Last Updated: 13/04/2021 at 13:15
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 other people?
You aren't currently allowed to meet other people indoors, unless it is for essential work, to join your extended household or to provide care and support for a vulnerable person.
Currently, you can meet people outdoors in a group of four people from no more than two separate households. This means a maximum of four people meeting in total. You can meet someone outside in a private garden or public outdoor space for recreation, socialising, sport, exercise or to provide care and support for a vulnerable person.
From April 16th, 6 people from 6 different households will be able to meet up outdoors. Young people under the age of 12 do not contribute to the number of people permitted.
If you meet up with someone from another household, you should still practice physical distancing (be two metres apart at all times), even outdoors.
The rules for meeting in indoors and outdoors public places, such as restaurants and shops vary depending on what level your local council area is currently in. As we ease out of the nationwide lockdown, we will return to the Levels Framework.
On March 16th, the First Minister set out some plans and dates on how Scotland will ease out of lockdown, providing that the vaccination programme continues and that the infection rates continue dropping.
For upcoming changes to meeting up with other people over the next few months, the following has been proposed:
- Current guidance on meeting up with others to continue
- From April 5th: 12-17 year old's can participate in contact sports
- From April 16th: Six people from a total of six households can meet outdoors.
- From April 26th: There will be limited indoor service of food and non-alcoholic drinks up to 8pm at pubs, restaurants and other venues, available to four people from two households.
- From May 17th: Indoor hospitality resumes and outdoor gatherings to be eased further. People of all ages will be able to socialise indoors in groups of four, from a total of two separate households.
- From early June: All of Scotland will move to Level 1.
- At the end of June: All of Scotland will move to Level 0.
Exemptions to meeting up indoors include, if you’re providing care for someone, if you live alone or alone with children and have formed part of an extended household (find out more below) or if you're an adult in a relationship with someone you don't live with and your and their households have formed an extended household or bubble.
There's more information about the latest restrictions in Scotland in our article 'What are the Coronavirus Rules in Scotland, Right Now?'
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
All adult non-cohabiting partners (e.g. if you and your partner don't live together), plus any children under 18 in either household, can form an extended household 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.
You can only form an extended household with one household other than your own.
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 10 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 or are in a relationship already with someone you do not live with.
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.
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 email@example.com or contact Rape Crisis Scotland on 08088 01 03 02, by texting 077537 410 027 (for initial contact, information and signposting) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
There's lots of useful information about domestic abuse on the Citizens Advice Scotland website.
You can also visit our latest campaign That's Not Ok which gives more information about gender based violence, unhealthy relationships and how to spot the signs that something isn't right.
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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