Relationships are under a lot of pressure at the moment as we all individually deal with the uncertainty, fear and stress of the coronavirus pandemic. In some cases, relationships will strengthen during this time, even if there are difficult moments. It’s only normal for there to be ups and downs in any relationship. In other cases, though, the added stress may lead to a breakup.
There are a lot of different scenarios playing out at the moment:
Maybe you and your partner deal with crisis differently, and you can’t bridge the divide.
Maybe time apart has allowed for reflection, and one partner’s feelings have changed about being in a relationship.
Maybe being confined together has made one partner realize they no longer want to be together.
Maybe you, or the other person, would rather be on your own or with family during this time.
Maybe a major life change has happened (loss of a loved one, loss of a job) and one partner needs space.
Maybe the relationship was really new, and the pandemic killed any momentum that was building.
The list could go on and on, but the point is that there are so many reasons relationships are ending right now. The important thing to remember is that the pandemic is just a catalyst, speeding up what was already happening. The stress of a pandemic highlights and heightens emotions or thoughts that were already there, even if they were faint.
The real reason relationships will end during this time is because something wasn’t working in the relationship, and one or both partners weren’t willing to make it work. Even if things were working pre-coronavirus, the key fact to remember is that they didn’t continue to work once things got difficult.
While that’s painful to hear, it may also save you some time and energy that you would have otherwise spent blaming a virus. This pandemic is a circumstance we are all dealing with, albeit an unprecedented and heartbreaking one, and it’s temporary.
If you’re having difficulty processing your breakup right now, here are some questions to help you reflect on your relationship:
Were there signs before the pandemic that your relationship was on unsteady ground? Did you feel safe and loved?
Did you two react to the pandemic differently? How were you able to communicate?
In general, was your relationship healthy and solid before the pandemic?
Were your interactions mostly stable and positive?
Did you feel welcome and integrated in your partner’s life? If you’d been together a while, had you met their friends and/or family?
Were there any red flags before the coronavirus pandemic hit?
Were you fighting a lot? Were you confused or anxious often?
Acknowledging and accepting the relationship for what it really was, not what you wish it had been, is an important part of the mending process. A pandemic can certainly add a layer of unhelpful stress, but a relationship can weather a pandemic. Relationships will certainly be tested, but if both partners are willing to weather the storm together, they will.
At the end of the day, if the relationship didn’t last, there was a reason it didn’t last, and there’s also a lesson in it. While it’s incredibly painful to be going through a breakup or divorce during a pandemic, you can find some solace in knowing that you have some closure. Now you can focus on healing, taking care of yourself and preparing for the time when you can go out again, see your loved ones, rebuild your life (and potentially even welcome a new person in your life.)
It may be hard to imagine all of this now while you’re stuck at home in your pajamas counting the days of confinement, but know that this heartbreak is just one step on a much longer journey. Know that you are strong enough to weather any storm, and that the right partner will be too.
If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can start mending now. You can also sign up for our free class on “Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus.”