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Couples looking forward to Yuletide spent together

By Alan Beresford

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A NEW survey from the British Psychological Society (BPS) has revealed that 86 per cent of people are looking forward to spending the Christmas period with their partner.

Nearly 90 per cent of couples are looking forward to spending Christmas together, according to the new BPS survey.
Nearly 90 per cent of couples are looking forward to spending Christmas together, according to the new BPS survey.

The results indicate a surprising bright spot amid the difficult times of the pandemic, particularly after the recent lockdown announcement and the reduction in days people are able to see their family and loved ones over the festive period.

The survey commissioned by the BPS also showed that 87 per cent of people in a relationship said they have enjoyed the time they have spent with their partner since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK (March 2020), with 84 per cent saying they have felt supported by their partner, and 79 per cent saying they have felt emotionally connected.

The YouGov survey of 2100 adults in the UK, undertaken prior to last Saturday’s announcement on new Covid-19 restrictions over the festive period, reveals a surprisingly positive snapshot into relationships during the pandemic, and indicates that despite the unique challenges relationships have faced, many couples have been able to weather the storm together.

Perhaps less surprisingly, the results show that single people looking for a relationship during the pandemic have struggled, with 79 per cent saying they had not found it easy to meet new people since lockdown started, and 90 per cent saying they had experienced loneliness.

The survey also found that, among those in a relationship, more than one quarter (27 per cent) said they have experienced feelings of loneliness in their relationship with their partner since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK, and just over half (53 per cent) said they had felt sexually connected with their partner.

The BPS has published new guidance to help those in relationships and single people to cope with the effects of lockdowns and restrictions on personal, intimate and sexual relationships, including tips and advice for people who are in a relationship, or actively seeking new connections.

Dr Sarah Rutter, BPS chartered clinical psychologist and lead author of the guidance said: “It’s genuinely heart-warming to see how connected and supported by their partners people have felt as they’ve faced the challenges of the pandemic together.

"During times of difficulty, it’s not uncommon to learn new things about ourselves or a partner, or see hidden strengths come to the fore. The pandemic may have presented us with an opportunity to slow down and take the time to think about the relationships that are most important to us.

“At this time of year it’s common for us to see advice about how to ‘survive’ the festive period as a couple and navigate the occasional tensions of family get-togethers. This year the difference couldn’t be more stark, with intimate relationships really coming to the forefront of our personal support networks.

“Equally, there’s no doubt that it’s also been a very challenging time for people who are single and looking for new connections, whose love life may have felt ‘on hold’ since March. The new restrictions introduced yesterday will undoubtedly hit single people who are looking for a new relationship very hard.

“It’s hugely important to recognise that these survey results don’t give us the full picture and there is no doubt that some will have struggled with their relationships, particularly during a time of such change and stress. The festive period can be a strain on relationships in any year, and Christmas 2020 could be particularly challenging, with restrictions placing unique demands upon us.”

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