below). 

Here are some of the restrictions when meeting up with other people: 

  • You can meet outside, with up to fifteen people from up to four different households (for example, your partner and some of your friends) in places like a park or in a garden;
  • You can meet with people from up to two other households at the same time indoors;
  • If you're under 18, there is no limit on the number of households you can meet per day (as long as you follow the above two points), if you're over eighteen you should not meet more than four other households per day;
  • You must keep at least two metres apart from people outside of your household (including your partner if you live in different households and aren't part of an extended household);
  • You should try and avoid touching the same hard surfaces as the person you're meeting or clean hard surfaces after you've touched them;
  • You must continue to practice good hygiene and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

These changes mean you can meet up in person but only if you follow these rules. 

Remember, if you have symptoms of coronavirus or have been asked to self isolate by a contact tracer (because you've come into contact with someone with coronavirus) you should self-isolate as per NHS Inform advice.

It's really important that you don't break the rules of lockdown. It's difficult, but it will mean that when rules become more relaxed, it'll be even better. 

Forming an extended household

From 10th July all non cohabiting partners (eg if you and your partner don't live together),and any children under 18 in the household, can form extended households without physical distancing.

If you or your partner fit this description and both of your households agree, then you can meet indoors and do not have to follow the physical distancing or other rules in place when meeting people such as staying 2 metres apart. Once two households have agreed to form an extended household they may meet outdoors or indoors, visit and stay at each others’ homes, and do everything that people in other households can do, such as watch TV, share a meal and look after each other’s children.

If you and your partner want to do this, you should discuss it with everyone in the households involved, and all adults need to agree to it. The arrangement can be ended at any time, but you should not then form a different extended household.

If one member of an extended household, even if they don't live in the same house as you, has symptoms of coronavirus then everyone in the extended household will need to isolate immediately for 14 days from the start of the symptoms.

How else can we keep in touch?

We know it's tough not being able to see the person you really, really like as much as you want to. But luckily, we live in a time where there is loads of technology that can help us keep in touch! Communication is key in any relationship, but even more so if you're having to spend time apart.   

Why not message your partner whenever you're thinking of them? A notification popping up with your number or username is sure to brighten up their day - especially if it includes an inside joke.  

Schedule regular video chats together when you can. Texting or Snapchatting can be fun, but nothing beats seeing each other face to face and having a proper conversation. Why not have a date via a video call? 

Sex during lockdown  

Remember, the age of consent in Scotland is 16.  Find out more about consent and what it means.

At the moment, physical distancing rules apply when meeting anyone outside of your own household - this includes when you are indoors - unless you have formed an extended household with them.

If you need advice on sexual health, contraception or pregnancy, remember that the NHS is still open for you and leaving the house for any medical need during lockdown is allowed. The NHS are there to help you, not judge you, so if you've not followed the restrictions of lockdown, don't let this delay going to get support and advice. 

If you’re worried about going to a sexual health service, remember they are confidential and they will only share your information with other agencies if they think you are being harmed or are at risk. They are not allowed to tell your parent or carer.  

If you need contraception during this time, you should get in touch with the place you normally get the contraceptive you use  – either your GP surgery or sexual health clinic.  Pharmacies, GPs and sexual health clinics all provide the emergency contraceptive pill for free in case you need it. If you're having trouble with your current contraception, or need a coil changed, phone your GP or local sexual health clinic.  Here’s what to expect when you visit a sexual health clinic.  

If you think you might be pregnant, it’s really important to talk to someone that you trust as soon as possible. It’s good to get a pregnancy test done as soon as you can. Don’t keep your worries to yourself – health services are open and you can speak to someone right now if you are pregnant or think you might be. You might be worried about speaking to a professional but you can contact your GP or local sexual health clinic. They will be happy to help and will want to hear from you.  

Can you get COVID-19 from having sex? 

Having sex or close contact with anyone that doesn’t live in your household puts you at high risk of catching or passing on coronavirus (COVID-19). It also puts anyone else you live with at risk. 

Remember: people with COVID-19 can have no symptoms and still be infectious. So even if someone has no cough or temperature, they can still have the virus and pass it on to you - and you can pass it on to them too. Condoms do not protect against COVID-19.  

Meeting new people?  

Maybe you're using lockdown as a chance to meet people through dating apps. It can be a really good way to talk to people and get to know them before you meet them in real life.

Don't put your last name, email address, home address, place of work or phone number in your profile or in those first few messages.   

If the person you are talking to makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, talk to an adult that you trust. Examples might be sending you an intimate/sexual message or image without your consent. You can also contact the police. Make use of the report and block functions on the app you're using to make sure they don't get in touch with you again.  If they start to do what is known as 'orbiting' and follow you on other social media platforms after you say 'no', be sure to block them on there too.  

It is also not okay for someone to pressure you into sending intimate photographs. Remember: it is illegal to take, share or have indecent images of people under the age of 18, even if they gave permission. The only exception is when it’s between two people who are in an established relationship (like a long-term relationship), and they only share the image with each other. Even then, the person in the image must be over 16 and have consented to the image being taken.  

It is also illegal to share an intimate image someone else has sent you. This is known as 'so-called' revenge porn.    

Check out our other do's and don'ts of online dating.

Living together?  

No matter if you've lived together for a while or just moved in before lockdown, chances are it’s going to be difficult spending so much more time with your partner! Not being able to go and see your friends as often or do your usual hobbies will mean you’ll be seeing each other for way longer than you’re used to. 

Try to keep some things normal. It could be useful to try and treat the day like a workday and not see each other until you finish your shift. Would you usually hang out with friends or workmates after work? Why not schedule a video call with some of them after or arrange a socially distanced meet up in the park? Would you and your other half usually hit the gym post-work? Use that time to do an online exercise class or head out for some outdoor exercise together: a run, cycle or walk keeps you fit and helps you stick to your usual schedule.   

Keep things romantic by organising a date night. You could watch your favourite movie with some popcorn and snuggle on the sofa. Use the fanciest dishes you have, light a candle, bring out a tablecloth (or fashion one together from a scarf) and pretend you're out for a nice dinner in a restaurant. You could even print out a menu if you're feeling extra creative! 

Struggling with the relationship? 

If you’re living together, life during coronavirus (COVID-19) can be really stressful: especially if you or your partner get sick, one or both of you are key workers, or you have vulnerable people in your family who might need extra support. Therefore it's really important to treat each other with kindness and to understand that stress about other things might put some strain on your relationship.  

Because you and your partner are either spending more time together or apart, arguments might crop up. These tips from the Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution might help you both resolve arguments before they become something bigger. It can be good to go out for your daily outdoor exercise if you feel your emotions are taking over, or you can take some time to talk to a trusted friend via text about the smaller things you're finding frustrating.   

A healthy relationship involves good communication, mutual respect, trust, honesty, equality and the ability to be yourself. A relationship is unhealthy when it involves controlling or threatening behaviour. This can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial or psychological. If your partner makes you feel scared in your relationship, it's important to get support.  

You can contact Scotland's Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline on 0800 027 1234 or email them on helpline@sdafmh.org.uk or contact Rape Crisis Scotland on 08088 01 03 02,  by texting 077537 410 027 (for initial contact, information and signposting) or emailing support@rapecrisisscotland.org.uk.   

There's lots of useful information about domestic abuse on the Citizens Advice Scotland website.   

If you are in immediate danger, call 999. If it's too dangerous to talk to an operator and you need help press 55 once prompted, so they know it isn't an accidental call.  

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